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Mac Mini - 2012 vs New Model? Dual vs. Quad cores?


udis

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Hello,

 

I am looking to move my music off an imac and to a dedicated macmini. I am looking for some input on whether or not, for audio playback purposes, the older models are better? I've read that the 2014 model have soldered on components making it nearly impossible to upgrade post purchase. Moreover, i am not sure if a quad core is an overkill? Lastly, how fast of a processor do i really need?

 

I have a mytek dac and sphinx int. amp powering LS50's.

 

I guess i am also thinking in terms of connections... my DAC works well with firewire, new macmini does thunderbolt 2 ( i can use an adapter, but that adds another link in the system). Similarly, new macmini have usb3.. old usb2 - in the event i decide to upgrade my DAC down the road (only does 1 & 2)

 

thanks,

Udi

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I have the 2012 i7 and it is definitely worth it. I am hoping to keep it alive as long as possible. If you can find one, buy it. It is not overkill. Spend your money where it matters, not on USB cables and speaker wires coated with Chinese Hamster Ovary cells.

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No. Not me.

 

I should elaborate on the processors -- I originally bought the computer for biophysicsy computations. I wound up making use of the processors for doing room correction and upsampling when I sapped this in for my slower 2010 mini. The graphics are also much improved, fwiw.

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lol... did you make any upgrades to the power supply? a la - http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com/products/music-servers/mac-mini-music-server/

 

jriver vs. audirvana?

I have à Clone Audio & à JS2 from UpTone.

They do not play in the same league, JS2 is really better. A real LPSU is a must do.

Not only for Audio. It will also increase the life time of your computer.

 

Pol

CloneAudio LPSU for QnapHS-251 fanless - UpTone JS2 for MacMini i7 (SD card only-CAD scripts-MMK fan kit-no disc inside- Audirvana2)- JS2 for REGEN - BelCantoRefLink-TotalDacD1tube(Mullard ECC82 NOS) //Halgorythme single end 300b EML //DiY Open Baffle & Leedh Elfe

Whee was the last time you did something for the first time?

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You can change power supply after guaranty period

about SMPS vs. LPSU & MTBF, you should find technical explanation and formulas on google & Wikipedia

 

In few words, stress and Temperature are affecting electronic components lifetime.

SMPS create EMI, ripple voltage at the switching frequency and harmonics. This is stress and will affect MTBF.

CloneAudio LPSU for QnapHS-251 fanless - UpTone JS2 for MacMini i7 (SD card only-CAD scripts-MMK fan kit-no disc inside- Audirvana2)- JS2 for REGEN - BelCantoRefLink-TotalDacD1tube(Mullard ECC82 NOS) //Halgorythme single end 300b EML //DiY Open Baffle & Leedh Elfe

Whee was the last time you did something for the first time?

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Is it possible that uptone is out of business?

 

http://www.uptoneaudio.com/

 

 

i tried to read up on the JS2, but unable to load site.

 

Just contact Superdad here.

He is UpTone audio :)

CloneAudio LPSU for QnapHS-251 fanless - UpTone JS2 for MacMini i7 (SD card only-CAD scripts-MMK fan kit-no disc inside- Audirvana2)- JS2 for REGEN - BelCantoRefLink-TotalDacD1tube(Mullard ECC82 NOS) //Halgorythme single end 300b EML //DiY Open Baffle & Leedh Elfe

Whee was the last time you did something for the first time?

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I just have replaced my syno with Qnap 210 fanless. I will update my signature. the fanless is also a must do for the NAS.

CloneAudio LPSU for QnapHS-251 fanless - UpTone JS2 for MacMini i7 (SD card only-CAD scripts-MMK fan kit-no disc inside- Audirvana2)- JS2 for REGEN - BelCantoRefLink-TotalDacD1tube(Mullard ECC82 NOS) //Halgorythme single end 300b EML //DiY Open Baffle & Leedh Elfe

Whee was the last time you did something for the first time?

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I have the 2012 i7 and it is definitely worth it. I am hoping to keep it alive as long as possible. If you can find one, buy it. It is not overkill. Spend your money where it matters, not on USB cables and speaker wires coated with Chinese Hamster Ovary cells.

