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RAM: Does computer audio benefit from more RAM?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi

 

I am currently using a headless 2010 Mac Mini running Snow Lion to play music.

 

Mac Mini > Bit Perfect > USB Meridian Explorer > Rega Brio-R > Bookshelf Speakers

 

I really only run BitPerfect and iTunes on the Mac, but it does seem a little sluggish.

 

Anyway, I am wondering if a computer-driven music system is likely to benefit in terms of sound quality from adding more RAM.  If anybody would know the answer to this, it's you guys.

 

Thanks

post #2 of 16

No, the buffer isn't all that big.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

I should mention that I only have the stock 2GB

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by netdog View Post

I should mention that I only have the stock 2GB

 

I'd shove two more gigs in there for other reasons, but I doubt it'll improve your audio playback.

post #5 of 16

^Agreed, 2 gigs isn't a whole lot nowadays. Especially considering you can get 16 for like $80, maybe cheaper(unless you have to buy it from Apple, then add another zero).

 

But the only way it would improve audio playback is if you're getting a bunch of out of memory errors that are preventing and disrupting playback.

post #6 of 16

The audio itself won't be the problem. Look at the size of the apps your are using and a typical track - or even an album. Even together they will be tiny compared to the amount of memory you already have.

 

However, your OS might need more RAM than you have to be "snappy". You say you have "Snow Lion"? Don't you mean "Mountain Lion" or "Snow Leopard"? For the former, most people tend to go for 4GB RAM. You won't get better sound quality, but you should lose most of the sluggishness.

 

Or you could say "To Hell with iTune" and run one of the lighweight Linux distros suitable for that machine. Or even sell the machine, which would pay for something like a Shuttle XS35, which burns only 20W instead of 80, and using a suitable Linux (say Xubuntu) most certainly would not be sluggish as a music server. MacOS is a bad choice for the way you are using it because it  has become so heavyweight that it requires fairly heavy resources even when it is doing nothing.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Sorry for the mixup.

Yes it's Mountain Lion.

As for the Mac, I've just used them for years, and became further entrenched more recently by iPods, and then by the iPhone, AppleTV and the iPad. So while Apple as a solution may have its drawbacks, it has slowly taken over as my communications system and communications provider/enabler.
post #8 of 16

Probably won't help your audio too much, but more ram may help with the computer feeling sluggish if you've been upgrading to newer OS's.  

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by netdog View Post

Sorry for the mixup.

Yes it's Mountain Lion.

As for the Mac, I've just used them for years, and became further entrenched more recently by iPods, and then by the iPhone, AppleTV and the iPad. So while Apple as a solution may have its drawbacks, it has slowly taken over as my communications system and communications provider/enabler.

 

 

If you are used to the Mac interface, which is generally good, I certainly wouldn't change it on a general purpose machine. But if a machine is just being used for music, then one of the lightweight linuxes would let you use a box that burns (a lot) less power and will never need a RAM upgrade. Not saying you should, it's just an option - especially if you say "Hey, this is not a computer any more - it's a one purpose device." Otoh, the Mac mini probably has a much better better built-in amp than any micro-pc.


Edited by scuttle - 3/1/13 at 5:19pm
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
I actually thought about using a Pi.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by netdog View Post

I actually thought about using a Pi.

Doh! I should have thought of that. In some ways the Mini is just too nice a machine for the role you have it in - and that "niceness" comes at the cost of a heavyweight OS that requires GB of RAM to do a job that a light weight OS could do with 256MB or less, and 80W of electricity where 5-10W might suffice. Sort of like trying to use a caddilac as the basis for a lawn mower.. you can do it, but it's overkill.

 

This thread on the Pi just popped up:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/631355/raspberry-pi-dac-for-headless-audio-player


Edited by scuttle - 3/2/13 at 6:45am
post #12 of 16

2 gb is enough lol im playing bf3 ultra with 4gb...  ok ultra lagging... cpu 100% Gpu 100%  but my ram load is 3.8 gb biggrin.gif  window 7 pro

post #13 of 16

Well the more memory you put in your machine, the more memory is used to help your system run faster(to a certain extent). You might think that you don't need any more based on what your task manager says, but it could still help.

 

My system is using 2.9 gigs right now with no programs really running other than chrome and a couple of idle programs(Steam, avast, plex media server, Virtu). I have no doubt that a system with the same OS(Win 7 x64) could run the same amount of stuff plus more on only 2 gigs. But since my system has 16 gigs to use, it is liberal with its RAM usage.

post #14 of 16

Not my task manager it my in game info i can see real time load on ram gpu cpu

 

 

The problem is when (window start to use the hard drive for ram).. eek.gif

post #15 of 16

Regarding the sound benefits - we've been through this.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/629735/4-gigs-vs-8-gigs-ram-on-mbp

 

And  IMO, if your ram usage is running 2+GB idle, on a desktop, there needs to be some serious pruning.

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