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  1. #1

    Which is Better - Music Server (such as Wyred 4 Sound MS-2) or Mac Mini?

    I am a novice in the process of setting up a music server. I have just purchased the PS Audio Perfect Wave II DAC (with HDMI I2S connection). I am considering purchasing a Wyred 4 Sound MS-2 music server or Mac Mini (with fusion drive and 16mg Ram). I was considering using Pure Music software on the Mac Mini. When I read the reviews it appears that the Wyred 4 Sound MS-2 sounds a little better and is simpler to use than a Mac Mini. The review I read also indicated that the I2S connection is better than the USB connection. From a budget standpoint I would rather buy the Mac Mini (set-up around $1,350) versus the Wyred 4 Sound ($2,500). I do not know if the extra $1,150 is worth the difference in sound and convenience.

    What is the experience of members- Is a dedicated music server (like the Wyred 4 Sound MS-2) better than setting up a Mac Mini as a music server? What are the pros and cons? Are there other dedicated music servers in the price range of the Wyred 4 Sound MS-2 ($2,500) that members might recommend?

    Thank you for considering helping me with the above.

  2. #2
    Arizona Son mwheelerk's Avatar
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    I do not know the Wyred For Sound device or certainly all music servers that are available but the experience I do have has left me wanting. I have not had any objection to sound quality of what I have heard but in general it seems most are music players and lack in the area of library management and user interface.

    I don't want to have to continue to manage a library on a computer and then transfer or use the results on a music server. I want a graphically pleasing and functional interface. I am no longer interested in a simple play/pause, forward/next functionality in a remote.

    I have seen the Sooloos demonstrated and a Linn and both seemed more in line with my interest but beyond my budget cinsideration. Does the Wyred For Sound provide the management and interface to be an "all-in-one" solution?
    Mac Mini OSX 10.9 with (2) Lacie Quadra 2TB HDD > iTunes 11 with Audivrana or JRiver Media Center For Mac > Bel Canto C5i > Focal Chorus 714V

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  3. #3
    Senior Member firedog's Avatar
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    The I2S should sound better. All the usual disclaimers.
    The W4S certainly allows for some good management software; you should check out the specific ones available and see if you could be happy with them.
    System (in small home office): GIK Acoustics Room Treatments>Tranquil Fanless PC with Windows 7(Sonore External PS, Dual Core Atom Board)>JRiver MC >FW to Mytek 192 DSD Stereo DAC >Odyssey Audio Kismet Stereo Power Amp (Khartago Case) >Devore Gibbon Nines. Also own: ClassDAudio SDS-470 Amp; Squeezebox Touch slaved to an Empirical Audio Pace Car; a standard SB Touch; Squeezebox Boom. Dual 506 TT, Ortofon M20 (used only for recording vinyl) MF X-DAC3; MF X-150 Amp;Goldpoint passive pre.

  4. #4
    This is a great thread. I have wondering the same thing. As a novice, it is hard to understand how the dedicated music servers will substantively improve the sound over a Mac mini. So could be a profitable discussion.

  5. #5

    Thanks For Responding to my request. I hope we hear from other members..

    Chipbyrd- Thanks for commenting on my thread. I hope we do hear from other members. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chipbyrd View Post
    This is a great thread. I have wondering the same thing. As a novice, it is hard to understand how the dedicated music servers will substantively improve the sound over a Mac mini. So could be a profitable discussion.

  6. #6
    Mwheelerk- It appears that the Wyred 4 Sound Serve is a complete unit. It contains a hard drive and you do not need a computer to run it. You can also transfer you Itune files to the Wyred 4 Sound Server. It can be controlled remotely with iPad (and other units). Please see the quote below from Wyred 4 Sound about their server. I ALSO HOPE WE HERE MORE COMMENTS FROM OTHER MEMBERS. I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks for commenting on my thread.

    FROM Wyred 4 Sound
    The Wyred 4 Sound server is an all in one music solution. From streaming high resolution tracks to playing Internet radio this versatile, compact unit does not skip a beat. The operating system and music playback software are tailored for playing music and it does so very effectively. The small size at less than a half rack depth and width takes up minimal space! Standard on board storage starting at 1TB will accommodate over 1000 CD’s.
    The built-in auto rip CD drive goes to work automatically as soon as a disk is inserted, and copies files into FLAC(Free Lossless Audio Codec) format. When the CD ripping process is complete it will auto-eject. It will also rip DVDs into various formats such as MKV m2ts and mp4 for streaming to devies that support DLNA. A couple of examples would be streaming movies to your iPad or PS3 from the Music Server. Adding music already stored on a computer is as simple as drag and drop over a local network. Files that are on the server can be edited using any computer on the local network.
    Selecting tracks, browsing the music library, and starting up your favorite Pandora® radio station is all wireless! This ideal configuration allows you to have your whole media library at your fingertips while maintaining a direct digital connection to your DAC from the server. Internet radio and 3rd party apps, such as Pandora®, and MOG are available when using the Logitech Sqeezebox Controller application on your Apple or Android device! Browsing your music library by album, artist, or genre is a breeze. In fact when using the Mpad application on an iPad, playlists can be made on the fly and it even allows gapless playback!

