The Reference Music Server That Goes To 11
All of you are familiar with booting and rebooting your computer. That's a given. When Windows Vista was introduced more and more people started dual booting their computer with Vista and XP. This allows the user to select Windows XP or Windows Vista when the computer boots. If a user has applications that only work on XP but still wants to use Vista the cheapest solution is dual booting.
When Apple switched to the Intel platform it included an application called Boot Camp with OS X. This application allows OS X users to dual boot into OS X and another Windows operating system like XP or Vista. The setup is very simple through the Boot Camp graphical user interface (GUI). Once OS X and Windows are installed on a Mac the user can select to run either operating system by holding down the Option key upon booting their Mac. Without holding down the Option key the Mac boots into OS X unless Windows is selected as the default startup disk.
Here at Computer Audiophile there is no end to the different configurations needed when reviewing a product or conducting tests before publishing an article. In addition the only way to conduct apples-to-apples software tests is to use the exact same hardware. This left me with one option, quadruple booting a Mac Pro. Configuring a Mac Pro to quadruple boot is no easy task. If you're like me and you don't read instructions it is business as usual trying to quadruple boot. That's because there really aren't any instructions available. Bits and pieces of information are all over the Internet. I spent countless hours going back and forth between sites trying to put this puzzle together. Now that I've done it I could easily do it again fairly fast. Or maybe not. As usual I didn't write anything down during the laborious process of trial and error. Note: More error than anything else. With my quadruple booting Mac Pro I am presented the screen above (see photo) with the OS choices upon boot-up. If nothing is selected OS X will boot automatically. This is nice for me as OS X is my first choice for an operating system and I can reboot the music server remotely without user intervention.
With four operating systems installed I should be able to test almost every media playback application available. Plus the Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC enables me to test for bit perfect output. As I mentioned previously I have a host of applications lined up for testing. Right now I am listening to Jewel's album Spirit using MediaMonkey on Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit. And, I can say definitively I am getting bit perfect output (see photo below). There is no end to the Internet chatter about Windows Vista and the lack of audio quality. At least we have visual proof it can be bit perfect. This leads me to a topic that is currently being discussed in the forums. The sound signature of different applications. I can guarantee with 100% certainty that iTunes on OS X and MediaMonkey on Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit are bit perfect and DO NOT sound the same. Since my Mac Pro is running both operating systems and applications there are no hardware differences to obfuscate the results. Even the AIFF files were the same as I accessed the music off my Thecus 5200B Pro NAS unit. Sure both operating systems are different, but bit perfect is bit perfect. Or isn't it? To some these results make perfect sense. To others they make no sense. To me, I honestly have no idea. I certainly don't have all the answers but I will continue researching this topic. One thing I do know is that I enjoy listening to music on both systems. Isn't that what this is all about? Much more to come on this and related topics.