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Mac Mini for 2 ch audiophile?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hello collective, was wondering about the possibility of adding CD quality (or beyond) 2 channel to my audio only system with a Mac Mini.

Have a nice but aging mid fi audio set up, and am a heavy user of iTunes on my PC. So I started thinking, why not a Mac Mini, a monitor, iTunes, even using the DVD drive for audio pruposes only on my 2 ch audio rack?

I'm so out of touch with the world I even have SACD and DVD Audio discs in the collection, but I digress, as I already have those bases covered in the audio set up.

One tripwire for me appears to be analog outs from the MacMini, as apple's website is silent about specs.

Plan B would be changing out the preamp to accept digital inputs, that would raise the price of the whole affair, my preamp is analog only.

I humbly seek your advice.

Merry Christmas to all!
post #2 of 19
Very common; you might even say the audiophile's choice...but to an external DAC.

BTW, those DVD-As can be streamed in hi-res, and sound glorious.

CD
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Got it CDLehner, I assume you are using the toslink optical out from the Mac Mini and not the mini stereo Jack?

Will check your blog and Average Guy's Guide. Intrigued by going discless too.

Thanks!
post #4 of 19
Check out the Halide Audio USB-SPDIF Bridge, reviewed in Stereophile Dec 2010.

There is also an M2Tech USB dongle that converts to SPDIF

Check out Channel D Pure Music to allow iTunes to manage music, but play correct sampling up to 192kHz
post #5 of 19
The standard Mac Mini is a good choice.

Add RAM and use Pure Music software in memory player mode - upgrade in sound.

There is also this: http://www.mach2music.com/ which is a Mini optimized as music server only. Is intended for use with external DAC, but should sound good as is, without DAC.
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by DevoDave View Post
Got it CDLehner, I assume you are using the toslink optical out from the Mac Mini and not the mini stereo Jack?

Will check your blog and Average Guy's Guide. Intrigued by going discless too.

Thanks!
Actually, I use a Squeezebox Touch; but the MM is very common, as I said. I can help with ripping and streaming questions, but you should be aware of Computer Audiophile if you want to read-up and get advice on a Mac Mini set-up. Or the guys here.

Most of the people I know, who use a MM, do use it in conjunction with Pure Music.

CD
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by firedog55 View Post

The standard Mac Mini is a good choice.

Add RAM and use Pure Music software in memory player mode - upgrade in sound.

There is also this: http://www.mach2music.com/ which is a Mini optimized as music server only. Is intended for use with external DAC, but should sound good as is, without DAC.


Firedog,

Thanks for suggesting us. You are right that a MacMini makes for a very good 2-Channel front end. A modified MacMini makes for an even better front end.

One of our customers wrote us yesterday and told us our Mach2 Music Server easily beat out his Esoteric P5.

While our Mach2 Server sounds best feeding a good quality DAC, we did have a couple customers that ran from the MacMini to their preamp with a $12 Radio Shack connector and were thrilled with the output into his $50,000 system.

He estimated that he would have to spend $1000 to $1200 on a DAC to equal the sound he was getting out of the Headphone jack. We were all pleasantly surprised at teh headphone jack output.

DevoDave,

I too have SACD and DVDs. After getting the Mach2 Server, I ripped the CD layer of the SACDs, and the Mach2 output of the CD ripped layer, is way better than I ever heard from the SACD through my Denon 3930ci player, which was a very good player for its time (2 years ago).

Good luck in whatever you decide. The MacMini is a terrific platform if you go that way.

Darrell
www.mach2music.com
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks all, still planning future system on the midfi budget. Shaping up like this: MacMini or even iMac, backup Yamaha CD/DVD/SACD/DVDA disc player, Emotiva DAC, Emotiva 2Ch Power, to drive Magneplanars with Velodyne sub.

At this point, thinking of how to control Mac, screens, remote, etc. How does one control the mac from the listening position? Are we using iTunes for control?

Further, the current MacMini is 500Gb or 1Tb of storage. I suppose its not hard to add storage. Your thoughts on storage capacity?

Thanks
post #9 of 19
iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad with one of the available apps

if it is only a music server, then you don't even need it to have it's own monitor
post #10 of 19
I have my MM hooked up to an Emo XDA feeding a Velo SMS to an Emo XPA-2...works wonderful. This is all tied into my big Sony, but I can and do use my Iphone as a remote for Itunes...works great....
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks firedog and drooler. So I can control the system with my itouch and an app? Got it.

Thoughts on how to control it if I was using iTunes as the music depository and chose not to use an iTouch to control? Is there a remote of some kind I can use, or must I simply let playlists run?

Will also use iTunes to download and store music on MacMini, so a monitor may be in order.

Actually was pondering iMac instead of MacMini as well, since comes with wireless keyboard, monitor, and substantial hard disk space. iMacs seem to be on discount at the moment.

Thanks for ideas and help.
post #12 of 19
I downloaded JumiAmp app from Apple App store...it uses either iphone or itouch as a remote so you can control your itunes on your Mac mini, Imac or a laptop.

I will use my iphone as remote to control itunes using dedicated old apple laptop Im currently not using...running asynch USB out to a asynch USB to SPDIF box(MF V-Link)---> DAC(MF VDAC)--->integrated amp and then to my speakers.