    Traditional playback using a Mac or PC for high resolution files requires a media player that supports such playback, and sounds good in the process. The cost and concern of sonic performance associated with the media player are no longer an issue! The included onboard software has been designed from the ground up to play music.

    The in depth setup guide is available for download on our website to help assist in properly configuring and customizing the server for your needs and preferences.

  7. #7

    Thanks For Responding to my request. I hope we hear from other members..

    Quote Originally Posted by Chipbyrd View Post
    This is a great thread. I have wondering the same thing. As a novice, it is hard to understand how the dedicated music servers will substantively improve the sound over a Mac mini. So could be a profitable discussion.
    Chipbyrd- In researching the Computer Audiophile site I found the following thread that talks about the Wyred 4 Sound music serve and the Mac Mini. Hopefully this will be helpful to you. Let me know what you finally play to do for a music server.

    W4S Music server?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by taipan1013 View Post
    I am a novice in the process of setting up a music server. I have just purchased the PS Audio Perfect Wave II DAC (with HDMI I2S connection). I am considering purchasing a Wyred 4 Sound MS-2 music server or Mac Mini (with fusion drive and 16mg Ram). I was considering using Pure Music software on the Mac Mini. When I read the reviews it appears that the Wyred 4 Sound MS-2 sounds a little better and is simpler to use than a Mac Mini. The review I read also indicated that the I2S connection is better than the USB connection. From a budget standpoint I would rather buy the Mac Mini (set-up around $1,350) versus the Wyred 4 Sound ($2,500). I do not know if the extra $1,150 is worth the difference in sound and convenience.

    What is the experience of members- Is a dedicated music server (like the Wyred 4 Sound MS-2) better than setting up a Mac Mini as a music server? What are the pros and cons? Are there other dedicated music servers in the price range of the Wyred 4 Sound MS-2 ($2,500) that members might recommend?

    Thank you for considering helping me with the above.
    Couple of observations.

    One, in either case you would have a dedicated music server as long as you elected to not use the mini for anything other than serving music. I think you may have meant to say a turnkey or shrink wrapped music server, as the mini requires some configuring.

    Two, why are you considering such an up optioned mini? 16 GB of RAM? You can get by with 4, and I've never heard of anyone needing more than 8. Basically it appears you are electing to put capabilities (and cost) into the mini that the W4S server does not even have (SSD, 16 GB memory)....it only comes with 2 GB of RAM. The base i5 model with 4GB of RAM will work fine. Pick a player application based on the user interface you like the most. Most of them, Pure Music included, allow free evaluation periods after download.

    Third, if you're hell bent on spending more than $600 for it (+ cost of player app and external optical drive), why not spend that money on external storage or an external PS? Set up some NAS with redundancy that allows you to access your music library from anywhere connected to your network and provides assurance you won't lose you library with a hard disk crash.

    Finally, I don't think that you would be able to hear the difference between the two if the mini is properly set up with a quality player such as Pure Music and they use the same DACs and signal chains, with levels matched, in a blindfolded test. Take the comments of reviewers with a pound of salt...unless they did their comparisons in a double blind test set up.

  9. #9
    Russ_777

    Thanks for your input. Since I am a novice with computer audio I appreciate your clarification of the music server. Originally I had planned just to get a the basic Mac Mini and 8GB RAM. When doing my research, I spoke to Rob at Pure Music. He is the one who a recommended the upgrade in the Mac Mini and 16GB RAM. That is why I was headed with upgraded Mac Mini.

    On the surface this seems to be an easy subject of setting up a Music Service but as I read and get other peoples thoughts it get confusing as a novice trying to establish a music server $2,500 or under.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by taipan1013 View Post
    Russ_777

    Thanks for your input. Since I am a novice with computer audio I appreciate your clarification of the music server. Originally I had planned just to get a the basic Mac Mini and 8GB RAM. When doing my research, I spoke to Rob at Pure Music. He is the one who a recommended the upgrade in the Mac Mini and 16GB RAM. That is why I was headed with upgraded Mac Mini.

