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What is the best Apple Mac setup for music?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I am wondering what everyone's favorite Apple Mac setup is for music?  Favorite Mac computer, favorite external hard drive to store all of your music on, favorite speakers, headphones and any other gear that you prefer to use.

 

I have two older Apple Mac's and one older PC.  I prefer the Mac's, but they are getting outdated due to they are both over six years old.  I'm planning on buying a new Mac and a new larger capacity external hard drive to put all of my 500+ CD collection on.  Then of course I need some good speakers, headphones and other gear to enjoy all of my music.       

post #2 of 23

I use a Mac Mini with large external drives attached for music and video libraries and am very happy with it apart from the audio I get out of the Airport Express's DAC.  I am about to remedy that, however, with a Meridian Explorer USB DAC.

 

The Mini doesn't draw a lot of power, and mine is headless.  When I need to access my library, I do so via screen sharing or by using the Remote app on my iPhone or iPad.


Edited by netdog - 2/25/13 at 12:03pm
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
I also have a Mac Mini, but it is one of the older one's running Mac O S X 10.5.8. The problem is many of the new external hard drives made now are not compatible with this older operating system. I have found new older external hard drives that are compatible with it though on eBay.

It is cool you can access your music from your phone. I hope you get your setup sounding the way you want it to also.
post #4 of 23

I am trying to do the same thing with my old Mini.  It is an earlier unit, but is Intel chipped and running 10.6.8.  I found an inexpensive HD replacement from OtherWorld Computing < Performance Upgrades; FireWire USB SATA Storage; Memory, more at OWC> .  Moab, they can tell you exactly which drives will work in your Mini.

 

 I would like to connect this Mini to my Peachtree Decco receiver and operate it "headless". I'd like to do this with my Android phone but not sure this is possible?  I have an older iPod touch 2nd gen, but can't upgrade the Os any further than 4.2.1  so it might not work at all for this purpose?  I have a feeling I will need to buy an newer iPod or pad to make this work.  Any suggestions are welcome. 

 

In the meantime, I feed my Decco with an older Oppo DVD player I got on Ebay for $50.  The sound is breathtaking! I just want to be able to connect the Mini as a headless server and still am not sure how to make it all work.

 

 Thanks,

               -G

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen G View Post

I am trying to do the same thing with my old Mini.  It is an earlier unit, but is Intel chipped and running 10.6.8.  I found an inexpensive HD replacement from OtherWorld Computing < Performance Upgrades; FireWire USB SATA Storage; Memory, more at OWC> .  Moab, they can tell you exactly which drives will work in your Mini.

 

 I would like to connect this Mini to my Peachtree Decco receiver and operate it "headless". I'd like to do this with my Android phone but not sure this is possible?  I have an older iPod touch 2nd gen, but can't upgrade the Os any further than 4.2.1  so it might not work at all for this purpose?  I have a feeling I will need to buy an newer iPod or pad to make this work.  Any suggestions are welcome. 

 

In the meantime, I feed my Decco with an older Oppo DVD player I got on Ebay for $50.  The sound is breathtaking! I just want to be able to connect the Mini as a headless server and still am not sure how to make it all work.

 

 Thanks,

               -G

You have the nicer Mini than I do.  Mine is not intel chipped and I can not upgrade it to OS X 10.6 and newer.  Not a problem due to I bought this great working Mac Mini used for $100.00 (with original box, cables and paperwork) and I though of selling it to get a Intel chipped version which would run $250.00 locally.  I wanted to buy a new 500GB or bigger Seagate external hard drive and put all of my 500+ CD music collection on it with room to expand and have a system that could be enjoyable to use for 3-5 years.  

 

I bought a used 5th generation 30GB iPod with 4,000+ songs on it off eBay for $107.00 shipped which is working great and my wife liked 50% of the songs that were on it.  I recently bought a 5.5 generation 80GB iPod with 1,500 songs on it locally for $120.00 which was in excellent condition.  Both had the original boxes, cables and paperwork.  

 

I am in the process of getting the computer system upgraded and also eventually upgrade the stereo systems in both of my cars to work the best with the iPod's.  Right now I am using a Monster iPod radio transmitter with the iPods due to both of my cars do not have iPod ready stereo head units.  I want to upgrade to the Polk car speakers that get fantastic reviews on the Crutchfield website.  I have not decided on which stereo head unit to go with yet.  I like reading about what everyone is using because it helps me decide which direction to take when buying anything new or used.  I love buying great used gear and saving money.         

