Computer Audio Asylum

Music servers and other computer based digital audio technologies.

Return to Computer Audio Asylum


Message Sort: Post Order or Asylum Reverse Threaded

Mac as memory player

216.174.218.66

Posted on December 8, 2008 at 09:47:28
Kristian
Audiophile

Posts: 755
Location: Seattle
Joined: September 24, 2008
So,

I'm hesitant to build a relatively buggy PC as a memory player, and like the, again relative, stability of the Apple OS, especially for music. I dislike buggy, unreliable stuff that needs to be messed with constantly, and I think Mac will do better in this area.

Has anyone experimented with making a Mac Mini play out of RAM, as the cMP does? Sounds feasible, yes?

 

Hide full thread outline!
    ...
RE: Mac as memory player, posted on December 8, 2008 at 15:25:16
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28640
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
I have the Mac Mini and iTunes with all of my music ripped to an external USB HDD. As Solid-State Disk (SSD) prices will continue to fall, I may try one sometime next year.

This isn't the "memory player" you're talking about but another alternative that seems extremely simple to implement. And yes, Mac OS X Leopard has been very reliable and easy to use.

 

Abe, what external HD did you get, and is it quiet? -t, posted on December 8, 2008 at 16:01:22
Sordidman
Audiophile

Posts: 13265
Location: San Francisco
Joined: May 14, 2001
.



I was a punk before you were a punk
You don't believe me? Just step outside and see me

 

Fanless LaCie d2 Quadra, posted on December 8, 2008 at 17:30:55
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28640
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Some of the newer LaCie external HDDs have no fans so they're quiet but not silent. Still less noisy than older units that have a small fan inside. I'm actually using the Firewire interface. I had the older HDD on USB. This LaCie unit uses a 7200rpm disk which is pretty much standard these days. I suspect a slower 5400rpm disk would be a little quieter but this unit isn't bad.

* All-in-one external drive with 500 GB capacity and quadruple interface for full Mac and PC compatibility
* Includes eSATA 3 Gbit port; 2 FireWire 800 ports (9-pin); FireWire 400 port (6-pin); USB 2.0 port; and cables for each connection
* Fanless ridged design by Neil Poulton for cool, quiet operation
* 7200 rpm spin speed and 16 MB caches; ideal of demanding multi-media applications
* Measures 1.7x6.3x6.8 inches (WxHxD); weighs 3.31 pounds; 3-year limited warranty


 

RE: Mac as memory player, posted on December 8, 2008 at 23:22:56
elektron
Audiophile

Posts: 949
Location: midwest
Joined: February 18, 2004
Abe, hi. I just visited the 'Apple store' today to see the mini up close. The slot load on the mini may be trendy but at what cost to the CD? Perhaps this is a non issue. There's just something about having rollers pressing on optical media. Is there a high quality PCM, SPDIF, or balanced to USB or Firewire interface device? I some video material that would be handy to have on a hard drive or equivalent as well. I've been trying to sort this topic out for a while. I'm still using an Enlightened Audio Design T-1000 feeding a Benchmark DAC1 or cj Premier Nine. A friend in Florida went the mac mini route and wouldn't have it any other way. I'm just trying to get up to some kind of speed. Sorry about the barrage of questions. It appears the mini has 4 USB and 1 Firewire. Do you use Apple lossless compression (sounds like an oxymoron), or some uncompressed format(WAV etc ?)? Thanks for your opinion. I value it.

 

Thank you: exactly what I'm looking for..., posted on December 9, 2008 at 10:09:51
Sordidman
Audiophile

Posts: 13265
Location: San Francisco
Joined: May 14, 2001
for my friend.....

She doesn't need 1TB or anywhere near it, and I found that Apple Time Capsule sucks....

So, it's either a Lacie or a Western Digital or a Drobo....

Thanks again,

Cheers,




I was a punk before you were a punk
You don't believe me? Just step outside and see me

 

IMO, - I'd strongly consider an external drive or device, posted on December 9, 2008 at 10:23:19
Sordidman
Audiophile

Posts: 13265
Location: San Francisco
Joined: May 14, 2001
to dump your music to, and use as an ITunes server.

Apologies in advance if I'm butting in...

The MAC Mini is a very good little box, but at my previous company, I found out two important things...

