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Headless Mac as a music server/streamer - hints and tips
#1
As I've mentioned in a couple of other posts, I'm in the process of setting up a Mac Mini to run "headless" as a music server/streamer.  Although I'm fairly happy in general with setting up a Mac, I'd be really grateful if anyone has any hints and tips, dos and dont's, about running a headless system in particular.  Hopefully they might be useful for others following the same path.

For example, it was news to me that not having a display connected could slow down remote access, possibly because the GPU would be disabled.  The solution is to use an HDMI display emulator.

A couple of specific questions that I have in mind at the moment include:
  • is it better to set up a separate (non-admin) user account to run music streaming software and own the music library, rather than (for example) using my own account)?
  • is it sensible to enable automatic log-in (to avoid having to manually log in after a power cycle)?
I'm thinking more along the lines of ease of use rather than sound quality, at least for the moment.

But please feel free to just throw in anything you think might be helpful.

Looking forward to hearing advice from those that have "been there, done that" - thanks in anticipation!

Ian
Wilson Benesch Full Circle, Sonos ZP90 (Cullen modified), Devialet 440 Pro, Kaiser Chiara
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#2
There is a ton of information about this all on ComputerAudiophile, the Mac Mini tuning websites, or just a web search.

I have a non-admin account for AV programs automatically log in, to answer your questions.

I do find that the Devialet implementations of USB and networking are problematic for running a headless Mini. Turning off Devialet app control dramatically reduces network congestion but then you can't use the Devialet app. I'm very interested in the Mac Mini controlling the Devialet via RS232 but I haven't yet done more on that than read this forum.
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#3
I am using Mac Mini to feed audio signals to Devialet via AIR3.0beta Ethernet application. Although I have Melco N1A, I prefer Mac Mini to Melco N1A as a source component for its ease of use. With ver 3.0 beta, the AIR application is very stable and the sound quality is superb to my ears. On Mac Mini, I use Audirvana Plus 2.6 and Amarra Symphony as playback applications. Amarra Symphony provides better sound quality than Audirvana Plus but the user interface of Amarra is terrible.... On the other hand, Audirvana Plus is very user friendly. I expect much from upcoming Amarra 4.0 software, hoping that the software provides both better user interface and sound quality.

What is the point of having non-admin user account?
Mac Mini Late 2012(Amarra Symphony/Audirvana)/DELA N1A Mk1 - [AIR Ethernet] -  Devialet 800 (Power Cable - AET HIN AC EVD) - [Speaker Cable - Nanotec Systems SP♯79MK2] - Wilson Audio Sasha
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#4
Admin users have increased privileges, so for security reasons it is best to reserve admin account for administration and operate normally under another account.
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#5
With my 2012 Mac Mini - 8 GB memory - Core i7 - I have no issues with running it headless and without the dongle. No performance issues when logging in remote. If you should see any screen re draw issues in the GUI while doing this adding the dingle is easy and inexpensive - I used the Displayport to VGA adapter than came with mine and added a resistor as documented here:

Dongle

Or you can buy one, they are relatively inexpensive. As I have another Mac I used screen sharing so I could access the headless Mac Mini, you can also use something such as Teamviewer, or several other programs depending on what you wish to use as a control point.

I enable autologin at boot, so the only time I need to remotely login is when I want to shut the Mac Mini down, or course you can also configure the button on the back of the Mac Mini to do that for you (though you still have to get up and press it).

By the way, my default admin account does still require a password to perform certain system level changes, even though the password is not required to login to the system.
Roon ROCK | Intel NUC6i5SYH/AIR3/Ethernet | VPI Avenger | Devialet 440 Pro | Vivid Audio Giya G3 
Synology NAS | DH Labs  D-110 & Q10 Signature Bi-Wire |  Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0 | Stillpoint Apertures
West of the Rockies, US
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#6
(11-Jan-2017, 19:14)thumb5 Wrote: As I've mentioned in a couple of other posts, I'm in the process of setting up a Mac Mini to run "headless" as a music server/streamer.  Although I'm fairly happy in general with setting up a Mac, I'd be really grateful if anyone has any hints and tips, dos and dont's, about running a headless system in particular.  Hopefully they might be useful for others following the same path.

