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Mac Pro “DIY” Music Server (current model)


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I have been following the @Nenon DIY music server thread and am very interested in that once plans solidify but in the meantime, also given the wait, I thought I might try a fun and possibly stupid experiment to build a music server using current model Mac Pro and wanted to check if anyone has any thoughts or just thinks it’s just too TERRIBLE of an idea. :)

 

I looked around for a while and can’t seem to find anyone that has tried this...probably for many of the obvious reasons. But, Thinking is, when I do the @nenon DIY server I can use the Mac Pro for work and the JCAT cards and possibly other things for the other server. Also, I am not an experienced DIYer as possibly evidenced by me even trying this! but happy to share what I find if I do. Here’s what I was thinking / wondering as there is not much out there and not a lot of ways to see or compare. 


Processor is Intel Xeon W. I’ll go for as many cores as I can “afford”
No graphics cards

JCAT XE USB and NET cards

Euphony Stylus


Questions:

Floor standing vs rack mount chassis? I have not seen the rack mount version. 
Thoughts on RAM? There are up to 12 slots RAM at 2933MHz. Apacer DIMMs? 4gb vs 8gb?

Power Supply? Anyone have any thoughts on this? Specs say 1280W at 108-125v. 12A. JCAT cards powered separately.
 

In any event, any suggestions or suggestions that this is worst idea ever appreciated! Thanks in advance! 

 

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The Pro is designed for filmmakers and photographers etc. Unless you are also crunching Premiere, Lightroom, etc I wouldn't bother with it as a music server. All those $$$ going to waste. You'd be better off with a basic fanless NUC IMO. But if you truly are going to use it for what it's designed for, they should have plenty of grunt to run just about anything music related alongside, HQP, Roon, etc. I would assume power, etc is all proprietary and built in. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: opticalModule> Sonore microRendu 1.4> Matrix Mini-i Pro 3> Naim NAP 110>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack, Moon Audio DIN>RCA, USB A>C. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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Coming from a NUC, then a 6 core AMD, now on an octa-core AMD I can see the point of using a (dual)! Xeon quite vividly. Why not focus on getting your system to run (do you plan dual boot, can it do that?), use enough of the Apacer RAM (it does sound better) so that all memory channels are served (should be in the manual for the MB), focus on getting the in-out cards an LPS and then deal with feeding the power hungry beast.

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

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3 hours ago, charlesphoto said:

I wouldn't bother with it as a music server. All those $$$ going to waste. You'd be better off with a basic fanless NUC IMO....I would assume power, etc is all proprietary and built in. 

Yes agree its a waste $-wise :). But I currently have what is a very high performing NUC + LPS and am also planning on finding a way to do the DIY Taiko project. This is just a fun experiment. Cost of the computer itself is not an issue for me as I already have Mac Pros for work. I already have JCAT cards. The only cost consideration for me is the power supplies which may not be possible in this case anyway...I know . 

 

1 hour ago, AudioDoctor said:

Spend your 6K on an actual useful machine...

 

https://www.ekfluidgaming.com/ek-fluid-gaming-pc-295-vanquish

 

With this you can run Linux and HQPlayer to upsample, using CUDA and the nVidia card, to almost whatever your heart wants without any noise.

yeah the cost, outside of the power supply, is not an issue and this is more just an experiment. Agree the Mac Pro could be noisy. What I am not clear about though is how/when the fans kick in so I will find that out....maybe it will run pretty light. Can also try other things to minimize vibration... Also, Mac should be able to run Linux but Im curious to run Euphony on a Mac which I have never done. 

 

3 hours ago, MarcelNL said:

Coming from a NUC, then a 6 core AMD, now on an octa-core AMD I can see the point of using a (dual)! Xeon quite vividly. Why not focus on getting your system to run (do you plan dual boot, can it do that?), use enough of the Apacer RAM (it does sound better) so that all memory channels are served (should be in the manual for the MB), focus on getting the in-out cards an LPS and then deal with feeding the power hungry beast.

Yes agree @MarcelNL. I thought Macs could dual boot. It should be able to run Linux too but havent heard anyone doing that with a modern Mac Pro. Does Stylus allow for that? Great point on memory Channels. I guess biggest question is the PMU/Power Supply...I know connector is proprietary if nothing else so maybe nothing to do here...but this is a smart group of folks thought someone might know. Kind of a shot in the dark. 

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8 minutes ago, Fadasan said:

Also, Mac should be able to run Linux but Im curious to run Euphony on a Mac which I have never done. 

 

The T2 chip will make that difficult, if not impossible.

No electron left behind...

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12 minutes ago, Fadasan said:

I thought Macs could dual boot. It should be able to run Linux too but havent heard anyone doing that with a modern Mac Pro.

 

Thats because the T2 chip has made it very difficult, and if you're going to run Linux there are better options for the same price or less. But hey, if you want a Mac Pro you want a Mac Pro. I almost bought one myself when they came out.

