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Brainus Crampus Chapter 3: The FUBAR Chronicles


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I trundled down to my local Microcenter today to buy the Mac Mini I thought I needed (MGEN2LL/A) for $599. The sales dude seemed quite knowledgeable so we started talking. That's when he said... "I know I'm the sales dude, but I'm gonna save you $500." Told me I didn't need a Mini. I could buy Apple TV, plug it into my TV and my Rega DAC. Put my iTunes Library on my Time Capsule and wheeeee! Off we go.

 

His idea was enough to make me not buy the Mini today, but it doesn't make sense to me (because I don't really understand the full functionality of ATV). I can't figure out where the computing/file processing is coming from.

 

I'm rethinking things at the moment. Does this make sense...

 

Run iTunes and its library off my existing MacBook for now. From what I've read, putting the library on the Time Capsule creates too much traffic in a wireless environment. Connect my Airport Express to the Rega DAC with Toslink. Then I can stream music via AirPlay from my MacBook to the AE>DAC>Amp.

 

I also read that there are limitations with 24/192 on the DAC and the AE, so I can only get 24/96. I don't think I'll hear the difference (especially since I don't clearly understand the difference in the first place).

 

Anyway, is this a reasonable solution? After I get it up and running, I can always buy a Mini. Final question is am I going to notice a difference between the Mini 2.6GHz and the Mini 1.4GHz. I get that it's a faster processor but the 1.4GHz is only $399. If the cheaper Mini can do the job, I'll be happy.

 

Worth noting... my ears aren't what they used to be. Too much Rock n' Roll. I want this set-up to sound like a very good CD so that my friends can enjoy the music, but my ears are no longer high-def.

 

Thanks in advance.

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As long as the ATV can see your library, then he is right. The one limitation is it will play everything at 16 bit 48kHz sampling. It won't be high res, but it is very convenient. I use this sort of method in my bedroom and garage.

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I also stream my music from iTunes on my 2011 MBP, through Apple TV to my integrated amp (which has a DAC).

To me, the sound is perfectly fine -- although every now and then the ATV drops the signal.

The problem I ran into is that I've now got about 450 gb of music files, and my 750 gb hard drive is pretty much full. I looked into various options for external storage, but they weren't feasible for me. So, I just ordered a Mac Mini (after going back-and-forth over the decision for more than a year). I'll move my iTunes library over onto its 1TB drive* and hard-wire it to my amp.**

 

*I'm not terribly concerned about any noise, mechanical or electrical, from the spinning hard drive.

** I think there is mixed opinion here as to whether streaming 16/44.1 sounds different from hard-wired 16/44.1.

 

Also, as wgscott noted, the ATV's output is limited to 16/44.1. So, to some extent, I'm buying a mac mini just to see whether I can hear the difference between Redbook and hi-res.

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