Loading... Please wait...

Media Server Packages

  • Joule III Ultralow-Noise Power Supply Angle View
  • Joule III Ultralow-Noise Power Supply Inside View
  • Internal Filter Module Options
  • Joule III Ultralow-Noise Power Supply Front View
  • Joule III Ultralow-Noise Power Supply Rear View
  • Mac Mini with Hardwired DC Power Cable
  • Mac Mini with 5.5mm Barrel Jack and Removable 5.5 mm Cable
  • Dual Y 5.5mm DC Power Cable
  • DC Power Cable Splitter with 5.5mm Barrel Plug
  • DC Power Cable Splitter Plugged into PSU
  • Mac Mini and Joule III Ultralow-Noise Power Supply
  • Atomic Audio Labs Mac Mini Platform
RRP:
$2,199.95
Your Price:
$1,999.95 (You save $200.00)


Description


New Year's Special: $200 off any Joule III power supply!


Even our most basic entry level media server package will significantly out perform any age or model Mac Mini with 16GB of RAM, an internal SSD, and the most sophisticated OS X optimizations and player software.


Our media server packages come with your choice of any current model of Mac Mini.

Since Apple engineered the RAM and HDD in the Mac Mini to be easily accessible by the end user, we offer our entry level media server package with the stock 4GB of RAM and stock 1TB HDD, allowing our customers to use RAM and SSD drives they already own, or allowing additional upgrades to be done over time.


We based our media servers on the Apple Mac Mini because of their superior engineering:

  • Compact machined aluminum chassis for optimal shielding, heat dissipation, and resonance control.
  • Ultra-quiet fan integrated with soft internal vibration mounts and heat pipe technology for silent operation.
  • Universally compatible Apple computers can work with any operating system, player software, or media format.


Basic upgrades done to our Mac Mini-based media server:

  • We remove and bypass the Mac Mini’s internal switching mode power supply (SMPS).
  • The internal SMPS is replaced with our Joule ultralow-noise linear external power supply.
  • Our Internal Filter Module is installed in the space that remains when the SMPS is removed.
  • Your choice of a removable or hardwired DC power cable connecting the power supply to the Mac Mini.
  • The OS X operating system is optimized to improve audio and video performance.

We assume the full Apple hardware warranty on any Mac Mini we upgrade.


Optional upgrades and peripheral devices that can be added:

  • RAM can be increased to a maximum of 16GB.
  • The internal HDD can be upgraded to an AV or SSD drive.
  • A high-performance external library storage drive or RAID can be added.
  • Additional devices, such as drives, converters, or DACs can be powered by the Joule III power supply.
  • Resonance control devices can be added under the Mac Mini, power supply, drives, and converters.


Software options:

We can install any operating system or player software you want. We’ll even partition your start-up drive for multiple operating systems and install more than one player software.

Some recommend Apple OS X, some recommend Windows, and some recommend Linux. We recommend all three. Any operating system can sound amazing when it’s properly optimized for audio and video playback.

Different operating systems and different players have different features, plug-ins, and device drivers that are optimized to interface with different converters, peripherals, and DACs.

There is no one right answer that will satisfy every person’s needs.


OS X Optimizations:

Our free OS X optimizations will improve the audio and video performance of any Apple computer.

In our free OS X optimization guide we show you how to turn on and off unnecessary automated programs that interrupt smooth data flow and consume system resources as well as turn on and off noisy unused wireless control interfaces, such as the infrared, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

If you are interested in learning more about computer-based audio, OS X optimizations, or how a power supply upgrade can significantly improve the performance of any component, read our Audiofiles blog.

