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  1. #1

    New Mac Mini, is SSD worth it?, 8GB or 16GB RAM?

    I am going to be purchasing a new Mac Mini to be uses strictly as a music server
    Mac Mini + Audirvana Plus + Meridian Explorer + Preamp/Amp + Speakers

    I have about 400 CDs that will be digitized lossless with iTunes and played back through A+. How much space on the internal hard drive will this take?
    Will purchasing the Mini with a Fusion (SSD) drive make a difference on sound quality?
    Should I get 8 or 16GB of RAM

    I am new to using a computer as a music server, I have always used a standard receiver and CD player. Anything I am missing in the setup I have describe above? Anything else I should consider?

  2. #2
    Senior Member baddog's Avatar
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    Well in order of the questions asked,

    No more than 130 gb, probably less.

    Adding a Fusion drive will will probably not make a difference in sound quality. Some folks recommend a SSD drive for your boot disk and a separate HD for your music files.

    While you may only need 8gb of memory I would recommend 16gb based on cost and because you ever know when your requirements may change .

    A Mac Mini should be a fine system, if you search this site you will find many postings on using a Mac Mini as a music server.
    Silver Circle Audio | Roon | Devialet | Synology | Vivid Audio | Stillpoint Aperture | Auralic | DH Labs

  3. #3
    I have a SSD in my laptop (a PC, but similar principle) and my files externally on a NAS. Previously I had everything on a spinning HDD inside my laptop. I've found the sound improve and become smoother now that the laptop doesn't have a spinning HDD inside it.

    In regards to the fusion drive, my understanding is that it is basically a SSD and HDD, which utilises the SSD first but when full pushes additional files onto the HDD to give more room. As such a fusion drive might not be the best option as you'll have a spinning HDD being utilised.

    I'm basically never going to buy a computer with a spinning HDD in it again, if I can avoid it ($).

  4. #4
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bplexico View Post
    Adding a Fusion drive will will probably not make a difference in sound quality. Some folks recommend a SSD drive for your boot disk and a separate HD for your music files.

    While you may only need 8gb of memory I would recommend 16gb based on cost and because you ever know when your requirements may change .
    +1 .. good advice. It may seem like overkill right now but I think a bit of future proofing is a good idea. I recently purchased a new Mac Mini also and couldn't be happier with the configuration I chose. It's fast and silent. Fantastic for audio. Best of luck.

  5. #5
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    buy a basic mac mini, put in 8 gb ram and use an outboard HDD to store your music files....you'll be real happy with the result. I switched from a MacBook Pro and the Mini "sounds" better to my ears. You don't need giant computing power to run music software like Audirvana etc. If you use the included 500 GB HDD in the Mini that's good for maybe 1500 cd's apple lossless format.
    good luck,
    Larry
    MacMini I5 server, Audirvana, SET Integrated Amp with VonSchweikert db99 loudspeakers

  6. #6
    Senior Member mav52's Avatar
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    Well I just got (FedEx just came) a new mini ( all the way from SHENZHEN CN, ain't cheap labor great) with 8GB ram & 256Gb SSD to load up Windows 8 Pro for Mac, JRiver for Mac, Audirvana Plus and Amarra. I will most likely up the ram to 16GB since it's cheap after all the other software is loaded. Music server only.

  7. #7
    Is it worth equipping a new Mac Mini with one internal SSD drive just as a boot drive for the operating system and put the music library on an external firewire or USB drive? Just wonder whether there is much of a sound improvement in getting a spinning disk out of the Mac Mini

  8. #8
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mav52 View Post
    Well I just got (FedEx just came) a new mini ( all the way from SHENZHEN CN, ain't cheap labor great) with 8GB ram & 256Gb SSD to load up Windows 8 Pro for Mac, JRiver for Mac, Audirvana Plus and Amarra. I will most likely up the ram to 16GB since it's cheap after all the other software is loaded. Music server only.
    Nice! Best of luck.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
    Is it worth equipping a new Mac Mini with one internal SSD drive just as a boot drive for the operating system and put the music library on an external firewire or USB drive? Just wonder whether there is much of a sound improvement in getting a spinning disk out of the Mac Mini
    You do realize this is Computer Audiophile right? Even if an improvement could only be heard by golden-eared super humans and canine friends, it's an absolute must

  10. #10
    Senior Member baddog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melvin View Post
    You do realize this is Computer Audiophile right? Even if an improvement could only be heard by golden-eared super humans and canine friends, it's an absolute must
    To Melvin's wonderful point, it may or may not, and remember once you move the spinning disk outside of the Mac, make sure whatever you move it into is quiet so that you do not hear it...

