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Using Mac Mini as streamer plus music server
#31
(11-Nov-2018, 15:21)Confused Wrote: @BrianT - It looks like you are running your G2 to the Devialet via USB?  I note the G2 has AES/EBU output, out of curiosity, have you thought of trying this in comparison to USB?

You are correct, I am using the USB. No I have not tried AES/EBU out on the G2 as I donot own any AES/EBU

Brian
Devialet 440PRO - Audioprana SP/DIF-AES/EBU cable, VPI Classic TurnTable c/w Transfiguration Phoenix Cart, Raysonic 168 CDP, 
Auralic Aires G2, Audience AU24 USB cable, B&W 803D3 (black) Auditorium 23 Cables, Carver TX11 Tuner.
                                                                                                                              Ottawa, Canada.
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#32
(10-Nov-2018, 23:26)David A Wrote: Peppa,

To add to what Pim said:

You're running your Mac Mini. As well as dealing with Roon streaming music it's keeping it's video output active and processing a video signal showing what Roon is doing plus your background screen with its menu bar and dock and probably other things visible. If you have other applications visible its watching those applications for activity. If you have a mail app open the mail app is probably regularly checking for mail, downloading new messages from time to time, and writing those messages to your hard drive while accessing that drive or a different drive to stream your music. There's timers running for things like the screen saver, it's watching for regular scheduled activities, it can be updating other active apps in the background, it can be performing scheduled backups, and so on. All of those things take up processor time and can add noise, either physical noise or electrical noise, to the overall environment and the processor time devoted to those activities reduces the resources available for Roon. A lot of the time there may enough processor capability available for Roon for Roon processor performance not to be impacted but sometimes it may be impacted, and all of that extraneous activity may be adding noise to the Roon output signal which isn't added when Roon is the only thing running.

When you run Roon on a dedicated server like my Antipodes or an Innuos device or NUC or Roon Nucleus, the processor is doing none of those things. There are no other activities running besides Roon, there's no video output from the server even if you're running the Roon app on a device like an iPad for control. At most there's data being sent to the control device to enable it for its visual display so the server isn't doing any video processing at all and there's minimal background activity going on. Roon has maximum processor access at all times so its activity is not going to be impacted and there are far fewer activities going on to generate noise.

Is it possible to design a computer which can do all of the things you have your Mac Mini doing at the same time when you're running Roon and without impacting on Roon? Probably, but that would be a computer optimised for running Roon and giving it precedence over everything else while Roon is running. The Mac Mini and other general purpose desktop and laptop computers aren't such a device. They're designed for multi-tasking and the people who design them don't consider audio performance as their highest priority. How much impact do those other activities have on Roon's activity and output? I don't know. A lot of the time it may well be negligible and in any event it's going to depend on how you use your computer and what you have active. You can do things like shutting down other apps when you're using Roon but how much background activity do you want to shut down?

When you run a dedicated server you make that question irrelevant. You can leave your computer doing all of the things it normally does when it's on and not worry about the question. The computer can be optimised specifically for audio streaming performance. Will you hear a difference? I don't know but I do know that I don't get some of the non-audible problems I used to get such as audio playback dropping out for some reason or other as frequently since I moved to my server rather than running Roon on the Mac Mini. Part of that is due to moving to a network setup that doesn't use wifi in the music signal path and the only wifi traffic involved being between the iPad and the server for control purposes, not for music signal transmission, but that is still a benefit the server brought to my system.

If you move to a server rather than your Mac Mini, the move is going to change more than just what the processor is doing while you're using Roon. Other things in your network setup change as well and even if they don't impact on sound quality they can impact positively on how well your music streaming activities work. Sound quality is important but it's not the only area where using a server can make a difference and it may not be the biggest area where it makes a difference in your system.

If you can you should try borrowing a server which can run Roon and link it to wherever your music files are currently stored as well as to your Devialet and see if it does make a difference in sound quality or in some other area. If it does make a difference you may not think it makes a big enough difference to justify the cost, or you may decide that there are other alternatives which deliver better value for money such as streaming to a Roon Ready endpoint such as an Auralic Aries Mini or something else which can feed a signal to your Devialet, or you may decide to go with a server and there's always the possibility that you may decide that those options don't improve on what you're getting doing things the way you're doing them now, but you will learn something that will answer a lot of your questions for you.

