Mini-based music server?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Ted Witcher, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. Ted Witcher macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2003
    I'm thinking about doing a music server project for my own amusement. This would be just for living room listening, with no PVR/HTPC aspect, but I want the highest possible sound quality. My idea is to use a hot-rodded Mini -- 1gb RAM and a 7200rpm HD -- because the form factor works for me and iTunes is a perfect cataloging/playback app (it would be like this only cheaper and Mac-based). I would encode my CDs as WAV files and storage would be an external firewire drive, something like this...

    Control would be a 7" screen (something like this... and a PDA-based remote system like this one here... ... though there are a number of ways you could skin that cat.

    My question is, can I use something like the M-Audio Transit ( to take the digital info from USB and then send it to a high-quality DAC, perhaps a Musical Fidelity X-DAC ( and then into my preamp? Is there a step I'm missing? Would there be a jitter or timing issue with this signal flow?

    Thanks for any thoughts and sorry about the extreme linkage.
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    No point to installing a 7200 RPM internal. Music playback is not that demanding. (think about it - an iPod plays back from a drive that is WAY slower, both rotationally and by track velocity, because of its tiny diameter)

    The Transit is already a DAC... if you're looking for stereo, it gives you lineouts, you don't need an extra DAC unit unless you feel spending an extra bomb will make the sound better.

    If you're looking for optical digital out, the Transit gives you that as well, then you would pump it into the optical in of a suitable decoder (whether that is outboard, or in the preamp.) The Transit passes through DTS and ATC-3. I can't see there being any timing issues with this setup...

    However, can you store anything higher than stereo audio in your .WAV file format?

    The other unit to look at is the M-Audio Sonica Theater, which can output 7.1 and synthesize surround from a stereo source.
  3. Ted Witcher thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2003
    The Transit doesn't have RCA outs, only a mini-jack -- not good enough. But good point on the HD, saves me a step. You are right, I should have noted that the converter could be in- or outboard; the preamp I have now isn't that great and the one I want doesn't have a DAC at all, so I was thinking of getting a standalone DAC, plus the Transit only has that mini-jack, as I said. So this might actually work, huh?

    (Maybe I should wait to see if Apple comes up with a dedicated home server type of thing.)

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