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Mac Pro server vs. Mac Mini server


colorsquid
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I've built two different music servers a 2008 Mac Pro tower and a 2012 Mac Mini. Both systems are running Audirvana 2.3, bypassing core audio in exclusive access mode. All things are equal, cables, El Capitan, RAM, running processes, etc. My question is, why does a 2008 Mac Pro sound dramatically better than the later 2012 Mac Mini?

Main 2 channel - Synology NAS,  Roon,  Allo USBridge + Uptone LPS-1,  Schiit Gungnir Gen 5 USB, Schiit Freya, Carver TFM-15 4 channels, Vandersteen 3A Signatures

Headphone - Schiit Mjolnir 2, Reflektor HG 6922 tubes, Audeze LCD2, HiFiman HE-500, Sennheiser HD650, etc.

 

on the test bench - Ropieee, Pi touchscreen, Teradak DC30 power supply...

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Mac Pro tower has sometimes better power supply (less electrical noises in secondary chain) from AcBel, compared to Mini.

Sorry, english is not my native language.

Fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves, but wiser people are full of doubts.

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No idea - the sound from a Mac Mini, an iMac 5K Retina, and a MacPro here is nearly indistinguishable. Figuring out why is not easy.

 

Cables, DAC, power supply, etc.

 

I do not think this is the general case, but rather it has something to do with your specific environment. Not a lot of help, I know.

 

-Paul

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Expectation bias?

 

Expectation bias, of course. That is tweakable at the wallet level.

Main 2 channel - Synology NAS,  Roon,  Allo USBridge + Uptone LPS-1,  Schiit Gungnir Gen 5 USB, Schiit Freya, Carver TFM-15 4 channels, Vandersteen 3A Signatures

Headphone - Schiit Mjolnir 2, Reflektor HG 6922 tubes, Audeze LCD2, HiFiman HE-500, Sennheiser HD650, etc.

 

on the test bench - Ropieee, Pi touchscreen, Teradak DC30 power supply...

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  • 4 months later...
I've built two different music servers a 2008 Mac Pro tower and a 2012 Mac Mini. Both systems are running Audirvana 2.3, bypassing core audio in exclusive access mode. All things are equal, cables, El Capitan, RAM, running processes, etc. My question is, why does a 2008 Mac Pro sound dramatically better than the later 2012 Mac Mini?

 

Damn I've felt the same thing. I recently transitioned my server from a 2010 Mac Pro Tower to a 2014 Mac Mini and...I kind of hate it. Thinking I'll send the Mini back and look into upgrading the Tower.

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Both systems are INTERNALLY very different--chips, layout, power supply.

 

What we know about audio is that sometimes, everything makes a difference. :-) :-(

 

Greg

 

A Mac Pro Tower might make a better server. But I can find almost nothing online about conversion tweaks...

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Two large differences are the power supplies and the processing capability. One would think that the Mac Pro's power supply being significantly larger would introduce more noise but perhaps it has better filters. As for the processing power, lots of people have moved up to an i7 from an Atom based system so perhaps there really is something to having more horsepower.

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That explains why it sounds better.

 

Ok I agree it might well be in my imagination, but I've had no expectation that it would sound better. If anything, I've been predisposed toward the Mac Mini since just about everybody else seems to have one.

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Part of the problem is I don't know what you mean by "conversion tweaks." If you mean modifications to the operating system, it should be the same as the mac mini. If you mean which ones actually yield a sonic improvement, it isn't obvious any do on any hardware. If you mean modifications to the hardware, the mac pro is customizable to begin with, and also I think so few are used for low-demand applications like audio playback that no one has bothered.

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Part of the problem is I don't know what you mean by "conversion tweaks." If you mean modifications to the operating system, it should be the same as the mac mini. If you mean which ones actually yield a sonic improvement, it isn't obvious any do on any hardware. If you mean modifications to the hardware, the mac pro is customizable to begin with, and also I think so few are used for low-demand applications like audio playback that no one has bothered.

 

I meant hardware tweaks. It isn't obvious that they yield any sonic improvement. But it isn't obvious that they don't, is it?

 

Or is it?

 

Do you use a stock Mac mini? With its internal switching power supply, etc.?

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Yes.

 

Since I haven't tried an external power supply, I cannot tell you it makes no difference. However, if I turn that computer off and stream from another over ethernet and wireless, I don't hear a difference, so I don't think I am hearing the SMPS, at least on my DAC.

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Yes.

 

Since I haven't tried an external power supply, I cannot tell you it makes no difference. However, if I turn that computer off and stream from another over ethernet and wireless, I don't hear a difference, so I don't think I am hearing the SMPS, at least on my DAC.

 

What about USB filters like Regen, etc. Have you tried those? (I haven't, FYI, so not intended as a rhetorical question.)

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  • 1 year later...

Apparently not, it is a packaging into like multibit over the USB or SPDIF  and when it reaches DAC it is read as native DSD again. Purist will not like it and hard to make comparision since windows is already different from Mac as an OS so it would be hard to tell if there are differences though i suppose u can try sending DSD as DoP from same windows PC to compare

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A MacMini lacks one thing the MacPro tower has is space. The circuit paths are spread out by a factor of at least six. MacMini has components right on top of each other cross coupling noise due to proximity and the MacMini has no ground connection, so noise floats on differential signals. It's also easier to bond metals to a large frame for RF to be absorbed. Essentially the same processing power, therefore the Mini and the Pro share a similar rated power supply, whether or not they are superior to each other is another story, what remains is the more compact supply, the proximity to noisy components still remain.

I noticed the sound was different compared to a tower PC, MacMini and mini PC. I use a tower PC, it's the lesser evil among all.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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