Imac optimization for audio? adding a external hard drive for iTunes?....

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by vintage4roger, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. vintage4roger

    vintage4roger New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    El Salvador
    I am in the interest to upgrade my iMac to use it to play music files from my cd rips and downloads, my model is not the new ones, it is a 2011 model, I wonder what I need to increase the quality of the iMac performance, I have seen somewhere a Mac mini witch was upgraded for play music, anyhow the first thing I will do is add a external hard drive to store the amount of files I own, ARE THE REGULAR HD LIKE THE ONES SOLD BY WESTERN DIGITAL GOOD ENOGHT TO STORE AND PROVIDE THE SAME QUALITY AS THE INTERNAL DRIVE I AM USSING RIGHT NOW, I use a 1TB right now, I will get a external with 6Tb, also I will add a 8 gb extra of memory, and possible I will add a small SSD to run the OSX for fast booth.....
     
  2. ZenArcher

    ZenArcher Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    Sounds like you have it covered - but don't forget to at least get a second hard drive to back up your music.
     
  3. Jack Flannery

    Jack Flannery Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Install a SSD. Other than that, not much. You could put your tunes on it as well. Depending on the size of your library.

    I use a mini with a Synology NAS. NAS really isn’t necessary though. If I had my music library drive crapped out, it wouldn’t matter. I have a copy in my home office. Make sure you address a backup scheme.
     
  4. Bubbamike

    Bubbamike Forum Resident

    WD externals seem to be very good but any drive can die so back up is a must. Also rip to a lossless codec like Flac or ALAC. ALAC works better on a Mac, use a secure ripper like XLD rather than ITunes to rip, though there is nothing wrong with using ITunes as a music manager or player. Also use Bit Perfect, a $10 app that takes care of making sure that your music is played at the correct bit rate.
     
    shirleyujest, Vidiot and head_unit like this.
  5. gregr

    gregr Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA
    Lossless files are the best first step. A DAC will help. You can use an optical cable from the audio output if you like, but USB can sound better, depending on your setup. I used a 2010 iMac for music duties for a while but ended up downgrading to a 2008 Mini without a monitor (headless). I tried a lot of different audio software on the iMac (Amarra, Audirvana, Dirac, etc.) and they all had their advantages, but the old Mini won out. I don't know if it's the external power supply or the proximity of the monitor or...whatever. Benign gremlins.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018 at 3:18 AM
  6. vintage4roger

    vintage4roger New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    El Salvador

    I will for sure, yesterday morning I turn on the computer and was broke, have to reinstall the OSX again, lucky me the music and photos still intact here....
     
  7. vintage4roger

    vintage4roger New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    El Salvador

    I use AIFF and ALAC or WAV, loss less all files for sure, and I save a burned copy of each file I download, not too worry about the ripped cds since I still have the originals, I am having kind issues with XDL, the software is too slow to rip, I made a change the other day and speed turn bit faster....
     
  8. Veni Vidi Vici

    Veni Vidi Vici Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Don’t install an SSD, it’s a waste of money. You don’t need a fast disk, you need a big one. Avoid slow reboots by not rebooting. Your machine will have fewer problems if you leave it switched on 24/7.
     
    ZenArcher likes this.
  9. vintage4roger

    vintage4roger New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    El Salvador

    The only reason I like the SSD is for booting fast, but honestly it is the last in the list, not really sure if I will add it.....
     
  10. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Besides the advice to add the SSD, I would also look at Amarra 4 and Roon which turn off a lot of background programs that detract from sound quality. You will notice a big jump from iTunes to Amarra, for instance. I run two systems using macbooks and an iMac.
     
  11. vintage4roger

    vintage4roger New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    El Salvador

    I have try Amarra, but their have a such a difficult way for me to handle, Audionirvana is the one I will use, I have try vox but the software makes the sound too colored with some kind unreal taste, I have read the bitperfect is nice tool too.....
     
    SonOFJames likes this.
  12. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Audirvana is nice too. Amarra sounds better to my ears perhaps since it is a recent "ground up" update. Vox and Bitperfect are not quite in the same league imho.
     
  13. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Well, I've updated iMacs in the past (the present ones are not really updateable). I've used the WD Passport drives and liked them but I do NOT like having my music on an external. NOT. NOT!!!! For my particular setup and personality, it didn't work. I would MUCH rather just shove a big enough drive inside the machine, and mirror to an external drive, and have yet another external drive for Time Machine backup.

