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post #1 of 42 Old 02-15-2013, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I have a mid 2010 Mac mini (MC270xx/A) that I want to use as a music only server.

I have all my CDs in Apple Lossless format already.

I've been reading a lot and looking for information.

Currently I would like to know what advantage does installing a Solid State Drive provide?...

And, could I use the existing 320GB drive as the external with the music files after installing a SSD?

And,... Should I disconnect the internal SuperDrive? Or does that even matter?

Thanks,

-Brian

Edit-> I did a fresh install of the os (snow leopard) and it seemed to help a lot. My mac mini wasn't going to sleep the way I wanted it too and it sometimes had home sharing problems but those seem to be history.

Edit 2 -> I read up on the advantages of SSD and I do want to upgrade. I see other music server users have the media on a external drive. I think If I bought a larger SSD (like 256) I could keep the music on the SSD as well. I have about 200 CDs and I believe it comes to 60GB or something.
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post #2 of 42 Old 02-16-2013, 06:38 AM
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I just replied to your question you had in my thread but see you were able to rebuild the OS and get iTunes sorted out as well, great.

FWIW, I did get my mini updated with a SSD and in the process purchased a sata docking station along with the SuperDuper app and it worked like a charm, seriously a great util.

I went with the basic SSD and this docking station.

- Installed the SSD into the docking station
- Booted up to the mini normally
- Ran SuperDuper and cloned the HD to the SSD
- Swapped drives (installed SSD into mini) and booted up into the newly installed SSD and everything worked!

Extremely easy and no issues whatsoever. Everything just worked. Now I have the original OEM HD as a back up and the mini is fast and quiet. I can just keep the OEM HD as is, or continue to clone the SSD onto the HD as an incremental back up etc..using the docking station.

I am running a NAS which is storing the iTunes database and ALAC files, so I have the mini pointing to that. I am running the mini headless and connected via optical to the Marantz 6006. Still working out some glitchy remote desktop issues => real VNC works fine, but waking it out of sleep mode, the VNC will connect but only shows an empty grey screen. As soon as hook up a monitor then it shows the login screen. Again, I just got this setup last eve, so still figuring out the workflow. There are a plethora of VNC apps, and will try other after I determine real vnc isn't cutting it.
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post #3 of 42 Old 02-16-2013, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks,

The other thread was very helpful to but I was concerned I would derail it so I started a new thread.

Putting the OS fresh made a nice difference. I do think everyone should have at least a music server. All my CDs are in storage in the attic and I have them all as apple lossless.
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post #4 of 42 Old 02-25-2013, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I found this "getting started in computer audio" write up on pure music's website.

http://channld.com/computeraudio.html

I wasn't sure about the advantages of having the OS on one hard drive and the media on another.

But, I had an extra hard drive. It seemed to make a difference. Playback clearly improved.

So,.... I decided to follow all the tips on that page .... (There isn't much there.) (some will wait till I can budget for them.)

-Brian
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post #5 of 42 Old 02-25-2013, 04:25 PM
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I wasn't sure about the advantages of having the OS on one hard drive and the media on another.

But, I had an extra hard drive. It seemed to make a difference. Playback clearly improved.

How did you determine that?
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post #6 of 42 Old 02-27-2013, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

How did you determine that?

I copied my iTunes library to a external HD I had.

Then, I could try both. I was instantly convinced having a "data" drive for the OS and another drive for the media worked. I wouldn't have thought so without trying It.

Another thing I was sort of against trying was the BitPerfect app. It was only $10 though.

Again,.. If you have it you can toggle it on and off and it seemed to make a fantastic difference.

I was thinking my setup was perfect from the start but I have a more open mind now that stuff I wouldn't thought useful actually seemed to help.

I found tips on the Pure Music website and more tips on the Dragonfly DAC website and even more just off google.
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post #7 of 42 Old 02-27-2013, 11:46 AM
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I copied my iTunes library to a external HD I had. Then, I could try both. I was instantly convinced having a "data" drive for the OS and another drive for the media worked. I wouldn't have thought so without trying It.

