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MacMini as a Music Server

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Jason36's picture
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I have a question with regards to the MacMini and using this as a music server.

 

Once my music is transferred onto the mini, I assume using whatever music system I wish (Jriver, Foobar, iTunes etc) can this then be controlled via an iPad using the relevant remote app? I don't want a screen, keyboard etc.

If I can get one cheap enough I may go for the 2010 version with the built in drive.....if not I will bite the bullet get the latest version and invest in an external drive.

How would I connect the mac to a DAC? Does it have a USB port?

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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

it does have USB output and optical output via the headphone socket via an adaptor- will work via ipad remote and itunes etc as long as you enable sharing and connect via wifi

If you are not gong to get an external hdd, you will need to make sure you have plenty of room on the HDD for all your files

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AnotherJoe's picture
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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

As an option consider getting a powerful NAS like a Synology DS412+

This can then serve multiple networked clients and convert formats on the fly (if needed). It is also powerful enough to transcode video.

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Overdose's picture
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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

Jason36 wrote:

I have a question with regards to the MacMini and using this as a music server.

 

Once my music is transferred onto the mini, I assume using whatever music system I wish (Jriver, Foobar, iTunes etc) can this then be controlled via an iPad using the relevant remote app? I don't want a screen, keyboard etc.

If I can get one cheap enough I may go for the 2010 version with the built in drive.....if not I will bite the bullet get the latest version and invest in an external drive.

How would I connect the mac to a DAC? Does it have a USB port?

A Mac mini makes for a superb streamer/media center. It can be connected via USB, Firewire, or optical output from the dual purpose headphone socket.

I would recomend using an internal HDD of as large a capacity as possible. The most sought after model is the last one with optical drive fitted, but an external drive can be used if this Mac cannot be found at a reasonable cost.

As a guide, I have around 1100 titles ripped as lossless files, many of which are multi disc sets. These take up around 500GB.

The Mac mini can be setup to be controlled by any wifi enabled idevice, which is nice. Smile

iTunes is about the best you'll get for the Mac and when set up, will give you a bitperfect playback (although I wouldn't get too concerned about that yet).

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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

I use 2009 mac mini as music server, but also with a mouse and keyboard both wireless for managing the library. It is connected to tv as a monitor.

They do have usb and optical out so this will go to a dac or a pre or integrated amp with digital input. Or you can do the airplay thing or stream via aptx bluetooth to compatible devices. Optical is good up to 24/96, usb up to 24/192 but with compatible devices and may need drivers for specific devices. 24/96 usb usually does not need drivers.

If you already have another computer with a cd drive and a network then you do not need the mac mini to have a drive. You can rip cds on the other machine and then import the files to the mac.

A must is a back up though.

 

AnotherJoe's picture
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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

Im surprised people are suggesting using minipc's as mediaservers in todays technology.

How very 1990's...

 

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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

AnotherJoe wrote:

Im surprised people are suggesting using minipc's as mediaservers in todays technology.

How very 1990's...

The lightbulb is very 1880's, but we still use it today, because it works and is perfect for its purpose.

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AnotherJoe's picture
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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

Looking at the macmini, I go onto Apples store and configure it to be 2.5Ghz+4GBRam+750GB = £819

DS412+ with 4x2TB will cost £780

 

The DS is much better value and uses less power (@£60 cheaper a year if you were to leave on all the time).

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Overdose's picture
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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

AnotherJoe wrote:

Looking at the macmini, I go onto Apples store and configure it to be 2.5Ghz+4GBRam+750GB = £819

DS412+ with 4x2TB will cost £780

 

The DS is much better value and uses less power (@£60 cheaper a year if you were to leave on all the time).

You are comparing apples to pears. The Mac mini is a computer, the DS is merely a NAS and is therefore much more limited in its function.

Of course the NAS is cheaper with regards storage, but it doesn't have anywhere near the computational power and therefore functionality, including actually being a bona fide media center. The NAS can merely provide storage, so you will still need another device to play the media and therefore be using more power.