Specs


Joule III Ultralow-noise Power Supply features:

  • Less than 15% of the noise of a LiO4 battery
  • Factory adjustable from 3.3VDC to 30VDC
  • Up to 7.5 amps continuous power with up to 10 amp peaks
  • Over 70% of the heat is dissipated through the face plate
  • Automatic thermal overload, ground fault, and short-circuit protection
  • Sophisticated AC filtering that does not require special power conditioners or cables
  • Cascaded spread spectrum inductive and capacitive filtering for expanded bandwidth
  • Factory set to any international voltage from 100VAC to 250VAC

Internal Filter Module features:

  • LCLCLCLCCCCC spread spectrum quadruple Pi filtering for expanded bandwidth
  • Engineered to remove -70db of FM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cellular RFI noise
  • Removes EMI, digital, regulator, and clocking noise up to and above 3GHz
  • High-performance hardwired or convenient removable 5.5mm DC power cable
  • Fully shielded inductive filters that are rated for 10A continuous power
  • Anti-resonant thermally transparent internal mounting system (no covering)
  • No unnecessary dielectric covering to add noise and hold heat (shrink tubing)

We use only the highest-quality parts:

  • Organic polymer capacitors with ERS as low as 7mOhms
  • High-frequency RF rated capacitors to filter beyond 3GHz
  • Vishay 5ppm 1% resistors and 15ppm film trim pots
  • IXYS ultrafast soft recovery Hexfred diode bridge
  • Heavy gauge .090" thick all-aluminum chassis
  • Furutech rhodium-plated IEC AC power inlet
  • Neutrik silver-plated XLR DC power outlet
  • All non-magnetic stainless steel hardware
  • Durable high-temp powder coating inside and out
  • Sorbothane or adjustable spiked anti-resonant feet

Options

AC Voltage Options:

Choose the correct AC mains voltage range for your country.

All voltages work with both 50Hz and 60Hz AC power.


Mac Mini Options:

Apple offers different versions of the Mac Mini with higher-performance CPUs. Choose your CPU type and speed.

Please note that RAM and hard drives can be upgraded at any time, but CPUs can’t be upgraded.

The quad-core CPU options are highly recommended for high resolution audio and video or for use with DSP software. 


DC Input Option:

Choose between a High-Performance Hardwired or a Removable 5.5mm Barrel Jack DC power cable (see photos).

Our High-Performance Hardwired DC cable option is permanently attached to the rear of the Mac Mini at one end with a 4-pin XLR plug that is removable from the power supply on the other.

Our Removable 5.5mm Barrel Jack DC cable option has a 5.5mm barrel jack installed in the rear of the Mac Mini. The DC power cable has a 5.5mm plug that is removable from the rear of the Mac Mini on one end and a 4-pin XLR plug that is removable from the power supply on the other.

The hardwired option has slightly higher performance than the removable 5.5mm option and is significantly more popular.


DC Power Cable Options:

Choose the length of the DC power cable that goes between the Mac Mini and the external power supply.

  • .5 meter long allows the Mac Mini to sit on the same shelf right next to the power supply.
  • 1 meter long allows the Mac Mini to sit on the same shelf as or on the next shelf away from the power supply.
  • 1.5 meter long allows the Mac Mini and power supply to be more than one shelve away from each other.

Our most popular DC power cable option is the 1 meter.


2nd DC Power Cable Options:

Our optional hardwired 2nd DC Power Cable will allow powering another 12VDC device, such as an external media library drive, USB converter, or DAC in addition to the Mac Mini.

Since the second device will normally sit either closer or farther from the power supply than the Mac Mini, we offer them in .25M increments to allow our customers to better organize the cabling in their system. We strongly recommend making the second DC power cable .25M longer or shorter than the primary DC power cable that attaches to the Mac Mini.

The most popular DC plug options for external drives and devices are the 5.5mm barrel x 2.5mm pin or the 5.5mm barrel x 2.1mm pin barrel DC power plugs. The most popular DC plug wiring is with the pin positive and the barrel ground.

Not sure what plug size/type your second device needs?

If you are unable to learn the voltage, size, type, and wiring of the plug you need simply send the stock PSU from your device to Mojo Audio and we will gladly determine all of its specifications for you free of charge.

If your device uses a plug other than the two barrel plugs we offer choose the Custom option and contact us with information on the specific plug and wiring you require.


Upgrade Drive Option:

As part of any power supply upgrade done by Mojo Audio, we provide the labor to upgrade drives at no additional cost.

AV drives were engineered for smooth uninterrupted media data transfer. Unlike a standard magnetic spinning HDD that frequently pauses data transfer for self-calibration, AV drives never pause or interrupt the flow of data. This results in better media timing and smoother media flow. Performance on an AV drive is nearly as good as an SSD for a fraction of the cost. We consider AV drives to be the best value for external media library drives.

