Mac Mini as a Music Server

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Cressy Snr
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Mac Mini as a Music Server

Post by Cressy Snr » Mon May 21, 2012 11:04 pm

The wife and I took the plunge last Friday and paid a visit to the Meadowhall Apple Store.
We came away with a Mac Mini and an iPad after having a wonderful demonstration of these two devices capabilities by Patrick, the Mac specialist who dealt with

I spent Saturday putting up a pair of shelves inthe chimney alcove to house the kt120 monoblocks Virgin Superhub, and MF DAC, so as to free up space between the speakers for the TV.

The Mac mini was set up and my iTunes collection was transferred over.
The free remote app was downloaded to the iPad, allowing full control of iTunes playback from the couch without having to have the TV on.

I must say that this is how computer audio should be, it was so easy to set up it was unreal.

Feeding the Mac Mini's digital optical output direct to the DAC without having to go via the network gave a sound that was so un digital it was a revelation.

The Mac Mini is a fine digital media centre and gives the best sound I have heard from digital by a long way.

The Mac Mini cost £489 with Education discount. Whatever one might think of Apple gear, compared to the Linn DS Aurender Server, Olive, Naim Network players, it is a steal.
Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organise themselves into a professor of chemistry? What's the motive? (Robert M Pirsig)

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Post by Cressy Snr » Tue May 22, 2012 8:53 pm

Just
Been having a look at the noise and jitter performance of the Mac Mini and it is very impressive.

S/N at 16 bit is 92dB unweighted
And at 24 bit is 144dB
Signal related jitter measures 15 pS
And random jitter measures around 10pS

This according to Hi-Fi World measured performance whilst driving a 10M optical cable.

Impressive measured performance that in this case is backed up by a quality of sound that is truly high end.

If you like your vinyl then this little report will be irrelevant but if your main source is digital then this little marvel is a no-brainier as far as I'm concerned.

I'm pretty sure though that I,ve got most of you guys mixed up with someone who gives a fuck :wink: :lol:
Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organise themselves into a professor of chemistry? What's the motive? (Robert M Pirsig)

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Post by Lee S » Tue May 22, 2012 9:48 pm

How does the optical work Steve? It looks to only have a 3.5mm stereo jack for audio out... Or is it one of those dual purpose jacks with the optical in the end of a standard stereo jack plug like the old MiniDisc players?

So the SB Touch has gone then? You are straight from the MM into the DAC and that's it ??
©2019 Lee

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Post by Cressy Snr » Tue May 22, 2012 10:16 pm

Lee S wrote:How does the optical work Steve? It looks to only have a 3.5mm stereo jack for audio out... Or is it one of those dual purpose jacks with the optical in the end of a standard stereo jack plug like the old MiniDisc players?

So the SB Touch has gone then? You are straight from the MM into the DAC and that's it ??
Yep the optical output is combined with the analogue electrical jack.
The data goes straight to the DAC via this output so avoids the networking altogether.

The SBT is now surplus to requirements as they say.
The Mini is connected to the TV via HDMI so we can watch content from the iTunes store. We are intending to add a blu ray drive to play DVDs, BR discs.
The mini is set up as a keyboard less device but can be navigated with a wired or wireless mouse or a trackpad from the listening seat if the TV is on. The display via the TV is huge and works perfectly for at a distance viewing of menus etc.

With the TV off the free remote app can access iTunes via wi Fi to choose and play music via the main system.
The sound is of extremely high quality and unfatiguing over long periods in the best analogue sense.
Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organise themselves into a professor of chemistry? What's the motive? (Robert M Pirsig)

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Post by Ali Tait » Tue May 22, 2012 11:57 pm

Aye have to agree about the iPad, got one last weekend via my other half's work as they were offered them with a 20% discount. Normally wouldn't have bothered as I think they are too expensive for what they are, but at the offer price I thought I'd give one a go. Have to say I am enjoying it a great deal, it's a slick bit of kit. In fact I'm typing this on it.



Oh no, I've gone over to the dark side! :D

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Post by Greg » Wed May 23, 2012 12:09 am

SteveTheShadow wrote:If you like your vinyl then this little report will be irrelevant but if your main source is digital then this little marvel is a no-brainier as far as I'm concerned.
Steve, that comment needs some expansion. What are you actually saying?

