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How to Equip Mac G5 for Best Music


Opsman
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I have a 2 MHz Power Mac G5 with 2 Gbs of Memory and 200 Gb of RAM, running OS 10.4. I am using a Lynx AES16 soundcard out to a BAD Alpha-1.

 

I am currently using the HD to store music and running OS from the same.

 

I understand that the "way to go" is to get a SSD and to run a stripped-down OS on it. Is this correct? If so, what SSDs (brand and capacity) are recommended? If not, then what?

 

What about storing the music files? Is a SSD better than HD for music? If so, what SSDs (brand and capacity) are recommended? If not, then what?

 

I plan to get an external HD for backup. Are some better/more reliable than others.

 

I am a newbie at this. Many thanks to those who have provided advice so far.

 

Pure Music&Amarra/iTunes ->Mac Pro ->Firewire->Weiss 202 ->VTL 7.5III Line Stage -> VTL Siegfrieds -> Alexandrias, Series 2

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First of all, a brief question, how do you presently like the sound?

 

Now, to answer your questions:

 

1. Yes, use a SSD for the OS. Tiger with a custom install and after updates is a little over 2 GBs. Perhaps you may wish to partition the SSD to allow some usage for music. I suggest the music partition on the SSD to be unjournaled.

2. You may need additional storage and perhaps a 2.5" notebook drive housed in a 3.5" case with 500GB storage may be ample.

3. Increase ram to 4 MB.

4. Research single channel AES breakout wires.

5. Turn off unwanted terminal services.

6. Determine a back up system.

 

Regards,

 

Tim Marutani

Emeryville, CA

 

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The newest SSD I've been using is the OCZ Vertex Turbo 120GB.

 

So far so good, I really like it. I also have a MemoRight that is half the disk space and double the price.

 

In the past I've been a fan of the Samsung SLC SSD drives, but they have pretty much disappeared at the stores.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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The sound on RR's 24/172 music is the very best I have ever heard. I have LPs of some of this music and 24/172 is much better.

 

Thanks for your recommendations.

 

Pure Music&Amarra/iTunes ->Mac Pro ->Firewire->Weiss 202 ->VTL 7.5III Line Stage -> VTL Siegfrieds -> Alexandrias, Series 2

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I have the same setup, different dac (g5 w/Lynx > Bryston dac). (G5 2gh dual proc (not dual core). My used G5 came with 1 meg of ram split between two of the four memory slots; as I had two slots free I added 1 mg each for a total of 3 meg ram on the machine. It was SUPPOSED to only come with a clean install of Tiger. Instead it came with IWork, mail and other applications also installed.

 

My question is what benefits would be obtained from uninstalling all the other various and sundry applications that came with the used G5? Apart from the Iwork apps which can easily be dropped and dragged to the trash and emptied.

 

Apart from those - SPECIFICALLY what other apps and processes are likely to be unnecessarily eating in my processor load? WHAT unwanted terminal services can be turned off and how do I turn them off?

 

My music library resides on a Drobo connected to the G5 via Firewire 800. At some later point I'll consider switching over to a SSD for the G5 but tell me specifically what's to be gained from such a switchover. I know the drive will be silent. Will it have any effect on the quality of the sound I'm getting (already very very good) and if so how? I'm just trying to do a bang for the buck prioritizing here. Thanks for any information anyone can provide.

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps the greatest concern may be to develop a solid method for data backup outside of the computer. If a backup method is already implemented:

 

1. Consider increasing RAM to 4 GB. Knowing I am using a difference software I/O, recent comparisons using a similar Power Mac indicate more RAM will improve playback.

2. There are already several posts on this site to turn off unnecessary processes.

 

 

A couple of questions if I may inquire, why are you using the Drobo? How much storage does your library require?

 

Regards,

 

Tim Marutani

Emeryville, CA

 

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I'm using the Drobo because I thought it was a cool device. :) And cost effective. My music library is honestly not very large - its sitting at under 200 gig. I have three 1 terabyte WD green caviar drives @ $85 each in the drobo. I couldn't resist.

 

The drobo is housed in my ht cabinet which has an open back. It does make a wee bit of fan noise which some folks have been able to hack with the installation of quieter fans. Yes I wish the fan were quieter, no I don't think its intrusive.

 

Could you be a little more specific re turning off unnecessary processes or point me to those threads?

 

I haven't bothered to think about an occasional backup of the itunes library to another single external drive (I have a couple of Lacie drives sitting around). I am happy with the drobo.

 

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Hi all.

 

I am interested in the RAM size.