A Mac mini is a premium product and will integrate exceptionally well with other idevices. There simply is no other option in terms of ease of use. Other small form factor Pcs are available, but use either Windows or a Linux flavour, Linux being more customisable, but even these don't set up as effortlessly as Apple devices.

Anyway, if power consumption is really of concern, you wouldn't dream of leaving a device on 24/7, 365 days a year. How pointless. A bit like your rationale, in fact.

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AnotherJoe's picture
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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

Overdose wrote:

AnotherJoe wrote:

Looking at the macmini, I go onto Apples store and configure it to be 2.5Ghz+4GBRam+750GB = £819

DS412+ with 4x2TB will cost £780

 

The DS is much better value and uses less power (@£60 cheaper a year if you were to leave on all the time).

You are comparing apples to pears. The Mac mini is a computer, the DS is merely a NAS and is therefore much more limited in its function.

Of course the NAS is cheaper with regards storage, but it doesn't have anywhere near the computational power and therefore functionality, including actually being a bona fide media center. The NAS can merely provide storage, so you will still need another device to play the media and therefore be using more power.

A Mac mini is a premium product and will integrate exceptionally well with other idevices. There simply is no other option in terms of ease of use. Other small form factor Pcs are available, but use either Windows or a Linux flavour, Linux being more customisable, but even these don't set up as effortlessly as Apple devices.

Anyway, if power consumption is really of concern, you wouldn't dream of leaving a device on 24/7, 365 days a year. How pointless. A bit like your rationale, in fact.

 

Exactly what do u think a macmini can do that the DS cant?

I know which one plays better with my kit. Transcoding DLNA server works with my tvs/av/streamers/internet/ radio without any extra bits of kit.

And yes we are comparing Apple to Pears - I'm talking about NAS with builtin full mediaserver capability - and you're talking about pcs.

Even so I guarantee you my setup is more powerful in terms of mediafeatures and can serve way more concurrent clients than a macmini can. A macmini is not a premium mediaserver - its a premium price, but thats about all.

I think you've got your head stuck in the past..

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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

Can you pop in a CD or DVD for playback?

Can you use it to surf the net?

What about photo editing?

Games?

Does it stream music from the net, for example could you use it to play spotify?

Can you use an office suite with it, create a word doc or spreadsheet, that sort of thing?

I wouldn't know, I don't have one, but the Mac can, happily and that is my point. It's not just a one trick pony.

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AnotherJoe's picture
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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

But your describing the actions of a pc.  As a mediaserver its poor.

 

It cant serve up blu-ray rips to 2 tvs while 3 other people listen to lossless music or maybe a couple of dvd-rips of their phone/tablets.

It simply doesnt have the power/bandwidth. To call it premium mediaserver is a joke.

 

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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

Does the DS need a media player to actually 'play' the files being sent?

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AnotherJoe's picture
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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

Yes - its called a tv/receiver/phone/tablet/streamer/games console/internet radio. Devices you already have in your house.

And they just play together nicely.

 

If you are going for a high-end setup, you are best served buying a highend NAS, and letting your other household devices stream from it.

 

3-4 years back I would have agreed with you perhaps. Now,no.

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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

So the DS being only £780 (for just a server), also needs more devices and therefore extra cost to get any kind of music played (what the OP wants)?

I'm sure it does what it does, quite well in its own limited way, but like I said, one trick pony (ie serving stuff). If you have the need to serve up a couple of blu-ray movies and several music channels in a house at the same time, then this and an additional array of media players may well be right up your street. It will however cost a lot more in the long run than the Mac.

As a matter of interest, how many components do you have between the DS and the speakers?

 

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RE: MacMini as a Music Server

I do love the mini, but I sold mine years ago.  Using tvs as monitors just plain sucks, hated browsing on TV.  ATV with Desktop AirPlay in Mountain Lion is way cooler than having a second machine as a dedicated media center.  Even passes 7.1 signal to my Amp.  I have conceded that I will have to go the Nas route one day, but it's such a boring thing to spend money on!  Think I will wait for my Drobo to die.

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