    On the surface this seems to be an easy subject of setting up a Music Service but as I read and get other peoples thoughts it get confusing as a novice trying to establish a music server $2,500 or under.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts.
    Well I'm not going to say Rob gave you bad advice...as more RAM is usually desirable. The question is at what point do you encounter the law of diminishing returns? RAM size for programs like PM is mainly driven by the file size that is loaded into RAM when using the option to play directly from RAM, as opposed to playing the file from the hard disk. You can do the calculations yourself by estimating how much memory a track or an entire gapless album consumes. For an entire album, 70 minutes * 60 seconds/minute * 24 bits/sample * 192,000 samples/sec / 8 bits/byte ~ 2.5 GB.

  11. #11
    taipan1013, I would strongly recommend against the Wyred4Sound Music Server in your setup. I have nothing against Wyred4Sound but I know that the pairing would not be optimal with the Perfectwave DAC MK II. To begin with, W4S uses software licensed from Sonore, i.e., the same software used in the Sonore Music Server. Even though the Sonore server can still be purchased from Sonore, it no longer appears on their website as a purchase option. This, I believe, has to do with limited availability of parts for larger scale production. I previously owned a Sonore Music Server that I used with the PWD MKII and I sold them both. One of the reasons I sold them is that I could not get the PWD Native X setting to play when using the Sonore(I also sold because I bought a Phasure NOS1 DAC, but that's story for another time and another thread). Sonore states that they have tried unsuccessfully to get that combo to work:

    Discussions | PS Audio

    As you can see in the above PS Audio thread, one person has successfully mated a PC to an external USB to I2S converter and then connected it to a PWD MKII to get redbook(16/44.1) files to play in Native X mode. There's no mention of hi resolution files in his post, therefore, I can't comment on whether or not his given setup will play hi rez files using Native X.

    The bottom line for you is that the Sonore software in the W4S server will not allow you to use Native X in the PWD MKII. The Native X setting has been called "the secret sauce," i.e., the magical ingredient, if you will, that makes the PWD MKII sound so great(and it does). If you cannot achieve this sound with the W4S server then you will unfortunately need to look elsewhere.

    I personally would recommend a headless 2012 mac mini connected to the PWD MKII via USB. If you add in Windows 7 or 8 via bootcamp you will have the best of both worlds(i.e., you can try both mac and Windows server software on the same mac mini to see which server software works best for you).

    Esau

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by esimms86 View Post
    taipan1013, I would strongly recommend against the Wyred4Sound Music Server in your setup. I have nothing against Wyred4Sound but I know that the pairing would not be optimal with the Perfectwave DAC MK II. To begin with, W4S uses software licensed from Sonore, i.e., the same software used in the Sonore Music Server. Even though the Sonore server can still be purchased from Sonore, it no longer appears on their website as a purchase option. This, I believe, has to do with limited availability of parts for larger scale production. I previously owned a Sonore Music Server that I used with the PWD MKII and I sold them both. One of the reasons I sold them is that I could not get the PWD Native X setting to play when using the Sonore(I also sold because I bought a Phasure NOS1 DAC, but that's story for another time and another thread). Sonore states that they have tried unsuccessfully to get that combo to work:

    Discussions | PS Audio

    As you can see in the above PS Audio thread, one person has successfully mated a PC to an external USB to I2S converter and then connected it to a PWD MKII to get redbook(16/44.1) files to play in Native X mode. There's no mention of hi resolution files in his post, therefore, I can't comment on whether or not his given setup will play hi rez files using Native X.

    The bottom line for you is that the Sonore software in the W4S server will not allow you to use Native X in the PWD MKII. The Native X setting has been called "the secret sauce," i.e., the magical ingredient, if you will, that makes the PWD MKII sound so great(and it does). If you cannot achieve this sound with the W4S server then you will unfortunately need to look elsewhere.

    I personally would recommend a headless 2012 mac mini connected to the PWD MKII via USB. If you add in Windows 7 or 8 via bootcamp you will have the best of both worlds(i.e., you can try both mac and Windows server software on the same mac mini to see which server software works best for you).

    Esau
    This kind of reasoning only produces misleading information. The original i2s output on the Sonore server was intended for the original PWD. When the MKII PWD and corresponding MKII upgrade board came out we could only test the combination after the fact. However, this has nothing to do with the OS (as you suggest) and is actually related to a hardware incompatibility. The fact the W4S server is based on the same OS means nothing. It's my understanding that W4S server works just fine with the MKII series in Native X mode. Consult with W4S to be sure, but that is my understanding.

