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trying to idiot-proof my MacMini music server setup

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by RShackleford, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

    Messages:
    257
    I just do it manually. The Mini is the only place I care about having my iTunes library anyhow. So I'll just periodically back it up to an external HDD (it's not like I add stuff to the library that often anyhow).
     

     

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  2. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    1,214
    You don't sync iPods to iTune Playlists to use in your cars? That's a big part of the whole reason for my setup (along with whole-house and dedicated 2-channel listening). With the new iFlash hard drive replacement boards hosting SD or SSD storage, you can put together a monster 200+GB iPod for under $150.

    On backup, I HIGHLY recommend picking up a Time Capsule (2 or 3TB) and configuring Time Machine for automatic operation. Works like a charm and your only manual backups are the ones you do occasionally to move Time Capsule snapshots to offsite storage.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
  3. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    1,214
    Just thought of something. You know how, during ripping, iTunes often prompts you to resolve which metadata to use (slightly different album names/versions). How do you visualize and input your selection to the MacMini when this occurs? If you have to drag your laptop (for video and keyboard) over to the MacMini just to rip a CD, that kinda defeats the purpose of a headless setup, no?
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
  4. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

    Messages:
    257
    Yeah, I do that too, also very occasionally. I don't add stuff to my iTunes library that often and it's not that important to me that it be in my car right away, unless it's some new album I truly love.

    Hadn't heard of iFlash. Yeah, my 32GB 3rd Gen iPod touch is running out of memory for sure. Doesn't look like iFlash works with it though.

    On backup, I have a theory (maybe I read it, but I think I made it up) that there are 3 sources of risk, in decreasing likelihood and greater impact:
    1. Hardware failure (your hard drive crashes).
    2. Theft (someone breaks in your house and steals your computer).
    3. Disaster (your house burns down).

    'So those all need to be addressed. Time Capsule only addresses the first (thief probably steals it too, and it doesn't survive fire); so I keep main backup HDD in locked closet. Fire doesn't help with that though; so super-critical stuff, like financial records, goes to Dropbox (in an encrpyted file, of course). Anyhow ...
     
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  5. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

    Messages:
    257
    I don't have Mini set up to just automatically import a CD when I stick it in. But I don't have to "drag" my laptop over; it sits next to my "command chair :)" from which I can view the Mini's video on my TV (or on the laptop). So it's all actually quite convenient. And like I said, I don't add albums often.
     
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  6. FONSguy

    FONSguy Super Member

    Messages:
    2,523
    Location:
    Sterling, VA
    For my set-up I'm just using another TV input (HDMI) from my mac mini. I'm using a vintage Apple remote that came with the Aluminum laptops about 10 years ago to control volume and work iTunes play lists.
     
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  7. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

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    I got some software that was supposed to allow me to control my Mini using my Apple TV 4K's remote, but it's kinda clunky. Are you saying this old remote you have just works with the Mini, without any extra apps ?
     
  8. FONSguy

    FONSguy Super Member

    Messages:
    2,523
    Location:
    Sterling, VA
  9. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

    Messages:
    257
    I have an old remote, the tiny silver one that came with my 2ndgen ATV, and it will change volume (up/down buttons) and skip to the next song (in whatever playlist I'm in) with the right button. But that's about it, the "menu" button does nothing either - so not that useful for general control of the Mini. Also, new ATV4K wants to react to it, and I can't figure out how to unpair.
     
  10. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    1,214
    I keep thinking of the "headless" system being packed away in some dark closet hung off a UPS and an Ethernet cable with everything else remoted (optical drive, ATV/AXP pulls, mouse/keyboard, Time Machine backup device, etc.). I see the embedded optical drive in the MacMini as a liability rather than an asset since it presents both access issues (if MM is in secure location) and interactivity problems during auto-ripping and iPod synching (not sure AT ALL the best way to deal with last).
     
  11. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    1,214
    Time Capsule, located in a secure area with UPS power backup and network access (hardwired, of course!), deals with items #1 and #3 for the "convenience data" held on the various Apple computers on my home net. Backups of truly critical data are pulled directly from the RAID'ed NAS and stored at a relative's house (I store his offsites at my house). The security guards on patrol with their Glocks in my gated community handle #2 for me.
     