    I did change to an SSD on an old machine, it made a big difference in speediness not just booting. Not sure there would be so much advantage on a new machine.

    Not sure why you would keep AIFF or WAV files, they just take up a lot more space than ALAC. I will say that Roon is very nice, as is Tidal, having experienced that at a local dealer. I just don't feel ready to drop $40 or whatever per month for that. Then again I tend to use Apple Music and avoid iTunes like the plague, takes too long to load (should just leave it always open I guess, don't remember why I didn't any more) and iTunes' layout has become complex and confusing/unintuitive/annoying to me.

    I'm also not sure why folks dislike ripping in iTunes since that part IS so handy-you can set it to rip on disc insertion and spit out when done. I *assume* that if you turn on the "use error correction" option you are getting bit-perfect rips though I have never verified it with a file comparator.
     
  14. Bubbamike

    Bubbamike Forum Resident

    Even with error correction you don't necessarily get bit perfect rips. The problem is you won't know it until you play it and discover the truth. Sometimes that can be awhile later. As an example I was ripping a disc with XLD and couldn't rip the last 3 tracks. I decided to try with ITunes. It ripped them but the rip was terrible with noise and skips in it. The disc was just to damaged.
     
  15. gryphongryph

    gryphongryph Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Faroe Islands
    Normally iTunes rips just fine with error correction, I ripped 800 cds and not a problem with any of the rips.
     
  16. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Until the Autumn of 2016 I was using a 2010 iMac running OS 10.6.8. as I needed to run some old graphics software that’s key to my work. I now have a top of the line, maxed out (SSD, RAM) 15” MacBook Pro and was able to finally join the modern era of audio software (and now run my old graphics software in Parallels where I have Snow Leopard Server installed).

    Both on my previous system and new one, I’ve used Audirvana mainly in iTunes integrated mode and I like it very much. There is an issue though if you choose Audirvana as your main player and only use iTunes as the library, all of the tracks double up in the menus. Searching for an answer to the issue lead me to an Audirvana page laying the problem with Apple, and stating that it was issues with iTunes coding that caused the double tracks and that they could not do anything about it, odd but that’s their line on it.

    A few months ago I finally checked out and ultimately purchased JRiver and think it sounds even better than Audirvana Plus. It’s definitely a more complex interface, but once you learn the essentials and where they’re located it’s smooth enough. The app also allows you to easily customize the interface to your liking which I appreciated very much.

    I still rip via iTunes, and yes, every so often a rip isn’t perfect. However the digital file playing part of my music listening is casual. I’m a physical media person, and ultimately for myself having my music completely tied to computing is too much work, I just want to enjoy the music without fuss.
     
  17. vintage4roger

    vintage4roger New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    El Salvador

    Interesting, I have see no much different rips from iTunes or XDL, just in cases XDL took hours to rip and sometimes it not even rips some tracks, I don't use to have super betted cds, and if they do I try to restore them a bit, toothpaste with baking soda have turn many cds to life, like I say XDL some cds don't rip in full, few songs left, then I try iTunes and the rips gets done and I don't hear noises the rip is ok, I have also rip on XDL and some songs rips noises, XDL is far to be perfect....I just noticed, many of my dowloaded files on FLAC I got from the web they sound much better than the ones I have rip from cd with XDL or iTunes, I have compared with the same issue of the title, ,maybe my cd drive is not the right one?, I use a Transcend, cheap but honestly I have not see any not even expensive, my in in the normal range.....

    Regarding the player, I stick with iTunes, I have try VOX, bitperft, Jr river(too complicated), the only one I like is Audionirvana, the others don't for me is like they color and fat the sound and they turn the loud to levels I can't take, iTunes sound more natural to me....
     
  18. vintage4roger

    vintage4roger New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    El Salvador


    Can you tell why a external HD is not a recomended option??, HD internal or external is a HD both can fail, external can be slower??, can affect music sound or generate more jitter??.....
     
  19. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    Get the external HD. You need backup if nothing else.

    If the internal HD hasn't been replaced since 2011, that could easily be the cause.

    Maybe the better reason to get an internal SSD is that they're dead-quiet. Might be a help if the iMac is in the listening room.

    BitPerfect sounds good, but if you have hi-res files, BP has trouble keeping up wit iTunes updates. I recently lost gapless ability in BP, and had to abandon it.

    JRiver is the best (of maybe 4 or 5) I've tried. Not even interested in investigating further. Worth the money.