For example, it was news to me that not having a display connected could slow down remote access, possibly because the GPU would be disabled.  The solution is to use an HDMI display emulator.

A couple of specific questions that I have in mind at the moment include:
  • is it better to set up a separate (non-admin) user account to run music streaming software and own the music library, rather than (for example) using my own account)?
  • is it sensible to enable automatic log-in (to avoid having to manually log in after a power cycle)?
I'm thinking more along the lines of ease of use rather than sound quality, at least for the moment.

But please feel free to just throw in anything you think might be helpful.

Looking forward to hearing advice from those that have "been there, done that" - thanks in anticipation!

Ian

I've been running headless for ages on my mini.
I use a dongle as I like to have the option to set the display res depending on where I remote in from. I just use the Mac screen sharing, so the dongle may be redundant now but I use it anyway. It was cheapish on Amazon or eBay I think.
I made an account for av stuff and it auto-logs in. Pretty much everything is disabled where possible - some things I used command line examples from the web to disable sporlight, notifications etc, plus turned off updates, and anything else that's annoying and might mess with the network.
It runs fine.
I may at some point repurpose it for video now I'm starting the horrible task of digitising my dvds so they can go server based too. Then I'd most likely get a Nuc or something and run RCK. depends on DSP stuff.

One tip - its highly advisable to make sure your network settings are all good before detaching monitor etc. Not once, but twice, I've set the mini up via wifi then unplugged it all and set it headless, only to then lock myself out by forgetting to set the Ethernet up properly before disabling wifi! Then had to wire it all up again to a monitor and fix. The second time just as I pressed disable on the wifi, I remembered what happened the last time round but it was too late.

I share the music folder out too so I can drop files in there from other machines. I let iTunes handle it unless it's files it can't deal with, which gives in another folder.

Roon lifetime > Mac mini > AIR ethernet (finally!!! After 2 years!!!!) > Devialet 250 Pro > PMC fact.8
- London, UK -

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#7
Ah yes, in case you have not seen, these are some of various optimizations (if you are so inclined) that have been published.

http://www.mojo-audio.com/blog/optimizin...-yosemite/

or

https://mojoaudiofiles.wordpress.com

And another one with forum, website and link to script itself.

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-so...ipt-18128/

http://www.computeraudiodesign.com/osx-a...imization/

http://www.computeraudiodesign.com/Compu...20V1.3.zip
Roon ROCK | Intel NUC6i5SYH/AIR3/Ethernet | VPI Avenger | Devialet 440 Pro | Vivid Audio Giya G3 
Synology NAS | DH Labs  D-110 & Q10 Signature Bi-Wire |  Silver Circle Audio Pure Power One 5.0 | Stillpoint Apertures
West of the Rockies, US
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#8
Thanks for your replies, gentlemen. Work is in progress... I'll add some tips of my own here once I've got to a place I'm comfortable with.
Wilson Benesch Full Circle, Sonos ZP90 (Cullen modified), Devialet 440 Pro, Kaiser Chiara
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#9
And thank you, thumb5, for starting this thread, because I'm about to embark on the same project and this info is very helpful. I'm also going to try DIRAC Live room correction, which I'm told can run on a mac mini and still output to Devialet via AIR.
Devialet D1000, Magico M3, Nordost Frey speaker cable, PS Audio P3 Power Plant, Shunyata Venom 3 AC cable, 21" iMac.
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#10
(01-Feb-2017, 23:29)flohmann Wrote: And thank you, thumb5, for starting this thread, because I'm about to embark on the same project and this info is very helpful. I'm also going to try DIRAC Live room correction, which I'm told can run on a mac mini and still output to Devialet via AIR.

Yes, you can run DLRCS on a Mac and output to AIR. Personally, I found it was stable only up to Redbook quality, and eventually stopped using Dirac after trying on 3 different Macs. However, I was using Roon so that may have been one application too many. Let us know how you get on with it.
NUC/Win10/Roon Lifetime => AIR 3.04 Windows => Original d'Atelier => Wilson Duette Mk1
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