    How large do you think your music collection will get over time? Much larger than the 400 CDs you noted?
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  11. #11
    Senior Member mav52's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
    Is it worth equipping a new Mac Mini with one internal SSD drive just as a boot drive for the operating system and put the music library on an external firewire or USB drive? Just wonder whether there is much of a sound improvement in getting a spinning disk out of the Mac Mini
    as far as I can tell, my SSD is dead quiet and like I noted on the operating system and my players are loaded on the SSD all music is external of the mini.

  12. #12
    I loved the comment about golden-eared superhumans and canines. I started reading Stereophile off and on many many years ago and I know to what lengths true audiophiles will go to squeeze (or attempt to squeeze, or think they have squeezed) the last bit of sound quality out of their source material.

    I will be purchasing the newest Mac Mini, the one with 4GB of RAM, 2.5GHz processor, and 500GB internal drive. I will be ordering a 128GB SSD from OWC along with 16GB of RAM and doing the swap myself. I will also be ordering two 1TB external hard drives from OWC each with Firewire 800 connections. I will use one to house music and one for backup of the music.

    Thanks for the help

  13. #13
    Senior Member mav52's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
    I loved the comment about golden-eared superhumans and canines. I started reading Stereophile off and on many many years ago and I know to what lengths true audiophiles will go to squeeze (or attempt to squeeze, or think they have squeezed) the last bit of sound quality out of their source material.

    I will be purchasing the newest Mac Mini, the one with 4GB of RAM, 2.5GHz processor, and 500GB internal drive. I will be ordering a 128GB SSD from OWC along with 16GB of RAM and doing the swap myself. I will also be ordering two 1TB external hard drives from OWC each with Firewire 800 connections. I will use one to house music and one for backup of the music.

    Thanks for the help
    That's what I was going to do the do it yourself upgrade to ram and HD, but this old arthritis in my thumb kind of killed that idea. Heck I had to give playing the mandolin & fiddle because of it, dam old age.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
    I will be purchasing the newest Mac Mini, the one with 4GB of RAM, 2.5GHz processor, and 500GB internal drive. I will be ordering a 128GB SSD from OWC along with 16GB of RAM and doing the swap myself. I will also be ordering two 1TB external hard drives from OWC each with Firewire 800 connections. I will use one to house music and one for backup of the music.
    Nice choice & best of luck. I wouldn't attempt anything more than a memory swap because I'm a complete moron when it comes to shit like that. If only ..

  15. #15
    Senior Member baddog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
    I loved the comment about golden-eared superhumans and canines. I started reading Stereophile off and on many many years ago and I know to what lengths true audiophiles will go to squeeze (or attempt to squeeze, or think they have squeezed) the last bit of sound quality out of their source material.

    I will be purchasing the newest Mac Mini, the one with 4GB of RAM, 2.5GHz processor, and 500GB internal drive. I will be ordering a 128GB SSD from OWC along with 16GB of RAM and doing the swap myself. I will also be ordering two 1TB external hard drives from OWC each with Firewire 800 connections. I will use one to house music and one for backup of the music.

    Thanks for the help
    That system should make you happy. I too went with ordering a separate SSD and extra memory, I did install both myself, using the OWC tools for the SSD installation.

    One note, while swapping the memory is a relatively simple and straightforward task, the SSD installation is anything but, if I had to do it again I would pay OWC to do it. You need to be very careful when taking the Mini apart, some of the connections inside are very delicate, in particular the connection for the IR cable. There are cautionary tales on the MacRumors forums...just an FYI.

    Broke my Logic Board IR Sensor Clip - MacRumors Forums

    Barr
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  16. #16
    I did go back and forth a bit about whether I wanted to tackle trading the internal hard drive after watching the OWC video. I have done this type of work before and will take my time, I would hate to break my new Mini. I also ordered an external optical drive from OWC since it had nearly twice the CD-R read speed which should make ripping my CDs go faster. I will report back once I have everything assembled and I am ripping CDs.

  17. #17
    The OWC video says the install of a new HD takes 30 minutes, mine took over an hour. It is a bit harrowing but I managed to install an SSD drive. The hardest part was getting the antenna connector cable back on. I will be tweaking things a bit (turn off bluetooth, etc) and then start ripping CDs with XLD.

  18. #18
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    Good to hear it all worked out.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mayhem13 View Post
    Good to hear it all worked out.
    +1