Which Mac Mini?

Our new DSJ is on it’s way to us. I’ve been intrigued by Paul’s recommendation of using a Mac Mini as the server. His tutorial is a bit old and now there is a new (far more expensive mini). Which older Mac Mini configuration should I look for on our local Craigslist and how much memory should I be looking for (We’ve got about 300 cds already ripped to our current Mac. As an aside, I installed BitPerfect on the iMac and it really messed with anything audio…desktop audio and seemed to slow the computer way down. I had to remove it. Therefore, the idea of using a separate Mac just for our music with BitPerfect and connecting to streaming services, such as Qobuz…

I’m using a 2014 i7 with 16 gig (bought from OWC).

Ditto, same here. With BitPerfect, SSD drive internal and a dedicated HD 2 TB Western Digital for the library. Also a stand alone LG disc reader.

I should look for a i7 with 16 gig vs 8 gig? Is there a minimum for the internal HD or is that a non-issue by adding an external dive. Our disc reader is also the LG. I had read that a USB (solid state) type external is preferable to an external that has a mechanical mechanism…true?

Regarding SSD it is a matter of how much you are willing to pay and how large of a library you anticipate. It’s up to you. I have no problem with the WD 2TB mechanical drive at the price, as the music is loaded to cache. Internal HD i went with the largest available at the time, IIRC its 256GB.

I run a late 2012 (I think; not home now) Mini. 16Gb DDR3, 512 internal SSD and a 2TB external USB SSD. The best part is that I had Mojo Audio rip out the SMPS and replace it with a LPS. Huge improvement.

All software has been pared to the bare minimum. USB out to a Matrix X SPDIF unit, then I2s to the DS dac.

I run Roon with Tidal, and have the option of HQP. The system is never overtaxed.

The setup is pretty much bombproof, and the only real downside I can see is that this model can’t take on a new OS.

My internal is a 250GB SSD. Allegedly, you need an SSD to run Roon properly. I use 11TB of hard-drive space.

Apologies all - but, NOT. Apologies for use of Caps. I completely get using a Mini, as I did for years. Decades, actually. In various forms, for various Audio Applications. I had (still have in a box somewhere - anybody want it?) the same Modded Mac Mini as Paul - which AFAIK is what he was using as a digital source at RMAF this past weekend. Sure sounded like it. But what tends to happen in my long-ish experience with Minis as a “HiFi” sound source, is an endless Tweak Cycle, adding/changing/modding any number of aspects of the thing - and Every single thing Connected to it.

It is a device that was never intended for high end audio, as shocking (or obvious) as that may sound. When you design a Server from the ground up to do nothing other than play music and as minimal of an OS as possible, it easily is more musical than the Most Modded Mini…and there are several companies that have been doing this for years. Donkey’s Years in the Digital Domain.

I just got to the point where I’d spent More Money on it, and the attendant tweaks/outboard devices/cables to aid in Not Making it Sound Like [edit: (poo) Forum Software Facism] - than the cost of a Third or Fourth Generation, Really Well Built, Really Well Thought out Server from any of various manufacturers.


Try a Aurender. I guarantee you will not ever want to see a Mac Mini again. It’s that much better.


Do you have a preferred Aurender? ACS10 or N10 possibly?

I’ll start by identifying our system and then the follow-up question…what server would you all recommend without spending way more on it than for the other pieces. Quite honestly, The idea of buying a 2014 Mac mini with 16gb and 1tb ssd for less than $500.00 kooks awfully attractive. Herte’s what we’ve got:
Magnepan 1.7/Rel Storm Subwoofer/Ps Audio m700s/PSA Signature preamp/PSA Dac Junior on the way/Cambridge Azur N851server&dac/Mesh wifi/Imac running ITunes

I’ve read about Aurender, Auralic, Cocktail. The first two have relatively high recommendations with a higher cost. The Cocktail less so, but also less expensive.


If you want the best sound quality, then of course the Aurender. Yes it does cost more, but it’s worth it, and you don’t need to upgrade. As far as which Aurender, the N10 will have the edge on sound quality, but the ASC10 has better features including automatic ripping high quality data from cd’s to it’s hard drive, which is very desirable. The hard drive is 8T so plenty of storage. It’s suppose to be so much easier to use than any computer.

I do have the Aurender N10. I have been using it for couple of years already, even before the DMP came out. I use to use a Mac Mini for playing files and an Oppo as tranport for cd’s to the PS Audio DS Sr. The Mac and Oppo sounded pretty mediocre. It was lean and hard on the upper midrange. I couldn’t listen too long without getting irritated. Lucky I had a good analog system. Then I got the Aurender and that changed everything. Now I can listen to digital again and it sounded good. The sound was full and analog like. I can turn up the music without cringing. When I got the DMP, it took the digital to another level, a little better than the Aurender, but not too much. Those are the two best digital I heard besides going super uber like DCS, MSB, or Esoteric. The Aurender is not cheap, but it is a level where you would be happy and don’t need to upgrade for better sound. It’s really that good.

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That Helps, still considering the ACS10 against an Innuos Zenith Mk III. N10 is a possibility as the majority of my collection is ripped.

Thanks again for sharing. What you had is where I am currently. The MAC Mini was great at working my way through the current digital storage and streaming process. I relied and still do heavily on vinyl playback, but can appreciate the convenience of digital streaming. Especially when I have stereos across three homes. One question, were yur ripped CDs AIFF, and if so how did you load your library on to the Aurender, or did you just plug the drive you were using into the Aurender?

I have ripped both to AIFF and FLAC, it really doesn’t matter since they both sound the same. Then I open the Aurender link on the Mac and drag the files into the storage. It is really rather simple. You can also delete files from the Aurender in the same manor. Or you can load files on a usb stick and use the usb input on the back of the Aurender to load it into the Aurender.
Also when you hook up the Aurender, the Aurender searches for music files in the Mac, and the music content automatically loads to the Aurender, at least that is what happened when I first hook the two up.

Sweet! thanks again

You’re welcome. I want to mention you can just copy and paste through wi fi into the Aurender. Double rate pcm and dsd really sounds good.

Did all your meta data, especially image move with the AIFF files?
Basically you’ve put me on a Road Trip to my Aurender Dealer. Thx

Yes, all the meta data goes along with the files, usually one of the file is a jpg file of the album and rides along with the rest of the album files. If you don’t have a cover file with the files, you can get a picture of the album and install it manually afterwards. It’s easy once you get the hang of it.
One more thing, you need a Ipad to operate and play your music. you get a excellent free app similar to Roon or JRiver, only I feel it’s just as good if not better. If you’re interested, well good luck.