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Using Mac Mini as streamer plus music server
#11
I use 2 sources also, files stored on my Antipodes server and Tidal, but I access both through Roon and I connect both my Antipodes and my 140 to my network via ethernet so the only input I use on my 140 is ethernet. I control Roon using Roon's iOS app.

So, to answer your question, if you run Roon on your Mac Mini and have it, your Devialet, and your Synology NAS all connected to the the same network you will be able to control file playback from Roon's iOS or android app on a mobile device which is connected to the same network. Obviously everything has to be connected on the same network for things to work.

When it comes to online streaming services things get different. If you're using Tidal then Roon can connect to your Tidal account and you use the Roon app on your mobile device as your interface with Tidal. You mentioned Spotify as an alternative to Tidal. You currently can't use Roon as a means of connecting to Spotify. I haven't used Spotify but I understand that you can use Spotify's mobile app to stream to a Devialet. Somebody else would have to tell you about that but, in any event, Spotify is one of the streaming sources accessible on Devialets with the CI streaming board so streaming Spotify to a Devialet over ethernet is definitely possible. It just won't be able to be done using the Roon mobile app unless Roon integrates Spotify into its functionality at some time in the future in a similar way to that it which it currently integrates Tidal.

I'm not quite certain what you mean by asking will the Devialet be accessible from your mobile. We've currently got very little functionality in a Devialet that can be controlled by a mobile app. The Devialet iOS remote app works on my iPad so I can change volume and inputs from a mobile device. I can access a rudimentary interface to my 140 which became available with the CI upgrade but currently can't use it to do anything really useful until Devialet make software improvements. Using Roon's mobile app I can only control Roon's playback of music from my server and from Tidal, and I can control the volume of playback in Roon's app as well as from the Devialet iOS remote app. Basically yes, the Devialet will be accessible from your mobile but what Devialet functions you can currently control that way are limited. We're still stuck with using the online configurator and SD cards for controlling the setup of our amps and control of things like balance and tone controls is still only possible using Devialet's physical remote control.
Antipodes DS, Devilalet Expert 140 Pro CI, Focal Sopra 2, PS Audio P12, AQ Vodka ethernet, Kimber Select speaker cables, Shunyata Alpha NR and Delta EF power cables power cables, Grand Prix Audio Monaco rack, RealTRAPS acoustic treatment.

Brisbane, Qld, Australia
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#12
(03-Nov-2018, 08:24)David A Wrote: I use 2 sources also, files stored on my Antipodes server and Tidal, but I access both through Roon and I connect both my Antipodes and my 140 to my network via ethernet so the only input I use on my 140 is ethernet. I control Roon using Roon's iOS app.

So, to answer your question, if you run Roon on your Mac Mini and have it, your Devialet, and your Synology NAS all connected to the the same network you will be able to control file playback from Roon's iOS  or android app on a mobile device which is connected to the same network. Obviously everything has to be connected on the same network for things to work.

When it comes to online streaming services things get different. If you're using Tidal then Roon can connect to your Tidal account and you use the Roon app on your mobile device as your interface with Tidal. You mentioned Spotify as an alternative to Tidal. You currently can't use Roon as a means of connecting to Spotify. I haven't used Spotify but I understand that you can use Spotify's mobile app to stream to a Devialet. Somebody else would have to tell you about that but, in any event, Spotify is one of the streaming sources accessible on Devialets with the  CI streaming board so streaming Spotify to a Devialet over ethernet is definitely possible. It just won't be able to be done using the Roon mobile app unless Roon integrates Spotify into its functionality at some time in the future in a similar way to that it which it currently integrates Tidal.

I'm not quite certain what you mean by asking will the Devialet be accessible from your mobile. We've currently got very little functionality in a Devialet that can be controlled by a mobile app. The Devialet iOS remote app works on my iPad so I can change volume and inputs from a mobile device. I can access a rudimentary interface to my 140 which became available with the CI upgrade but currently can't use it to do anything really useful until Devialet make software improvements. Using Roon's mobile app I can only control Roon's playback of music from my server and from Tidal, and I can control the volume of playback in Roon's app as well as from the Devialet iOS remote app. Basically yes, the Devialet will be accessible from your mobile but what Devialet functions you can currently control that way are limited. We're still stuck with using the online configurator and SD cards for controlling the setup of our amps and control of things like balance and tone controls is still only possible using Devialet's physical remote control.

Hi @David A thanks for your reply!! Did you use any special Ethernet cable? And have you tried to compare your Mac Mini setup with any other audiophile streamer?
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#13
I'm using Audioquest Vodka ethernet cables. I hear a difference between them and straight computer shop ethernet cables and I prefer the Audioquest cables but they're way more expensive than standard CAT5/CAT 6 cables and there are those who claim that ethernet cables can't make a difference. You have to make your own mind up on that one.