 

I ran the two systems outlined below for 3 hours each. I ran Activity Monitor on both. My results are:

 

At no time did my media system go over 1.5Gbytes memory - my desktop system stayed at 3 Gbytes (there are a few background tasks running).

 

The disk I/O system stays constant at around 350Kbytes/sec.

 

There were no pages in/out over the 3 hours.

 

Spare (idle) CPU time on each system averaged 98%.

 

In short my Intel MAC Pro systems don't break into a sweat when playing audio.

 

I am interested in other peoples results - I've often seen large memory requirements specified for these systems - other than, possibly, using a RAM disk the CPU (applications - principally itunes and Amarra) doesn't use more than 2Gbytes.

 

/Paul

 

Serious Listening:[br]Intel Mac Pro 6G (SSD) -> Amarra ->Alpha USB ->Alpha I Dac -> Ayre KX-R -> Tom Evans Linear Class A -> Avantgarde Mezzo Horns (107db) + Basshorns-> Engineered Room (Power, Traps, Helmholtz Resonators, Ceiling Diffusers)[br]Computer Listening:Intel Mac Pro 6G -> Lavry DA10 -> Adams S3A Active Monitors

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Paul,

 

My experience is similar to yours, that said, I'm still a big proponent of extra RAM for practical reasons.

 

My personal opinion is that quite a few of the tweaks recommended for Mac computers fall into the 'precautionary' category, which one might also think of as 'might help, shouldn't hurt'.

 

There's also the old Sherpa saying "maybe true, maybe not true, better you believe". :)

 

As an example, the only background 'service' that I know has caused me issues with audio playback is Symantec/Norton anti-virus software, yet as 'tweakers' (without much to tweak on a Mac), I and many others shut down unnecessary services, thus the 'precautionary' label. I even slim down apps with Xslimmer - just because I don't like bloated apps taking up precious space on an expensive SSD. Mind you, I don't 'use' that space, I maintain it as a reserve to prevent the SSD controller from having issues 'erasing' data.

 

Others, of course, may have different experiences.

 

Here's another example of precautionary thinking that some would consider overkill. People recommend using AIFF files to avoid unnecessary processing (due to uncompression of ALAC files) while the computer is playing audio. Well, this weekend, I converted most of my music files from ALAC to AIFF WHILE I was listening to music. I never heard any impact on the music, and iTunes was converting these files at 90x to 100x, i.e. 90 to 100 times faster than required for real-time playback.

 

I'm convinced that I could probably RIP and uncompress at the same time, and not impact the music, but alas, iTunes doesn't allow all three to happen simultaneously.

 

As always, everyone's experience is different. And on my recent Mac Mini, i do plan to minimize services, Xslimmer the apps, and I ordered 4Gb RAM (the max) when I bought the machine. I also got the smallest hard drive as I plan to replace with SSD.

 

The truth of the matter is, we just don't know what impacts the sound, so it seems prudent to eliminate any unnecessary activity.

 

With regards to watching Activity Monitor, the thing that bothers me most is that Amarra allocates 500Mg real memory and another 500Mb of Virtual Memory (which is potentially a negative, esp. without an SSD). The rest, like you said, doesn't cause the computer to break a sweat.

 

cheers

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Apart from those - SPECIFICALLY what other apps and processes are likely to be unnecessarily eating in my processor load? WHAT unwanted terminal services can be turned off and how do I turn them off?"

 

The two most nefarious background services are anti-virus software and Spotlight.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotlight_%28software%29

 

I don't recall Spotlight being such a potential resource hog on Tiger, but you might want to research it. I will say this, if you do plan to turn off Spotlight, get your music server's OS completely fine tuned before turning off Spotlight because when you do, you lose search capability.

 

There are many sites on the internet that talk about disabling background services. NOTE: these may be different for Tiger so a little investigation is recommended.

 

One thing to do is just to google the dozen or so services that occur on start up. First go into system preferences and turn off all the crap that you're not going to use, as this will limit the number of services that try to start up, i.e. shut down Bluetooth, and other stuff that you won't use on a pure music server.

 

enjoy

clay

 

 

 

 

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"Apart from the Iwork apps which can easily be dropped and dragged to the trash and emptied."

 

You might want to consider demo of CleanApp. It will also eliminate the 'accessory' files associated with programs that you want to remove. Some iLife programs (like Garage Band) have a number of rather large files that hang around as baggage. I think you can use it for ten or so occurrences to try it out. That's probably all you need.

 

OmniDiskSweeper is a simple app for identifying large files that may be unneccesary - e.g. Apple Loop files that are used by iLife and Garage band. Another noticeable chunk of disk space is taken up by the 'theme' data for iPhoto and another app (whose name escapes me).