We can talk about this for days and weeks and never resolve your questions to your satisfaction. Actually trying a server in your setup is going to tell you a lot more of what you want to know than anything any of us can tell you, and it will tell you those things in the only way that is really going to resolve your questions with any real certainty for you. In the end the only real way any of us have to resolve some of our questions about audio systems is for us to try the "suck it and see" test, to actually try things out in our own homes and our own systems. Hands on experience resolves questions and issues in a way that nothing else can ever resolve them.

Hi @David, been really busy with live..

Um, actually I am not seeking a ROON end, i just want a streamer, if it has built in HDD would be better, so I don’t need to stream from NAS, and then I need it to be able to play Spotify, TIDAL, things like that. Mac Mini can do all these, but I just worry about its sound quality, its USB noise level. And this is why I ask people on this forum who has experience with Mac mini and audiophile grade streamer and tell me their experiences Wink
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#33
@PeppaPig

I think it's clear by now that there are many things wrong with the Mac Mini. You are better of with something else. 

From a budget point of view, this can be very interesting: https://darko.audio/2018/11/a-short-film...signature/

Kr,

Stijn
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#34
Hi @Stino

Yes, apparently, I have gave up Mac mini as an option, thanks guys for the input, appreciated!

The one you recommended, i think it doesn’t has it own mobile application to control it right?
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#35
(20-Nov-2018, 00:05)PeppaPig Wrote: Hi @Stino

Yes, apparently, I have gave up Mac mini as an option, thanks guys for the input, appreciated!

The one you recommended, i think it doesn’t has it own mobile application to control it right?

Correct.
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#36
Hope this subject is still alive. I'm also on the verge of upgrading away from my standard mac mini 16gb/ssd. Reason I waited is that AIR (eth) actually is working fine on my D200. And there are opinions that  a high end streamer does not really add a whole lot to AIR sound quality.
So my thoughts are it's better investing in a good server, also because most of them can serve as a streamer as well! 
Then again, the AIR protocol seems to tackle issues with server/storage gear, does not it? That would make expensive NAS/servers obsolete. Plus I think I use Tidal 70% of the time. Though, if it really differs in SQ i am willing to spend time downloading the content to my drives.

The answer to that question will determine my upgrade path. Options I consider so far: Melco N1A, Bryston BDP-1/2, Innuos Zen(ith), Aurender N100H, Roon Nucleus.
I'm leaning towards the BDP-1 as it's pretty cheap now. I use a synology ds718 (and several external harddrives) as storage.

Anyone care to comment?
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#37
It's interesting to see that most seem to veer away from Mac Mini as a server and rather opt for a music server. I for myself, went the other route: I used an Aurender N100H for a long time, and just a few days ago I bought a new 6-core Mac Mini i7, with 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD internal storage and an external 2 TB SSD. I run Roon on it, the Mac Mini is in my office and feed my Devialet Expert 120 two floors down with a Cat 7a ethernet cable. The Mac Mini, of course, is controlled with my iPad Mini that connects to an Orbi Netgear. I haven't tried connecting the Mac Mini via USB to my Devialet, since I really want to have it tucked away from my living room.

So far, I am very pleased with the outcome, I actually prefer the Mac Mini over the Aurender in SQ, as I feel the Roon/Mac Mini combination is a bit more resolving than the Aurender. The N100H is very good, plays music from an absolutely black background, but for me it always sounded a bit dark, lacking a bit the highs. And unfortunately, the Aurender's UI is a bit meagre, but absolutely reliable. Also, integration of both streaming services, Tidal and Qobuz, is a big plus for the Conductor app. This, however, might very well be included into Roon in the near future.

All in all, I am very pleased with the Mac Mini as my music centre, but I won't let the 100H go. It's good to have an alternative should I encounter difficulties with my Mac Mini (which I don't assume, but one never knows).
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#38
(25-Dec-2018, 14:23)roestano Wrote: Hope this subject is still alive. I'm also on the verge of upgrading away from my standard mac mini 16gb/ssd. Reason I waited is that AIR (eth) actually is working fine on my D200. And there are opinions that  a high end streamer does not really add a whole lot to AIR sound quality.
So my thoughts are it's better investing in a good server, also because most of them can serve as a streamer as well! 
Then again, the AIR protocol seems to tackle issues with server/storage gear, does not it? That would make expensive NAS/servers obsolete. Plus I think I use Tidal 70% of the time. Though, if it really differs in SQ i am willing to spend time downloading the content to my drives.

