It is currently Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:53 pm


Mac mini?

Buying or building computers for Hauptwerk, recommendations, troubleshooting computer hardware issues.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

srw647

Member

  • Posts: 58
  • Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 10:05 am

Mac mini?

PostSat Jun 06, 2020 5:13 pm

What's the current thinking on small format macs? I'm a windows user through and through, at home and at work - but I'm getting to the point where I don't want to spend anxious hours tweaking and fiddling to avoid glitches, especially on a machine that I also want to use as a general music player. Separately I'm looking at a new console, but that's a different discussion.

Looking back at my history on the forum I see that I was asking about Windows PCs about 10 years ago. Eventually I bought a custom desktop to use with my console, but it recently suffered terminal BSOD and demanded a rebuild. Fortunately all the MP3s I spent hours ripping survived, but the HW installation was lost. I've since installed v5 on this laptop, and have started playing much more during lockdown that I have at home for years - a high-pressure job and a long commute aren't good for practice time. But an 8GB i5 laptop doesn't quite cut the mustard, even with a relatively modest sample set like the beautiful (and not just because it's not free) Giubiasco.

Incidentally, I am hugely impressed by v5. I'm running it through a basic presonus USB external sound card, the amplifier I was given as a post-A-level present some *mumble* 30+ years ago and a pair of floor-standing speakers from Richer Sounds. Whereas previous versions have always got tiring to listen to quite quickly, this one hasn't. I can spend a couple of hours playing without noticing that I'm playing electronically - testament to the hard work in the development.
Offline
User avatar

jerrymartin

Member

  • Posts: 52
  • Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 2:01 pm
  • Location: Portsmouth, OH

Re: Mac mini?

PostSat Jun 06, 2020 6:27 pm

I am sure others will chime in, but I will share my (very positive) experience.

I initially started my Hauptwerk journey down the PC path, but have certainly found the Mac transition to be one which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I have used a Mac Mini now with Hauptwerk for almost 6 years, and it's honestly as "turnkey" as it gets.

I most recently upgraded to the 2018 Mac Mini, and maxed the specs
(3.2GHz Core i7; 64GB RAM; 2TB SSD)

My audio interface is Motu UltraLite mk3, which connects via a USB-C to Firewire adapter to the mini.

*fantastic* machine - super fast, quick load-times, lots of RAM to play around in 24-bits and multiple audio channels. Zero audio glitches!

As an added bonus - I keep an external hard drive connected, and use that as a "Time Machine" backup of the system. I have done this since transitioning to MacOS many years ago. It has been a life-line with the ability to restore my entire system within a couple of hours in the event of a software-update failure, or even less-likely hard drive failure. I also used it when I upgraded from my first to my current Mac Mini - it allowed me to skip having to re-install everything. It really is a superior backup system in my opinion.

So - my two cents - I have used both platforms, and definitely have been happier with Mac.
Jeremiah Martin,
Portsmouth, Ohio
Offline
User avatar

engrssc

Member

  • Posts: 6735
  • Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:12 pm
  • Location: Roscoe, IL, USA

Re: Mac mini?

PostSat Jun 06, 2020 6:37 pm

Do you leave the Mini running 24/7? My biggest - problem the power switch esp when the Mini would be buried inside a headless console.

Rgds,
Ed
Offline
User avatar

jerrymartin

Member

  • Posts: 52
  • Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 2:01 pm
  • Location: Portsmouth, OH

Re: Mac mini?

PostSat Jun 06, 2020 10:39 pm

Good point Ed.
Yes - I leave mine running 24/7 - macs seem pretty happy to do that, especially with no moving parts (except the fan when the CPU spools up).
I also have mine sitting on a rack that's easily accessible - but I recall reading about this being a problem for the mini - no easy way to trigger power in a headless setup!
Jeremiah Martin,
Portsmouth, Ohio
Offline
User avatar

mdyde

Moderator

  • Posts: 12357
  • Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2003 2:19 pm
  • Location: UK

Re: Mac mini?

PostSun Jun 07, 2020 4:45 am

Hello srw647,

To add to others' replies, although I don't have first-hand experience with one, I'd expect the current (2018-model) Mac to be an excellent system for running Hauptwerk, if you want a system that reliably performs well for real-time audio/MIDI 'out of the box'.