I went from the Mac Mini to the Antipodes and haven't used any other server so no other comparisons.

I suspect part of the difference between the Mac Mini and Antipodes in my system is network setup. The Mac Mini is in another room some distance away from the audio system. I was using an Apple Airport Extreme- to stream via wifi to another Airport Extreme next to the Devialet and connecting it to the Devialet via ethernet cable. When I got the Antipodes I put it in the equipment rack above the Devialet and connected it via ethernet to the Airport Extreme as well so that Airport Extreme was effectively acting as an ethernet switch between the Antipodes and Devialet giving a wired connection between the 2 of them. That may well have contributed to some of the improvement I heard when I went from the Mac Mini, which was also my home computer so it wasn't just doing server duties, to the Antipodes. I've since had a wired connection installed between the 2 rooms so it's now running ethernet cable all the way but it's standard computer CAT 6 cabling between the 2 rooms, not audiophile cabling, though I am using Audioquest cabling between the wall point and the Netgear switch that has replaced the Airport Extreme as the link between the Antipodes and Devialet.
Antipodes DS, Devilalet Expert 140 Pro CI, Focal Sopra 2, PS Audio P12, AQ Vodka ethernet, Kimber Select speaker cables, Shunyata Alpha NR and Delta EF power cables power cables, Grand Prix Audio Monaco rack, RealTRAPS acoustic treatment.

Brisbane, Qld, Australia
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#14
Thanks @David A , you are using Antipode DS? I cannot find this model in their website, I found EX which is $4600 AUD, and they have so many other models like CX, and EX+CX, not sure what's the difference.

You think that the improvement is coming from close location between the Devialet and Antipodes using Ethernet cable connected comparing to Mac Mini, but this might not be the reason or say only reason? Even if you connect Mac Mini directly to your AirPort Extreme at the same location, your Antipodes might still sound better due to its specially designed for audio, but this is my guess, and it also something I worried and want to find out about Mac Mini as a music server. Mac Mini has a internal fan, and SMPS power supply, its not optimized for audio at all.

Also I don't know how much a streamer can effect the sound, generally I think the DAC should be the most effective thing to impact the sound.

I surprised the Audioquest Ethernet cable made noticeable difference to you, as I saw many people said the advantage of Ethernet cable is it doesn't like any other interconnect cable which impact the sound by its quality a lot. Do you mind to share what kind of improvment you found using the audioquest ethernet cable? as well as between the mac and Antipodes.

Thanks David.
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#15
(05-Nov-2018, 01:05)PeppaPig Wrote: Thanks @David A , you are using Antipode DS? I cannot find this model in their website, I found EX which is $4600 AUD, and they have so many other models like CX, and EX+CX, not sure what's the difference.

You think that the improvement is coming from close location between the Devialet and Antipodes using Ethernet cable connected comparing to Mac Mini, but this might not be the reason or say only reason? Even if you connect Mac Mini directly to your AirPort Extreme at the same location, your Antipodes might still sound better due to its specially designed for audio, but this is my guess, and it also something I worried and want to find out about Mac Mini as a music server. Mac  Mini has a internal fan, and SMPS power supply, its not optimized for audio at all.

Also I don't know how much a streamer can effect the sound, generally I think the DAC should be the most effective thing to impact the sound.

I surprised the Audioquest Ethernet cable made noticeable difference to you, as I saw many people said the advantage of Ethernet cable is it doesn't like any other interconnect cable which impact the sound by its quality a lot. Do you mind to share what kind of improvment you found using the audioquest ethernet cable? as well as between the mac and Antipodes.

Thanks David.

The Antipodes DS is no longer on the Antipodes site because it has now been discontinued. Probably the closest model to it in the current lineup is the EX. There's a number of differences: new motherboard, new processor, new power supply, new output options. If I were to consider one of the new Antipodes models as a replacement I'd go for the CX which is more oriented towards server functions but I'd also look at other options such as the Roon Nucleus+ and new Innuos models. I think there's quite a few good server options available now but I'm still very happy with the DS and not seriously considering replacing it at the moment.

Changing from the Mac Mini to the Antipodes introduced a lot of changes to my setup in terms of equipment placement, length of the signal path between source and Devialet, cabling and connection options and the actual change from the Mac to the Antipodes itself.. I definitely noticed an improvement and I believe more than one of the changes contributed to that improvement. I have no idea which change contributed what to the improvement and no way of finding out. That's the problem when you change something which involves several different changes in the process.

