Music server madness
During my presentation to the audio society in San Diego last week I had the opportunity to play from the new Mac Mini server I built. It was its "debut" if we add some unintended importance to it. I'll also be using it Friday and Saturday at the Chicago Axpona show as we demonstrate DirectStream. The server I described to you in earlier postsis a DIY project with a Mac Mini. I started with the most basic of hardware and built a great sounding server. The key to its great sound is the software choice I made, Bit Perfect. It works as intended: as a traveling music library that sounds great, and works well in Music Room One. In future posts I'll be giving you a few links to more detailed help on building a server like mine. Many of you have written to me with a lot of advice. Much of it having to do with optimizing this server by maximizing the computer's memory and storage system. I went ahead and ordered 16GB of RAM to replace the Mini's 4GB and that will happen tomorrow. I'll let you know what I hear in terms of differences. Because this already sounds so good, I am suspicious that adding more RAM may not do anything but take a dent out of my pocketbook. Time will tell. Fortunately changing out the RAM is easy. One other tweak many are encouraging me to try is replacing the mechanical hard drive with a solid state version. This is surprisingly affordable but looks to be a major pain in the arse. Here's what's intriguing. From my reading up on the subject, it appears the solid state drives may have the single biggest sonic impact of any of the tweaks. If I were to start over, I'd go straight to the Apple store and order it the way I'd want it configured. That wouldn't be cheap, but it would include 16GB of RAM and 500GB of SSD storage inside. If you're handy, you can add all that yourself for about $400. Need more storage? Apple uses an external interface called Thunderbolt that has the advantage of speed and non-interference with the USB bus, which is where your server will connect with your DAC. So be sure and use SSD drives that are Thunderbolt ready. This server sounds so good right now that I am hesitant to invest another minute or another nickel. But here's the thing - I think I am a an addicted tweak. Onwards!
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