One advantage of just using your laptop hardwired to your asynch USB box/DAC is sound quality should be very good this way and you can run Pandora One radio running at 192K or even Linn Radio running at 320kbps using your laptop and streaming directly to your home audio...something Squeezebox and Sono's ZP 90 cannot do at this time.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mact3333 View Post

One advantage of just using your laptop hardwired to your asynch USB box/DAC is sound quality should be very good this way and you can run Pandora One radio running at 192K or even Linn Radio running at 320kbps using your laptop and streaming directly to your home audio...something Squeezebox and Sono's ZP 90 cannot do at this time.

They can't?? Aren't the streams just URLs??

CD
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by DevoDave View Post

Thanks firedog and drooler. So I can control the system with my itouch and an app? Got it.

Thoughts on how to control it if I was using iTunes as the music depository and chose not to use an iTouch to control? Is there a remote of some kind I can use, or must I simply let playlists run?

Will also use iTunes to download and store music on MacMini, so a monitor may be in order.

Actually was pondering iMac instead of MacMini as well, since comes with wireless keyboard, monitor, and substantial hard disk space. iMacs seem to be on discount at the moment.

Thanks for ideas and help.

There's an Android remote app that is not quite as elegant, but works fine. Other than those, you can buy an apple remote for about $15 but it can only do play/pause and next/previous in the current playlist, whether it be a playlist, and album, whatever. If you're playing an album, you'll have to get up to switch to the next when it ends.

I run a Macbook Pro as a 2-channel front end. I bought an ipod touch as a dedicated remote. Seems a shame to go to the large expense of a properly setup computer front end and then skimp on the remote. Defeats the whole purpose which is convenience. If you want to save a few bucks, get a previous version Touch off Craigslist or something. Previous version makes no performance difference in use as a remote.

iMac works fine too, depends on what you want. Many people like the mini because it can run headless on a network i.e. no monitor, keyboard or mouse, making it very small.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

They can't?? Aren't the streams just URLs??

CD

Uh...went to Internet Radio, did a search; put in Linn, got all three streams. Add, play...320kbps. Not too hard. Say what you want about SB; it's the Internet Radio king.

CD
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

Uh...went to Internet Radio, did a search; put in Linn, got all three streams. Add, play...320kbps. Not too hard. Say what you want about SB; it's the Internet Radio king.

CD

When you say SB are you talking about Logitech Squeezebox?....I was going to buy a Squeezebox but didnt, because it couldnt run Pandora One's 192K rate...it runs at typical 128K fro Pandora One...Pandora One doesnt support products such as Logitech SB or Sono's ZP90, which is a shame really.

I have no idea about Linn Radio and whether it can run the 320kbps to a Sueezebox or not...but it should be able to run 320K to a computer front end I would think...will try this out soon but not all of my gear has arrived yet.
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mact3333 View Post

When you say SB are you talking about Logitech Squeezebox?....I was going to buy a Squeezebox but didnt, because it couldnt run Pandora One's 192K rate...it runs at typical 128K fro Pandora One...Pandora One doesnt support products such as Logitech SB or Sono's ZP90, which is a shame really.

I have no idea about Linn Radio and whether it can run the 320kbps to a Sueezebox or not...but it should be able to run 320K to a computer front end I would think...will try this out soon but not all of my gear has arrived yet.

Well, actually...what you said above is that products like the SB (yes, Squeezebox) and Sonos can't run 320kbps Linn Radio, or 192k Pandora One (as opposed to a laptop). So I'm telling you, yes; I don't even listen to Linn (although I might start), but I was able to go from your post, to setting it up and listening in about 2 minutes.

I suspect the 128k Pandora you're talking about is the "App" that comes included with SB; but SB can run ANYTHING that has a URL. So if the 192k version does, SB can play it.

CD
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post
Well, actually...what you said above is that products like the SB (yes, Squeezebox) and Sonos can't run 320kbps Linn Radio, or 192k Pandora One (as opposed to a laptop). So I'm telling you, yes; I don't even listen to Linn (although I might start), but I was able to go from your post, to setting it up and listening in about 2 minutes.

I suspect the 128k Pandora you're talking about is the "App" that comes included with SB; but SB can run ANYTHING that has a URL. So if the 192k version does, SB can play it.

CD


to be accurate, what I should have said is that Pandora One does not support any peripherals such as Sono's or Squeezebox...believe you are correct that SQ can run 192K if the source allows it...I guess Linn Radio does allow it then...good to know...although Linn isnt nearly as good as Pandora, it might have to suffice for HD radio.


To the OP, why dont you use a Mac Mini for front end and go out using asynchronous USB to spdif and then either coax or optical to DAC and then to your home audio equipement.

I see you have Magnepans...I use to have a pair back in the days myself...couldnt imagine using those with anything but tube amps cause they were pretty bright sounding with digital music back in the day.
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mact3333 View Post
to be accurate, what I should have said is that Pandora One does not support any peripherals such as Sono's or Squeezebox...believe you are correct that SQ can run 192K if the source allows it...I guess Linn Radio does allow it then...good to know...although Linn isnt nearly as good as Pandora, it might have to suffice for HD radio.


To the OP, why dont you use a Mac Mini for front end and go out using asynchronous USB to spdif and then either coax or optical to DAC and then to your home audio equipement.

I see you have Magnepans...I use to have a pair back in the days myself...couldnt imagine using those with anything but tube amps cause they were pretty bright sounding with digital music back in the day.
And you're right; no way to get Pandora One to SB right now...but that's a limitation of Pandora, as opposed to the SB. Pandora would be silly not to port it over, and I mean soon...and I suspect it'll be coming forthwith.

CD
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