 

FWIW, I found the 2012 i7 to be a marked improvement over the 2009 in terms of SQ. I don't know why - huge diff. Both machines run on SSDs, standard PS, and using the exact same music drive (owc enclosure w fw800). 2012 with 16gb ram, 2009 with 8gb.

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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FWIW, I found the 2012 i7 to be a marked improvement over the 2009 in terms of SQ. I don't know why - huge diff. Both machines run on SSDs, standard PS, and using the exact same music drive (owc enclosure w fw800). 2012 with 16gb ram, 2009 with 8gb.

L3 Cache memory is different.

CloneAudio LPSU for QnapHS-251 fanless - UpTone JS2 for MacMini i7 (SD card only-CAD scripts-MMK fan kit-no disc inside- Audirvana2)- JS2 for REGEN - BelCantoRefLink-TotalDacD1tube(Mullard ECC82 NOS) //Halgorythme single end 300b EML //DiY Open Baffle & Leedh Elfe

Whee was the last time you did something for the first time?

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It goes with the processor.

Before 2009 there is no Cache

2012 core i5 has 3Mo and core i7 6Mo.

This participate to the difference.

CloneAudio LPSU for QnapHS-251 fanless - UpTone JS2 for MacMini i7 (SD card only-CAD scripts-MMK fan kit-no disc inside- Audirvana2)- JS2 for REGEN - BelCantoRefLink-TotalDacD1tube(Mullard ECC82 NOS) //Halgorythme single end 300b EML //DiY Open Baffle & Leedh Elfe

Whee was the last time you did something for the first time?

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It goes with the processor.

Before 2009 there is no Cache

2012 core i5 has 3Mo and core i7 6Mo.

This participate to the difference.

 

Personally, I would just go all out with the 104 model. It is damm annoying the memory cant be upgraded. The 4GB of ram should be sufficient and bootcamp is a nice bonus (though PITA to update/install).

Less and less: Ikeda 9TS with Kuzma Stogi Ref and Vendetta Phono => Lamm L2 Ref & Lamm 2.2 => Tidal Piano Cera.

 

More and more: Mac Book Pro Retina (mid-2014) with 128GB SSD: with Audirvana 2.0) and all the while auditioning different DACs.

 

(something small and sometimes portable - she who must not be named demands it).

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Is it possible that uptone is out of business?

 

[h=1]http://www.uptoneaudio.com/[/h]

i tried to read up on the JS2, but unable to load site.

 

Hi Udi:

 

Got you e-mail and will reply. Today is catch up day. Sorry that I don't have a real website yet guys (though I have owned the uptoneaudio.com domain for 3 years). But the link in my signature does go that silly Manta business director site and I have tossed up photos, info and contact information there.

 

With regards to choice of year for Mac mini. I have used and listened to all of them except the 2014. Here are some comments I wrote previously:

 

My recommendation for Mac mini depends upon what player s/w you will be using. If you plan to use HQ Player to massively upsample or to modulate to high DSD rates, then you will definitely want the a 2012 quad-core i7.

And I certainly would never go any earlier than a 2011 (2010 was Core 2 Duo; I used to use one but it fell hard against my i5 and i7 units).

 

The new 2014 mini is not as bad as some make it out to be. Yes, it is disappointing that you can't get the i7 version in a quad-core. But the option to get a PCIe bus attached flash drive is excellent, and one person who installed my Mac mini DC-conversion/Linear Fan Controller Kit (MMK) in a 2014 feels it sounds a small amount better than his 2012 i5 (also with MMK).

But with a FireWire attached DAC, the 2014 is not really a good option for you since the 2014 mini dropped the FW port. Yes, you could use a Thunderbolt>Firewire adapter, but I am skeptical about the heavily multiplexed architecture of TB for audio purposes.

 

So in the end, I think a Late-2012 2.2GHz i7 Mac mini with 8 or 16GB of RAM would be your best choice. That's what I use. I personally boot from a 32GB SD card and dismount/eject my internal SATA drive, so choice of internal is not important to me.

