Mac Mini tips and tricks?

Based on this For Sale thread:

His mac mini has a few upgrades that sound intriguing, specifically the external power supply, which a couple other members praised.

This is the power supply:
https://www.teradak.com/products/102.html

Anyone have specific experience with it, and can speak to advantages? (My specific setup includes TWO mini’s. One for the core to access the Roon DB, and the other acting as the bridge, sending the stream/files to the DAC. Is it more important to have an external power supply on the Core mini or the Bridge mini, or both?)

Both my mini’s have internal SSDs, but the music library lives on an external Promise RAID (regular HDDs.)

Curious to hear other members’ experiences with their minis, and if they’ve done any tweaks or upgrades.

I have a Mac Mini. Bought it at Mojo.

When I got it I removed the wifi print and antennas.
After that I downloaded and ran the “OptimizeOSX v1.3” script, that disables just about everything.
I installed Audirvana on it and a few days ago I bought a copy of HQPlayer which I use as Roon endpoint. I have disabled all SRC tricks. Two people already certified that this sounds (a very tiny little) better than Roon endpoint.

The Mac is running OSX 10.9.5 which I will never ever update, since it’s the best sounding one.

The rest of my stuff is in already somewhere on this forum.

1 Like

interesting about one OS sounding better (or best). I do know that when we had these mini’s running server software at my office, we intentionally kept the OS at 10.9.5 I believe because OSX server became horribly dumbed down in later releases.

Mine do run Mohave (which is the most current OS as of this post).

Curious about storage options, too. As I mentioned in the first post, the library is stored on an external Thunderbolt RAID. But the CORE MINI has two internal SSD’s. One was acting as a boot backup. (This was important when it was running the OS server at work. But I’m running so few applications, I figured I could just have the OS on one, DATA on the other.)

I’ve always hated hearing the RAID spin up when I’m calling for local files, and I was aware of a several-second delay in accessing those files. So I thought, let’s move the library to the secondary SSD on the CORE MINI. (And keep the RAID as a secondary backup.)

Well, I love this. Instant, silent file access.

Aside from disk-space limitations (I mean, now they have HUGE SSD’s, so this is less of an issue), are there any disadvantages to having the library on the same mini? I can’t hear any difference. If anything, it sounds better, but that might just be happiness leaking into my ear canal.

Thoughts?

Couple of thoughts:

1-Code quality
I am absolutely shure that the code generated by any other compiler than pure ol’ C is big and hefty. I bet you can hear the difference between for example two versions of Squeezelite.
2-Processing of audio
I always used Logitech Media Server as backend and Squeezelite as frontend. I assembled and compiled my own (old) version which was still in plain ol’ C. I have a sh*tload of music of all sorts and sizes stacked on my HP DL380 Gen8 friggin’ oversized Windows 12 server in my company’s datacenter. LMS was running on it, but since a few days it’s Roon 1.6. All buffering and processing, administration and stuff is done there. You don’t want that while you’re playing music.
3-Playing of audio
Like I said, the older the compiler/OS the better. As long as we’re talking about PC’s and Mac’s. I use both the Mac and the Totaldac d1-Server, which is no more than a refined Qubox. I made my own Linux image on it, with my own Squeezelite. Now it’s running Roon 1.6. I am meticulous with core assignment and memory usage. Also USB and ethernet interupt hooks are taken care of by separate cores. It took a while to perfect that, but that’s finished now.
4-Wrap up
My HP server has all SSD disks in RAID100 which is done by a separate HP controller of which I don’t know anything. My boys handle that. What I do know is that it’s lightning fast and ultra reliable. Since a few days I am listening to HQPlayer on the Mini. I do not any form of SRC and I must say that it sounds real nice. Slightly (very …!) better then Roon and same as my own Squeezelite.

thank you for that detailed reply, but I admit it all went completely over my head.

I’m fairly tech savvy, but I had to google half the terms, including Raid100, Squeezelite and SRC (which I assume stands for Sample Rate Conversion).

Anyway, I’m an old dog learning new tricks with respect to Roon, Hi-Res streaming, and digital-music servers, so this will be a continuing education.

Oops, sorry…! Your username suggests a young, ultra fast computer dude… :roll_eyes: Well, to be honest, I am kinda old too. Not as old as @Paul but getting there… :joy:
This platform is highly educational, so you are at the right place. I, for sure, will be available to assist as good as I can.

Haha, thanks for the confidence! I’m 54, so not so old.

I’ve done C#/VBScript and SQL coding in my time, but I’m leaving it to the younger set now.

“terzinator” is a username I’ve used on guitar forums. A Terz guitar is a small-bodied short-scale guitar tuned up three half-steps to G from the normal E. I had one, and want another.

So, “terzinator” was a natural progression of the term that I thought amusing.

Anyway, main thing is that I’m ripping my CDs to FLAC files which are stored locally, accessed by my mac core running Roon, to another mac mini as the bridge, then out to a DAC and then to my AudioLab 8000A integrated. Tidal/Qobuz for stuff not in my library. I play records on a Thorens TD-150 from the '60s. My system is far from audiophile, but in the next couple of years I’ll be upgrading because, not surprisingly, i have caught the bug.

Anyway, just curious about best practices when using a mac as a music server.

Learned more about this in the last few months than ever, so it’s hella fun.

You got yourself a hell of a system, I have nothing to add… Did you post pictures on System Photos! already…?

yeah, i’m not shy.

terzinator,

You asked about storage options, so thought I’d share my own approach…

I began building my own home Linux servers almost 13 years ago now and my primary storage server still exists to this day, though with a series of hardware and software changes along the way: CentOS Linux upgraded through the years from CentOS 5 to 6 to now 7, motherboard and cpu upgrades, all AMD based, from early Sempron/Athlon’s to currently an Athlon 4850e dual-core, and an increase in RAID based storage capacity, originally using 250GB HDDs to now using WD Red 1TB HHDs. The one constant has been the dedicated Areca PCIe hardware-based 4-port RAID controller card. Storage capacity is 3TB, using four 1TB HDD’s running RAID5, which is backed up to an off-the-shelf NAS with a single 3TB HDD installed.