 

The PC I linked is also exponentially more powerful than the base Mac Pro, especially given you want to run Euphony and HQPlayer. HQPlayer can use CUDA to take advantage of the GPU and expand your upsampling capabilities by offloading processing to the GPU. Mac and nVidia don't get along.

 

last edit, I swear:  Thats the PC I would buy if I were buying one today. I built mine before I was aware of the fact that EK built premade water-cooled PCs.

No electron left behind...

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40 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

 

The T2 chip will make that difficult, if not impossible.

Ah, are you saying that Euphony doesnt run with T2?

 

39 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

 

Thats because the T2 chip has made it very difficult, and if you're going to run Linux there are better options for the same price or less. But hey, if you want a Mac Pro you want a Mac Pro. I almost bought one myself when they came out.

Yeah, its not so much that I want one but I have one "for free" so why not try it.  

 

42 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

HQPlayer can use CUDA to take advantage of the GPU and expand your upsampling capabilities by offloading processing to the GPU. Mac and nVidia don't get along.

Ah wow good point!!!! didn't know that and yes agree about Mac/nVidia but I actually think I could use a Nvidia card. It would just need to be in the bottom slot. I believe it may even require me to dual boot to use which I think I might be able to do. I just don't know enough about how I take advantage of that. Can you assign via HQPlayer or Euphony? Or another OS? 

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1 hour ago, Fadasan said:

Yes agree its a waste $-wise :). But I currently have what is a very high performing NUC + LPS and am also planning on finding a way to do the DIY Taiko project. This is just a fun experiment. Cost of the computer itself is not an issue for me as I already have Mac Pros for work. I already have JCAT cards. The only cost consideration for me is the power supplies which may not be possible in this case anyway...I know . 

 

Well, if you have an extra, you can always send it my way! ;) I'm 'stuck' with a Mac Pro 2013 for now, 6 core with 64gb and an OWC SSD. Would love to upgrade it for my PS/LR use but the new Mac Pro is way out of my league price wise. Going to wait for now and see what the next gen of M1 brings. 

SERVER CLOSET (in office directly below living room stereo):NUC 7i5BNH with Roon ROCK (ZeroZone 12V on the NUC)>Cisco 2690L-16PS switch>Sonore opticalModule (Uptone LPS 1.2)>

LIVING ROOM: Sonore opticalRendu Roon version (Sonore Power Supply)> Shunyata Venom USB>Naim DAC V1>Witchhat DIN>Naim NAP 160 Bolt Down>Chord Rumor 2>Audio Physic Compact Classics. OFFICE: opticalModule> Sonore microRendu 1.4> Matrix Mini-i Pro 3> Naim NAP 110>NACA5>KEF Ls50's. BJC 6a and Ghent Catsnake 6a JSSG ethernet; AC cables: Shunyata Venom NR V-10; Audience Forte F3; Ice Age copper/copper; Sean Jacobs CHC PowerBlack, Moon Audio DIN>RCA, USB A>C. Isolation: Herbie's Audio Lab. 

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41 minutes ago, charlesphoto said:

Well, if you have an extra, you can always send it my way! ;) I'm 'stuck' with a Mac Pro 2013 for now, 6 core with 64gb and an OWC SSD. Would love to upgrade it for my PS/LR use but the new Mac Pro is way out of my league price wise. Going to wait for now and see what the next gen of M1 brings. 

Haha. :) I don't mean to seem ridiculous or extravagant. I don't have unlimited funds either where a "fun test" means dropping +10k on an inferior computer(!) nor am I adicted to Macs or anything like that.  I just have a situation that allows me to try this but I don't know NEARLY as much as most people here so I am crowd-sourcing knowledge on a possibly hairbrained project the AS way!!!

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I really doubt you'll be able to dual boot the Mac Pro or use an nVidia card in anyway. I doubt you'll get Euphony on it, and Euphony doesn't allow dual booting anyway. Euphony will load right onto the one I linked however. As will Ubuntu, and then you can use JCAT PCIe cards to output your data.

No electron left behind...

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9 hours ago, AudioDoctor said:

I really doubt you'll be able to dual boot the Mac Pro or use an nVidia card in anyway. I doubt you'll get Euphony on it, and Euphony doesn't allow dual booting anyway. Euphony will load right onto the one I linked however. As will Ubuntu, and then you can use JCAT PCIe cards to output your data.

Ive heard nVidia card in slot 1 works. Have you seen if it “searches” for video card if it’s not in slot 2?  
 

You’re saying dual boot can’t happen via stylus but HQplayer running alone can? 

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Why dual boot, could you not just get another SSD, one for each OS (as long as the hardware is compatible with both.

I'm using Daphile and Audiolinux, each on their own SSD, longer SATA cable to outside the case, external PSU for the SSD (worthwile anyway).

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

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