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Mac MIni - How Much RAM is enough


mwheelerk

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I read in a number of threads the recommendation for the Mac Mini to get it with 8 GB of RAM. My question may be way too simple but I really don't understand why do I need 8 GB rather than the standard 2GB? What benefits as a music server do I gain by more RAM? My current iMac only has 1GB and I am unaware of any problems or disadvantages I have by not having more RAM.

 

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Can anyone give me insight into this? I am thinking of going over to the Apple Store. I was intending to buy the minimum unit for $699 which is the 320GB HD and 2GB RAM. The budget is tight and I might squeeze another $100 but that means either a 500GB HD or 4 GB of RAM and I just don't understand why I need them for using this only as a music server.

 

My iTunes library resides on an external drive. Any benefit to have it on the internal drive of the Mac Mini (which would mean a delay in purchase as it would require the dual 500GB hard drive which comes with 4GB RAM for $999).

 

Thanks for any help.

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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a cheap add on, especially in audiophile terms. Max it out with 8 GB, but do not pay Apple's inflated prices. You can get an 8 GB RAM setup from macsales.com for less than $150.00.

Note: if you want to play back high resolution files, gapless, with memory play (recommended) you will need lots of RAM.

 

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It's very easy to add additional ram to the Mac Mini 2010 and you'll do it for less money .If your swap file and page outs are small during normal usage you may not see any benefits from adding additional ram. Should you choose to use alternative player software (than iTunes) which loads music into ram prior to playing then additional ram may be of benefit.

 

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Okay, now that makes sense to me. So if I opt to add Pure Music or Amarra or something of that ilk then the additional RAM would be beneficial. So far I haven't read or heard anything said that using the Mac Mini as a music server with iTunes as the player will benefit from additional RAM or if it does how it would benefit

 

I will still have my iMac for my primary computer use. The Mac Mini is strictly targeted as a music server.

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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mwheelerk, I believe that the theory is much the same whether you are serving audio files or database records : anything you can do to minimise disk access is a good thing. Unlike databases, you dont have to worry about concurrency, deadlocks or other issues around the need to serve multiple users over a network.

 

If I were writing something like mpd (a pure music server process, as opposed to the usual client-server-in-one-app approach), I would ensure that I loaded everything (playlists, cache etc) into memory when the service started and then I would try to buffer tracks for playback : clearly, my code would have no way of predicting which tracks I would play from the client app, but for a 'shuffled' or sequential playlist it seems like a no-brainer : I suspect that it isnt as simple as that, but Wes Phillips seems convinced that adding more memory to his Mac improved the quality of the end result.

 

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I have my library on an external drive. That made sense to me when my iMac was sharing duty as my music server and my personal computer. With the Mac Mini as a dedicated music server is it best to have your library on the internal drive or should I continue to use an external drive? What is the benefits of one over the other?

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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  • 2 weeks later...

I had 4GB and just upgraded to 8GB (OWC). I use itunes / Amarra and think it actually does sound better. I didn't expect it to change sonically but it did imo.

 

Music is stored on external iomega FW HD's.

 

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Mwheelerk,

 

If you are using iTunes by itself as your player, I would first look at getting a new player. That will inmprove your sound more than just adding more memory.

 

Improved players are Play.app, Pure Music, any of the Amarra players, or Ayrewave (in beta, kinda buggy for some, but good sounding). Some of these players are free or the price of a memory upgrade. They all will improve your sound more than throwing more memory at iTunes.

 

If you get a new player, you could then look at weather a memory upgrade will help you. In general, if the player offers Memory Playback, then adding memory will noticeably improve the sound.

 

Regards,

Mach2Music

 

 

 

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I had tried demo's of Amarra and Pure Music and found both to be "clunky" in using and for my ear I could hear no benefit regarding sound quality. The only thing I did like was the auto switching of bit and sample rates without messing with Audio Midi Set Up.

 

What does look interesting to me is the soon to be released PS Audio tagNplay software (appartently they are considering a name change) It is a complete playback and data base system and not just a player wrapper for iTunes.

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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In last two days installed both AyreWave and Pure Music...both sound better than iTunes player by a bunch and are very different in emphasis, particularly with memory player (both) and upsampling 44.1 to 88.2 (PM).

 

Spent $135 for OWC 8GB RAM.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mwheelerk,

go for the standard model and perhaps think of having a 500 GB harddisk. I have upgraded from 2 GB to 8 GB and did not notice any difference for normal 16/44 playback. Even Amarra and PureMusic play fine with that. It might make a difference if you are very critical with respect to gapless playback, but the sound itself is not affected!

 

The internal disk has the main advantage of running anyway, i.e. if you store your music on this disk, you will not experience additional noise from the external drive. Again, the sound itself is not affected!

 

All these statements of course only hold for a dedicated system that has been stripped down with respect to music playback.

 

The best investment for your additional $$ is Amarra. If you don't hear a difference (provided optimal setup) then it makes no sense to invest more money in RAM or external disks.

 

Just my 2 ct.

Kay

 

 

Mac mini (Mojave, Audirvana/Amarra/Roon) -> Dirac -> Audioquest Carbon USB -> devialet 200 -> MIT Shotgun MA -> Verity Audio Leonore

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I went with the basic Mac Mini. So far everything seems to be fine. The one thing I am unsure of what and how to do is to have it "stripped down" for music playback.

 

I have an iMac which is my primary computer. The Mac Mini is intended as a music server but I do have the HDMI output to my HDTV where I use Front Row to control music playback. I also like setting the screen saver using my iTunes artwork. I have checked email and browsed the web from the Mac Mini but it is not essential that I do that. The only really functional thing I have done in web browsing is finding artwork for my albums and of course the iTunes database search when I am importing CDs to my library.

 

If I "stripped down" the Mac Mini would I lose those basic functions? What actions do I need to take to "strip down" the Mac Mini to enhance best audio performance.

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

 

Mike

 

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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