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karmapilots

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Jul 13, 2010
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Gerry,
You can download an app called Rowmote(in case you are not aware of this) for your iPad and iPhone which can act as a touch pad and keyboard for your MacMini. By the way after reading thru your post I went and bought a MacMini yesterday. ;)
 
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Gerry_the_Merry

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Apr 27, 2010
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Not bad...that was quick. I am using iTunes remote. I am using the trial version of audirvana in iTunes integration mode. I can play flat files by including in iTunes playlist and using iPad remote of iTunes. Can create playlists in iTunes itself. Have experimented with using XLD to convert to AIFF format, and there is little perceptible improvement though more space is taken up in 0 compression mode. In any case, several big improvements remaining before I get down to format differences.
 

karmapilots

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Have converted the MM to a headless config. At present connected to router by wifi, and the same network has a windows laptop for controlling.

The software for Remote Desktop is splash top. I am satisfied with the Mac screen appearance on the laptop, and latency is minimal.

This lets me remove USB mouse, keyboard and HDMI connection to TV for browsing. Downside is that splash top does not have a very good iPad App.

For iPad control, using the music playing software is a better idea. I am going to experiment for music playing software over the next 2-3 months with Audirvana, Pure Music, Amarra, Decibel, Bit-Perfect. By the time I am done, J-River for Mac is expected to be ready (mid-feb). That is my destination since I have heard PC audio with Jriver, and the user interface is extremely impressive. Ultimately the sound will matter more so I intend using the trial versions fully before deciding.

There are a host of other strip downs I have done which I will list in a subsequent post. These include removing various unwanted settings, widgets, processes etc. They have contributed to major improvements in sound compared to the initial output.

But many more changes are still to be done to raise the tempo of the music.
Gerry, just downloaded the splashtop app for ipad. Looks and works fine for me. What problems did you have with it. The whole reason I went for a headless MacMini set up is that I can chuck the keyboard and mouse. Bringing in another laptop for accessing the mac screen(like you did) in my opinion defeats that purpose.
 

Gerry_the_Merry

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I will try with iPad again. I felt it did not show the full screen of the MM. Navigation was difficult. My Laptop was already installed on a nearby table so was not incremental. I am also considering Real VNC for better control.

In any case, if you use Audirvana (or any other music software) in iTunes integration mode, then the iPad remote for iTunes does a good enough job for playing. But for more complex activities like custom settings, disabling various functions etc splashtop is required.
 

Gerry_the_Merry

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Apr 27, 2010
Messages
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I returned to audio and the Mac mini after a two month break for personal reasons. I resumed my hunt for the audio software and zeroed in on a choice between Amarra and Audio Nirvana. I noticed that both of these increased the output resolution to an extent which exposed every kind of shortcoming in my system, manifesting itself as increased detail, treble and harshness.

I started doubting every component and began validating each one, including my amplifier and dac itself. I discovered they were performing faultlessly (in fact the rs40,000 dac quite casually beat a Rs1.5lac NAD M5 CD player using the CD player as transport). Finally when I was left with only the speaker I changed the placement completely, and this produced the desired result.

Amarra has digital equalisation included within it, but I don't see a major need for this at present, though it is very handy if one were to play only digital. I play analog too (at least aim to) and hence Amarra will only make me lazy and interrupt analog enjoyment. Hence I have chosen Audirvana and at present am completely satisfied with its performance.

I only need to upgrade the c7 power cord of the Mac mini, and at some later date will add a solid state hdd and upgrade the ram if I feel the need for it.

For the next level I will test the entire rig including the mac mini with Audirvana plus DAC against a top end CD player in a better Accuphase based system than mine and if it holds up honourably I would have reached the end of my digital quest (for now).
 

Staxxx

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Jun 5, 2011
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Looks like you have had a long and interesting journey and like most paths quite different from those taken by other audiophile FMs on here. What would perhaps be useful, as you are attempting to qualify and judge your current set up and choices, is to listen to a few other high-end digital systems to see where other FMs have got to. You are welcome to listen to mine whenever you are in Bangalore.
 

Gerry_the_Merry

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Have done some improvements. I ditched splashtop, which was a constantly running program, and instead switched to screen sharing in my iMac for seeing mac mini screen.

