Mac Mini As Music Server

mac mini 2012 03-580-90Since finally stabilizing a high-resolution streaming audio rig in early December 2013, I’ve replaced the weakest link in the chain — a 2007 MacBook Pro — with a new Mac Mini.

My faithful silver-keyboard MacBook Pro only had 4GB of RAM and Firewire 400, limiting the transfer speed from the 2TB OWC Mercury Pro external hard drive that houses all my music files. The Mac Mini has 8GB of RAM plus Thunderbolt and Firewire 800 ports. I’m dreaming of a particular Thunderbolt SSD drive but for now the 2TB 7200rpm OWC firwire port will have to do.

The deposed laptop sat atop my DAC, and I figured the best way to avoid interference from the monitor and CPU was to transition to the Mini and locate the hardware further from the DAC/preamp and amp. The Mini is stacked behind my audio rack, next to an AirPort Express (used rarely to stream from iTunes) and older AirPort Extreme 1TB Time Capsule. The Mini is run headless (no monitor) and I access it from my newer MacBook Pro via VNC.

photoSetup was pretty easy until I messed around with the OS X firewall and, for some unknown reason, lost my JRiver Media Center 19 settings. This set off a 90-minute session of reboots, tweaking, reboots, swearing, more reboots and a lot more swearing.

Finally JRiver quit its princess behavior, and is currently cooperating — over 3 hours without a complaint or even a hesitation. Fingers crossed that nothing sets it off again. Wafflehead (center right) has commandeered the sweetspot chair and she gets kind of bitchy when the playback glitches. Go figure.

PS: Although I’m not using Amarra, their site has some good advice for setting up a Mac Mini.

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