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Post by Andrew » Wed May 23, 2012 7:21 am

SteveTheShadow wrote:Just
Been having a look at the noise and jitter performance of the Mac Mini and it is very impressive.

S/N at 16 bit is 92dB unweighted
And at 24 bit is 144dB
Signal related jitter measures 15 pS
And random jitter measures around 10pS

This according to Hi-Fi World measured performance whilst driving a 10M optical cable.

Impressive measured performance that in this case is backed up by a quality of sound that is truly high end.

If you like your vinyl then this little report will be irrelevant but if your main source is digital then this little marvel is a no-brainier as far as I'm concerned.

I'm pretty sure though that I,ve got most of you guys mixed up with someone who gives a fuck :wink: :lol:
Sorry Steve, but unless I'm very much mistaken, which is very possible the S/N at 24 bit is not going to be 144db, that is the theoretical maximum for 24bit, sure, but not even the much vaunted Audio Precision test set gets that close and it costs in excess of 30k. No op amp is that good! And it must have op amps in.

I can however, believe the 92db figure as its both below the theoretical max and within the boundaries of what a good op amp can achieve.

I double check this.

Andrew
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andrew Ivimey
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Post by andrew Ivimey » Wed May 23, 2012 7:36 am

So Mr C, the apple of your eye is no longer Squeezebox. How much you want for it? I still like them!
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Post by Dave the bass » Wed May 23, 2012 7:39 am

<Jedi mind-trick> MrI is not the person you want to sell yer SBT to....</Jedi mind-trick>

Hey Steve, wanna sell yer SBT? :-)

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Post by Paul Barker » Wed May 23, 2012 7:53 am

<bone crusher nad squeeze trick>Mr I and Mister Bass are not the ones you want to sell it to.<bone crusher nad squeeze trick>

Nah, what would I do with a Squeezebox in this day and age?
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Post by pre65 » Wed May 23, 2012 8:22 am

Paul Barker wrote: Nah, what would I do with a Squeezebox in this day and age?
That's what I used to think. :wink:

Amazing piece of kit in my opinion. :D
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Post by Nick » Wed May 23, 2012 8:35 am

I have a MAc Mini on my desk at work as a build/dev platform. It is a nice bit of kit.
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Post by Neal » Wed May 23, 2012 11:49 am

Steve, you may be interested in this app:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bitperfe ... 5700?mt=12

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Post by Cressy Snr » Wed May 23, 2012 5:33 pm

Cheers Neal, I' ll look into that.
It is set to put out 96KHz at the mo, to cope with the hi-Rez files I have, but it then up samples everything less than that. The bit perfect software should provide on the fly bit depth/rate switching according to the incoming sample rate like the squeezebox does. Will it make a difference I wonder, as my MF DAC up samples to 192Khz anything that comes in.
But it never hurts to have minimal signal processing.

Andrew
I'm only quoting from Noel Keywood's measured results with the 144dB, I've no idea about such things but I would have thought NK would have done his measurements right. :?
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Mac Mini

Post by David » Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:15 pm

Hi Steve,
Bit Perfect is very cheap but has a few outstanding issues eg a sudden apparent burst of static etc. Audirvana at around £30 is much better as it turns off all the bits of the Mac Mini you don't want such as Spotlight-and it only does this whilst in use which is the way you want it!

Used via asynchronous USB the Mac Mini goes up another huge scale in quality over optical out-I use a Wavelength USB DAC.

Ignore that rather silly upgrade article suggesting you spend £500 notes or more on a special power supply for your Mac Mini. You can achieve the same sound quality improvement by using a good mains conditioner at much lower cost-and that in my case also supplies my amp and psu for my DAC.

The big improvement with a mains conditioner is a bit of a laugh really, considering that we are only using the Mac Mini to export unclocked data in the case of an asynchronous USB DAC, and all non essential services are turned off by Audirvana!!

A generalisation I know, but friends say the quality I am getting is very analogue like, and certainly up there with some vinyl set ups (i.e not the best out there)
David

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