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"All in" Mac Mini or Mac Pro (2013)


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Hi

I am considering the MM 2014 16 gb/256 pcie/ i7 3.0 GHz with Uptone MMK+Linear PS as my new streamer for my Berkeley Reference Dac & USB. I use JRiver. I also have my music on a 4 tb Lacie disc connected to my Time Capsule. I use Straightwire USBF + Straightwire AES to the Berkekeys.

 

For the best possible sound I understand the Cache is very important as well as the Pcie SSD.

 

One big advantage to the Pro is the possibliity to upgrade and that the MM can be used with an upgraded Power Supply (not the Pro I understand).

 

Anyone compared the Mac Pro 3.7 GHz with 10 x L3 cache to the MM with 3 x L3 or more?

 

Which sounds the best?

 

 

Tommy

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Is there really no one how has testet the Pro as a source or is it overkill as a source? Or is it simply no match for a sota Mac Mini?

 

It's just overkill as a source. Even the base model is ways overkill, unless you are doing music or video production. A Mac Mini just slots in as about the perfect match for processing power, sound, flexibility, and cost. I recommend a Fusion or SSD drive for it though. The difference is starkly incredible to me. :)

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I'm guessing the Mac Pro may be even worse than the Mini because of more electrical noise. Just a guess though.

 

 

I think this comparison is interesting because the a Mac Mini with I7 (3 mb L3 cache, 256 SSD, 16 gb ram and external power supply would be close to a 3,7 ghz Pro in price here in Norway.

 

So the Mac Mini might better the Pro in terms of using an external power supply, but again the Pro has a bigger (taller) chassis. Could this be an advantage to the Pro? I understand the Pro can not use a P.S like the UpTones.

 

I am currious is it the L3 cache (more the better), the SSD disc and the external PS which makes the Mini sing?

 

Tommy

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I'm guessing the Mac Pro may be even worse than the Mini because of more electrical noise. Just a guess though.

 

 

I have been using a Mac Pro (late 2013) with 3.7 GHz and 20 GB RAM for some time now as a dedicated, headless source. My files are on a 480GB OWC SSD using a firewire-to-Thunderbolt adapter. The Mac Pro feeds a Playback Designs MPD-5 via USB. From my experience, it is MUCH quieter and better sounding than either my MacBook Pro (retina) or my Mac Mini. Given the prices I've seen for some of the dedicated music servers, the cost, at under 3K is quite reasonable, particularly for what you get. Definitely not overkill.

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I have been using a Mac Pro (late 2013) with 3.7 GHz and 20 GB RAM for some time now as a dedicated, headless source. My files are on a 480GB OWC SSD using a firewire-to-Thunderbolt adapter. The Mac Pro feeds a Playback Designs MPD-5 via USB. From my experience, it is MUCH quieter and better sounding than either my MacBook Pro (retina) or my Mac Mini. Given the prices I've seen for some of the dedicated music servers, the cost, at under 3K is quite reasonable, particularly for what you get. Definitely not overkill.

Good to know. Thanks for the post.

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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I have been using a Mac Pro (late 2013) with 3.7 GHz and 20 GB RAM for some time now as a dedicated, headless source. My files are on a 480GB OWC SSD using a firewire-to-Thunderbolt adapter. The Mac Pro feeds a Playback Designs MPD-5 via USB. From my experience, it is MUCH quieter and better sounding than either my MacBook Pro (retina) or my Mac Mini. Given the prices I've seen for some of the dedicated music servers, the cost, at under 3K is quite reasonable, particularly for what you get. Definitely not overkill.

 

Thanks for your feedbac Jerry_rig. I see you also have a Mac Mini. Have you any idea why the Pro is better...? Could it be the combination of pcie SSD/10 mb L3 cache - in other words the "horsepower" the Pro has and the bigger/taller chassis (distance to the power supply)? And I agree, 3k is quite resonable, a upgraded Mac Mini would easy be 2-3k.

