Which Mac Mini?

The Innuos App sounds better than Roon to my ear, but the Roon app for library management is addictive. I believe there may be a way to use the Innuos App for play back and Roon for library management simultaneously. From what I heard at RMAF Innuos has a new app coming out late fall of 2019. I could not get any detail as the reps were distracted by equipment issues. The Zenith series is the sweet spot in their line IMHO. A used Zenith MK II may be an option. The Zen with an Innuos LPS is a great value option. The strength of the line lies in the App and LPS.
Hope you find this helpful. :smiley:

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Oh, anything used is a great option! :wink:

Yes, this is the standard highbrow Audiophile line. And it may be correct. But there are other Audiophile circles, more PC types, that think Aurenders are underpowered ripoffs.

I have no idea who is right. But, it would be interesting to see a hyperbole free investigation into the reality of a properly setup PC or Mac system running good audio software like HQPlayer vs an Aurender et al.

Maybe Frontline will run a story :innocent: Lord knows the Audiophile media won’t.

I have no position in this other than curiosity. Forums like these make it very difficult to find apples to apples comparisons.

But I do, out of principle, reject the notion that an Aurender is inherently better just because it’s supposed to be. These are all just computers in some form or another. And I take it as a given that we audiophiles are in no way immune to the placebo effect!


I am a computer engineer, and while I haven’t done an A to B comparison blind test, the explanations for WHY those products should sound better makes 100% sense, and what I’ve heard so far match those expectations.

Now, Aurender is over-priced IMO and out of my budget, hence I personally like Innous as it seems more reasonable and better bang for the buck for what you get.

Alternatively, you could build an audiophile computer to do most of these, need a linear PSU which is $400-500 anyway, then you have to build components, figure out software and apps, etc… which would probably end up costing more than Innous offering. I might do that though, as I love projects like that and I build my own PC, servers, networking, home automation, etc…

OP. Here’s a quick comparison by Darko of Mac vs. Innous…

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Oh boy, this is really getting wild. Alright, here you go.

I still use Mac minis. I have three, one for each music room at PS Audio. I also have a Mac mini dedicated to the shows. These are not the Minis Beef is thinking about as modified by Bill. They are off the shelf with SSD and the most RAM possible.
I have personally stripped them of all programs and duties other than their assigned task. That whole activity takes some time and fiddling.

I make sure their WIFI is disabled and they connect only via ethernet. I make sure to use the best sounding USB cables between the Mini and the DAC. Those vary, depending on which of the systems they are used in (for best synergy in systems).
In Music Room One I am still using the Curious Cable. I make sure the Mini is plugged into a Power Plant on its own outlet (that matters a lot).

Each Mini has both a reference library installed and a Qobuz account. I use exclusively Audirvana set up the way I like. DSD is always enabled.

How these perform next to, say an Aurender, is quite close. The Aurender has a bit of an edge but not enough for me to invest in them.

The Minis, as configured, are quite respectable sounding and do the job.

They will all be retired when Octave is ready.


Paul I got the hint on the Power Plant. In your configuration is the Power Plant dedicated to the Mac Mini and sources?

Yes. We use a dedicated P15.

HiFi on a shoestring here, so using Raspberry Pis running squeezebox firmware (now open source and modified for Pis etc.) and a Synology NAS running the logitech media server (now open sourced, thank goodness).
Results - well with the care I have taken with elec isolation and linear PSU as appropriate, and direct digital out and routed to the DAC, it sounds pretty damn good. Equal or slightly better than the 2009 Mac Mini they replaced (which also had some care put into software and external hardware).

As Paul alludes to though with his Minis, any built-it-yourself solution needs time from a software and a hardware perspective.
Nevertheless I’m all in for 100 quid (excluding the NAS which I already had), it will go up when I upgrade the external optical pass through (I hope!).

I’ll be taking a good luck at the PS Audio server when it’s ready, if it’s beyond my means (most likely) it can still provide interesting info that may be of use in my own DIY adventures :slight_smile:

I didn’t add the link to the apple site BTW, assume something did it automatically on here?

Yes, the forum has a list of words which, when used, are linked to resources, etc.

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Hi Paul - I purchased a DAC Sr. about 6 months ago, and then purchased a Mac Mini with a SSD and 16 GB RAM, based on the fact that you used one in your system. I have a 1GB internet service, and have CAT7 ethernet cable connected directly to the Bridge II, and I am using Qobuz streaming via Roon on my local area network as my music software. Since that time I have been following all of the threads on the forum here, and have frankly been a little overwhelmed on all of the discussions with regard to the Matrix, cables, power supplies, galvanic isolators and such. Most are saying that the Bridge II is not the best option to stream, and say that USB is the best option. Based on the setup that you described that you use, is it best to run the ethernet directly to the Mac Mini, and then USB to the DAC? (is the only advantage to running ethernet directly to the Bridge II is if you are using MConnect?) Thanks in advance for your help!

I started with a Mac Mini and now have the Aurender N100H. It’s light years ahead of the Mac Mini. If funds permit the N10 would be even better.

waymanchen11 - this describes exactly my experience going from Mini to Auralic. I’d read that the Aurenders had the edge on SQ over the Auralics, but that the Auralic Lighning DS app was easier/worked better. That funtionality aspect is very important to me - especially as I was hoping to be rid of Roon. So, being allegedly both cheaper and easier to use, I chose Auralic to start my “Real Server” journey ; )

One of the things I absolutely love about the Web app with which you can remotely control all the functions of the Auralic (this is separate from the app for playing music), is that it has The Manual in a column down the right side at all times, adjacent to every Menu Item. When you change the state of a menu item, the related description changes to reflect it. Fab.



I apologize for starting this stream/mess. We are awaiting the arrival of our new DSJunior and since we have been a Mac family going back decades, I was curious about that option.

Thanks for weighing in.

I’m a little staggered to hear that PSA still use a Mac mini and for the cost of a dedicated P15 you could have your choice of uber-streamers. I used Auralic for years with external SSD and recently bought an Innuos Zen Mk3. Checked out all the available products and ticked the most boxes in terms of low noise, clean power, low power chip, bespoke operating system, Roon, RAM management and a few others I forget. The Mac mini fails in every single regard for audio, but is great for photography and work.

I agree with Badbeef that Lightning DS is one of the main things that makes Auralic streamers great products.


I guess that was part of my issue at the show, comparing rooms. Everyone had at least current dedicated streamers, and many had Uber Streamers…AND Turntables! It was very cool. PS had the TT/vinyl front end down nicely.

Our experiences are quite different from yours. Perhaps it’s setup that is the difference.

That’s the punchline! :wink:

In 10 years of streaming I’ve never put a computer in my audio system. I’ve always found digital benefits from low noise and low power, which is the opposite of how consumer computers like the Mac mini are designed, and you can strip bits out but you are stuck with the operating system.

My set-up is as simple as it can be and mostly fibre-optic, with no switches, routers or wifi, and ultra-low and clean power, with the power distributor and server on vibration isolators.

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