Huh? Instantly convinced of what? They sounded different? I'm sorry, Brian, that's nothing but audiophoolery and sighted bias. The same player on the same Mac playing the same files back stored on your boot drive versus an external drive will sound exactly the same. The location of the files do not matter. You may have read that on the Pure Music website but it's poppycock. There can be advantages to storing your music library on an external drive--that's where I have 700GB of ALAC--but those advantages have nothing to do with improved audio quality. So, I ask again, how is it you think "playback clearly improved?"
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Another thing I was sort of against trying was the BitPerfect app. It was only $10 though.

Again,.. If you have it you can toggle it on and off and it seemed to make a fantastic difference.

I own the BitPerfect app and like it, it's quite a bargain compared to Fidelia and Decibel especially if what you're really looking for is automatic sample rate switching, i.e. you have a mix of rebook CDs and high res files and just want to be able to play files and not worry about what you have AudioMIDI set to. That's perhaps iTunes biggest shortcoming as music player, the whole close, change AudioMIDI, open dance with files other than rebook. (We'll leave whether you can reliably hear the difference between 16 bit/44.1 and higher res for another time.) But for someone with redbook CDs ripped to ALAC like yourself, though, that's never needed. When you're toggling it on and off you realize you're aware what you're listening to, right? What that means is you're too susceptible to hearing what you hope to hear when you're aware of it. If BitPerfect is making a "fantastic" difference with your 44.1 ALAC files you either have something in it turned on that's affecting playback, like Sound check, or that don't have iTunes or your Mac properly configured. BitPerfect has strengths over plain old iTunes, but you really should be more skeptical about why you think it's making a "fantastic" difference.
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I found tips on...but I have a more open mind now...

Read up on something called confirmation bias and then move on to level matching and perhaps even what a double blind test means if you really have an open mind. That's actually the real issue, how susceptible our minds are.
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post #8 of 42 Old 02-27-2013, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok.

No need to worry though.

I'm loving my computer audio adventure.

Maybe what I heard from using an external drive was my imagination. Doesn't matter though... I've found other good reasons to organize the data this way. It makes backing up both the system and the media easier. I bought a fairly small (32GB) Solid State Drive to use for the system because it should be cooler, use less energy, and hopefully be more reliable. Having the media on external makes it simple to back up and also take with me if I want.

I've read all about how itunes should work as well as bit perfect if you setup all the relevant itunes and midi settings. Still,... Sounds better clocked through BitPerfect to me weather that makes science sense or not. Doesn't matter anyway since BitPerfect is paid, installed, and working without problems.

In fact,... my only problem I'm having is I want to play with this mini all dern day. Listening to music,... adding music, or looking for music to add. Currently I love it way too much.

-Brian
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post #9 of 42 Old 02-27-2013, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

Huh? Instantly convinced of what? They sounded different? I'm sorry, Brian, that's nothing but audiophoolery and sighted bias. The same player on the same Mac playing the same files back stored on your boot drive versus an external drive will sound exactly the same. The location of the files do not matter. You may have read that on the Pure Music website but it's poppycock. There can be advantages to storing your music library on an external drive--that's where I have 700GB of ALAC--but those advantages have nothing to do with improved audio quality. So, I ask again, how is it you think "playback clearly improved?"


I own the BitPerfect app and like it, it's quite a bargain compared to Fidelia and Decibel especially if what you're really looking for is automatic sample rate switching, i.e. you have a mix of rebook CDs and high res files and just want to be able to play files and not worry about what you have AudioMIDI set to. That's perhaps iTunes biggest shortcoming as music player, the whole close, change AudioMIDI, open dance with files other than rebook. (We'll leave whether you can reliably hear the difference between 16 bit/44.1 and higher res for another time.) But for someone with redbook CDs ripped to ALAC like yourself, though, that's never needed. When you're toggling it on and off you realize you're aware what you're listening to, right? What that means is you're too susceptible to hearing what you hope to hear when you're aware of it. If BitPerfect is making a "fantastic" difference with your 44.1 ALAC files you either have something in it turned on that's affecting playback, like Sound check, or that don't have iTunes or your Mac properly configured. BitPerfect has strengths over plain old iTunes, but you really should be more skeptical about why you think it's making a "fantastic" difference.
Read up on something called confirmation bias and then move on to level matching and perhaps even what a double blind test means if you really have an open mind. That's actually the real issue, how susceptible our minds are.

Not to hijack this, but I'm curious about something. Per your help in my thread, are there any other tweaks to be done in the single chain as it were? Whether it be in iTunes, the mini, adding an app like Bitperfect, the AVR settings, an external item like a dac / transport etc..