 

Tommy

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I think this comparison is interesting because the a Mac Mini with I7 (3 mb L3 cache, 256 SSD, 16 gb ram and external power supply would be close to a 3,7 ghz Pro in price here in Norway.

 

So the Mac Mini might better the Pro in terms of using an external power supply, but again the Pro has a bigger (taller) chassis. Could this be an advantage to the Pro? I understand the Pro can not use a P.S like the UpTones.

 

I am currious is it the L3 cache (more the better), the SSD disc and the external PS which makes the Mini sing?

 

Tommy

 

Seriously? And in truth, you can cut $800 off the cost of the Mini by using a Fusion drive, making it about $1400, or about 35% of the cost of a Mac Pro.

 

I have both, and and sweet little iMac 27" Retina too. I can't see any advantage, sonically, economically, or ergonomically by spending on a Mac Pro for a music server. However, if that is what floats your boat- it will sound very nice! :)

 

-Paul

 

 

 

 

  • Mac mini

      [*=right]
      Line Price:$2,199.00

     

     

    Hardware

    • 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz)
    • 16GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
    • 1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage
    • Intel Iris Graphics
    • User's Guide (English)
    • Accessory Kit

     

    Software

    • Photos, iMovie, GarageBand
    • Pages, Numbers, Keynote
    • OS X

     

     

[TABLE=class: r-align]

[TR]

[TH=class: label]Cart subtotal[/TH]

[TD]$2,199.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: label]Free Shipping[/TD]

[TD=class: text-alert]$0.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: clearfix tax-help label]Information on Estimated Tax

Estimated Tax[/TD]

[TD]Calculate (Estimated Tax)[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR=class: offer-total fsl fweb]

[TD=class: label total-top]Total[/TD]

[TD=class: offer-total-value total-top]$2,199.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: total-message, colspan: 2]From only $105.57 for 24 months* (Opens in a new window)[/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

 

 

 

 

 

or

 

 

 

  • Mac Pro

      [*=right]Line Price:$3,899.00

     

     

    Hardware

    • 3.7GHz quad-core with 10MB of L3 cache
    • 16GB (4x4GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
    • 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
    • Dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
    • User's Guide (English)
    • Accessory Kit

     

    Software

    • Pages, Numbers, Keynote
    • Photos, iMovie, GarageBand
    • OS X

     

[TABLE=class: r-align]

[TR]

[TH=class: label]Cart subtotal[/TH]

[TD]$3,899.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: label]Free Shipping[/TD]

[TD=class: text-alert]$0.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: clearfix tax-help label]Information on Estimated Tax

Estimated Tax[/TD]

[TD]Calculate (Estimated Tax)[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR=class: offer-total fsl fweb]

[TD=class: label total-top]Total[/TD]

[TD=class: offer-total-value total-top]$3,899.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: total-message, colspan: 2]From only $187.18 for 24 months* (Opens in a new window)[/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I recently purchased and installed a 2014 Mac Mini 3.0 I7 16 Gb 256 SSD, and I am quite happy with it. Needed the extra compute power to run HQPlayer to output everything to DSD128. Will get an JS-2 and MMK from Uptone once the tsumani of REGEN orders is dealt with by Alex and he has a bit of time. It replaced a 2010 Mac Mini that was fine except for the lack of sufficient compute power. The old Mini is now retasked to my desktop such that I can keep my Macbook Pro for mobile duty only.

 

It makes no sense, performance wise, to get the Fusion Drive if your music is on an external Firewire or Thunderbolt drive for a dedicated music server. 256GB in more than enough to hold the necessary programs including a range of playback programs. I also have a directory where I move the music that I want to play that day from the Firewire drive. Still plenty of room on the internal 256GB SSD.

 

The new Mac Mini cost about $1350 as configured after academic discount.

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star

Link to comment
Seriously? And in truth, you can cut $800 off the cost of the Mini by using a Fusion drive, making it about $1400, or about 35% of the cost of a Mac Pro.