    There were several factors in discontinuing the direct i2s output on the server. The most important one was that we found a better option. FYI The converter works at all sample rates with the MKII series in Native X mode.

    The Mac Mini approach is not for me because you can't take care of the noise from the drives and you can't improve the stock USB output. Never mind that it needs third party software to sound it's best and to correct an inherent auto sample rate issue

    Jesus R
    Featured Products:
    Sonore Rendu - Ethernet to SPDIF/i2s Output
    SOtM Mini Server - Ethernet to USB Output
    http://www.sonore.us

  13. #13
    Jesus, thanks for the correction. I mistakenly believed that the problem accessing Native X via I2S was a software issue and now We know that it was due to a now corrected hardware incompatibility.

    The Mac mini power supply noise issue has been discussed extensively elsewhere but solid state drives for the Mac mini is a viable option. A lot of people have favorites among the 3rd party software so that's a requirement that can go either way depending on individual preference.

    I'm actually using a PC custom built by Peter St and using Peter's XX High End software with the Phasure NOS1 DAC.

    Esau

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by esimms86 View Post
    Jesus, thanks for the correction. I mistakenly believed that the problem accessing Native X via I2S was a software issue and now We know that it was due to a now corrected hardware incompatibility.

    The Mac mini power supply noise issue has been discussed extensively elsewhere but solid state drives for the Mac mini is a viable option. A lot of people have favorites among the 3rd party software so that's a requirement that can go either way depending on individual preference.

    I'm actually using a PC custom built by Peter St and using Peter's XX High End software with the Phasure NOS1 DAC.

    Esau
    Not to argue the point though because this is all about having fun. However, there are some measurements floating around that show that a HDD with SOtM filter is actually electrically quieter than a SSD without a filter

    I'm sure Peter's combo is great. He is actually one of a handful who does not like the SOtM gear....go figure.

    Jesus R
    Featured Products:
    Sonore Rendu - Ethernet to SPDIF/i2s Output
    SOtM Mini Server - Ethernet to USB Output
    http://www.sonore.us

  15. #15
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    I currently own a Sonore server. I'll state unequivocally that it beats any Mac solution hands-down. I've had a Mac Pro with Lynx AES16, Mac Mini, and Macbook Pro solutions in my system and I've tried all the Mac based software other than Amarra. The Sonore is noticeably better. . .quieter, more dynamic, and just more "right".

    While the Sonore server may no longer be available, a dedicated device is the way to go IMHO. The Sonore Rendu network streamer looks like a great solution too. I had a prototype in my system and it sounded wonderful.

    Of course, YMMV.
    BPT 3.5 Ultra/Daedalus Ulysses/Atma-Sphere MA-1 Mk 3.2 Silver Edition/Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.2//VALabs NOS DAC/Custom Sonore Classic with Upsampling/Artisan Fidelity Technics SP10 MK II/Kuzma 4Point/VDH Frog Gold/BMC MCCI

  16. #16
    Essims86, Vorticjr and Catastrofe,

    Thank you very much for your input to my thread. In reading your comments it appears that the Sonore Rendu network streamer or the Wyred 4 Sound MS2 serve (need to confirm with Wyred 4 Sound MS2 if Native X can be used with their server) might be the best solutions for me. When looking at the Sonore website that Vortecjr share with me, it appears that the Rendu streamer will be coming out with the I2S connection in the very near future. I assume with the PS PW II the I2S connection would be the best solution for wiht the Rendu streamer.

    In doing my research I had also just noticed the C.A.P 3.0 Carbon Server. Would that be a good solution compared to the Sonore Rendu or Wyred 4 Sound MS-2? If C.A.P. 3.0 was a possibility would be best with USB or I2S (if it is available; and if so is there a card for the I2S?)

    Again, thanks so much for your input. Being new to this it seems the more I learn the more confusing it get's in determining the best solution for a music server. The inputs I am receiving from the members are greatly appreciated.

    Catastrofe, I see that you are in the St. Louis area. When I was in high school I lived in Glendale and graduated from Kirkwood High School. Later I lived in St. Charles and St. Peters and worked at McDonnell Douglas for a number of years. I am now semi-retired in Ozark, MO which about 10 miles southeast of Springfield, MO.

    Again, thanks so much for all your comments.

    Greg

  17. #17
    Digital Provocateur DigiPete's Avatar
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    Just get going!