 

I work outside all day in the cold at my job and I use the 180's ear warmer headphones with my iPod.  Not hi-fi, but my ears are warm and it works pretty good.  I keep the volume lower in my work environment so keeping these headphones on in the position you can hear them the best at can be a little challenging while working and moving around all day.  If they shift position over my ears a little then I will not be able to hear the music as well.  The 180's have held up for two winters using them eight hours a day. A friend of mine has had pairs eventually short out in our work environment, but we are moving around all day and using them for a solid eight hours per day also.  I spent $15.00 on my pair, and that is a deal for them.  I noticed they are more expensive on Amazon now.  I have a pair of Ultimate Ears noise isolating earphones which sound great that I have been using them for six years at work/home and they sound great.  I am not sure of the model, but I bought them new on Amazon for $65.00 years ago.       


Edited by Moab - 3/1/13 at 4:04pm
post #6 of 23
EBay can definitely be a wonderful thing.
I got my Decco2 for $450. delivered! This is a spectacular piece of equipment. Never knew hpw much sound I was missing.

I should just troll around for a used IPod touch. Then I can control the Mini/Decco from the same room without connecting a monitor.
I don't use cans/buds much. I just prefer speakers. I don't use them at work because I am around a lot of metal dust. Which can spell death for ear buds,phones and pods. Generally I just prefer to be un-tethered.
post #7 of 23

Its not "the best"... just the best that I can afford at the moment.

 

Macbook Pro running iTunes, ~75% apple lossless ~25% 320k MP3.

 

The macbook toslink optical feeds a modded Entech DAC with an OP2107 at the heart of the analog side.  The entech has a hot line out and I split that 3 ways using RCA splitters

 

Amps:

-Larocco PPA with OP627s on all channels and discrete current buffer

-Darkvoice 227 *EDIT* Oops I mean  337 (Tung Sol tubes all around)

-Earmax (Sylvania ECC81 drives a pair of Telefunken ECC86).  I am running this amp with a 24V-2A  transformer.  The stock power supply at 19V-.8A leaves the amp gasping and choking.

 

I use the tube amps with Philmore output transformers for my low-Z cans.

 

Cans:

HD580

Koss A250

RS1

HF1

K240S-55

K701

Yuin PK1

Jays Q-jays IEMs

 

Fave setups...

 

Earmax feeding Philmore transformers and driving the RS1 or Q-jays IEMs

Earmax powering the A250 directly (no transformers)

Darkvoice feeding Philmore transformers and driving the K701

Darkvoice powering the HD580 directly (no transformers needed)

Macbook headphone jack driving the HF1 (surprisingly good sounding, in a less is more kind of way)


Edited by kramer5150 - 3/3/13 at 4:23pm
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moab View Post

I also have a Mac Mini, but it is one of the older one's running Mac O S X 10.5.8. The problem is many of the new external hard drives made now are not compatible with this older operating system.

I don't want to come across as a smart ass, but I'm not sure what you mean by newer external drives not working with OSX.

 

A blank hard drive doesn't care what the OS is. (For example, I have HDs from 2004 in a eSATA RAID array as one of my non-mission critical backup drives for my 2008 MacPro running Snow Leopard).

 

Once you connect a blank external HD it to your mini, it'll simply initialize it for your current OS.

 

What year is the mini? Even the first gens (PowerMac1.42ghz) have FireWire ports, etc., so there are many external drive options available, like a quad interface (FW400, FW800, USB, eSATA)' that'll future proof you.

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/

 

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Newer%20Technology/MSQ7S10TB32/

 

I get all of my externals from the above shop, as well as RAM and SSDs. Great company (I'm not affiliated, just a fan).


Edited by KiruDub - 3/2/13 at 5:40am
post #9 of 23
Actually there came a point where large external USB drives stopped working in SL and they never fixed it.
post #10 of 23

... and as for external drives, I salvage 160-200G SATA HDs from work.  These are engineering samples that are subject to drop impact and can't be sold.  But otherwise are perfectly good HDs.   So I pull them from the e-recycle bins.  I have 3-4 by now.  I case them in sabrent USB 2.0 enclosures.  The only problems I have encountered (and its a minor one at that) is when I forget which drive is setup for windows and which 3 are running mac OS.  But thats not really a problem because I don't use the PC as my music data source, and macs are read-only compatible with PC drives.

 

http://sabrent.com/category/hard-drive-enclosures/

 

I don't store any media on the mac HD.  Its all on externals.

 

Curious, does anyone run a drive through the firewire port?  Are there any advantages over USB 2.0 / 3.0 ?

Anyone using static drives?... is it worth the extra $$$ over traditional disc storage?


