Best for a Music Server? Mac Mini headless or Laptop?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by jaybar, May 16, 2014.

  1. jaybar macrumors 6502a

    jaybar

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    #1
    Hi

    I am thinking of creating a music server, that would be connected directly into my DAC, via USB cable. This would be in our Living Room, where the stereo is lactated.

    Currently, I have no music server, but am streaming from my iMac in our office. The current Setup is as follows:

    Verizon Router->Time Capsule (bridge mode). To Airport Express via wifi. The Airport Express connects to my DAC via Toslink The iMac is hard wired into the Apple Time Capsule, via ethernet.

    The distance between my home office and living room is about 50-75 feet. There is not a clear line of sight. The biggest problem is the contraction in our apartment. Our walls are plaster and concrete with wire mesh. From what I can tell, this kind of construction is a wifi nightmare. The construction also makes it very difficult to run a long ethernet cable from the office to the stereo. We cannot find a willing installer and there are cosmetic issues.

    My Audio dealer is suggesting a dedicated music server, which would have the media on it and be directly connected via USB. I can't accommodate a dedicated monitor in the living room and I am visually impaired.

    Which would be better a headless Mac Mini or a laptop? If it were a headless mac mini, can I control it via something like "iTeleport" or "screens", even if I do not have a monitor? Would a Laptop be better?

    Thanks

    Jay
     
  2. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #2
    If I were you I would look at a Home NAS with an iTunes sever built into it.
     
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #3
    What are the symptoms? Getting drop out, no connection at all? What really is wrong?

    If you are in the So Cal area I'd offer to pull a cable for you (at fair market cost, I do thinks like this.) that is always the best option. The job could be easy or not. But if you are willing to compromise and have a combined cable/WiFi it might be cheap and easy.

    You can many times solve a problem by using external WiFi Antenna that are aimed at each other. Sometimes you can physically move the router(s) For example maybe the Airport express could get mounted on a ceiling or high up on a wall and then use a longer fiber cable. Same for the other router, move it some place with a better view.

    Placing some kind of server (A NAS, a MacMini or Linux running on a notebook) still means you need to push WiFi through a wall. It does not really solve that problem. All it does is make it so that screen data and not music data goes over WiFi. And as it happens Music data is a LOWER data rate. The screen is very HIGH data rate. You simply cannot beat a physical cable.

    OK, assuming you MUST use some kind of music server, get one that has a very simple

    ----------

    The problem is he still needs computer running iTunes to connect the music (which might be on the NAS) to his amplifier. Then he still needs WiFi to remotely control the computer. In other words he'd still need reliable networking. Buying a server (of any type) does not solve the problem.
     
  4. jaybar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jaybar

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    #4
    Thanks

    I am in NYC. Problem is the apartment construction.

    Why would I need wifi? If my iTunes library was on the computer in the living room and it was connected to the DAC via a USB cable, then why would I need wifi to play the music. That would also eliminate the need for an Airport Express as I understand it.

    I currently have no problem using the apple remote app or the iTeleport app to access my itunes library on my iMac. What I can't do is use Airplay from my iPad to reliably stream music through my stereo. I can start iTunes on my iMac, which is in my office and then use the remote app to control itunes. Also from what I gather, the Airport Express down samples hi-res audio.

    According to Apple's wifi engineers, who I spent a good deal of time talking to, the reason why streaming works better from my iMac than via Airplay on the iPad, is there is less packet loss as the connection is more direct. Given the construction, they suggested the most direct connection possible.

    I am not interested in multi-room. I just want to get my purchased digital music into my stereo which is only in the living room. I would only use a wifi connected to download purchased music if I had to.

    Jay
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    You can ALWAYS push wire through walls. Don't matter what the walls are made of. But it depends on if you have the owners permission and if you can afford to hire it done. Those are serious problems, not contraction materials.

    Back to WiFi. Yes if the computer were in the same room as the amplifier then the music data would not have to go over WiFi.

    But how do you control the computer in the lovering room. How do you select what song to play? Do you walk over to the living room computer and do some clicks on the interface? If so then you have the problem solved.

    But maybe you want to access the living room computer remotely? If so then you need a network.
     
  6. mojolicious macrumors 68000

    mojolicious

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Location:
    Sarf London
    #6
    I think your problems might stem from liquid damage.
     
  7. jaybar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jaybar

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    #7
    My mind boggles about your suggestion of liquid damage. There has never been any such thing.

    Basically the apartment is concrete and cinder block. There is 18 inches of concrete between floors. The walls are quite thick. Some, but not all the walls have wire mesh too, which does not help.

    Someone said wifi is radio waves and if that is the case, we have always had a problem with radio reception in the apartment. An external wifi antenna is not an option. We are between several bridges, which I would think does not help. As far as FM reception, we are plagued with multi-path. I don't know if that has a bearing or not.

    Let's try to keep to the question I raised.

    Thanks

    Jay
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    bridges are not an issue, yes WiFi is radio but the transmitters in inside the routers and computers. The radio waves only need to go from one room to the next.

    Certainly placing your digital music collection physically near the amplifier means the music data will never need to go over WiFi. Any Mac can work for this. Even a used Mini. The notebook is nice because they are small and have built-in screen. You need to use a "trick" (like plugging in a wired USB keyboard) to make them not sleep when you close the cover. The mini is small but you need a monitor to use it.

    Yes you can remotely access a headless mini but for that you need network access. You say you can't get networking to that location so headless can't work. You will need a monitor and keyboard and to control the computer. Any low-end Mac would work as long as it had a large enough disk.

    You would have no need for the airport express as you could connect the Mac Min or netbook directly.
     
  9. jaybar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jaybar

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    #9
    Chris

    Thanks so much. I can get wifi in that location if need be. For reasons that I do not understand, I can get wifi for my iPad or iPhone but I can't use Airplay. Does this change anything you said.

    Thanks

    Jay
     
  10. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Sunny, Southern California
    #10
    Neg, if the NAS has iTunes server built in, you don't need a computer running. :)
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #11
    With just an Airport Express and a NAS. How does he select what song to play? He needs something to run a user interface.
     
  12. rhett7660, May 30, 2014
    Last edited: May 30, 2014

    rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Sunny, Southern California
    #12
    I have a QNAP running there version of an iTunes server on it. My other computers see it just as that. iTunes. I can stream from it with no problems. The only thing I can't do, is play movies or music from it via AppleTV. Forgot to add, I named it Multimedia so when it shows up under shared library's it has a name. It looks like iTunes but it is running on the NAS box instead of another computer running.
     

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  13. eduardrw macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2013
    #13

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