     

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  12. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

    Messages:
    257
    No, it just sits with all my other A/V stuff; it's pretty tiny, as you know. I'm not sure what you mean by interactivity problems ? I know I decided to do iPod syncing completely manually; sometimes it seems like Apple's user-friendliness just makes things difficult - sometimes I think I'm not dumb enough for Apple products, or the opposite :) For example, I actually had more trouble trying to put the Airport Extreme into "bridge" mode to serve as an access point, that I would have had with the ASUS, despite the latter's far more complex interface. (I'm still glad I put the AE in the living room and the ASUS in the study though; the AE looks a lot better, and I haven't noticed better wifi speed in the study than in the living room).
     
  13. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    1,214
    I hear you on trying to get to the nuts and bolts behind Apple's cartoon UI; endlessly frustrating, luckily it's only needed occasionally.

    On iPod syncing, could you run me through exactly how you do it using the MacMini? Each of my iPods has its own unique designated Playlist in the master library I maintain on the PC server running iTunes. Whenever I rip a new-to-me CD, I assign the album to the various playlists as appropriate (no heavy metal for the wife, no emo for me!). Since I previously dragged and dropped those playlists from my master library onto the various iPod's music "library" inTunes, all I need to do is plug in the iPods and they automagically select their own playlist, bounce it against their current contents, and sync up (dropping albums no longer wanted and adding new ones for trying out). I never let the sync or really any process (except Time Machine) run automatically, as I want to control what happens (and doesn't) and when (or not). Sounds like you're the same way.
     
  14. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

    Messages:
    257
    Sounds like you have it more dialed-in than me, honestly. But FWIW here's some notes I made to myself. Like I said, I like to do it manually as much as reasonable, because evidently the Apple stuff thinks it's smarter than me and knows what's best for me ...

    Probably want to use "Manually manage" mode, sync'ing is weird and unpredictable. For example, if you use "Selected Albums, Playlists, etc", it doesn't always just add those, but ends up deleting everything else (maybe if it's a different library ?!?).

    1. Plug iPod into USB.

    2. Go to iTunes.

    3. Click iPod icon in upper-left (left end of toolbar).

    4. On sidebar, Settings, click Summary; in Options section, set "Convert Higher Bit Rate Songs to whatever" (currently 192kbps almost fits my library). In order to make everything fit, need to not include some stuff I wouldn't listen to in car, like classical (that's why can't "sync entire music library). Or get a 64GB iPod, or use 128kbps.

    5. Then click "Manually manage music and videos". So will never go to "Music" pane (under "Settings on sidebar).

    6. To add songs, select iTunes music library at left-hand end of toolbar (music symbol). Select songs want to copy, and drag them to iPod icon in toolbar - it will combine the songs into an icon with a count of the number of songs, wait for it to open iPod in the sidebar, and then deposit the icon there.

    7. To delete songs, select iPod in toolbar, and then "On My Device->Music". Select songs you want to delete, and drag them to Trash (in OSX dock).

    8. Apparently it will automatically start adding the songs that there wasn't room for if it ran out of room adding songs earlier - because they are queued up to be added. You can't choose what songs to add back. But you CAN delete greyed-out songs from the iPod (the same as non-greyedout ones). So you just have to delete the greyed-out songs that you do not wish to have automatically get added to the iPod as space is freed up.

    9. Also, I wonder if it is possible to select 128kbps for some of the songs, in order to create more space ?

    10. If you know there's room for everything and want to start from scratch, click on Music (in sidebar) and select "Entire Music Library" and then click "Sync". It will take maybe 5-6 hours to complete, and will generate some warnings (mainly if it runs out of room, those songs will be greyed out). Possibly, maybe only need to select new things I've added to Library (by clicking "Selected Albums, Playlists, etc"). This may or may not delete everything else, IF the iTunes library has the same name.