    Again, spend the money and get dbPoweramp. Foolproof rips. I've had very few errors ripping with iTunes, but they do happen. Sometimes they're not audible, but show up visually on waveforms (I know:rolleyes:), but I have heard a few skips. dbPoweramp = no worries.
     
    PooreBoy and billnunan like this.
  20. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I'm just getting into digital audio after decades of audio experience. I tend to find computers non-intuitive, but I started using my Mac Air and Audirvana, with an iPad as a remote, a couple of Lacie external hard drives and an Eitr, to covert the USB signal to coax for my NOS DAC. It has worked surprisingly well. I had a coupon at Apple for another computer so I bought a Mac Mini, and transferred the Audirvana software to that device. I found an article or two about what settings to disable on the Mini to optimize it (the Audirvana software has its own 'optimizer') and am running the Mac mini headless now that it is set up. It didn't cost much. I thought about doing the linear power supply upgrade, but now that Audirvana has started offering a Windows based product, I may build a PC that is optimized for music rather than tear apart the Mini and spend money on a high quality linear PS. The gent behind Uptone Audio told me that the demands of a computer require a robust linear supply that exceeds the specs. Those start to get costly. I know there are a couple of inexpensive ones which I've thought about trying, like the Teradak, but I've put that off for now. I only got the Mini this week and it sounds far ballsier than the laptop running off its battery- i had assumed battery operation might eliminate some of the issues associated with digital switching supplies.
    Right now, this system is not connected to the Net. I rip using XLD and if I download a track, I do so on my laptop and then transfer it to an external hard drive (and back it up on another external hard drive).
    Although it addresses the Mini, not a laptop, I still found some helpful suggestions here as one example and in a few other articles.
    The digital gear is connected to separate power lines that are isolated from the analog audio gear. I invested in a decent coax, usb cable and modestly priced aftermarket power cords for the DAC and CD transport (I switch the coax out from transport to Eitr when I run the Mac based system). You can do this for not much money with surprisingly good results-- I base this not on long experience with expensive digital equipment, but with high end analog equipment, including a very good vinyl front end.
    I know different people place different priorities on different aspects of the digital front end, but my limited experience with digital so far has taught me two things: "weakest link" approach is still as relevant in digital as it is in analog, e.g., using a high quality Redbook transport sounds far better than the universal player from an Oppo as a transport and the quality of the source material differs vastly, much like the different masterings we encounter on vinyl LP.
    I've been having a lot of fun with this, without spending a fortune, and will gradually ramp up the computer audio side as time goes on. I'm quite happy with the NOS DAC and quality Redbook transport (a C.E.C.). The Mac and Audirvana make a good system as well, especially if you are staying with Mac as your computer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018 at 11:34 PM
  21. gregr

    gregr Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA
    This is a good point. In terms of quieting an iMac, it helps to look into fan management software (3 fans in mine).
     
  22. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    And that's a good point.

    My iMac fan(s)(?) never come on, except when processing video; I've got a 1TB SSD internal. However, it's typically cool in SF. I reckon El Salvador has a warmer climate.

    On the other hand, managing and playing music – even hi-res – doesn't require a lot of horsepower.

    It's just one detail after the other with this stuff.
     
  23. gregr

    gregr Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA
    Fun fact: when the temperature in my apartment goes over 82 degrees, the USB on my Mini goes wonky and starts switching my audio out to the internal speaker, and then back to USB, and then back to the internal speaker, and....

    No amount of fan cooling will stop this. It seems to be entirely connected to the ambient temperature of the room.
     
  24. Kristofa

    Kristofa I dream of wires

    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    I am using a 2011 iMac to stream to an airport express via TOSlink to my HINTO. I get a lot of digital noise. I am currently blaming my low RAM. Once I max out my iMac’s slots, I am hoping it will fix the problem, as I don’t have the same issue streaming from my phone.

    Just consider your memory capacity, as it is a possible cheap fix.
     
  25. gregr

    gregr Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA
    Yeah, I use my Airport Express for sampling new music on iTunes only. It's just too hashy for critical listening, and that's from a 2013 MacBook Pro with 16 gb of RAM.

    Are you running the latest versions of MacOS and iTunes? Airplay has been upgraded to Airplay 2...I wonder if that could make a difference? Maybe the reason your phone sounds better is that it was using a different streaming protocol. I'm just trying it now....
     

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