The answer to that question will determine my upgrade path. Options I consider so far: Melco N1A, Bryston BDP-1/2, Innuos Zen(ith), Aurender N100H, Roon Nucleus.
I'm leaning towards the BDP-1 as it's pretty cheap now. I use a synology ds718 (and several external harddrives) as storage.

Anyone care to comment?

After using a Mac Mini I have bought an INNUOS Zenith, which I am still using. For the moment (once again) with ROON (trial licence) as a Roon Core. Very comfortable and without problems (but DSD files are not really possible with the Zenith as a core). I have used the Zenith before as an UPnP server, also without problems, but there is no software for that with a real good UI (the best one is MConnect m.o.). The Zenith is connected via USB to the Devialet. I think there are less other devices on the market with this possibilities.
Devialet 220PRO CI, Magico A3, 2 Gold Phantoms, Dialog, INNUOS Zenith MK II STD, Mac Mini/ROON, Raspberry Pi2 Digi+, Audirvana
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#39
(25-Dec-2018, 21:34)Sailor4W Wrote: It's interesting to see that most seem to veer away from Mac Mini as a server and rather opt for a music server. I for myself, went the other route: I used an Aurender N100H for a long time, and just a few days ago I bought a new 6-core Mac Mini i7, with 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD internal storage and an external 2 TB SSD. I run Roon on it, the Mac Mini is in my office and feed my Devialet Expert 120 two floors down with a Cat 7a ethernet cable. The Mac Mini, of course, is controlled with my iPad Mini that connects to an Orbi Netgear. I haven't tried connecting the Mac Mini via USB to my Devialet, since I really want to have it tucked away from my living room.

So far, I am very pleased with the outcome, I actually prefer the Mac Mini over the Aurender in SQ, as I feel the Roon/Mac Mini combination is a bit more resolving than the Aurender. The N100H is very good, plays music from an absolutely black background, but for me it always sounded a bit dark, lacking a bit the highs. And unfortunately, the Aurender's UI is a bit meagre, but absolutely reliable. Also, integration of both streaming services, Tidal and Qobuz, is a big plus for the Conductor app. This, however, might very well be included into Roon in the near future.

All in all, I am very pleased with the Mac Mini as my music centre, but I won't let the 100H go. It's good to have an alternative should I encounter difficulties with my Mac Mini (which I don't assume, but one never knows).

Thanks for your response! the N100H is one of the serious contenders because of it's build quality, power supply, ease of use and looks. Love the VU meter analog look! :Smile the main cons are usb only and no Roon.
But the price even 2nd hand is steep. I have an option for €1750. I don't mind spending that kind of money if I'm sure that it will add quite a step up in SQ. To be honest, I'm almost convinced it won't.
I am just listening to an MQA album (Tidal) "Evo sessions" by Chlara. The first song just snaps through my system D200 + Raidho X1. Comparing usb vs ethernet air it is clear that there is better channel separation in favor of ETH. In this song you can clearly hear that because of the acoustic guitars. The decay is also better.
Admittedly I am using a cheap standard usb cable vs AQ vodka ethernet.

But there are plenty times that it just does not sound great. I am guessing it's mainly because of the files / recording quality because some albums (like Patricia Barber's cafe blue) sound great.
So still on the fence......:/

btw: is there a way to optimise the Synology DS 718 for SQ by installing Roon server? Or is it best to install all on the internal 500gb SSD of the mini?
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#40
@midi
After using a Mac Mini I have bought an INNUOS Zenith, which I am still using. For the moment (once again) with ROON (trial licence) as a Roon Core. Very comfortable and without problems (but DSD files are not really possible with the Zenith as a core). I have used the Zenith before as an UPnP server, also without problems, but there is no software for that with a real good UI (the best one is MConnect m.o.). The Zenith is connected via USB to the Devialet. I think there are less other devices on the market with this possibilities.
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How did it improve on sound? Is it possible to play direct via Ethernet (play) output? was your mac standard or tweaked?
The Melco seems to sound a lot better via Ethernet than usb (review hifi-advice) albeit not on a devialet system.
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