SSD drives have no moving parts or magnets resulting in considerably lower noise and a much higher data transfer rate than any spinning magnetic HDD. The lower electrical and mechanical noise of an SSD improves resolution and the higher data transfer rate provides smoother performance. We strongly recommend replacing the internal start-up drive in any media server with an SSD. If your budget allows, we recommend using SSD drives in external media library drive enclosures.

Since optimal performance in media servers requires that all three types of data (software commands, media data in, and media data out) use different data busses, we recommend using an external drive for your media library and an internal SSD for your operating system and player software.

Important: for optimal performance use different data paths coming in from your media library drive and going out to your DAC. For example, if you are using USB out to your DAC, then use Firewire, Thunderbolt, or Ethernet in from your library.

Our most cost effective recommendation would be to use a small capacity internal SSD for the operating system and player software and to use the stock Apple HHD that was removed in a high-performance external drive enclosure.

Mojo Audio is now offering Oyen Digital and OWC high-performance single drive and RAID enclosures starting at only $99.95. For even higher performance, these enclosure can be powered directly from our Joule power supply with our 2nd DC power cable.


Upgrade RAM Option:

As part of any power supply upgrade done by Mojo Audio, we provide the labor to upgrade RAM at no additional cost.

Newer Mac Minis come standard with 4GB of RAM and are capable of using up to 16GB of RAM.

Older Mac Minis come standard with 2GB of RAM and are capable of using up to 8GB of RAM.

Despite the specifications from Apple that state earlier model Mac Minis are only capable of recognizing 8GB of RAM, we've found that all i7 and some i5 processors will recognize 16GB of RAM.

Upgrading RAM to a minimum of 8GB is highly recommended in all situations for smoother media transfer.

If you play high resolution media files or use DSP software 16GB of RAM is highly recommended.


Anti-Resonance Option:

Mojo Audio is now offering the Atomic Audio Labs Platforms. Unlike most anti-resonant products that merely decouple, the Atomic Audio Labs Platform is tuned to the exact resonance frequency of the Mac Mini so that it cancels out internal resonances in addition to decoupling.

We highly recommend using anti-resonant devices under the Mac Mini, power supply, and external library drive.

Reviews

Excerpts from the review of our Mac Mini upgrades by Karl Sigman:

“Even people who are obsessed with vinyl might easily believe that they were listening to just that; but all was digital.”

“...compared to my regular Mac Mini...the sound was even deeper, richer, fuller, and more resolving with amazing clarity and transparency, and so clean, with impeccable quiets and timbral accuracy.”

“The Mojo Audio Mac Mini upgrade kit...gets my highest recommendation.”

We are proud to be awarded Audiophilia’s Star Component status!

Go to "Audiophilia" to read the full review.

Excerpt from the review of our Mac Mini upgrades by Scott Hull:

“...with the Mojo [Mac Mini Media Server], the sound feels more organic. Resonance and harmonics all seem more realized. ...The Mojo Audio Mac Mini Server is the best computer source that I’ve heard in my system to date.” 

Go to "Confessions of a Part-Time Audiophile" to read the full review.


Customer Reviews


Well after several days of needed burn in this thing sounds amazing. The music is so real and I get lost in the enveloping beautiful music. Open and detailed in a way that brings you into the music. 

Most  impressed.  

Crazy imaging a stage presence now. 

Nice job on this power supply Ben!

 – Bill Dion


This is my first post at CA [Computer Audiophile Forum]. I found this sight while researching Mac mini music servers. I am fairly computer illiterate but have done a lot of research in the past three months and settled on the Mojo Audio Joule II and ordered mine the day the newest Mac Mini became available. It arrived last Friday and I have been very pleased. It was $2300 shipped with the newest Mac mini and I believe 10 or 16GB RAM, all 3 second option filter upgrades, SSD drive, Audirvana and hard wired together. 

The key is it sounds wonderful, looks professional and solid and works flawless. It sounds far better than my Macbook Air and as good as anything I've heard. To me it was clearly worth the money and I am very very happy and no headaches trying a DIY thing myself. I'm glad I ordered one and I think I have gotten a great deal. It cost me half of the Naim system I was thinking about and to me it sounds equally good or better.

