Setting up a Mac mini as a music server, and other digital music questions


Hi All,

I'm sure this topic has been covered a bazillion times before, but thought I'd ask the Audiogon community as I don't see much up-to-date info on the web. I just purchased a DAC (Ares II) and my old Macbook Air that has been serving as my music server won't run the latest Mac OS, so probably time for a replacement. I'd like to set up a computer to store my music files on SSD, and probably handle some high-res streaming down the line. I'm currently subscribed to Apple Music, and seems hard to get out of the Apple ecosystem.

What does everyone recommend to get the best sound? Mac Mini + some kind of music software/service into the DAC?

Thanks for your help!
Josh
joshindc
Post removed 
Congratulations on your purchase of Ares II. Great sounding DAC, personally I would not use Mac-mini or MAC book as your source for music. Look into Aurender N100H or Innuos Zen MKII used or new and sign up for Tidal or Qobuz for high resolution streaming. Both of these components also offer internal storage for your music. 

I used to be in Apple eco-system and have not looked back since switching to Aurender 5 years ago. A dedicated server or streamer will yield much better sound with Ares over Mac-mini or any laptop. 
I think the Mac mini is an excellent choice as a music server at this point on your hi-fi journey. You already know how to run it. It runs headless and can be accessed easily from any other Mac on the same network. It can run other music streaming services and can also be an excellent source for video streaming since it has an HDMI port. I have a wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse and watch YouTube videos and concerts. Austin City Limits is a favorite.

At some point you may wish to have a dedicated music server built for that purpose exclusively. That Mac mini will still have value. It's versatile, so finding a buyer for it will be easy and thus offset part of the cost of a dedicated streamer. 

Good luck. 
I also don't see any significant reasons not to simply upgrade your computer since that's what you're currently using and probably has the most convenient upgrade path. I also don't see any issue with staying within the Apple ecosystem, and all of the other music streaming services have Apple client applications anyway.

There are other options but it can get confusing and will require you to learn a new UI to play your music.
Get the most from your DAC, buy a purpose built music server.  The better the server the better you DAC will sound.   Something like

https://www.smallgreencomputer.com/collections/audio-server/products/sonictransporter-i5?variant=20893269764

get Roon and Qobuz/Tidal and get going!
Hi All,

Thanks for the helpful replies. Actually hadn't realized how far behind I was with the times. I've always focused on speakers and my amp, and not given much attention to the source, with the idea that I'd get everything else sounding good first. So - my new plan is to go with Tidal -> Bluesound Node 2i streamer -> Ares II DAC -> integrated tubeamp (Reisong Boyuu A50 - taking a chance after watching Audiophiliac review) -> GoldenEar Triton 2+.

Will see if it all works!
I use a Mac Mini with Channel D's Pure Music. This is the program Michael Fremer uses. I use a 6 TB hard drive and a USB to SPDIF converter. The sound and features are excellent and Channel D's customer service is excellent. There is only one problem. There is a port leak that causes the program to crash every three hours. This is an Apple problem they say will be fixed soon. It does not occur with the older operating systems. 
Get a proper server: I changed from a tricked out Mac Mini (mach2music) to an Innuos Zenith Mk3 and there is no comparison. The Mini suffers from too much noise and vibration everywhere and all the tweaks (isolation platform, LPS et al) can’t do enough to clean it up.