My setup sounds good, but like many of us it never ends as far as tweaking, or at least knowing your setup is as good as it can be. I understand the importance of room treatment + quality speakers but that withstanding, is there anything else to tweak so I am getting the most out of my setup?

- My iTunes is pretty much default settings (eq disabled, sound enhancements disabled)
- Data resides on a NAS on a GB network
- Optical out from mini to optical in to AVR (Marantz 6006)
- Volume in iTunes is always set to max. Are there any settings that affect "volume" in the digital domain => Am I correct in stating there are some ways in which you can actually distort / degrade (dither?) the sound by adjusting volume in the wrong place?
- I am using an app on my iPad (splashtop) to connect to the mini to run iTunes remotely.
- I'm guessing adding a "dac" of some sort is going to nothing

Thanks!
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post #10 of 42 Old 02-28-2013, 02:57 AM - Thread Starter
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I would add BitPerfect if it isn't too expensive for you.

I've read a lot about it and most people say that if you turn off all itunes enhancements and choose the correct sampling rate in the mini settings that you will have bitperfect output.

I understand and I've done that. BitPerfect makes a difference though and It's only $10.

Edit - There are good tip here...

http://www.audioquest.com/computer-audio/

(Those PDF's are kind of hard to read on my laptop but I opened them in ibooks on my ipad and they were a joy to read that way. kindle app would have also been good.)

Edit 2 - Have you read about trim for the SSD? MacOS supports it if you buy the SSD from Apple (he he) but a free app enables it for MacOS otherwise. Just google trim enabler for details.

-Brian
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post #11 of 42 Old 03-01-2013, 01:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Got a new external hard drive to store the media and a new SSD Drive for the OS.

The OS is on a 32 GB SSD I bought new on eBay for $34. The OS is only 7GB.

Very Happy with this setup and done for now. smile.gif
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post #12 of 42 Old 03-18-2013, 05:23 PM
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The usual advice is not to send music data via USB from an external drive through iTunes on an internal drive and then on to the DAC:

"When choosing connectivity options for external hard drives there are some potential performance pitfalls to avoid. One of the more common mistakes is to use the USB bus to retrieve music data from an external hard drive while simultaneously sending music data to an external USB DAC, or to a USB-S/PDIF converter. This causes an issue known as Synchronous Conflict. While this won’t prevent music from playing, it significantly reduces the performance potential of the computer audio playback system. When possible avoid synchronous conflict when using a USB audio decoding device by simply connecting an external hard drive via FireWire, eSATA, or Ethernet in the case of a NAS drive."

The full article, well wrth reading if you're not an advanced computer user, is at

https://www.hdtracks.com/files/ComputerAudio_Demystified.pdf

... just an old country lawyer working till he's 90 in downtown Toronto, Canada ...
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post #13 of 42 Old 03-18-2013, 09:27 PM
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Please help! I have recently set up a Mac mini and have been loading onto iTunes in apple lossless format. I noticed one of my songs was having what can be compared to a cd skipping sound. It happened about 4 times in 30 seconds. What is this? Also there is an option for "error correction" when choosing the format you want to rip in. What is this?
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post #14 of 42 Old 03-18-2013, 09:38 PM
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I re ripped it and I thought it was good until 5:54 into the song and then it skipped again. Hmm. I am trying some new songs on this album to test them out. I'll try more songs from other albums too. I'm wondering if that was what the error correction option was. Anyway I enjoy the fuller sound, real mids, and deeper bass so far from ALAC files. Thanks all! smile.gif
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post #15 of 42 Old 03-19-2013, 05:47 AM
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iTunes w/ error correction turned on in import settings will do just fine with most discs; for damaged or very old discs use something else with more robust error correction like cdparanoia or AccurateRip, my favorite is XLD:

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=XLD
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post #16 of 42 Old 03-19-2013, 03:36 PM
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Are you referring to the skipping as "drop outs"? Provide some additional detail on your setup might be helpful, but some things to check might be:
Is processor is being over loaded
Is the mini connected directly to the avr (if so, how)
Is there a DAC in the chain
Where is iTunes stored (the DB) and where is the music stored

Certainly if the CD is damaged the results could this skipping but there might be something else going on
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post #17 of 42 Old 03-19-2013, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratamacue View Post

