NAS vs Mac Mini


#1

Can anyone share if there is any recommended NAS which could beat Mac Mini in sound quality via USB port?


#2

I think most Mac Mini will beat the spec’s of most the Nass. The better the spec’s the better the sound. A mac mini server I7 sound pretty good and can be stored close to your equipment. The shorter the cabling the better the sound. It is preferable to use internal harddrives (or even better solid state disks) above external USB2.0 drives. USB3.0 is okay!


#3

I think my Synology NAS sounds as good as my tweaked Mini with DC ps, but I think there are too many variables involved to say one is better than another.

wijnand, what is it about the mini that it can be close to the DAC ?


#4

There are many variables involved you are right about that. A lot of the quality is due to the specs. I have tested much in the past and the mini with I7 and solid state disks were pretty good, better than my Nass, a bunch of laptops, but not as good as a dedicated desktop PC. The mini reached the same level as a Asus I7 laptop. A dedicated streamer with a linear powersupply is with distance the best.

A mini can be close to the equipment due to low hardware noise.


#5

+1 on the hot rodded PC (or, hobbled, which is actually the case!). I’m not sure about the MAC vs NAS, having no experience with NAS. Both can be darn good. There are many satisfied listeners with both and Synology appears to be a front runner. I would “go with what you know” to keep frustration to a minimum and music time maxed. If you are fluent in both platforms then the decision would be harder.


#6
wglenn said I would "go with what you know" to keep frustration to a minimum and music time maxed.
This is probably the best advice there is. All PCs need to be tweaked and I doubt any OS is ultimately "best" for sound. Thus, working with what are you are most comfortable makes excellent sense.

#7

Thank you all for good advices!

I checked Apple website and found mini server had gone, however can select option to upgrade CPU, RAM and HDD, plan to go for it soon.

There are some workshops that could modify power supply to linar and upgrade few wires, wonder how much improvement after that upgrade.


#8

Well, remember, you can’t play from a NAS without a Bridge or other device to take what’s there and do something with it. A Mac Mini, on the other hand, plays directly into a DAC. I’ve started a series of posts on the subject if you want to read. Paul’s Posts.


#9

Hey Paul, sorry to tag onto this topic - but since Paul’s Posts was brought up -

I’m trying to find that one post where you showed two audio tracks - one with some dialog (that you can’t here) and noise, and the same one with the noise reduced so you can hear the dialog.

I’m needing to remind some folks why A/B/X testing is difficult beyond the technical aspects - and that one post of yours is hands down the best eye opener I’ve ever found or heard of. I just can’t remember the name of the Paul’s Post or see a way to search them.

Thanks!


#10

No problem and I don’t know either. The problem with ABX testing is it removes the aspect of humanness from the test. Imagine taking part in a sex test (don’t you wish).laugh The testers want to see if one female vs. the other turns you on more or less. You’re placed in a sterile unfamiliar room and asked to choose A/B or X ( a rubber dummy). I doubt you’ll be able to tell much… those it’s very scientific.surprised-014_gif

For the brain to make accurate decisions on emotional connections with music it must be in a safe environment, familiar to the person being tested.


#11

I remember something like this on soundcloud… good luck for finding it again (I couldn’t in my 5mn search)


#12

Is there any possibility that this is the Paul’s Post you were thinking of? 6-21-2014_tell-me-this-isnt-amazing


#13

Here’s the SoundCloud link that Paul refers to in that post:
https://soundcloud.com/whyy-the-pulse/an-audio-illusion


#14

Cool demo. Thanks.


#15
johnney said Can anyone share if there is any recommended NAS which could beat Mac Mini in sound quality via USB port?
Do you already own the Mac Mini, or are you trying to decide whether to purchase a NAS or a Mini? Most people would benefit from the NAS just as the storage device. I know several folks using the Mini/NAS via a network connection for USB audio. Good sound quality.
Paul McGowan said Well, remember, you can't play from a NAS without a Bridge or other device to take what's there and do something with it. A Mac Mini, on the other hand, plays directly into a DAC. I've started a series of posts on the subject if you want to read. Paul's Posts.
Rather than buying a dedicated computer, upgrading it, buying a better power supply, etc., I purchased the Sonore SSR audio Renderer. Added it to my network with almost no effort. NAS>SSR>DirectStream via I2s. Spectacular sound quality. Probably a little more than a fully modded Mac Mini, but not much, and there's nothing to do, update, change. It just works, silently.
Lonely Raven said Hey Paul, sorry to tag onto this topic - but since Paul's Posts was brought up -

I’m trying to find that one post where you showed two audio tracks - one with some dialog (that you can’t here) and noise, and the same one with the noise reduced so you can hear the dialog.