As to the differences I heard, it's now 15 months since changing to the Antipodes  and a bit less since changing to the Audioquest cables. I didn't make or keep listening notes so I can't really separate out differences after that length of time and say which are due to the server change and which are due to the cable. I'd just summarise the changes in total as coming down to improvements in clarity, dynamics, and tonality. In addition the change from the Mac to the Antipodes was prompted by Devialet's 3 month free trial of Roon. At that stage I was using a small iTunes library and Devialet AIR app on the Mac and wasn't overly happy with my streaming results. Swapping from the iTunes/Devialet AIR combination to Roon with Roon's version of AIR was a bit  step forward in streaming reliability for me and got  me seriously considering moving to streaming as my primary source and because of various factors in my Mac Mini setup I decided to go for a separate server that didn't require the use of the Mac Mini. That was a big step forward for me, especially in the reliability of streaming as a playback source for me because I never was quite without problems when using the Devialet AIR app on the Mac.
Antipodes DS, Devilalet Expert 140 Pro CI, Focal Sopra 2, PS Audio P12, AQ Vodka ethernet, Kimber Select speaker cables, Shunyata Alpha NR and Delta EF power cables power cables, Grand Prix Audio Monaco rack, RealTRAPS acoustic treatment.

Brisbane, Qld, Australia
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#16
Hi @David A Thanks for sharing more of your experience. I want to discuss with you about some area in your setup.

You mentioned you used Mac mini and it wasn't quite pleasing because you have to swap between Devialet App and the iTunes. But technically, the Antipodes is just a mini PC that optimized for Audio, using a Intel CPU. I assume you can do the exactly same thing using your Mac Mini, connect your Mac Mini to your Devialet via Ethernet, and then install ROON on the Mac mini, you should be able to do whatever you are doing with Antipodes now, the ROON running on Mac mini can also controlled by your phone. Why didn't you go down to this path and its cheap since you already got a Mac Mini. And with Mac mini, there are one advantage is you got a HDMI out to TV, which means many High-Def music TV will be available to you, you can hear it and watch shows, presentations from different ensembles, I found it sometimes more enjoyable than just hearing without seeing them. This is the entire reason I am considering Mac Mini as music server.

But I really worry about the power supply, internal fan noise, and USB output quality, Ethernet output quality.. the CX is quite expensive in AU. a lot more than Mac Mini... the Price for the CX, has many direct/indirect competitors, such as dCS Network Bridge or the Auralic Aires G2...
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#17
The dCS Network Bridge is not a direct competitor to the CX. The dCS is a streaming device only and cannot act as a server. The CX is a server and can do some of the things the dCS can do. I'm not certain where the Auralic Aries G2 sits but I suspect it's not a direct competitor either.

Why did I go the separate server route. It was an ageing Mac Mini which has since had to be replaced. It had a 1 TB fusion drive and the iTunes library I had on it for my iPod was around 170 GB in size. I had decided to rip my whole CD/SACD collection after trying Roon and that collection came to a bit under 1 TB so, given the hard drive on my Mac Mini was half full I couldn't fit it on the Mac Mini's drive and would have had to run a separate drive anyway. I was thinking in terms of using the Devialet's USB connection which was what I originally did and running Roon on the Mac Mini, I had no way of getting a USB connection from it's Roon output to the Devialet so I needed a computer of some sort close enough to the Devialet to allow a USB connection and if I was going to do that then I wanted a computer optimised for audio purposes since I wouldn't be using it for any other purpose. That meant a music server.

As for HDMI out to a TV with the Mac Mini, I have a totally separate AV setup in a different room. I stream from the Mac Mini to an Apple TV 4K in that room and can watch content in up to 4K resolution on an LG OLED screen there. The Devialet is in a music only system and I like being able to keep separate audio and video systems.

You raised a number of concerns about the CX as an option. I too am concerned about it's value for money, and also about it's ability to perform the more demanding dsp functions Roon can perform. As I said, there are other options and I named some I would be considering if I were going to upgrade my DS. At present the DS is working very well for me and I'm in no hurry to upgrade. I can wait and waiting tends to lead to the availability of more options, cheaper options as prices come down, and better options as functionality improves. You only have the options available at the time you buy but unless you're having to deal with a catastrophic failure or there's some new functionality you absolutely must have now, you usually have the option of choosing your time to buy so it's worth taking your time while you can.