 

And then, of course, there are programs for seeking out duplicate music & photo files as well.

 

OTOH, probably none of this is necessary, unless you want to add 'reserve' for an SSD drive, which is my concern.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I know this may be unpopular, but, can the G5 also be setup to play movies that are ripped to the hard drive?

I am looking for the optimal music set up, but also want to store my DVD's digitally as well.

 

Will this hurt the audio performance if I add a video card that has an HDMI output?

 

Thanks.

 

\"It would be a mistake to demonize any particular philosophy. To do so forces people into entrenched positions and encourages the adoption of unhelpful defensive reactions, thus missing the opportunity for constructive dialog\"[br] - Martin Colloms - stereophile.com

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I don't know for sure, but based on my limited experience I would expect the G5 to go into fan overdrive. I'm not really sure. Probably depends on the graphics card and how much of the processing the graphics card handles and how much it passes off to the G5 cpu.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Any comments on whether to get a single 2.0 Ghz or dual 2.0 Ghz processors?

 

\"It would be a mistake to demonize any particular philosophy. To do so forces people into entrenched positions and encourages the adoption of unhelpful defensive reactions, thus missing the opportunity for constructive dialog\"[br] - Martin Colloms - stereophile.com

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"1 proc or 2?"

 

Not yet being an aficianado for discontinued G5s, I don't know the answer.

 

I CAN tell you which G5 I have lined up for possible purchase to check out the 'retro' computer audiophile approach, i.e. Tiger on a G5 tower.

 

I've narrowed it down to the 2.3Ghz Dual Processor (as opposed to the later Dual Core) G5

 

http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/powermac_g5/stats/powermac_g5_2.3_dp.html

 

This model seems to have the best mix of capabilities, which in my mind is: maximum RAM capability (8Gb), processors without liquid cooling. The 2.3 Ghz is the middle model of the late 2005 models, the 2.7 Ghz is liquid cooled and the 2.0 Ghz only supports a max of 4Gb of RAM. Probably the 2.0 Ghz model is also fine so long as you're not concerned with buying a machine that tops out at 4GB RAM.

 

My understanding is that the later models with PCIe slots are not as desirable in the event that Lynx AES card will be employed. If one plans only on using Firewire or USB the more recent generation - called Dual Core - would also seem to be a good candidate, while still avoiding the liquid cooled models.

 

cheers,

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you weren't going to use a discrete sound card, I would just go for a mac mini.

 

As a music server only, why would you want 8GB of RAM?

 

I do CAD work on a machine with 4GB without issue, I can't believe it would be an issue.

 

Or is there a thought that the added RAM may improve sound?

 

 

\"It would be a mistake to demonize any particular philosophy. To do so forces people into entrenched positions and encourages the adoption of unhelpful defensive reactions, thus missing the opportunity for constructive dialog\"[br] - Martin Colloms - stereophile.com

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"If you weren't going to use a discrete sound card, I would just go for a mac mini."

 

Agreed, That's my usual advice. I'm thinking of perhaps doing a comparison given all the recommendations from others about Tiger/G5 combo.

 

"As a music server only, why would you want 8GB of RAM?"

 

Little to do with music server only, it has to do with my views on future-proofing computer purchases. As I think back about the computers I've given up on, most often the reason is the RAM limit, more so than overall performance, or any other factor. I might never install all 8 Gb, but given there's no appreciable difference between the two models, I'd pick the one with higher RAM limit.

 

FWIW, there also have been reports (from a credible source) that Amarra improves when using 8Gb. The audiophile who reported this actually switched back to 4GB (same machine) to confirm. I'm not saying I would hear this difference, only that some apparently can.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

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Hi Clay,

 

That is the exact machine I settled for, for the same reasons, and my system has never sounded better. Now to be fair I made a lot of other tweaks as well recently. But I do not have that fatigueing effect I had with the Mac Mini through firewire. Craigslist it and you should be able to find one for around $600-$800.

 

M9748 model with 4GB of memory, Tiger OS 10.4.11 fresh limited install, Amarra Mini, Lynx PCI, 2nd generation Intel SSD for OS and the very few OS tweaks I could find. Still listening to the inbuilt toslink output whilst I wait for the AES cable, and am curious whether (or how much) that will make it even better. Using toslink on the G5 with Tiger you are limited to 48Khz, so I have not even listened to the 24/96 and up files.

 

Recently compared my humble setup with a local store, and it just confirmed I can not go back to CDs. Even the $15K speakers with >$15K gear did not sound as good.

 

 

 

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