My advice would definitely be to go for the top-spec. model (with the maximum custom options, i.e. 3.2 GHz 6-core i7, 64 GB RAM, at least 1 TB drive -- 2 TB better if you want to install a reasonable number of sample sets). A 3.2. GHz 6-core CPU might not have enough processing power for the very largest surround cathedral sample sets on full organ, but I'd expect it to manage the vast majority of sample sets.

srw647 wrote:Incidentally, I am hugely impressed by v5. I'm running it through a basic presonus USB external sound card, the amplifier I was given as a post-A-level present some *mumble* 30+ years ago and a pair of floor-standing speakers from Richer Sounds. Whereas previous versions have always got tiring to listen to quite quickly, this one hasn't. I can spend a couple of hours playing without noticing that I'm playing electronically - testament to the hard work in the development.


Excellent -- glad you're enjoying it. Thanks!
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
Offline
User avatar

engrssc

Member

  • Posts: 6735
  • Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:12 pm
  • Location: Roscoe, IL, USA

Re: Mac mini?

PostSun Jun 07, 2020 6:06 am

jerrymartin wrote:I also have mine sitting on a rack that's easily accessible - but I recall reading about this being a problem for the mini - no easy way to trigger power in a headless setup!


I did a work-around on one installation using a small solinoid along with a "one-shot" circuit. One pulse - on, with the next pulse off. It works, but you don't have positive on/off control. As well, with the latest model, the power switch (push botton) is located on the back side right next the mains power inlet. There is a Sonnet Mac Mini Rackmount Enclosure (2018) for dual Mini's thst can be used which has a mechanical lever arrangement to operate the power switch. (In keeping with all the tracker organ enthusiasts) :roll:

https://www.sonnettech.com/product/rackmacmini.html

Rgds,
Ed



Rgds,
Ed
Offline
User avatar

jerrymartin

Member

  • Posts: 52
  • Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 2:01 pm
  • Location: Portsmouth, OH

Re: Mac mini?

PostSun Jun 07, 2020 4:32 pm

engrssc wrote: Sonnet Mac Mini Rackmount Enclosure (2018) for dual Mini's thst can be used which has a mechanical lever arrangement to operate the power switch. (In keeping with all the tracker organ enthusiasts) :roll:


That just made my day. Not something for which I am in the market - but what a solution - and the tracker-reference :wink:
Jeremiah Martin,
Portsmouth, Ohio
Offline
User avatar

Grant_Youngman

Member

  • Posts: 1171
  • Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:50 pm
  • Location: Savannah, Ga

Re: Mac mini?

PostSun Jun 07, 2020 6:37 pm

Since the WiFi and BT antennas are in the bottom of the mini case, just inside the pop-off plastic base, I'd be a little concerned about the metal pan in the rack and other rack components interfering. But maybe that's not an issue …

It would be good also, if they brought one Thunderbolt connector to the front panel of the rack, also.

Still, nifty. A half-rack version could easily be mounted in a console name board to provide access and power switching.
Grant
Offline
User avatar

engrssc

Member

  • Posts: 6735
  • Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:12 pm
  • Location: Roscoe, IL, USA

Re: Mac mini?

PostSun Jun 07, 2020 8:19 pm

Grant_Youngman wrote:Since the WiFi and BT antennas are in the bottom of the mini case, just inside the pop-off plastic base, I'd be a little concerned about the metal pan in the rack and other rack components interfering. But maybe that's not an issue.


Just a guess, thinking that most (commercial) users of a dual mount like that would possibly be using the Mini's in something like a server config and wouldn't be too concerned about WiFi or BT. Could be wrong about that?

Another nicety about Mini's is that generally they run cool. Don't know if they are game to be overclocked. :roll:
And if you are ok with stereo audio Mini's sound quite good right out of the box without an external audio card.

Grant_Youngman wrote:Still, nifty. A half-rack version could easily be mounted in a console name board to provide access and power switching.


I'll bring that up at the next board meeting, Grant. 8)

Rgds,
Ed
Offline

srw647

Member

  • Posts: 58
  • Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 10:05 am

Re: Mac mini?

