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trying to idiot-proof my MacMini music server setup

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

  1. elcoholic

    elcoholic Jet Fuel Genius Subscriber

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    Thanks for the clarification. My 160 gB lives in my car’s glove box too. The 80 gB is used as a portable.
     

     

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  2. Texun1

    Texun1 Well-Known Member

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    If you buy a good high speed card then speed will not be an issue. Mine is as quick or quicker than with the hard drive. Reloading all of my files to the card from the computer for the initial download took a while but that was a pretty good size download.
     
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  3. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

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    It's me again. My setup is pretty stable now ... unless I try to run BitPerfect. Then it tends to hang overnight. I have to Force Quit iTunes. Apparently this is a somewhat known problem: http://bitperfectsound.blogspot.com/2017/10/itunes-1270-crashing.html Or maybe not, because I'm running ElCapitan and iTunes 12.2. At any rate, BitPerfect appears to be my culprit.

    I guess I'll have to abandon BitPerfect for now. I might switch to VLC, but I have no idea of the bit-perfectness of its output.
     
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  4. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    How's your remote screen control working out? Also, how do you rip CDs into the iTunes library remotely?
     
  5. elcoholic

    elcoholic Jet Fuel Genius Subscriber

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    Thanks for the update, I was wondering how this sorted out. I have found no way to have a persistent WiFi connection for the A+ Remote app. I just have gotten used to rebooting the mini and renewing the lease on my phone. It’s not ideal but the Audirvana SQ makes the inconvenience minor.
     
  6. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

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    Mostly using Finder-sidebar screen-sharing (from OSX laptop) and it's working fine. iTunes remote from iPad seems pretty reliable too. If iTunes has hung (apparently due to interaction with BitPerfect as I describe above), neither connects, of course.

    My Mini has an optical drive, which I use to rip CDs into iTunes. Works just fine with Finder-sidebar screen-sharing.
     
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  7. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

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    I've thought of connecting the Mini to the same switched outlets that my power amps (tube monoblocks) are on; set to automagically reboot after a "power failure". So when I switch on the system, the Mini reboots. That would circumvent my issue with BitPerfect/iTunes hanging, because it doesn't seem to happen WHILE I'm listening to music (again, a bit like the link I posted about BitPerfect hanging). It makes me a bit nervous to repeatedly shutdown the Mini by simply cutting power to it (when I switch the system off) but maybe it's ok.
     
  8. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

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    So I kinda gave up on this for awhile, but the fact is, my system has been extremely stable for the last couple months. I'm convinced more than ever that BitPerfect is the culprit.
     
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  9. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    Good to hear you're running smoothly and reliably.

    AirPlay 2 and a stereo HomePod pair finally pushed me to snag a Mac mini (2012 i7 quad-core 16GB/500GB SSD) and scrap my 2004 Dell PC on Windows XP and running an ancient iTunes 12.1.3 server. I LOVE having my iTunes library on the SSD under macOS so I can have Time Machine doing hourly backups to one of my Time Capsules with periodic library clones to my RAIDed NAS (can you tell I'm not really interested in ripping my CDs again, EVER!?!?). I found a pair of SuperDrives so have both connected to support dual rips (helps to free me up during extended rip sessions).

    At the same time, I nailed a pair of ATV4K/32G units and use one of them to feed my TV with 4K Netflix content and to access my iTunes music library for AirPlay 2 to the stereo HomePod pair. I must say, I'm in hate with the ATV4K's remote, and I've found the unit's inexplicable inability to find and bolt up to my iTunes library over my wired Gigabit Ethernet to be frustrating in the extreme. Once connected however, the link is solid as a rock (no audio dropouts, crappy remote always "works", excellent TV picture), but I often have to reboot the unit at first to get it to "see" the Mac mini's library. The other fly in the ointment is Apple's failure (to date) to provide macOS devices (10.13.6) with AirPlay 2 support of stereo-paired HomePods (only IOS and tvOS support the configuration at present).

    Any suggestions on where to go from here or have I checked all(/most) of the important boxes?

    Thanks for posting your Mac mini saga; it really helped me to move confidently and quickly when the need arose.
     
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  10. elcoholic

    elcoholic Jet Fuel Genius Subscriber

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    Cool. It’s good to have answers even if it’s not what you want to hear. I ditched the cable router and bought a kickass ASUS RT-5300AC router. My Audirvana remote app issues are resolved. I’m controlling either my MBP or MacMini from pretty much anywhere in the house or pool side. Still have to reboot sometimes, but I can live with it.
     
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  11. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

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    Sorry, not really, You are much more into interconnecting a bunch of stuff, easy backups, etc. I just want it to work in my listening room, nothing networked or anything.