And the only attachments to my mini are: the USB cable to the DAC; the DC power cable to my JS-2 LPS; and a 25-ft. BlueJeans/Belden bonded-pair Cat6 Ethernet cable--going directly to my other mini on my desk (to have access to the shared music library drive and to allow the desktop to Screenshare control the DAC-connected mini.

 

Best,

--Alex C.

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My recommendation for Mac mini depends upon what player s/w you will be using. If you plan to use HQ Player to massively upsample or to modulate to high DSD rates, then you will definitely want the a 2012 quad-core i7.

And I certainly would never go any earlier than a 2011 (2010 was Core 2 Duo; I used to use one but it fell hard against my i5 and i7 units).

I moved from a fully loaded 2009 Core2Duo mini (top specs, 8gb ram, ssd, fw800 external drive) to a 2012 i7 (also fully loaded, same fw800 drive for music). The sound diff was astounding. I would stay away from the Core2Duos frankly.

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought some folks here may want to know about this... I just picked up one of these a week or two ago... I think it is a good deal and they still have them in stock:

 

Apple Mac mini Desktop Computer with OS X Server MD389LL/A B&H

 

2012 Mac mini Server - brand new for $850>

 

  • 2.3GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 2 x 1TB 5400rpm HDD
  • Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • SDXC Media Card Reader
  • Thunderbolt, FireWire 800, USB 3.0, HDMI
  • 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Compact Form Factor
  • Mac OS X Server

 

Going to make it into our new music server for the main listening room. As I understand it, its the same mini as the std 2012 2.3GHz i7 mini, except with two 1 TB drives and OSX Server (Mavericks) loaded onto it. Have already reformatted the HD's and loaded up non-server version of Mavericks and have upgraded the memory to 8Gb (for now - 16GB later probably). Will be insitalling SSD to replace one the OSX HD. Right now I'm using a 2010mini (2.5Ghz Core 2 unit) which the machine will replace.

 

Question is where to store the music??? on the spare internal 1TB HD or a external Thunderbolt drive is the question I am pondering right now.

---------------

Rich Brkich

Owner, Signature Sound

Liverpool, New York USA

Website: http://www.sigsound.com

FaceBook Page: http://www.facebook.com/Signature.Sound.HiFi

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Question is where to store the music??? on the spare internal 1TB HD or a external Thunderbolt drive is the question I am pondering right now.

 

Hi Rich: Good find on that mini!

You should compare, but I ann betting that the internal SATA drive is going to sound better than a Thunderbolt drive.

Did you see my ranking post on Mac drive interfaces in this thread?: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f7-disk-storage-music-library-storage/better-sounding-external-drives-23198/#post399142

 

I'll paste the relevant part here:

 

With regards to an internal SATA drive versus an external FW drive:

There I think the internal SATA does have an advantage in that there are no extra bridging chipsets to go from the drive's (HD or SSD) SATA interface to Firewire and then through the Mac mini's FW controller chip and on into the PCIe's bus controller chip. And my SQ tests a year ago (see that long report on interfaces) are what I base that on.

However, in my comparison, the internal was a 500GB HD drive. While I don't think that SSDs have any SQ advantage--again I think all this is all about the interface and activity and PS--I did not compare those. Also a variable that my be relevant to you Vangelis, is the fact that larger capacity internal HDs 1TB or more are likely to have a different power consumption and EMI radiation "fingerprint" than my little 500GB drive did.

 

So to rank my opinions (based on carefully controlled, sighted listening tests, using Audirvana+) from best to worst music storage location/interface (and assuming one is connecting to a USB DAC):

 

1) RAM disk (impossible to beat but very inconvenient)

 

2) A 3-way tie between:

a) Carefully done shared Ethernet drive on another computer (BlueJeans/Belden Cat6a direct no switch); Good NAS setup might rank up here, or direct connection to a new Airport Extreme sharing a HD connected to its USB port;

b) Mac mini's SD card slot;

c) 2014 Mac mini PCIe Flash drive (I have not actually heard this myself but have read reports from others who have experienced agreement with my rankings)

 

3) Internal SATA drive (HD or SSD, but I have only heard HD

 

4) FW400 external

 

5) FW800 external

 

6) Thunderbolt external

 

7) USB external (though if using a USB DAC a USB drive should be avoided at all costs; I found this to be dreadful)

 

YMMV of course! :)

 

--Alex C.