 – Jim, California (posted on Computer Audiophile Forum)


My first post at CA [Computer Audiophile Forum] also. And I can only echo everything Jim said above. I first heard of Mojo Audio at RMAF, and liked what I heard, and liked what I heard talking to Benjamin as well. Very honest, forthright person, no BS sales pitch. 

I received a Mojo Mac mini and power supply a few days ago, and compared it side by side to a dell laptop, a stock mac mini, and to a Core Audio kryptos music server.

The difference was quite obvious. It was hard to tell the difference between the dell, the stock mini and the Core audio server, unless playing them side-by-side. The Mojo server is obviously in another league. Right out of the box. More solid build quality, and totally plug-and-play. Much more detail, as my wife kept pointing out, you can hear more individual instruments in a large group, and hear individual voices and parts in massed choral work. Hear the distinct timbre of woodwinds, strings, brass. e.g. Hearing a clarinet then an oboe in Joni Mitchell’s Down to You, the complementary harmonizing of the two jump out at you, rather than being "homogenized." Very happy with this one!

 – Robert Taylor (posted on Computer Audiophile Forum)


The package arrived this afternoon and we are listening since half an hour. The power supply is used without dc filter by now and powered by your new [Enigma power] cable.

We can say that it clearly destroys Kingrex SLA battery.....sound quality is simply on another planet, it has been like comparing apples and oranges...BRAVO!!! GREAT JOB!!! Seems like [it is] sounding better minute after minute…

– Fillippo, Italy


Ben, 

Your [Mac Mini] power supply [upgrade kit] sounds incredible.  More detail- more body- less fatiguing.

This is a necessary component for computer-based music.  This is the first time I have surpassed an all in one CDP using computer audio.

I am very thankful.

Warm regards,

– Steven Rubin,  Israel


Hi. First I want to thank you for your help. Second the installation [of your Mac Mini power supply upgrade kit] was easy with the information you sent me. After the installation I listen several files the change was incredible in all aspects. My best upgrade I've done to my system. Thanks,Thanks,Thanks. I would like to express more details but do not speak much English.

– Jose, Puerto Rico


I started my Mojo journey with the Mojo Lucent ICs which were simply the best I had heard at the time as compared to anything that wasn’t out-of-this-world costly. Then the Mojo music server blasted away a lot of paradigms that I held for the 25 years I have been participating in the world of the high end.   I first tried the Mojo Mac Mini with the basic power supply and found it to be superior to any transport I had used (primarily Naim and Cambridge audio),  then at Benjamin’s suggestion I tried the upgraded power supply and was blown away at the difference.  How did a better power supply for the little Mac Mini make such a big musical difference?  I still don’t know, but it does.  It improves all areas of musical reproduction, most noticeably the detail and dynamics.  I was using a Chris Johnson modified Benchmark DAC (with the Burson discret output stages) with the music server and was loving it.  The modified Benchmark is an analog sounding music maker – way better than the stock Benchmark.  In fact, the modified Benchmark literally made the stock DAC unlistenable and this is no exaggeration.  And the stock DAC is considered a reference by a number of reviewers! I don’t see how anyone can go wrong when Mojo Audio give you 45-days to audition their products.

– Owen S.


I just received the Joule II power supply. Gorgeous sound!! More detailed, instruments much more separated, wider soundstage. Really High fidelity. Thank you.

I just took the time to compare with and without the Joule II power supply - like night and day!!

Much, much more natural, spacey, detailed but warm.  And thanks for your advice about audirvana, more natural than amarra ;-) 

– Vincent S.


Just to say I got the Joule PSU today !! I heard my Mini with the PSU for about 1h, and the sound imaging is really much deeper and larger than before. Dynamics is also better (bass impact, drumming…). Many thanks to you and greetings from France ;o)

– Jean-Francois, France


At first listen I notice the individual notes are cleaner sounding and the background percussion instruments are more prominent. I think I am very close to the point of diminishing returns. I am going to wait awhile to really listen to the Joule II. It wasn't as big an improvement as the computer and modded PS. I have paid a lot of attention to detail in this system, power, vibration control, acoustics treatments act. This system sounds just fantastic. I haven't walked out of any local stereo stores lately and thought I wish. Just the opposite. Your power supplies and the mac server are far and away the biggest improvement that I have made. I feel very lucky that I found you and Mojo Audio. I wish that more audiophiles could find you, but then sometimes I'm selfish and think that I am enjoying a forbidden pleasure.