PostMon Jun 15, 2020 8:38 am

Thanks all. I have taken a sharp intake of breath, looked the other way and hit the button to order one, with the full upgrades. Next step is to make progress with a new console. Then decide which German baroque 3-manual sample set to start with and think about upgrading to a 4-channel surround sound system.

Oh, and when we go back to working in an office find a way to keep hold of some of the extra time I've gained without my usual 3 hours+ commuting each day!
Offline

srw647

Member

  • Posts: 58
  • Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 10:05 am

Re: Mac mini?

PostTue Jun 23, 2020 4:58 pm

It's all set up now, and working well. It was truly plug-and-play, once I'd worked out that the reason I wasn't hearing any sound through my headphones was that there was a headphones volume knob on the audio interface!

It's blisteringly fast, and has very impressive performance. My usual test is to pull out all the stops and play the first few bars of the Widor Toccata. So far on all the (free) sample sets - even some of the bigger ones - I've tried it's not batted an eyelid. I've got to something like 6ms latency and 5000 pipes polyphony, and it's barely breaking into a sweat.

My next step is to find a bigger, paid-for sample set to play with.

There are some quirks I've not got to grips with yet. The absence of a C:\ on the file browser for one. Once I'd removed "documents" from the online backup directory the only place I could find to stick all my MP3s was on the desktop. I'm sure that's not entirely the best place for them.
Offline
User avatar

Grant_Youngman

Member

  • Posts: 1171
  • Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:50 pm
  • Location: Savannah, Ga

Re: Mac mini?

PostTue Jun 23, 2020 9:48 pm

srw647 wrote:There are some quirks I've not got to grips with yet. The absence of a C:\ on the file browser for one. Once I'd removed "documents" from the online backup directory the only place I could find to stick all my MP3s was on the desktop. I'm sure that's not entirely the best place for them.


I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Finder is your file browser. Your hard drive (usually named Macintosh HD by default, should show as an icon on your desktop, but you rarely need to access it directly.

If you open Finder, you'll see a folder in the sidebar named Documents. Put a subdirectory there, and stick your audio files in it. If you don't see a sidebar, open Finder -> Preferences and you can turn it on, and will have a variety of options for what you'll see there. There are other places you could put these files, of course, such as a new subdirectory under Music. You certainly don't want to clog your desktop with a bazillion file icons — you'll never be able to find anything :-)
Last edited by Grant_Youngman on Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Grant
Offline
User avatar

jerrymartin

Member

  • Posts: 52
  • Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 2:01 pm
  • Location: Portsmouth, OH

Re: Mac mini?

PostTue Jun 23, 2020 9:50 pm

srw647 wrote:It's all set up now, and working well. ... The absence of a C:\ on the file browser for one. Once I'd removed "documents" from the online backup directory the only place I could find to stick all my MP3s was on the desktop. I'm sure that's not entirely the best place for them.


Congratulations on the purchase! I am thrilled to hear it working out so well for you - you will get a long time and many hours of happy use out of this.

Regarding the file system: first time you move from Windows it can seem a little strange. However although you won't find "C:\" the equivalent is "Macintosh HD" - you can navigate back to the documents folder, all of which should sit inside your "username" folder for convenience.

Apple has some neat, simple, guides for Switchers here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204216

Also, since Apple likes to hide "advanced" features to keep computer newcomers from messing up the root directory, the "Macintosh HD" root is often not easily visible: this post lists how to put useful icons back in their place https://themacbeginner.com/show-macintosh-hd-finder-desktop/

Have fun!!
Jeremiah Martin,
Portsmouth, Ohio
Offline

srw647

Member

  • Posts: 58
  • Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 10:05 am

Re: Mac mini?

PostWed Jun 24, 2020 4:53 pm

Also, since Apple likes to hide "advanced" features to keep computer newcomers from messing up the root directory, the "Macintosh HD" root is often not easily visible: this post lists how to put useful icons back in their place https://themacbeginner.com/show-macinto ... r-desktop/


Thanks - that was the key. I found a lot of references to "Macintosh HD", but couldn't actually find it...

Return to Computer hardware / specs

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests