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2 questions before buying mac mini


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I want to buy a mac mini today. I know I’ll spring for 4 gigs of RAM. Is there a compelling reason to go to 8 gigs? It’s a lot more money, but is it truly worth it?

 

320 gig or 500 gig hard drive? I’ve read that the best storage for music is in an external firewire drive. (I use USB to connect to my DAC) That said, an internal 500 gig drive would suit my music storage needs for a long time. Will I just plain not be getting nearly as good sound with the music stored on an internal drive. If that’s the case, I’ll buy the cheaper 320 gig internal drive.

 

Thanks in advance for your advice,

Dan

 

 

 

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I would get the smaller drive and a good external 1 or 2 TB drive. Plus a Plextor PX-880U for ripping, a SSD, and start with 2GB of RAM.

Fry's has 8 GB of the proper RAM for 149.95. the new mini is very easy to swap yourself. Installing a SSD is harder.

But If I was going to upgrade my Mini, the cheapest version with the faster processor is where the journey would begin.

 

George

 

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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Currently on hand I have an iomega 500 gig portable firewire drive that draws its power from the computer it's plugged into. Will that suffice or do I need to get a drive that's externally powered? The iomega is at least quite quiet and most of the externally powered ones I've seen are quite noisy. It would be nice, of course, to not have to shell out for another drive right now. Thoughts?

 

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I second Panelhead's advice. Another thought re: the external drive is to use Pure Music in memory mode. Not only do you get a superior player you will only be accessing the drive between tracks. You really need at least 4 gb of memory though and friends who have hi resolution systems have heard benefits with 8gb.

 

As for the noise level of externally powered drives. I have three that are externally powered using enclosures from OWC and they are dead silent. Only within 1 foot and a totally quiet room can I hear any noise and that is when the drive is spinning. It depends on the drive but most will nto be heard even if spinning (itunes for example) once you put music on. They make enclosures with interfaces that are combo usb or firewire and it really does not make a difference in my system.

 

cheers

 

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Check out the Glyph external HD sold by pro audio sites like B&H Photo. Very well built, Seagate drive FW connections etc.

 

I have a Mini with 160GB drive but have all music on the Glyph 1.5 TB external. Mini locates music from external.

 

Steve Kuh[br]Mac Mini > Glyph HD > Weiss AFI1 (slave) > modded Esoteric D70 (master) > BAT VK51SE > Classe CA400 > Harbeth Super HL5[br]\"Come on the amazing journey and learn all you should know...\"

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I still wonder if my quiet portable firewire drive from iomega will do the trick for me. Is a more expensive and powered drive going to improve sound quality?

 

Also a follow-up question on using lots of memory with Pure Music: is the point that with, say, 8 gigs of memory using PM's memory mode it doesn't really matter if the music is stored on an internal drive?

 

Thanks again,

Dan

 

 

 

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I don't know if the external will improve sound although the Glyph does have a RAM buffer. More importantly the external is the music vault so if it goes your system goes.

 

The 1.5 TB Glyph is $259 shipped. If it's a few $$ more it's worth it IMO.

 

Steve Kuh[br]Mac Mini > Glyph HD > Weiss AFI1 (slave) > modded Esoteric D70 (master) > BAT VK51SE > Classe CA400 > Harbeth Super HL5[br]\"Come on the amazing journey and learn all you should know...\"

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So far. Go for 8 Gb of RAM, but do not pay Apple's inflated prices, get it from OWC or one of the other more affordable sources (as noted above, it is very easy to install the memory yourself), with Pure Music and memory play you want to max out the RAM. Use the external Firewire drive you have, as it's quiet, and being powered from the Firewire bus is a good thing (one less wall wart, wire, and switching power supply) of course you want to back up this drive as well occasionally. Purchase the Mini with smallest drive Apple sells, and then upgrade the internal drive to small SSD (40-60 Gb) when you can afford as your last upgrade.