1. Over configure it; get too much stuff, because it's not so easy to get inside that thing to replace the CD drive, add memory, or a bigger HD. (Actually, if you do get an external drive, the hard drive size won't matter).
2. The mainboard/logic board had some issues that made the fan on those things run all of the time, and loud. That had to be replaced. I'm not saying that this was super pervasive, but it did come up as issue.

I would definitely recommend getting the added AppleCare support. Also.. Macrumors.com has said to hold off buying a new MAC Mini or an IMac for a little bit as they both are due for an upgrade. Some of these things/reasons are superfluous for high end audio, - but if they redo USB to ver 3.0 or start messing with Firewire like they did with the MacBooks; it's definitely something to think about....

Cheers,



I was a punk before you were a punk
You don't believe me? Just step outside and see me

 

RE: Mac as memory player, posted on December 9, 2008 at 11:06:57
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28640
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
I haven't had any issues inserting, playing, ripping, or removing CDs from the Mac Mini. I didn't know that a slot-load drive could be harmful to the media but the way I look at it, I'm feeding the media into the slot-load drive just once in order to rip it to the HDD so this shouldn't be a major consideration in my opinion.

I am presently running the optical TOSLINK from the Mac Mini to the TOSLINK input on my DAC (dac section of my Accuphase cd player, actually). It sounds good but I have yet to try a USB-to-SPDIF (coax) converter. There are several on the market priced from about $50 to $500 or more. I have read that USB will sometimes introduce "pops" or dropouts but I haven't experienced this first hand and I'm not sure if this is based on older USB and on which platform, WinXP, Mac OS X, etc. I'm still in the early stages of playing with this stuff.

I may also look into Firewire to SPDIF but these devices seem less plentiful on the market or at least I haven't seen as many. And I'm not sure what the advantages might be. If USB does in fact have some "issues" then perhaps Firewire/SPDIF might be something worth investigating further.

My Mac Mini is pretty "bare-bones" with the small HDD and only 1GB of memory but I DO use a fairly quiet external 500GB HDD for all of my music.

I waffled between using WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless compression and just settled on Apple Lossless. It IS in fact lossless, no bits are harmed or "thrown out" (like mp3 or AAC) and it's decompressed "on the fly" as you play the music so in theory, it should sound just as good as an uncompressed WAV or AIFF. I've read that using an uncompressed file format may be beneficial on slower computers that might struggle to decompress "on the fly" but this shouldn't be an issue with most modern PCs or Macs.

I'm still new to this stuff and my system is a work in progress. There are others here who are much more up to speed on the topic than me. But I'm having a blast learning!!

 

One recommendation... Use an external DVD/CD Drive, posted on December 9, 2008 at 12:36:20
hifi heretic
Audiophile

Posts: 891
Location: Suburban Philadelphia
Joined: February 22, 2003
I'm been using a Mac Mini based music server as well. ..I love it and have had very few issues. I've had it for two years. On rare occasions I have had to restart the mini, but nothing worse. Last spring I upgraded to Leopard. ..Again, no issues.

One recommendation: To help minimize wear/tear on the Mini, i purchased a cheap ($60) external LaCie CD/DVD drive. I didn't want to subject the moving parts within the Mini to the torture of ripping 1000 CD's. It does the trick and I have no issues with it either. I rip all of my music to Apple Lossless.

I can't say enough about how well this has worked out for me. IMHO iTunes is great. It is incredibly easy to create mixed Playlists by simply clicking/dragging or by using the recently added "Genius" feature to have playlists created for you (no idea how the heck it works, but it does!). I am getting more out of my music collection than ever. .

I'm now using a Cambridge Audio DacMagic. I just purchased it to replace my Musiland MD10 in order to have more digital inputs.

 

DacMagic ?, posted on December 10, 2008 at 06:51:46
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28640
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Just curious but how are you driving the DacMagic from your Mac Mini? Are you going over optical TOSLINK, Firewire to SPDIF Coax converter, USB to SPDIF Coax converter?

I'm still running basic TOSLINK optical and it sounds fine but most people say SPDIF should be better. Thanks!

 

RE: DacMagic ?, posted on December 10, 2008 at 13:53:04
hifi heretic
Audiophile

Posts: 891
Location: Suburban Philadelphia
Joined: February 22, 2003
Hi Abe,

Presently, I'm running USB. ..When using the Musiland MD10 I tried it both ways but could not discern any difference. ..Is there a reason to use toslink over USB?.