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Hi Rich: Good find on that mini!

You should compare, but I ann betting that the internal SATA drive is going to sound

 

So to rank my opinions (based on carefully controlled, sighted listening tests, using Audirvana+) from best to worst music storage location/interface (and assuming one is connecting to a USB DAC):

 

1) RAM disk (impossible to beat but very inconvenient)

 

2) A 3-way tie between:

a) Carefully done shared Ethernet drive on another computer (BlueJeans/Belden Cat6a direct no switch); Good NAS setup might rank up here, or direct connection to a new Airport Extreme sharing a HD connected to its USB port;

b) Mac mini's SD card slot;

c) 2014 Mac mini PCIe Flash drive (I have not actually heard this myself but have read reports from others who have experienced agreement with my rankings)

 

3) Internal SATA drive (HD or SSD, but I have only heard HD

 

4) FW400 external

 

5) FW800 external

 

6) Thunderbolt external

 

7) USB external (though if using a USB DAC a USB drive should be avoided at all costs; I found this to be dreadful)

 

YMMV of course! :)

 

--Alex C.

 

Very interesting Alex. was that order determined when using a good linear power supply to provide power for the external hard drives? Although limited to a few customers, the feedback I have received from customers using thunderbolt external hard drive (Lacie SSD and std HD types - both newer Thunderbolt 2 drives) that they sounded very good -better than other (FW IIRC) alternatives.

 

Too many possibilities and permutations to consider and test though so it's hard to be completely sure about anything with these systems! :-0 :-) For example, if a internal drive is the better way to go than what about different speed drives (5400rpm vs 70000rpm) or those hybrid internal drives?

---------------

Rich Brkich

Owner, Signature Sound

Liverpool, New York USA

Website: http://www.sigsound.com

FaceBook Page: http://www.facebook.com/Signature.Sound.HiFi

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Hi Rich: Good find on that mini!

You should compare, but I ann betting that the internal SATA drive is going to sound better than a Thunderbolt drive.

Did you see my ranking post on Mac drive interfaces in this thread?: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f7-disk-storage-music-library-storage/better-sounding-external-drives-23198/#post399142

 

I'll paste the relevant part here:

 

With regards to an internal SATA drive versus an external FW drive:

There I think the internal SATA does have an advantage in that there are no extra bridging chipsets to go from the drive's (HD or SSD) SATA interface to Firewire and then through the Mac mini's FW controller chip and on into the PCIe's bus controller chip. And my SQ tests a year ago (see that long report on interfaces) are what I base that on.

However, in my comparison, the internal was a 500GB HD drive. While I don't think that SSDs have any SQ advantage--again I think all this is all about the interface and activity and PS--I did not compare those. Also a variable that my be relevant to you Vangelis, is the fact that larger capacity internal HDs 1TB or more are likely to have a different power consumption and EMI radiation "fingerprint" than my little 500GB drive did.

 

So to rank my opinions (based on carefully controlled, sighted listening tests, using Audirvana+) from best to worst music storage location/interface (and assuming one is connecting to a USB DAC):

 

1) RAM disk (impossible to beat but very inconvenient)

 

2) A 3-way tie between:

a) Carefully done shared Ethernet drive on another computer (BlueJeans/Belden Cat6a direct no switch); Good NAS setup might rank up here, or direct connection to a new Airport Extreme sharing a HD connected to its USB port;

b) Mac mini's SD card slot;

c) 2014 Mac mini PCIe Flash drive (I have not actually heard this myself but have read reports from others who have experienced agreement with my rankings)

 

3) Internal SATA drive (HD or SSD, but I have only heard HD

 

4) FW400 external

 

5) FW800 external

 

6) Thunderbolt external

 

7) USB external (though if using a USB DAC a USB drive should be avoided at all costs; I found this to be dreadful)

 

YMMV of course! :)

 

--Alex C.

 

Hello Alex,

 

I also have a question (and sorry if this has already been asked and answered before): when you tested all the above alternatives using Audirvana Plus, did you do it with the "Memory Play" option checked or unchecked? And if you tried both, did you hear any difference between them?

 

thanks,

mario

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