Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Mac Mini: Use OSX and Pure Music, or Windows 7 and JRiver?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Mac Mini: Use OSX and Pure Music, or Windows 7 and JRiver?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I am helping my father setup a dedicated music server.  We got a Mac Mini and currently using the 15-day trail of Pure Music.  Is this the best way to go, or would it be better to use Bootcamp and install Windows 7 and use JRiver?  

 

Also, the DAC is connected to USB port #4 (the one next to the SD card slot).  Is this the best port?  We have also tried port #1 (the one closest to the power button) and found that port #1 had a muddier sound.  

post #2 of 6

I have been using macs for years and learned a lot about what makes it sound great.  I recently went form Macbook to mini and the result has been very ear opening.  I also have been an early adopter of Pure Music.  I am now using Audirvana Plus in direct mode with a usb bridge and very good dac.  Tuning the Mac mini make a big beneficial effect.  I think running another os on the mini would be detrimental to the sound but have not tried it.

 

I do advocate turning off as many of the programs in the mini as possible.  I am about a week away from writing about these tweaks and others on my blog if you are interested.

 

Glad you have found the best sounding port, I will have to try it.

post #3 of 6

I am running my Mac Mini with Amarra 2.4.1 as a dedicated music server running AIFF files ripped from iTunes. I am also using a PC with JRiver 17 for FLAC's and .WAV files. I would not run WIndows on the Mini. It would require too many resources and could detract from your playback experience. The Amarra manual suggests installing ONLY Amarra after the OSX install. I did that and things runs flawlessly. However, the PC and JRiver also provide a great playback experience. I cannot say one is superior to the other. Considering all the files are Hi-Res I am listening to good quality files in either case.

 

The Mac is connected to a Cambridge DAC Magic Plus and the PC has an Audioquest DragonFly DAC. Whicever one I choose life is good.

 

Good luck in your quest!  

 

beerchug.gif

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

After several days of playing with the Mac Mini and Pure Music trail I have decided to keep it and get the full version of Pure Music when the trail expires.  This is my first time using a dedicated computer for music (my main computer is a mid-tower custom built desktop running Windows 7 and JRiver), and I am happy to report that the Mac Mini and Pure Music combo is a great experience.  I am controlling playback with the Remote app on my iPad, and using OS X's Screen Sharing and VNC Viewer on the iPad as a screen/keyboard/mouse.  

 

Regarding the USB ports, after more listening I think Port #4 (closest to the SD card reader) seems brighter and has more sparkle in the treble region, which probably gives the perception of better clarity that I mentioned in my original post.  But Port #1 (closest to the power switch) sounds smoother, has a darker background, deeper soundstage, and more music seems more enjoyable and flows more easily.  I think I will stay with Port #1.  Theoretically, Port #1 should sound the best because according to System Information (in the Applications --> Utilities folder), Ports #1 and #2 shares resources with the IR Receiver (which I turned off), and Ports #3 and #4 shares resources with the Bluetooth receiver (I left that on for the keyboard/mouse in case I need it, and to wake the computer).  The port that the USB DAC is connected to should not share resources with other devices, right? 

 

Anyone else tried the different USB ports on the Mac Mini?  Would be nice to hear your thoughts. 

 

EDIT: My father decided to keep using his dedicated Lenovo Thinkpad as his media server (music and movies) running JRiver; that is why the above comments were "I" instead of "we" or "him." 

 

EDIT 2: My current system is: Mac Mini with Pure Music (native sample rate; no upsampling); music is stored on a Firewire 800 external hard drive that has its own power supply --> Wireworld Silver Starlight USB cable --> T+A DAC 8 (Beyerdynamics T1 connected to the DAC 8's headphone out) --> Straightwire Serenade II interconnects --> Octave V70SE tube integrated amplifier --> Straightwire Serenade II speaker cables --> Dynaudio Contour S3.4 speakers.  


Edited by lmf22 - 7/25/12 at 11:53pm
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by lmf22 View Post

After several days of playing with the Mac Mini and Pure Music trail I have decided to keep it and get the full version of Pure Music when the trail expires.  This is my first time using a dedicated computer for music (my main computer is a mid-tower custom built desktop running Windows 7 and JRiver), and I am happy to report that the Mac Mini and Pure Music combo is a great experience.  I am controlling playback with the Remote app on my iPad, and using OS X's Screen Sharing and VNC Viewer on the iPad as a screen/keyboard/mouse.  

 

Regarding the USB ports, after more listening I think Port #4 (closest to the SD card reader) seems brighter and has more sparkle in the treble region, which probably gives the perception of better clarity that I mentioned in my original post.  But Port #1 (closest to the power switch) sounds smoother, has a darker background, deeper soundstage, and more music seems more enjoyable and flows more easily.  I think I will stay with Port #1.  Theoretically, Port #1 should sound the best because according to System Information (in the Applications --> Utilities folder), Ports #1 and #2 shares resources with the IR Receiver (which I turned off), and Ports #3 and #4 shares resources with the Bluetooth receiver (I left that on for the keyboard/mouse in case I need it, and to wake the computer).  The port that the USB DAC is connected to should not share resources with other devices, right? 