 

RE: DacMagic ?, posted on December 10, 2008 at 14:11:26
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28640
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
Thanks.

The only reason I use TOSLINK from my Mac Mini is because my DAC accepts it (and will not accept USB). It seems to sound fine but some people have commented that USB should sound better.

 

RE: Fanless LaCie d2 Quadra, posted on December 11, 2008 at 04:11:36
audioAl
Audiophile

Posts: 1462
Location: So. Texas
Joined: December 16, 2007
That is very inticing, I have a WD 500 gig "My Book", it is quiet, at least to my ears.
Vista Ultimate 32bit/Diamond XS Dac/ Sterovox coaxial line in to Insignia Amp/Cambridge SoundWorks& Infinity RS 1001 Speakers

 

RE: Mac as memory player, posted on December 11, 2008 at 05:08:04
db


 
Gordon Rankin has a post over on the Digital Forum entitled "25 minute memory player build." It continues to be on my mind. I will sooner or later replace my current XP machine with a machine of the kind Gordon recommneds.
db

 

The quietest hard drive..., posted on December 11, 2008 at 08:31:00
restock
Audiophile

Posts: 841
Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: November 10, 2004
will be a 500GB Samsung 2.5'' notebook drive:

new Samsung Spinpoint 2.5 drive

You can get one for less than $200 + a Macally Firewire enclosure and you have an excellent external drive.

Die gefährlichste Weltanschauung ist die Weltanschauung derjenigen, die die Welt nicht angeschaut haben.
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

 

There, finally an answer to my query,, posted on December 11, 2008 at 08:33:00
Kristian
Audiophile

Posts: 755
Location: Seattle
Joined: September 24, 2008
and no hijacking of the thread! Thanks!

But, it's not exactly what I'm looking for; I'm speaking of playing out of RAM, where your HDDs load into RAM before playing. Like cMP, but for Apple.

 

RE: There, finally an answer to my query,, posted on December 11, 2008 at 09:30:54
db


 
I agree. The problem is software. I started thinking about this when I noticed that playback in Wavelab is significantly better than any of the jukebox players I had tried, and I had tried most of them. I am not talking about a subtle difference.

But I have a rather large music collection to deal with, and could never get past the interface on cmp or XXHighEnd. However, I am nor sure the difference is entirely a matter of playback from memory. It is possible to set a large buffer in Foobar, but to my ear, it doesn't make a very big difference. I wish one of the pro audio software outfits would comeout with a jukebox. Steinberg had a jukebox back in the late 90s, but it seems to have disappeared.

It is still not clear to me what the VRS system is. It looks like that software which is coming out of pro audio will be integrated with a very sophisticated and expensive hardware arrangement.

Itunes, after all, is primarily designed for people buying MP3s from the Itunes store. Apple really has no interest in selling high-quality audio or facilitating the ripping of highest quality files. If they thought audio quality made a difference they would supply better earbuds with Ipods.

 

RE: There, finally an answer to my query,, posted on December 12, 2008 at 15:14:39
AbeCollins
Audiophile

Posts: 28640
Location: USA
Joined: June 22, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
February 2, 2002
You asked about "playing out of RAM". I did mention using SSD in my original reply to you but SSD is not RAM. It will be super easy to use SSD in place of a HDD but the price of SSD today is still pretty steep.

There are ways to create RAM Disk in Mac OS X (free!) but not sure if it's worth the trouble. You can see my post above.

 

RE: Mac as memory player, posted on December 14, 2008 at 06:17:35
endust4237
Distributor or Rep

Posts: 205
Location: europe
Joined: February 12, 2006
The pro audio editor, Wavelab uploads the track you opened to the RAM for editing, it has a very good playback quality for sure, plays from RAM, but not as convenient as iTunes.

If you want a kind of memory playback, try to boot the Mac from a pendrive, I have an 8 GB stick for this purpose, then unmount the internal hard drive and play from an iTunes server through a Gigabit network form another room. I have a system like this and works wonderfully well.

My server is a MacPro with some 6 TB storage, some of it RAID protected, other mirrored, and a Macbooks plays through a Konnekt 8 (as a Firewire - SPDIF converter) to an Altmann, Lavry or Mytek DAC.

 

Page processed in 0.032 seconds.