This RAID filesystem stores all of my ripped CDs in FLAC, along with all downloaded high-res FLAC files from various sources.

Access to these files is provided via either NFS or SMB (using samba).

After using Roon for a couple of years, for cost reasons, I went back to Logitech Media Server for streaming within the house.

I now run LMS in a Docker container, hosted on a newer server (AMD Ryzen 5 based), that I’ve created myself. My music is NFS mounted on the Docker engine host OS, then provided as a filesystem to the running Docker image.

LMS endpoints consist of an original SliMP3, a Squeezebox 3, Squeezebox Duet Receiver and Squeezelite running on a mid-2011 Mac Mini.

The Mac Mini is feeding my Sprout via USB. The Mac Mini doesn’t run anything other than squeezelite at the moment. Over the years, I’ve upgraded the Mac Mini to 8GB of ram and replaced the failing HDD with a Samsung SSD.

My storage and virtualization servers are located in my attached garage, in order to isolate any fan or disk spinning/access noise. Access to these servers is over hardwired Gigabit Ethernet, which is available throughout my house. I prefer to use hardwired ethernet for everything I can and to limit my WiFi usage to portable devices, i.e. phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

Best Regards,

Dan W.

Ronald,

Can you provide more information on the OptimizeOSX script you mentioned?

My Mac Mini has primarily become a dedicated audio endpoint in my office setup, so I’m interested in eliminating unnecessary services and applications. Having an already thought out and automated approach to doing so would be helpful.

Thanks,

Dan W.

http://www.computeraudiodesign.com/Computer%20Audio%20Design%20OSX%20Optimization%20Scripts%20V1.3.zip

1 Like

cool. any documentation? (In the zip are the two command files, but no “read me”!)

On your “player” Mac (not your server Mac) double click the ZIP to unfold it. Go into the newly created folder and double click the “OptimizeOSX v1.3.command” file. If it complains about not opening due to security reasons get back to me. If it comes on with a screen like this your OK.

Just answer the questions and off you go…

Seems to be password protected.
mark

Is this a “super” version of the optimization protocol made available on Mojo’s website?

Mark.

It will get tricky here:

Go and find “directory utility” in Spotlight

46
Double click the app name, it’ll give you this screen:


To unlock press the lock and enter your “normal” login password.
In the top menu of the screen next to the black apple it says Directory Utility.
To the right of that it says Edit… Press it to drop down the menu under it…
Now Enable Root User and change the Root password to something you can remember.


The password you just entered is now the Root (or sudo) password of your underlying Unix system.
To try if it works go to Spotlight, type Terminal and double click the Terminal app.
In the terminal window type su and hit the enter key.
It’ll ask for a password, enter the password you used before.
If it shows a new prompt without an error you are good to go for the script.


I am of to bed now, cause it’s 23:15 here. Been a long day. Let me know how it went…

FWIW, just some (more) words about a different setup on a Mac Mini 2012:

My thoughts went into very similar directions. Just free up RAM and close unnecessary processes running on the machine, make it a dedicated music server. I have tried a similar script on High Sierra without success, it seems to work up to Yosemite or even lower. I did not want to downgrade the OSX so I just tried to free up HS as far as I can. And I really love the stability of HS.
So, after disabling SIP, (system integrity protection) I used the tool “Dr. Cleaner” to carefully perform a clean uninstall of every program I do not need for music streaming, even all that Apple stuff. It is a good advice to use Carbon Copy Cloner to save a stable state of the whole machine on an external drive (or even use Time Machine). And do not forget to enable SIP afterwards.

I did not touch the huge amount of background processes running, because they seem to idle around without being to resource-hungry and I do not want to harm system stability in any way. And the worst case would be OSX filling up his log files with warnings and messages excessively. Could even be counterproductive, as well as dismounting Wifi- or IR-antennas (just a guess).

Then I went through all the configurations I could find and disabled everything that seemed unnecessary.

I use Audirvana 3+ and enabled direct mode (which is not available in standard HS anymore) with the hack described on audiophilestyle.com in many variants.

The main (and boot-) partition is reduced to about 17 GB and resides on a fast SD-Card, the library is located on the internal Samsung SSD. Next step would be trying a NAS for the library to find out about potential improvements. Or a second Mac like @terzinator mentioned with a direct ethernet connection.

The mini runs headless, powered by Uptone´s JS-2 and MMK, with only Audirvana being active (and Finder, of course) feeding a DS Senior through a Matrix X-SPDIF.

And I am very, very pleased with the results. A very relaxed sound, no harshness, well defined bass and a great soundstage.
I have to admit, it is all about some explorative learning and not every one´s cup of tea, for sure. There is an extreme number of variables to be modified, so one can get really lost in details. But on the other hand it can be really addictive…

1 Like

Almost totally agree @gb-70…! I don’t see a reason to go to High Sierra while you shutdown all its functionality, thereby bringing it back to let’s say Mavericks…

Another tip for you: I just got HQPlayer as an endpoint for Roon. I think you will like that a lot…! Maybe something to keep in mind…

This caught my eye… so the Mini feeds the DS Senior? Assuming this is for stuff located on the hard drive, right? So beyond being a DAC for the Mini, the DS is used only for streaming?

The second mac I have connected acts as the BRIDGE that feeds ROON to the DAC via USB. The SSD on the CORE is where the music resides.

At some point I’ll try Audirvana, but Roon from the mac mini has been working great.