I have no doubt the it will get better. Each time before I heard an improvement when I listened after 8-10 hours them a bigger improvement  after 24 and it just kept getting better for quite a while. I could hear an improvement in the first song that I played. Your'e right it's the separation of more instruments and instead of first hearing the bongos now it's the tonal characteristics of the bongo's. I am finding it harder and harder to play music and not just sit down and listen. There are times when I hear things and just chuckle because I have not heard it on some very good systems.

– Ed    


It's a kind of Magic! Thanx.

– Vincent le Bienheureux (eBay feedback)


Mojo Audio's latest music server with the new Joule III power supply surpasses not only the earlier versions, but it also surpasses all of my previous attempts during the last 30 years to find a front end that allows me to simply enjoy and feel the music, rather than constantly have to think and become annoyed by the sound.

For the last three decades I have tried all kinds of power line AC conditioners and rather extreme battery supplies, and only to become disappointed when the novelty of the initial difference wore off. Each product managed to change the sound in one way or another, but it was typically a "side-grade" rather than an up-grade.

I then came to know MojoAudio through their power cables and interconnects, which were wonderfully neutral. I wish I had understood the obvious but elusive concept and philosophy of pursuing the ideal neutral much sooner, as it really increases pleasure and saves money by minimizing the continuos pitfalls and vicious cycle of of always having to look for a new component that will somehow cover-up for a weakness or exaggeration somewhere else in the system.

The sooner you - as an audiophile - experience the soundness (couldn't resist) of the neutrality and musicality of MojoAudio products, the more you will be free to enjoy your music right away, and save money in the future by minimizing the constant craving for the the "up-grade" fix.

As a side note, since I still have the floor/page. I sometimes amuse myself by inviting analytical left brain engineers to enjoy the MojoAudio products. Typically, they become somewhat annoyed or bewildered when I demonstrate the real musical enhancements accomplished by the MojoAudio product line.

Call me mean or call me an audiophile!

Maybe it's the cognitive dissonance of hearing something that can not be immediately explained by the textbooks of their hard earned degrees. Fortunately, my degrees are in different fields, and I have no problems whatsoever to enjoy any present or future musical upgrades that MojoAudio hopefully will enrich my life with.

Thank you, MojoAudio!

 – JP, Los Angeles, CA


I had made my PSU and IPF done in my quad-core 2012 Mac Mini. It does a good job and stage more wider and clarity improved significantly.

 – Albert Chen, China

FAQ'S


For more information on computer-based audio refer to our Audiofiles blog.


What Is the Mojo Audio Difference?

We’re originals—not copycats...

Over 30 years experience modifying and upgrading computer power supplies for professional applications. We were the first to engineer internal filter modules and hardwired DC power cables for 2010 and newer Mac Minis.

The coolest designs...

With 70% of the heat dissipating through the faceplate, our Joule III power supply not only extends its own life, but also draws out heat from inside the system rack, extending the life of your other components.

Less is more...

We are the manufacturer - there are no middle men doubling the price every time the product changes hands. We also don't dumb down our best designs to offer varying levels of performance at varying price points.

You can’t go wrong...

We have 45-day no-risk audition. Return any Mac Mini you buy from us for a full refund, or return any Mac Mini that we’ve upgraded and we’ll reverse the upgrade free of charge. No restocking fees and no exceptions.


How does a low-noise power supply improve computer performance?

All computer communication works on a system of checks and error correction. If a packet of data doesn’t pass the check, a new packet of data is sent to replace the original. A computer that has lower power supply noise makes fewer bit read errors, so the computer has fewer errors to correct. When a low-noise power supply is used with media data, the resulting sound and motion are more liquid and more articulate. 


Don’t batteries have the purest DC power?

There is a common misconception that batteries have the purest DC power. Though better than the inexpensive wall wart type switch-mode power supplies (SMPS) that come with many audio, video, and computer products, battery performance can’t compare to the performance of an ultralow-noise linear power supply.

