Jump to content
IGNORED

Mac Mini vs. Audiophile VortexBox


POR964

Recommended Posts

OK, so I am a complete newbie to CA.

I still listen to my large collection of CD's.

But want to create different playlists/ mixes from my CD's.

 

I do have a not-so-old Mac Mini sitting around at home, which, I believe, could be used as the brain of computer audio system.

The thing is I do NOT want to have a computer in my Living Room.

So I need something quiet and without a monitor like the Mac Mini.

But the Mac Mini lacks the much-needed ripping ability.

Would I get an external ripper? If so from where?

 

The other option would be to get an Audiophile VortexBox unit from Small Green Computer.

The thing is this machine costs some $1,099.

Their standard machine is much cheaper, but horrendously ugly!!

On top of that I would need to buy a USB DAC (HRT Music Streamer HD, $515).

So I am looking at over $1,500+ worth of investment.

 

I do want to explore computer audio.

But $1,500 seems like quite a bit of investment.

So I just want to get some much-needed advice here.

 

Instead of replacing my CD player, I would want to have the CD player along side my new computer audio gear.

 

My hifi system has the following components:

 

1). Audia Flight 3 Integrated Amplifier

2). Heed Enigma speakers

3). Sony CDX-5000 CD Player

 

Thank you very much in advance guys!!

Link to comment

If I were you I would try and get a few tracks that your familiar with onto your mac mini and look at connecting to your hifi via a Dac, the mac mini is a very capable machine for playing back music but from my experiences you will need to use a standalone dac. Some of the 3rd party software companies such as Audirvana do a 15 day trial, this sounds much better than itunes

Sources are: Mac Mini 2010 / Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace c/w Jelco 750 D and Denon DL 103 MC cartridge. Phono Stage: EAR 834P. Power Amp: Audio Note Empress Silver into a Hattor passive pre. DAC: Lampizator Atlantic and Humming Board NAA Speakers: Horns.pl Mummys. Cables: Duelund DC 16 GA  - Audionote AN-SPX 27 Strand RCA and Albedo Silver RCA and Western Electric WE 16 GA. All digital music played through a Mac Mini using Roon and HQP. Power Supply: Gigawat PC2-EVO

Link to comment

Here's some thoughts for you...

 

Yes you can plug in any usb drive and rip onto the mac mini, however you can also rip with another desktop or laptop and transfer it to the mini across your network. Many people prefer to use a ripping program which verifies the rip as being correct when done. Itunes does not do this. Programs such as XLD or EAC do.

 

You do not need to buy a vortexbox as the very same software is a free download. To try it out, buy or repurpose an old desktop/laptop and try it out. I bought an old lenovo on craigslist for $65 5 years ago and it's still running today.

 

I personally don't care for the Vbox/Lenovo as a player in my audio rack but it works great as a ripper/NAS next to my router in the basement. The Vbox acting as a NAS then serves my CAPS 3, Squeezeboxes, cell phones, etc throughout the house.

 

The mac mini itself is very user friendly and works quite well for audio but in it's stock form is not a high end music server. I find the atom based CAPS 3 to be a much better sounding transport. This is likely due to not running a fan or spinning media in the unit itself. Lots of people mod the mini by replacing all the moving parts and upgrading the power supply. While I'm sure this is a great solution, I think you could get the same result much cheaper than starting with the MM. This is not a slam on macs as I love them, just remember they are not a purpose built for audio machine.

Link to comment

External ripping: either from a different computer with a disc drive or attaching (temporarily) an external disc reader to the Mini. With networked audio you can rip music on one machine and save it on the network over another. So you don't have to rip on the Mini.

 

Your mini is very suitable as a starting point. Use it now and you can always get something else later if you want to.

 

You can get a good USB DAC to start out with for less than $515 - look at the iFi Audio line, Schiit Audio, Resonessence Herus, or several others mentioned on this site; $200 to $400 these days can get you quite a good device.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to comment

+1

 

To add, the mini is a nice starting point and has the most OS options. One can buy an Uptone Audio MMK kit helping with the fan power noise while offering power supply upgrades. All of that can be used on any OS to find the path you like. All solutions seem to have features and issues, and your mini allows you to try most any of them. The power supply options range from $75-1000USD and beyond.

External ripping: either from a different computer with a disc drive or attaching (temporarily) an external disc reader to the Mini. With networked audio you can rip music on one machine and save it on the network over another. So you don't have to rip on the Mini.

 

Your mini is very suitable as a starting point. Use it now and you can always get something else later if you want to.

 

You can get a good USB DAC to start out with for less than $515 - look at the iFi Audio line, Schiit Audio, Resonessence Herus, or several others mentioned on this site; $200 to $400 these days can get you quite a good device.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

Link to comment

I have a standard mini and it's fine even without any mods. But most of the time I AirPlay Apple Music from my iPhone over to my Apple TV into the dac, you have a number of options if you want the mini in another room for ripping and as a file sever, don't forget the new ATV also has an Apple Music interface. I'm more than happy with the day to day quality, if I want to play high red files I'll use the mini, but I find it hard to tell the difference in quality even with a top antelope dac.

Setup:

Lumin D2> Roksan Blak> Focal 806

Link to comment
+1

 

To add, the mini is a nice starting point and has the most OS options. One can buy an Uptone Audio MMK kit helping with the fan power noise while offering power supply upgrades. All of that can be used on any OS to find the path you like. All solutions seem to have features and issues, and your mini allows you to try most any of them. The power supply options range from $75-1000USD and beyond.

 

Thank you firedog and 4est, and the rest of the guys who responded!!

 

I am thinking about getting the IFI IDAC2. Am also thinking about the Uptone conversion kit, and a Teradak LPS for Mac Mini.

All that should run me about just under $900 US.

 

Any further thoughts with this combination?

 

Thanks guys!!

Link to comment

Id maybe look at an auralic mini before you start moding a mini. First job is to set the mini up and see how it sounds. You can get an analog output cable first and look at how you will control it?

Do you have an iPhone or iPad to run remote software? You may also want to run jriver rather than iTunes.

Setup:

Lumin D2> Roksan Blak> Focal 806

Link to comment
Id maybe look at an auralic mini before you start moding a mini. First job is to set the mini up and see how it sounds. You can get an analog output cable first and look at how you will control it?

Do you have an iPhone or iPad to run remote software? You may also want to run jriver rather than iTunes.

 

Thanks keeper!

 

Yes I use an iphone, and also have an ipad mini at home.

 

But I do have reservations about wireless streaming as far as sound quality is concerned.

In your experience, sound quality is not in any way compromised??

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...