    I agree the ATV4K remote sucks, but simply for its physical design. When you are holding it in your hand, you have no clue if it's pointing towards, or away from, the ATV4K itself (since the shape is totally symmetric). Many times I've found myself wondering why things are working right, then to see it's pointing the wrong way. This from the company that prides itself, usually justifiably, on great ergonomic design ?
     

     

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  12. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

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    BitPerfect is indeed the culprit. After months of rock-solid stability just running iTunes without BitPerfect, I enabled BitPerfect; within hours, it was doing things like repeating sections of a song over and over.

    Email with BitPerfect confirms my suspicion, though they lay the blame at Apple's feet. Given Apple's arrogance, I don't doubt them. BP's response to me:

    We have been trying to get to the bottom of this and related problems, and thought we might have been making progress, but it has not turned out that way. For most BitPerfect customers the problem manifests itself with BitPerfect crashing, rather than a system-wide crash. I suspect your crash is a variation on the same theme. You can test it by running BitPerfect with iTunes not running. If your crash stops occurring, then it is almost certainly a variant of the known problem. (But if it continues to happen, please get back to me.)

    The problem is an extremely difficult one to deal with, and we believe it is related to the previous bug with High Sierra which caused iTunes to crash intermittently. What makes it difficult is that, even though it is BitPerfect which is crashing, the crash actually happens because of an “illegal instruction” deep within the OSX kernel itself. Normally, this happens because the App is over-writing a memory location that should not be over-written, and the crash report provides us with the information necessary to figure out the cause. But, because the crash occurs in the OS kernel, there is no way BitPerfect could ever over-write the memory there, even if we wanted to, so it is virtually impossible for us to debug. Only the OS kernel itself can over-write OS kernel memory, so it can only be an Apple problem.

    Something similar was happening with High Sierra, where the problem which caused iTunes to crash was an “illegal instruction” in the OS kernel. But getting Apple to agree that this was an OSX/iTunes problem was almost impossible. However, a BitPerfect customer somehow managed to elevate this bug to a high level inside Apple, where he was told that they now understood the problem and agreed that it was not a BitPerfect problem. Unfortunately, several High Sierra updates came and went, and the problem remained unsolved. And our customer was no longer able to contact the technical support people he had been dealing with.

    It seems that all Apple has done is to ensure that the problem now causes BitPerfect to crash, instead of iTunes, so they can blame us.

    Although we do not know what the exact cause of the problem is, we have established experimentally that it is connected to the rapid polling of iTunes by BitPerfect. We do this because we need to know when the user has told iTunes to do something, so BitPerfect can respond promptly. After several hours of this polling, BitPerfect will crash with an “illegal instruction” error in the kernel. We have made trial versions of BitPerfect in which we can turn this polling on and off, and it established that with the polling off, the crash does not happen. But the way we are polling iTunes is entirely correct within the guidelines provided by Apple for their inter-process communications. We remain convinced that the problem is a fundamental flaw within iTunes/OSX which Apple is refusing to acknowledge.
     
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  13. elcoholic

    elcoholic Jet Fuel Genius Subscriber

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    Have you updated to Mojave? My MBP is too old. My MacMini is running so stable I might call it reliable if not for fear of jinxing it. Even if it’s new enough for Mojave I want to leave well enough alone. I’m running Tidal HiFi inside Audirvana on the mini with no issues. When I run Tidal HiFi inside Audirvana on the MBP it randomly hangs at the end of a track instead of advancing the next. The Tidal app runs as it should on the MBP. Go figure. These things are never as simple as advertised.
     
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  14. awillia6

    awillia6 Super Member

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    Mojave runs fine on my 2012 Mac mini. It's only hosting the iTunes library tapped over hardwired Ethernet by my various AppleTVs, Expresses, desktops, laptops and tablets (last two WiFi'd to WAP then onto hardwired Ethernet). Only AirPlay/2 I use is for the HomePod pair and the occasional Express (extending my WiFi net) which I use to test audio gear I'm repairing then testing in various locations.
     
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  15. RShackleford

    RShackleford Active Member

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    Hell no ! Don't want to jinx things either. Even on my main laptop, I don't see anything in Mojave that I care about.
     
  16. elcoholic

    elcoholic Jet Fuel Genius Subscriber

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    I try to stay current with the latest OS releases just as a matter of course. My MBP is a 2009 and it just hit the OS wall. It's mostly for ripping CD's and managing my music library and web surfing so I'll keep it running as long as the hdwr holds up. The 2009's are touted by some as having the best sound cards of all MBP's.
     
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