Batteries use a chemical reaction to generate DC power, and each chemical reaction from each type of battery has its own audible noise signature. This is why a specific type of battery, such as LiO4, sounds better than another type, such as SLA. The noise level of a battery also changes significantly during different phases of the discharge and recharge cycle, making batteries an inconsistent-sounding power source as well. 

Ask yourself this question: if battery power has the lowest noise, then why do the military, aerospace, and telecommunications industries only use them for portable devices? 


Aren’t RAM-buffered music players bit perfect? 

There’s a common misconception that if music player software buffers the data to RAM, the output is bit perfect. Yes, the data buffered in the RAM is bit perfect, but RAM is not the final link in the chain. Bit read errors still occur between the RAM and the output buffer, and between the output buffer and the digital to analog converter (DAC).

Unlike most computer communication, the music data that leaves a computer through USB, Firewire, and optical ports is most often not rebuffered or error corrected at the DAC. 


How difficult is it to upgrade the power supply in a Mac Mini?

For 2009 and older Mac Minis the upgrade is plug-and-play requiring no tools of any kind.

For 2010 and newer Mac Minis, if you have the tools and skills to change the hard drive, you also have the tools and skills to install one of our plug-and-play power supply upgrade kits.

Our Internal Filter Module (IFM) with a 5.5mm jack and our removable DC power cable with a 5.5mm plug are designed for ease of installation and convenience (see photos).

We also make a high-performance hardwired soldered IFM and DC cable for people who have more technical expertise. Our hardwired soldered power supply upgrade kit requires some basic electronics skills, a volt/ohm meter, and soldering gun to install. Over 99% of the upgrade kits we sell are of the hardwired and soldered variety (see photos).


What is the best way to set up a Mac Mini media server?

The more upgrades you make, the higher performance your media server will have:

  • Replace the stock SMPS with a linear power supply or battery.
  • Upgrade the RAM to a minimum of 8GB, and use16GB if possible.
  • Use an internal solid state drive (SSD) for your OS and player software.
  • Use an external drive with a dedicated power supply for your media library.
  • Use a different data buss coming in from the drive and going out to the DAC.
  • Use a powerless data cable between your external library drive and your Mac Mini.
  • Turn off unused wireless control interfaces and control “headless” using a mobile device.
  • Interface your headless device through the Ethernet port using a Wi-Fi enabled NAS or LAN.
  • Use anti-resonant decoupling products under your Mac Mini, power supply, converters, and drives.
  • Optimize your operating system to improve audio and video performance.
Data busses, such as USB and Firewire, are bi-directional. That means when data is going both in and out of the same data buss at the same time, the data controller has to act like a traffic cop, constantly stopping and starting data going in each direction. This causes the sound and motion to become awkward and less liquid.

Spreading the three types of data (software commands, media data coming in from drives, and media data going out to DAC) over three different data busses improves performance more than having a faster processor, more RAM, and faster drives. For example, if you are using USB out to your DAC, then use Firewire, Thunderbolt, or Ethernet in from your library drive.


What are the highest-performance drive options?

SSD drives have the fastest speed, lowest noise, and lowest data corruption. This is because there are no motors or moving parts to cause electrical and mechanical noise like in a magnetic spinning drive (HDD).

If you have the budget, using SSDs for your external library storage drive is recommended.

AV drives have the next best-performance because the are engineered for continuous play and do not pause for read/write head self-calibration. An AV drive will give noticeably smoother and more liquid playback than a standard HDD and is almost as good as an SSD. They also come in 3.5" size with up to 4TB of storage.

We consider AV drives to be the best value as an external library drive.

Since the price of SSD storage has gone down and capacity has gone up, many people are using a single large SSD inside of their computer to hold everything: OS, player software, and media library. A large internal SSD is an elegant alternative with nearly as high performance as the best external library drives.

Keep in mind that it is not the drive alone but also the data buss, drive controller, case, cable, and anti-resonant devices that all make significant contributions to drive performance.


What about a local area network (LAN) or network attached storage (NAS)?

This is a common misconception that a LAN or NAS give media servers better performance. Actually the is no performance advantage connecting to a LAN or NAS, they are only for convenience.