Are you referring to the skipping as "drop outs"? Provide some additional detail on your setup might be helpful, but some things to check might be:
Is processor is being over loaded
Is the mini connected directly to the avr (if so, how)
Is there a DAC in the chain
Where is iTunes stored (the DB) and where is the music stored

Certainly if the CD is damaged the results could this skipping but there might be something else going on

The cd was opened brand new and put directly into the SuperDrive. The Mac mini is connected via hdmi directly into a Denon 3313ci avr. I also have a cheap blu ray, hd cable box and Apple TV connected via hdmi into the 3313. This runs to a 7.1 definitive technology speaker setup and also an HSU VTF-15h subwoofer. I have the modem and router sitting directly next to the Mac mini and apple tv with Ethernet connected to both. Also Ethernet to the 3313. I think this is all of the connections. Feel free to ask if I forgot anything.

Drop outs could certainly describe what was going on. Sorry, I'm not too familiar with the terminology.
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post #18 of 42 Old 03-19-2013, 07:13 PM
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Also I only had iTunes running. It's the brand new quad core processor with the 1tb hard drive. So I don't think it was any performance issues. I'm pretty sure it is an issue with actual file being ripped into iTunes in the ALAC format. I tested out a couple other tracks and they were fine. I will test out more tracks Tomm eve.
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post #19 of 42 Old 03-19-2013, 10:04 PM
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So the cd is a disc 1 and disc 2 thing. I listened to another song on disc 2, the first song I discovered to drop out was on this disc, and it had a drop out as well. I have listened to 5 songs on disc 1 and no drop outs occurred. Upon further inspection I discovered an imperfection and finger prints on the cd. I cleaned it but the imperfection, some sort of discoloration, remains. I think this was the issue. I will try and clean and re rip or return the cd...
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post #20 of 42 Old 03-19-2013, 10:06 PM
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Another issue I hope y'all can help with is...I usually listen to music in the PLIIx Music listening mode. When on the designated input on my avr it reads, "multi ch 7.1 in". And it does not give an option to use the Dolby preset.
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post #21 of 42 Old 03-20-2013, 11:07 AM
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A "Dolby Digital" preset only becomes an option when you feed the AVR a Dolby encoded signal like, say, DD 2.0 or DD 5.1 from a movie. When playing iTunes music your ALAC files are seen as 2 channel stereo PCM by your AVR, choosing a Dolby ProLogic II mode is how your AVR processes or "expands" that 2 channel stereo music so you hear sound out of all your speakers and sub. Note that a lot of people still choose to listen to 2 channel music in a true 2 channel stereo mode, with just the front left and right speakers active, even if they have a full surround speaker set up for movie audio. What processing mode you choose for music is completely up to you. (My Harman Kardon AVRs have a proprietary Logic 7 mode for a surround effect with music, but Dolby ProLogic does essentially the same thing...)
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post #22 of 42 Old 03-20-2013, 11:56 AM
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Yes I understand all of that. So is there a way to get it so I can use the Dolby preset with the mini? I can access my alac files through home sharing on my Apple TV witch gives the options for the Dolby and dts presets. But I am thinking about trying out some of the different music players for higher quality. It seems if Apple TV box which costs 1/8 of the mini can play in Dolby and dts presets then the mini should be able too.
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post #23 of 42 Old 03-20-2013, 02:25 PM
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Well, I'm patiently explaining things to you like a newbie since you're asking really basic questions in this thread. I mean really basic. I suspect there's probably still some confusion on your end, or mine, with what you're calling your "Dolby preset." Dolby ProLogic II x is a Dolby processing algorithm, so it is an available "preset."
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It seems if Apple TV box which costs 1/8 of the mini can play in Dolby and dts presets then the mini should be able too

It could be you still have some reading up to do with your AVR manual, or maybe I'm not fully understanding what you keep calling your Dolby and DTS presets.