 

I have both, and and sweet little iMac 27" Retina too. I can't see any advantage, sonically, economically, or ergonomically by spending on a Mac Pro for a music server. However, if that is what floats your boat- it will sound very nice! :)

 

-Paul

 

 

 

 

  • Mac mini

      [*=right]
      Line Price:$2,199.00

     

     

    Hardware

    • 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz)
    • 16GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
    • 1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage
    • Intel Iris Graphics
    • User's Guide (English)
    • Accessory Kit

     

    Software

    • Photos, iMovie, GarageBand
    • Pages, Numbers, Keynote
    • OS X

     

     

[TABLE=class: r-align]

[TR]

[TH=class: label]Cart subtotal[/TH]

[TD]$2,199.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: label]Free Shipping[/TD]

[TD=class: text-alert]$0.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: clearfix tax-help label]Information on Estimated Tax

Estimated Tax[/TD]

[TD]Calculate (Estimated Tax)[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR=class: offer-total fsl fweb]

[TD=class: label total-top]Total[/TD]

[TD=class: offer-total-value total-top]$2,199.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: total-message, colspan: 2]From only $105.57 for 24 months* (Opens in a new window)[/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

 

 

 

 

 

or

 

 

 

  • Mac Pro

      [*=right]Line Price:$3,899.00

     

     

    Hardware

    • 3.7GHz quad-core with 10MB of L3 cache
    • 16GB (4x4GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
    • 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
    • Dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
    • User's Guide (English)
    • Accessory Kit

     

    Software

    • Pages, Numbers, Keynote
    • Photos, iMovie, GarageBand
    • OS X

[TABLE=class: r-align]

[TR]

[TH=class: label]Cart subtotal[/TH]

[TD]$3,899.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: label]Free Shipping[/TD]

[TD=class: text-alert]$0.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: clearfix tax-help label]Information on Estimated Tax

Estimated Tax[/TD]

[TD]Calculate (Estimated Tax)[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR=class: offer-total fsl fweb]

[TD=class: label total-top]Total[/TD]

[TD=class: offer-total-value total-top]$3,899.00[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=class: total-message, colspan: 2]From only $187.18 for 24 months* (Opens in a new window)[/TD]

[/TR]

[/TABLE]

 

 

I was also considering a external power supply like the JS-2 + MMK from UpTone. That would ad another $1000 on top of the $2200... I can get a demo or used Pro from a dealer at about $3000. The Pro is also upgradable as I understand (CPU, SSD flash and memory).

 

At 3 grand the Pro/Mac Mini approach is anyway much cheaper than many of the audiophil solutions out there. But, as you say, whatever floats our boats :-)

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Here is a slightly different 2 cents. If you are using Mac, Amarra will provide you a better sound or Minimserver if going the UPnP route. If you are stuck on using Jriver, why bother going Mac? You can get a far cheaper solution using a windows or Linux setup.

 

Or check out the new review from Chris.

Product - Aurender N100H Music Player

Price - $2,699

Link to comment
Here is a slightly different 2 cents. If you are using Mac, Amarra will provide you a better sound or Minimserver if going the UPnP route. If you are stuck on using Jriver, why bother going Mac? You can get a far cheaper solution using a windows or Linux setup.

 

Or check out the new review from Chris.

Product - Aurender N100H Music Player

Price - $2,699

 

Thanks tranz. I use the Jriver on a 2010 Mac Mini and the JRiver were bundled with my Berkeley dac. I am kind of new in using Mac as a server. Previously I used a Linn Klimax DS but then I bought the Berkeleys because I wanted to try something differet. I am a Mac guy after years of using Windows, so I will stick to the Apples.

 

 

The Aurender N100H looks interesting and I really would like to see a comparison between N100H and a Mac Mini.

 

I thougt buying a dac was difficult, but getting a front end/streamer/transporter to a dac is really the tough one!

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