One performance advantage comes from connecting the library drive through the Ethernet port. When streaming another performance advantage comes from connecting directly to your ISP modem through the Ethernet port.

Note: NAS, LAN, and Ethernet peripherals are not plug-and-play like USB, Firewire, and Thunderbolt, and they require a good bit of technical expertise to configure.


Are there any other advantages when using Wi-Fi enabled NAS or LAN?

The Wi-Fi from your LAN or NAS can be used to control your media server. This allows you to turn off all the noisy internal wireless control interfaces, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, and infrared, and to control your media server “headless” with a mobile device, such as an iPad. This can easily be accomplished by plugging your media server directly into any wireless server using an Ethernet cable and changing your Network Preferences.

For more information, read our Audiofiles blog.


What is the highest-performance type of plug-and-play external storage drive?

Thunderbolt and USB 3 drives have among the highest data transfer rates of any plug-and-play cable-powered external storage drives. The drawbacks are that the controllers and cables are complex and there are few if any choices in a powerless data cable.

In comparison, Firewire and USB 2 controllers and cables are far less complex and many audiophile Firewire and USB 2 cables are available without power. Powerless data cables significantly reduces bit read errors and are recommended.

Though technically slower, a high-quality Firewire drive that has a dedicated power supply and a powerless data cable is considered by many AV professionals to perform better in a media server than the technically faster Thunderbolt and USB 3 drives.


What about external Thunderbolt card cases?

If you require professional grade sound cards, video cards, or interface boards,Thunderbolt card cases are a good option. For most people, adding a Thunderbolt card case to a Mac Mini is a waste of money. Another consideration is that these cases have fans that produce significantly more mechanical noise.


What about fanless operation and IC chip shielding?

Unlike some companies that offer Mac Mini upgrades, we don't recommend heating internal parts of a Mac Mini with fanless operation using the chassis of the Mac Mini as a heat sink. We also don’t recommend covering hot IC chips with insulating shielding. Though these upgrades can yield subtle improvements in performance, they significantly reduce the life of the Mac Mini.


What about degradation caused by heat?

On our Joule III power supply, we position the rectifier diodes far from sensitive capacitors and heat sink them directly to the chassis faceplate. This topology conducts 70% of the heat through the face plate to minimize heat buildup both inside the power supply and in your system rack.

Our power supplies and Mac Mini upgrades are engineered to last for over a decade.


What is the best operating system and media player for a Mac Mini?

Some recommend Apple OS X, some recommend Windows, and some recommend Linux. We recommend all three. Any operating system can sound amazing when it’s properly optimized for audio and video playback.

The big concern should be the compatibility of the operating system with the player software, plug-ins, and devices that are being used. For example, some USB converters or DACs work with only one operating system. Some systems require specific software with DSP plug-ins for equalization, room correction, and digital cross-overs. And if you want to use a Blue-Ray drive, there is currently no Apple approved option in OS X.

There is no one right answer that will satisfy every person’s needs.


Which year and model Mac Mini has the best performance?

We recommend the new i7 quad-core Mac Minis for a combination of performance, compatibility, and reliability.

Some companies say that specific discontinued models of Mac Minis have higher performance. Many of these "magic Minis" that are cited as universally better are, in fact, quite system-dependent.

For high-res audio and video, the newest i7 quad-core Mac Minis with 16GB of RAM have a distinct advantage. Remember: a 24-bit 192KHz audio file has roughly six time the number of bits as a 16-bit 44.1KHz audio file. That means that it requires six times the CPU speed, six times the amount of RAM, and six times the storage drive space as a 16/44.1 file. Similarly, high-res video files also require several times more system resources.

Some characteristics of specific older versions of Mac Minis:

2010 and older Mac Minis with optical drives have a subtle degradation in performance due to a combination of electrical noise and mechanical resonance. Removable external optical drives are preferred.

All older Mac Minis with i7 processors can accept 16GB of RAM even though Apple specs state they only accept 8GB of RAM. 16GB of RAM will give smoother, more liquid playback.

The only advantage of Mac Minis made in 2009 or earlier is that they have an external “white brick” SMPS that can easily be upgraded with a plug-and-play replacement. There is no other advantage.