 

Anyone else tried the different USB ports on the Mac Mini?  Would be nice to hear your thoughts. 

 

EDIT: My father decided to keep using his dedicated Lenovo Thinkpad as his media server (music and movies) running JRiver; that is why the above comments were "I" instead of "we" or "him." 

 

EDIT 2: My current system is: Mac Mini with Pure Music (native sample rate; no upsampling); music is stored on a Firewire 800 external hard drive that has its own power supply --> Wireworld Silver Starlight USB cable --> T+A DAC 8 (Beyerdynamics T1 connected to the DAC 8's headphone out) --> Straightwire Serenade II interconnects --> Octave V70SE tube integrated amplifier --> Straightwire Serenade II speaker cables --> Dynaudio Contour S3.4 speakers.  

Glad to hear Pure Music is working well for you. I have been very pleased with Amarra. Whatever gets the job done! I also have the DAC plugged into USB #1 and it has been fine. Since I stripped the MINI, installed a new 7200 rpm 640 GB drive and reinstalled with only the OSX/Amarra combo, it has never had a pause or a skip due to other software demanding resources. I have a bluetooth dongle in port 4 for the keyboard and trackpad since the Mid 2007 Mini did not have native bluetooth. I'll run it until it fails as I do like having the built in optical drive for ripping new CD's. I just wish I could put more than 4 GB of RAM in this generation Mini. Still, with nothing else but iTunes and Amarra running there is very little demand on the system. I allocated 2GB to Amara and that seems to keep everything happy.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Time for a little update of my music server journey.  Over the past few days I have compared three different software: Pure Music, Amarra, and Audirvana Plus.  I found that each one has a different sound; it was easy to differentiate between the software in my system.  I found Pure Music has a warmer tone and the music seems thicker, but it is sometimes too warm and thick.  On some piano music, the ending of one note seems to blend with the beginning of the next note.  I think that because of this warmth and thickness, some details are covered up and gives the impression of rolled-off treble.  

 

Next, I tried Audirvana Plus.  The sound was the opposite of Pure Music.  It is very detailed, but for some music it was not a good thing.  Flaws in most pop and country music is revealed very easily.  However, it is good with well recorded classical music.  The treble seems to be emphasized.  I also tried the 2X upsampling, but the sound seems unnatural. Audirvana Plus have a more analytical sound compared to the other two programs.  

 

Finally, I tried Amarra.  I think this gives a great balance between warmth and details.  The soundstage is wider and deeper than Pure Music and Audirvana Plus.  I also noticed that there is more layering, or it is easier to distinguish between the different layers in the music.  Amarra has the most natural sound compared to the other two programs.  I find myself keep going back to it because of the smooth and natural sound.  It is close to my Clearaudio Concept turntable (with LFD phonostage).  

 

In terms of sound quality, Amarra wins.  But there is also the interface to consider.  Audirvana Plus has the best interface and I did not have a single problem (i.e., no skipping, stuttering, freeze, or unexpected quitting of the program).  Audirvana Plus also launches the quickest and uses the least CPU (even when upsampling is turned on).  Judging from the forums and quick release/updates, the developer seems to be great at addressing problems.  

 

The next best is Amarra.  I only had one problem when it unexpectedly quick and iTunes kept playing but with no sound.  I have read through many threads on this forum and it seems like Amarra has the most problems and least stable, but other than the program quitting unexpectedly once I did not have any problems.  Amarra also seems to use a lot of CPU (relative to the other programs); about 10%.  But I have a Core i5 2.3GHz CPU and I do not use the Mac Mini for anything else other than music so I do not think is will be a problem.  

 

The worst is Pure Music.  Sometimes when I start the program and I checked the audio settings, Hog Mode would be disabled.  So now every time I launch the program I have to check the audio settings.  I also do not like the looks of the UI (but that is a minor problem because I use the Apple Remote on my iPad to control these programs anyways).  In terms of interface and least problems, Audirvana Plus wins.  

 

In the end, I think I will buy Amarra because of the good sound quality, and in my system there does not seem to be any major problems.  I will also buy Audirvana Plus for when I want those details in the music to come up, and who knows, with its quick updates the next version might sound great.  

 

Would be great to hear other people's thoughts on this too. 

 

By the way, I usually put the Mac Mini in sleep mode, but whenever I turn my DAC on for watching TV/movies on my desktop computer the Mini would wake up.  (The DAC is connected to the Mini via USB, and connected to the desktop computer via coaxial.)  Any idea how to prevent the Mini from waking up when I turn on the DAC?  


Edited by lmf22 - 8/1/12 at 10:08am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Mac Mini: Use OSX and Pure Music, or Windows 7 and JRiver?