I have been using an Oyen MiniPro bus powered Firewire drive and it works perfectly.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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Do I allocate as much as much of it as possible to Memory Play? If I understand correctly, I think not. I would only need to allocate enough to hold my largest track of gapless album. Any more than that and it would just go to waste. Does Pure Music buffer more then the next gapless segment it’s about to play? I’m assuming the rationale behind a lot or RAM is to minimize paging in general. Am I right?

 

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in Pure Music. But after speaking with Rob at RMAF, he said the colored knob confuses folks since it just shows the amount of memory that has been touched once.

 

When memory is released it can be used again, even though PM shows it used (at least that is what I took from our conversation. I do know when I jumped to 4 GB the change was audible. More importantly in hog mode the change was more than audible.

 

Also FWIW a few friends who like itunes, run 8 GB and they hear a difference. Since itunes does not use memory to stream like PM, one would think it should not have an effect. But perhaps some other processes now get to use memory and that may influence sound.

 

Pure Music does just load the track into memory and then again for the next track unless you have the entire album tagged as gapless, then the whole album is loaded into memory. My friend likes it this way and has all of his albums tagged in this manner.

 

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of Wavelength Audio always recommends to max out the RAM. The way I understand it, the more "real" memory one has available, the less the computer processes will use virtual memory (on the system disc) resulting in less disc activity. Less disc activity is generally regarded as leading to better sound (hence numerous tweaks in computer setup, known to reduce disc activity, and improve sound).

Computer experts-if my understanding of these processes is in error, please weigh in here.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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I've been reading CA for a few months as I assemble my Mac Mini system. By nature, I tend to analyze things too much and when I catch myself, I step back to get a little perspective. In this case, the difference in price for 4GB vs. 8GB of RAM is about $60 at OWC, IIRC. We spend many thousands on a system. Life is too short. Get the 8 gig and be done.

 

Ron

 

Antipodes DXe > MSB Analog DAC (Quad USB input) > Bent Audio AVC-1 > Border Patrol SE300B > Edgar-inspired front horns

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I can't see any reason with memory play why you would need more than 1 gig + (size of largest file or set of files read into memory).

 

Page outs occur when the need for memory exceeds the capacity; you can hear the disk being thrashed. I haven't had that happen with 2 gig of memory. (I currently have 48 pageouts and ~62,000 pageins).

 

I can't remember if it only applies to fortran or not, but I seem to recall vaguely an upper bound of 2 gig per program max. for potential use. If that is the case generally, more than 4 gig is not doing a thing. I guess with 64-bit, this shouldn't be a constraint at least.

 

Also, why is memory play an advantage? The disk would have to be remarkably slow for conventional reading to be a bottleneck.

 

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I do not think you have tried Pure Music with memory playback? I have 4 Gb of RAM. To play albums "gapless" (desireable for many albums to avoid silence between tracks which are menat to have continuous sound) PM will load the entire album into RAM and then play it back. With 4 Gb of RAM, regular 16/44.1 albums can load entirely into memory, and some (shorter) 24/96 albums can load entirely, but some 24/96 albums cannot load entirely into memory, But there is no way a 24/176.4 or 24/192 will load entirely into RAM for gapless playback (most of these are over 4 Gb of content). I believe PM requires some amount of "free" RAM to always be present, so it will not load up the memory to capacity. In fact, I am going to be upgrading my computer specifically so I can have 8 Gb of RAM to accommodate high resolution gapless playback. RAM is cheap, so as long as the OP is getting a computer which can accommodate 8 Gb, my recommendation is to load it up.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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Also, why is memory play an advantage? The disk would have to be remarkably slow for conventional reading to be a bottleneck.

 

Disk spinning = noise. This is why memory play sounds better. Try it, if you don't hear a difference, don't buy extra memory

 

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In 2009 I wrote about the improved sound quality I heard when I upgraded my MacBook Pro from 4 to 8 GB of RAM at AA. Pure Music really benefits from the extra RAM and Amarra will probably also if the 2.1 update is ever released.

 

All you have to do is listen to hear the benefits of total memory playback.

 

Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

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