Mac mini was still running on wifi. So i took my old linksys router and connected it on ethernet to the mac mini. There is no internet connection on this router, nor is it daisy chained to the regular home network netgear router.

So if I switch my imac to the linksys i can see the mac mini screen without running any software on the mac mini (though the screen sharing application is indeed running).

But if i want to download any sotware into mac mini, i keep running the imac on linksys and see the mac mini screen, but switch on wifi in mac mini to connect to the regular home network, and all this time, the ethernet is also on, allowing the iMac to see mac mini screen. When i am done with updates i turn off wifi in mac mini. All this while ethernet connection continues running so mac mini screen is constantly visible in iMac.

With this noise floor has significantly gone down. I am still using Audio Nirvana, and unfortunately it does not have any iPad remote, so still must use screen sharing to see mac-mini screen.

J River has a very good iPad remote. A detailed thread on computer audiophile confirms that J-River on mac is exactly identical in output to J River on Windows. Now the same should also hold, i suppose, for J River on Mac vs Audio Nirvana on Mac (how can the music software make a bigger diff than the operating system), so for a bit of minor variation in sound, I can get a player software with its own remote which means I wont have to run the OSX screen sharing on mac mini. That should take down the noise floor even lower.

The noise floor reduction is immediately visible as quieter sound, with greater dynamic range.
 

Gerry_the_Merry

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Some more improvements:
1) A+ remote. No more drudgery on syncing with iTunes etc. The new Audio Nirvana library sync is efficient.
2) removed wifi, BT cards, so that the PC has completely eliminated that part of the processing to keep determining whether wifi / BT is on or not. I have kept the wifi / BT antenna as it is not part of any electrical circuit now.
3) upgraded RAM from 4 to 16Gb. not sure how much this contributes, but certainly does not add to noise.
4) replaced failing internal HDD with 1TB internal SSD.
Further upgrades will be relating to putting linear power supply (if I am convinced that holds merit), external fan, or fanless by putting everything in a different bigger case, and perhaps (if my DAC in future has the capability) going i2S by installing another LAN port in the mac mini.

But with only the improvements done above, the sound quality improvements are dramatic, and I can live with this for a couple of years while I concentrate on the analog side now.
 

Gerry_the_Merry

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Messages
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Location
Mumbai
Further to the above, goaded by FM Keith, I used the following
1) Onyx for cleanup and some additional preference settings
2) disabling file sharing (now it has become cumbersome to transfer files across the network, but never mind)
3) running some scripts - FM Keith got me started off with a script, and I got a few more from Amarra (http://www.sonicstudio.com/amarra/howtobuildaserver.php) and mojo-audio (https://www.mojo-audio.com/blog/optimizing-os-x-for-audio-video/).
4) Still to do...install tinkertool, which is a more advanced version of Onyx and disable some more functions using the following link (https://github.com/herrbischoff/awesome-macos-command-line)...
Already the improvements are substantial (lowering of noise floor), and by the time I finish, i expect more improvements. The ones done till now are definitely worth trying out.
I also upgraded from Dac-30 to Dac-50, and used a USB cable from Joshua, which beat my earlier cable. All these contributed significantly.
I did not go for the LPS, i2S, fanless etc. Fanless is definitely on the cards in future when i run out of other things to do.
Warning: Please be very careful in implementing the scripts...you don't want to damage your mac.
 

Gerry_the_Merry

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Apr 27, 2010
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I completed the full course including tinkertool and the github link codes mentioned above this morning, and the machine quietened down considerably. FMs Joshua and Rikhav visited, and with the help of their very accurate listening skills we adjusted equalization till the sound was balanced. The mac mini beat my Garrard 301 easily (though it must be said that the 301 is as yet not optimized in the way the mac has been, and it is a tougher and longer job, which I keep postponing), whereas before this exercise began it was the other way round.

In case anyone wants, I have the entire 20 page optimization schedule with me in a document, which is a consolidation of all the different codes I scavenged from different links. It is a simple matter to copy paste from it line by line in case you don't want to create an executable file etc.

Many thanks to Joshua, Rikhav and Keith. I can finally listen peacefully instead of tinkering.

And Joshua's version 4 USB cable is quite a cable.
 
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