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Mac G5 set up help please.....


john.stone

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Hi,

 

this will be my first post although I've been lurking and reading for a while. I'd have to say that despite trying my hardest to get a handle on a computer based system, I'm still struggling to work out a best case plan for my first attempt.

 

I have a 1.8GHz PowerPC G5 that I'd like to put into service, and having read some enthusiastic threads on here regarding the G5, I'm sure that it's a good start. Storage wise my thoughts were to add in a G5 Jive, with three WD Caviar Black 2TB drives installed, another WD 2TB in the second internal drive bay and a 300mb WD Velociraptor in the first to take the system software. I've had to add in a Sonnet Tempo SATA card to take the extra drives and I installed 8gb of new Kingston RAM.

 

I suppose my first question would be on what version of Mac OS is best and on how to install the bare minimum given that this will only be used for music and films?

Second question then would be on how to set up the four 2TB drives so that I have 4TB in total but mirrored? I'm nervous about losing the 2000 odd CD's that I intend to copy over before selling the lot.

And thirdly, if I use iTunes, I assume that I also need something like Ammara or PureMusic to get the best out of the set up. Again, what is generally regarded as being the best ripped file format given that I'm not too bothered about file size and gather lossless is preferable over any lossy file. If space does become an issue I can add further external drives later I suppose.

 

This is all going into my main system which I've been feeding through my CD and TT but have decided if I can get this to work as well then they'll both be resigned to the classifieds. I'll need to replace the Meridian DAC with something USB fed I guess and that should be that.

 

The other thought I had was that of 'storing' my DVD's on the Mac too. Is this as easy a deal as music is or are there other issues with copyright, etc?

 

Basic questions I know and I have tried to answer as many as possible through FAQ's but I'm still not certain and would appreciate any pointers given.

 

All the best, John.

 

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First up - System software:

I have a personal rule of thumb that tells me that Apple computers will run well on the system software they came with, and at least as well if not better on the subsequent generation. After that diminishing returns set in. Unscientific, but based on long experience. So for your G5, you'll most likely have Tiger, and could go to Leopard without problem. Beyond that you may have problems, in fact I'm not sure that Snow Leopard supports G5. Since you only want music and movies, you can decide based on software requirements - Amarra will run under Tiger, Pure Music afaik needs Leopard, and the newer contenders look like they're going to need Snow Leopard. I recommend you try before you buy since anecdotal evidence suggests a dedicated G5 may work well for music without these programs.

 

Second up - Ripping strategy and drive mirroring:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Computer-Audiophile-CD-Ripping-Strategy-and-Methodology

My thoughts are that if you follow this, you don't need to use mirrored drives for backup, just use one drive for the music library and one for the archive copies. Mirroring makes more sense in a production environment, not so much for home use imo. Just fyi, selling your cd collection after you rip it is very naughty, kills puppies, and makes the angels cry. Not that I care, but on a more practical note keeping your cds means you have a backup, and lets you re-rip if in the future the certifiable hair-shirted nutters are proved right about ripping drives and software. Be aware that in the world of hi-fi the chsn's are often proved right!

 

Other things you asked about -

 

Ripping DVD's: programs like Handbrake, Mactheripper, Ripit, Fairmount should sort you out in some combination. It's a little more complicated that music because of the need to remove the copy protection (which is what these programs do). Legally is between you, your country's laws and whatever god you worship.

 

Replacing your DAC: The G5 gives you a choice of toslink, usb and firewire to interface to a dac. More options if you get a dedicated audio card (see the CASH list for ideas). So you have lots of choices if you want to replace your Meridian, but I'd suggest you keep it for the moment if you can find a way to connect it to the G5. I don't know their range very well, but if you can give some more details maybe someone else will have some suggestions.

 

Hope this helps a little. Oh, and sorry about all the acronyms.

 

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Souptin has some good advice. OSX really sounds pretty good out of the box. Not to say that PM or Amarra don't have advantages, put get your basics together and then decide.

 

No, you don't need a USB DAC, as Souptin notes. You can add a soundcard to your G5, go firewire or USB. Again, there is no clear leader, let your needs, budget and ears decide.

 

Oh, and Snow Leopard won't run on a non-Intel Mac.

 

Good luck, keep reading and asking (informed) questions.

 

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Forgot to add:

 

In terms of installing system software, I'd suggest doing the default (full) installation. Then afterwards consider things like disabling Spotlight and perhaps Dashboard and see how you get on - for Spotlight you just exclude your media, and maybe system hard disks from its searches in System Preferences. I think Dashboard and other tweaks like 'renicing' need Terminal commands - have a search on this forum.

 

I recall that there were some advantages to a minimal system install under OS9 to avoid loading unwanted system extensions, but I think with OSX this has changed for the better, and extensions don't load unless needed. However keep an eye on "Login Items" in the Accounts section of System Preferences for any sneaky little background applications that you may or may not want. One example being the Rowmote Helper that you need for the iPhone app. I'm honestly not sure how much of a difference these make to sound quality - I think it's mostly a case of trading off audio paranoia against convenience - otoh I do think my music sounds better when I'm not simultaneously fiddling with email and surfing the web.

 

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Cheers for the input guys, it's all most helpful.

 

As an advocate of anti-piracy in music and film, I was blissfully unaware that getting 'rid off' my master copy was breaking the law I hadn't thought of the reversal of that position in not having ever bought the original and having the file on the PC. I'm rethinking that step now.

The G5 is non-Intel so won't run Snow Leopard but I'm happy with Leopard for the moment. I'm also going to run the two week demo of Pure Music and see how I get on with it.

 

 

 

 

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