    Hook up the PS Audio Perfect Wave II DAC to any computer you already have and start experimenting.
    Get your feet wet, rip some CD's, buy some good downloads, play some music.

    Well implemented USB (for stereo) can sound as great as anything else.

    I love surround from my Mac, but that is a different story.

    Good luck!
    Find my blog: “Confessions of a DigiPhile” at http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/digipete
    ALAC 16/44 - 24/192 stereo/surround on Promise Pegasus2 R6 12TB -> Thunderbolt -> MacBook Pro 2Ghz Core i7 120GB SSD 16GB RAM
    iTunes / Pure Music / Amarra HiFi / Bit Perfect / Audirvana + / Decibel / VLC
    -> Firewire -> Weiss AFI-1 DDC -> AES/EBU -> Genelec 3 x 8260A + 2 x 8250A + 7271A
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  18. #18
    DigiPete- Thanks for your suggestions. I see that you have used several software programs for the Mac Computer. If I go with the Mac Mini I thought about using Pure Music. Which of the music software do you like best? Thanks again for your response.

  19. #19
    Digital Provocateur DigiPete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taipan1013 View Post
    DigiPete- Thanks for your suggestions. I see that you have used several software programs for the Mac Computer. If I go with the Mac Mini I thought about using Pure Music. Which of the music software do you like best? Thanks again for your response.
    I find that I end up using Pure Music with iTunes integration despite the ugly interface.
    Less quirks, solid & sounds great.
    Audirvana+ would come in as number 2.

    Amarra is the most unstable and you'll probably hear many people say that, but still some swear to it.

    I use Decibel for my surround music. It's basic but rock steady, buffers in ram and sounds great.
    Will do 5.1 in 24/192 ;-)

    Anyway, with that DAC - I'm sure you will be pleased with any software that plays bit perfect.
    They all have a trial period, so you can get a feel for what you prefer before buying.
    I bought all of them primarily to show support and secondarily because I'm so curious ;-)
    Find my blog: “Confessions of a DigiPhile” at http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/digipete
    ALAC 16/44 - 24/192 stereo/surround on Promise Pegasus2 R6 12TB -> Thunderbolt -> MacBook Pro 2Ghz Core i7 120GB SSD 16GB RAM
    iTunes / Pure Music / Amarra HiFi / Bit Perfect / Audirvana + / Decibel / VLC
    -> Firewire -> Weiss AFI-1 DDC -> AES/EBU -> Genelec 3 x 8260A + 2 x 8250A + 7271A
    DragonFly / iPhone 5G -> Sennheiser Amperior / Etymotic RE-4PT

  20. #20
    DigiPete Thanks for your thoughts regarding the software.
    Quote Originally Posted by taipan1013 View Post
    Essims86, Vorticjr and Catastrofe,

    Thank you very much for your input to my thread. In reading your comments it appears that the Sonore Rendu network streamer or the Wyred 4 Sound MS2 serve (need to confirm with Wyred 4 Sound MS2 if Native X can be used with their server) might be the best solutions for me. When looking at the Sonore website that Vortecjr share with me, it appears that the Rendu streamer will be coming out with the I2S connection in the very near future. I assume with the PS PW II the I2S connection would be the best solution for wiht the Rendu streamer.

    In doing my research I had also just noticed the C.A.P 3.0 Carbon Server. Would that be a good solution compared to the Sonore Rendu or Wyred 4 Sound MS-2? If C.A.P. 3.0 was a possibility would be best with USB or I2S (if it is available; and if so is there a card for the I2S?)

    Again, thanks so much for your input. Being new to this it seems the more I learn the more confusing it get's in determining the best solution for a music server. The inputs I am receiving from the members are greatly appreciated.

    Catastrofe, I see that you are in the St. Louis area. When I was in high school I lived in Glendale and graduated from Kirkwood High School. Later I lived in St. Charles and St. Peters and worked at McDonnell Douglas for a number of years. I am now semi-retired in Ozark, MO which about 10 miles southeast of Springfield, MO.

    Again, thanks so much for all your comments.

    Greg

  21. #21
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    Greg, I live in Glendale and my kids attend/attended Kirkwood High...small world.

    I really like the Rendu concept, as it removes the hard drive (and the noise) from the listening space.
    BPT 3.5 Ultra/Daedalus Ulysses/Atma-Sphere MA-1 Mk 3.2 Silver Edition/Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.2//VALabs NOS DAC/Custom Sonore Classic with Upsampling/Artisan Fidelity Technics SP10 MK II/Kuzma 4Point/VDH Frog Gold/BMC MCCI