     
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  15. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,214
    Looks like you're fighting capacity limitations. I suggest you blow those off ASAP, making everything a lot simpler and giving yourself the best audio quality possible out of iTunes. Here's how:

    Get yourself a 30/60/80GB 5th generation "iPod Classic" with dead disk/battery for next to nothing. Order up an iFlash adapter card for around $30, a 200GB microSD card for around $60, and a new battery for around $10. Using YouTube videos for instruction and to avoid common mistakes, open the iPod and pull the dead battery and hard drive for disposal. Install the microSD into its SD adapter and slide it into the iFlash card's socket. Connect the iFlash card to the iPod using the hard drive ribbon cable. Install the replacement battery reusing its ribbon cable. Remember to install shock absorption material under and on top of the iFlash card to protect the iPod's new internal hardware. Connect the modded iPod to iTunes using a standard 30-pin/USB cable. iTunes will detect the unit as a failed/blank iPod requiring a Restore operation. Do so. Unit will be initialized and then ready for syncing with your music library as you see fit.

    I rip all my CDs in ALAC format (Apple lossless) at full 44.1/16 resolution. You'll end up with a capacity of about 7,500 full resolution songs with this setup and the 200GB microSD card. Be advised the SD cards are much slower than accessing the iPod's original hard drive. But beyond a long initial load time (a matter of a few hours) menu operation and song playback is unaffected.
     
  16. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

    Messages:
    257
    You're right, and thanks for the detailed instructions. I might do that someday, but car audio is not a real high priority for me now. Naturally I rip my CDs lossless (AIFF) for home playback in what I think I can call an audiophile system, but I honestly believe one cannot tell the difference between lossless and MP3 in an automobile (though as you see I've tried to use the highest-rate MP3 that will fit, 192kbps). Maybe if I had a luxury car ...
     
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  17. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    Dunno, the Mark Levinson setup sounds pretty good in my ride. The one in my wife's car sounds even better, dammit! Also, when you can put almost everything you own onto an iPod, that means you can transport your collection wherever you go (car, buddy's killer system, hotel room TV, beach or pool party using Aux input on Bluetooth speaker, etc.). I keep a spare modded unit around for just that reason.
     
  18. Texun1

    Texun1 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    984
    Location:
    Texas
    I have 7300 songs on it and have used 160 gigs of 248 available. Don't go cheap on the card and speeds are good for downloading. I used a sandisk extreme/pro that is 95 meg/min read & write
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
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  19. elcoholic

    elcoholic Jet Fuel Genius Subscriber

    Messages:
    14,933
    Location:
    Fountain Valley, CA
    Just to clarify - the long initial load time applies to just the first sync, correct? The routine boot up time is within normal limits, yes? A 1/2 tB would give me about 20% spare capacity and hold my entire library. I'm think about the 2 SD or 4 mSD versions. Hard to imagine a 1 tB iPod classic for a fraction of a 1/2 tB FiiO X5. If the iPod will be a dog then I'd rather get an X5 when my HDD iPods croak.
     
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  20. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,214
    Suggest you check out the tech details on the iFlash site. There's a ton of great metrics there for various combinations of SDs and SSDs.

    But yes, the initial load AND all subsequent syncing is very slow when compared to an iPod with a hard drive. Boot up time is just fine as is playback and all other functions I've tried. The sweet spot appears to be a hefty SSD ($$$) and an oversized battery ($$) to handle the increased power draw compared to SD cards. As always, you pay for your pleasure.

    Since the iPods I maintain run almost exclusively in my car (and in those of my family), they are always "on the charger" so to speak (connected to the car's sound system digitally via 30-pin/USB charge/comm cable) so battery life is not a concern. Apparently the capacity limitation for the various iPod Classic models (generations) has to do with the metadata rather than the raw storage space needed for the music data. So the 5th gen goes to about 20,000 songs before the metadata database tops out while the 7th gen can go all the way to around 55,000 songs. I'm guessing my lifetime music collection would max out at around 10,000 songs (I'm at slightly over 7,000 currently and adding new ones VERY slowly), so the 5th gen at around 256GB should do me just fine. I've got my eyes peeled for a nice 256GB SSD but those 200GB microSDs for $60 are hard to beat!
     

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