I’m needing to remind some folks why A/B/X testing is difficult beyond the technical aspects - and that one post of yours is hands down the best eye opener I’ve ever found or heard of. I just can’t remember the name of the Paul’s Post or see a way to search them.

Thanks!


I remember this particular demonstration (which is awesome) from last year, has got nothing to do with A/B/X testing. It’s demonstrating how our brain interprets sound.
Paul McGowan said No problem and I don't know either. The problem with ABX testing is it removes the aspect of humanness from the test....

…For the brain to make accurate decisions on emotional connections with music it must be in a safe environment, familiar to the person being tested.


Would have to respectfully disagree with the first part of your statement, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t be doing A/B/X testing and/or traditional double blind level matched testing in Music room 1, so the system is known to you when you introduce the variable. We do it at our audio club meetings.

#16
Paul McGowan said Well, remember, you can't play from a NAS without a Bridge or other device to take what's there and do something with it. A Mac Mini, on the other hand, plays directly into a DAC. I've started a series of posts on the subject if you want to read. Paul's Posts.
However, if you have two or, even, three PS Audio DACs (as I do) and you want to serve music to them from a single storage device, with the Mac Mini/USB solution you have to move the Mac Mini around to where each DAC is located and connect it via USB whenever you want to stream music to that particular DAC.

If you have a NAS on a LAN to which multiple DACs are connected via Bridges, you can serve music to any one of them from any computer or handheld device at any location from which the LAN is accessible, as I am sure you have considered.

This is my situation, and I’m trying to get it up and running using a DSD, PWD MK II (currently in for repairs), and a PWD MK I, each of which has a Bridge installed.

I’m currently trying to solve problems with moving my music files from my iTunes Media folder on an iMac or MacBook Pro to my Synology DS713+, keeping them organized as I wish without moving the music files one at a time, and being able to serve them to the DAC of choice using Synology’s Disc Station Manager, File Station and Audio Station.

It looks like I’m going to be able to download the iTunes Media folders to the NAS in the manner you described in your instructions about setting up a Mac Mini via USB as a storage device.

I’ve received some great advice and help from magister, rogerdn, and others on this Forum.


#17

Moose68Bash

Hi

I have run a Mini as my server for almost 6 years now.

I have enjoyed it’s performance as well as the fun tweaking hardware and software as they became available over the past years.

Although it still resides on my network, I no longer use it for Audiophile playback.

I still recommend the mini for people who wish to play directly to their main systems.[ USB] with a few software tweaks. Since you appear to wish to stream from your NAS to multiple locations, you might want to look at some of the streamers that are available today that not only stream but are also designed for seamless integration of multiple rooms. This would eliminate the need for the Mini and some even eliminate the need for server software on the NAS.

Google is your friend.

G


#18

Just to clarify a little what Gordon said:

The standalone streamers can be useful for certain things, like integrating Tidal or Qobuz, and perhaps for streaming to multiple rooms/systems simultaneously. I have little experience with the latter but have seen control points that allow you to select different rooms, so it is possible even without additional hardware. You don’t have to buy anything else if you already own a NAS and an iPad/Android tablet. What you really need right now is help figuring out iTunes confused-28_gif. My going-in proposition is that one usually gets better SQ with fewer components, not more (YMMV). One of the things that appeals to me about using a NAS and iPad (no computer) is the relative simplicity.


#19

Is there any difference to use MacBook Pro vs Mac Mini through USB port to PWD?


#20

There’s no question the two will sound different, but I cannot answer the obvious follow up question–which one’s better? I have never compared the two. But I can be certain that they will sound different, all computers, setups seem to have their own signature.

I wish it were not so, but that’s the current state of the art.