Edited by kramer5150 - 3/2/13 at 8:30am
post #11 of 23

^^^

 

Nice that you can get freebies!

 

I've used both flavors of Firewire (FW) for work and backup purposes over the years. IIRC the theoretical throughput of USB2 is around FW800 speeds, but tests slower in the real world. I've never used USB for my externals, since my Macs have FW400/800 ports, and on my Pro I added a 4 port PCIe card for eSATA, which is about as fast as an internal drive.

 

When you mean static drives, do you mean solid state (SSD)? If so, I use them as boot drives on all of my computers. It really works best as a boot drive (for the OS & applications), or a drive that will be used for large files that need to be loaded quickly. For example, I use an SSD for the huge 1+ gig samples that some of my virtual instruments use. An instrument that would have normally taken about 45 seconds to load using a 7200RPM HD takes about 10 seconds on the SSD. Makes a big difference in my workflow, especially when there are 10 instances of a large instrument.

 

Since they're still pricey, it depends if the luxury of speed is important enough for the user, I guess. I use platter drives for everything else.

post #12 of 23

About the best mac you can buy is a Mac Mini.

 

What I have:

Standard Mac Mini

16 gb from other world computing

Solid state drive from other world computing

HD add on kit from ifixit

 

Cost about $850 I think.

 

You can use just about any DAC.  It has USB, Firewire, and digital out.

If you put your OS on the solid state HD you can use the whole spinning HD for media (you can have two drives with the ifixit kit).  I have 120GB solid state and 512GB spinning disk.

 

I've owned the iMac, Mac Pro, Macbook, MacBook Pro, and Macbook Air.  Unless you want something portable, the Mac Mini is the best.  You can even hook two monitors up to it.

post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by KiruDub View Post

^^^

 

Nice that you can get freebies!

 

I've used both flavors of Firewire (FW) for work and backup purposes over the years. IIRC the theoretical throughput of USB2 is around FW800 speeds, but tests slower in the real world. I've never used USB for my externals, since my Macs have FW400/800 ports, and on my Pro I added a 4 port PCIe card for eSATA, which is about as fast as an internal drive.

 

When you mean static drives, do you mean solid state (SSD)? If so, I use them as boot drives on all of my computers. It really works best as a boot drive (for the OS & applications), or a drive that will be used for large files that need to be loaded quickly. For example, I use an SSD for the huge 1+ gig samples that some of my virtual instruments use. An instrument that would have normally taken about 45 seconds to load using a 7200RPM HD takes about 10 seconds on the SSD. Makes a big difference in my workflow, especially when there are 10 instances of a large instrument.

 

Since they're still pricey, it depends if the luxury of speed is important enough for the user, I guess. I use platter drives for everything else.

OK thanks!!

 

Yeah by "static" (as in motionless) I meant solid state.  So thanks.

 

Hm... OK thanks for the feedback on firewire.  I think I'll try that.

post #14 of 23

As far as the data integrity goes, which method maintains the "purist" data stream?... toslink, USB or Firewire?  Or are they all the same?

 

OP here's a new pic... with the output transformer box for the tube amps.

 

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post

As far as the data integrity goes, which method maintains the "purist" data stream?... toslink, USB or Firewire?  Or are they all the same?

Depends - how do you feel about magic and faeries? tongue.gif

But seriously - FireWire is likely going to give you the lowest latency and most bandwidth (if you needed to run say, a recording interface, this would matter); mostly because that's what it is designed to do. TOSlink is not electrically coupled to the system (but you can read whole volumes about the jitter monster coming to eat your children and smear your music, and why super-expensive coaxial solutions are the solution - personally I'm skeptical, and think part of the issue is that cable makers haven't figured out how to add as much woowoo to TOS cables (perhaps because Toshiba has clear-cut standards, perhaps not), so they have to come up with some reason to push other options), and USB is probably the least expensive to get into. Should also be noted that you'll likely never be able to do a straight-up comparison, because USB and FireWire implementations will look very different (both from one another, and from S/PDIF solutions), and on some (not all) devices, TOS and coax S/PDIF are handled through different paths, and therefore have different performance abilities (for example the device might not do higher than 96k with TOS, but will do 192k with coax, or vice versa).

As far as hard-drive hookup, it won't matter one bit, bandwidth aside. FireWire is better (realworld and on paper), but costs more, and if you aren't saturating your USB controller(s) you shouldn't have a problem either - I honestly doubt running your music from a ~250G disk is enough to be a problem. You'd see a bigger performance improvement going with a more modern disk.
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