The unhacked Apple TV 2 & 3 are not "bit-perfect," they output all audio at 48 kHz and you have no choice over the matter, that means when you Airplay or iTunes home share some ALAC files which (presumably) are 16 bit/44.1 the aTV 2/3 upconverts them to 16 bit/48 and passes that to your AVR. However, if your AVR is set up like mine it should still receive that as PCM, just as it would if you're playing the same exact files from the Mini--16/44.1 or 16/48 would still be PCM and the AVR processing mode for both of them would be Dolby ProLogic II x if you wanted to hear your music in all your speakers. The way most of our AVRs work is that the only way a Dolby Digital or DTS "preset" are allowed to come on is when DD or DTS encoded audio is detected. Encoded is the key word there, and PCM is different from encoded DD or DTS streams. The aTV 2 & 3 can pass through DD 5.1 with certain video files, and your AVR should light up as receiving "DD" but that's only with certain Apple approved video containers or when streaming certain Netflix titles that have DD 5.1, not playing music cds that you've imported into iTunes.

The aTV 2 and 3 doesn't support DTS so your AVR DTS light should never be lighting up wrt the aTV. Even if you Airplay a .mkv with DTS from your Mini to your aTV, say with an iPad and the Air Video app doing a live conversion, the aTV is not passing that DTS through, it's being converted to something the destination device, the aTV, supports before it gets there. What DTS audio are you playing with the aTV that you think your AVR is receiving as DTS?

In short, if your AVR is lighting up that it is receiving DD or DTS when playing music through your aTV, something's still might not be configured properly.

Personally, my ALAC from iTunes played through an aTV and output at 16/48 still sounds amazing. I tend not to use the aTV for music, and use the Mini to play everything at 16/44.1, but it isn't because of some amazing mystical difference in "soundstage" or "transparency." They sound the same, it's just more convenient for me to go through the Mini since I'm using it for everything else save Netflix.
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post #24 of 42 Old 03-20-2013, 06:52 PM
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but that's only with certain Apple approved video containers or when streaming certain Netflix titles that have DD 5.1, not playing music cds that you've imported into iTunes.
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What DTS audio are you playing with the aTV that you think your AVR is receiving as DTS?

DTS NEO:6 Music and DOLBY PLIIx Music both are an option when listening to music on my Apple TV.

I mean Dolby or DTS preset as in when I press the button on my Denon remote to select a preset they are not there as an option on the input used for the mini. When I'm listening to music through Apple TV they are there as an option. So somehow the Apple TV triggers a response from the avr to allow those presets and the mini is not doing so. As you said encoded...maybe.

I have been asking in the Denon forum in which they have said it is an output audio setting on the mini. I don't see anywhere to change that.
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post #25 of 42 Old 03-21-2013, 03:51 AM
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OK, got it, you're pressing the Dolby mode select button and not seeing ProLogic mode as an option for ITunes music as you should.

Open Audio MIDI in the Utilities folder in Applications, select HDMI, and make sure output is set to 2 channel 16 bit and 44.1 kHz. Then close and reopen iTunes and play some music. Your AVR should now allow you to select Dolby ProLogic II Music mode. Does it?
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post #26 of 42 Old 03-21-2013, 07:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chefklc View Post

OK, got it, you're pressing the Dolby mode select button and not seeing ProLogic mode as an option for ITunes music as you should.

Open Audio MIDI in the Utilities folder in Applications, select HDMI, and make sure output is set to 2 channel 16 bit and 44.1 kHz. Then close and reopen iTunes and play some music. Your AVR should now allow you to select Dolby ProLogic II Music mode. Does it?

I will confirm tonight. Thank you for your help. I do appreciate it!
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post #27 of 42 Old 03-21-2013, 07:52 AM
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also what is the best mac forum to follow, perhaps the most active?
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post #28 of 42 Old 03-21-2013, 06:28 PM
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Houston the eagle has landed. We have success!
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post #29 of 42 Old 03-22-2013, 08:51 PM
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So I'm still getting this drop out or skipping problem with the ALAC files I am importing to iTunes. I thought originally it was just one of my CDs but it happened again. I thought it could of been because I was playing music during the burn process but I have literally deleted and re imported the same cd 5 times with optimal conditions, cleaning the cd, etc. by the way it was a brand new cd. I'm thinking it could be the SuperDrive at this point. I am going to return it Tomm to best buy...
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post #30 of 42 Old 03-23-2013, 08:15 AM
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Upon further review it seems people have had this issue for some time. In my google searching I found the exact same issue with minis clear back to 2007. So I'm a bit surprised AppleCare didn't know what I was talking about. This would certainly warrant returning the Mac mini. A music server is the number one reason I bought it...
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