Since you mentioned the dCS Network Bridge as an option I think you need to consider exactly what it is you want to achieve. Do you want a server or do you want a bridge device as an interface between something performing server functions elsewhere and your amp. What kind of sources are you likely to be using (hard drive, internet streaming services, optical drives of some kind, and so on), where those source devices can or need to be located, what kind of connection strategies you want to use and so on. There's lots of ways of assembling a streaming system and you can get very good sound quality with a lot of them but they aren't all going to be equal in your eyes when it comes to the desirability of their setup and the convenience that offers. You have to live with the setup long term and there will be options you don't want to live with, no matter how good the sound quality is and I can tell you that as you get older (I'm 71) you find yourself paying a little more attention over time to things like ease and convenience. Sound quality is still very important to me but I've found I get a bit more enjoyment from a system if I'm not bothered by nagging inconveniences and annoyances and I can just sit down, select something to play, and enjoy it without inconvenience and annoyance. Those sort of things produce a state of mind which reduces my enjoyment and better sound quality isn't always enough to make up for the inconvenience and annoyance of a physical setup that doesn't quite work for me so in my view those things are always worth considering and those things did play a part in my choice to replace the Mac Mini as a source with a separate dedicated music server set up in proximity to my Devialet. If a different setup arrangement works better for you then go for it because what counts in your system is what works for you. What counts in my system is what works for me.
Antipodes DS, Devilalet Expert 140 Pro CI, Focal Sopra 2, PS Audio P12, AQ Vodka ethernet, Kimber Select speaker cables, Shunyata Alpha NR and Delta EF power cables power cables, Grand Prix Audio Monaco rack, RealTRAPS acoustic treatment.

Brisbane, Qld, Australia
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#18
Hi @David A, I am enjoyed reading your response and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

I agree with you that conveniences are very important, I am also found it very important to me, I have a record player but hardly play it because its so inconvenient and hard to get it right. The reason I like Devialet is also because its simple and convenient.

What I trying to achieve is to get as good sound quality as possible while still remains convenient. I have a synology NAS which allow me to run the ROON Core on it, the CPU on the NAS is pretty low performance but seems ROON is running fine, may be I don't know how to setup the ROON, I left all settings default... I am not sure why Antipodes said some ROON DSP requires intensive computing power so their CX can do but EX can not. Do we need to install any additional DSP? my default installation seems fine running on a ultra low performance CPU.

Anyway, my major concern at the moment is all digital source goes into Devialet via wireless, at the moment the connection is quite ok, hardly drop, but I don't believe wireless connection can delivery best sound quality, so I am seeking a wired solution, and then I found most people said USB connection delivers best performance on Devialet Expert Pro, that's why I started this thread and asked if Mac Mini could be a good USB out
option. The Devialet's EXPERT PRO has no USB galvanic isolation, so if I use USB, I want to make sure Mac Mini has clean USB out... Your experience tells me Ethernet can be as good as USB, and thanks for sharing it. I will continue looking at different options before making decisions.

By the way, do you have experience in power conditioner? does it help?
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#19
@PeppaPig, if it's any help I can give you my experience of using a Mac Mini as a streamer.

My October 2014 Mini is running Roon on macOS 10.12 and is connected to my D440 Pro (CI) by wired Ethernet, actually via an Apple Airport Express which has a built-in two-port switch.  Roon is using its built-in AIR protocol support, rather than Devialet's separate AIR driver.  The Mini runs "headless" with the Roon control software running on another laptop and/or an iPhone.  When necessary I can manage the Mini using Apple's Screen Sharing - normally, that's only needed to do back-ups or OS updates.

For the record, I use standard, commodity Cat-6 Ethernet cables.

Almost all my listening via the Mac Mini is from my local library, which is mirrored nightly from a NAS onto the Mini's internal disc.  This is mainly 16/44.1 ALAC, with some higher-resolution files as well.

I've been running this configuration for about one and a half years and I can say that it works really well: I've not experienced any drop-outs, and everything seems to be stable.  Audio quality is fine to my ears - though obviously that's subjective.  Although the Mini is in my listening room, in an open equipment rack about 3m from my listening position, I have never noticed its fan running.  Not surprising because the Mini is very lightly loaded.  Probably more important is that it has an internal SSD which is of course completely silent unlike a spinning disc.

That said, I have never compared this set-up to a dedicated "audiophile" streamer in my system so it could be that I don't know what I'm missing Smile
Roon (Mac Mini), Wilson Benesch Full Circle, Sonos ZP90 (Cullen modified), Expert 1000 Pro CI, Kaiser Chiara
Warwickshire, UK
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#20
The Mac mini is by no means an audiophile solution. It has been designed for basic general purpose computing tasks. As such its board and output is not designed for minimizing electric noise.

You for sure need a ssd in it, USB isolater, better power supply... all things considered you are better off with a real solution likes of auralic, wyred4sound etc.

Especially If you consider the pricing of the 2018 Mac mini model!

Ps: Dont assume always that wired is better than wireless. The new auralic Aries for example has a great implementation of WiFi. In fact the company suggest to use WiFi for the best sound quality.

Hope this helps
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