Mac mini vs. PC server to audiolab 8200cd system


New member
May 25, 2011
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I currently have the following hifi setup: Audiolabs 8200cd(DAC), cyrus 8(amp), Monitor Audio BR5 (floorstander speakers).
I also Have an ipod touch 32GB 4th G, Netgear WNDR3800 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router.
This router provides lots of options for multimedia networking and even has an ipod app for accessing files on the NAS which can be attached on router's USB.
It is called Netgear Readyshare cloud.

Other PC's on the network include: 2 PC's with Windows XP Pro (Itunes installed on them) and and a laptop with Windows 7 Home edition.
Please note these 2 PC's + laptop will be switched on/off as per usage, while the music server is always on. The 2 PC's + laptop will be used for general computing use, but it would be nice if they had access to music library on the server.
It doesnt matter if these additional machines dont perform to audiophile standards.
P.S Havent mentioned interconnects and speaker cables.

I want to have a music server which is always on and connected to the USB on the audiolabs DAC (or digital output!-if this is a better option).
The audiolabs and cyrus will be switched off, when not in use though.
Having an always on server will save me having to access a monitor screen attached to server, to play files atleast!
For this reason an app for android or ipod touch is necessary for the music program I choose to use.
I understand that server monitor access will be needed for ripping and changing music program settings.
The server will be used exclusively for audio (both high res and low res).
The server wont do much except this. Im not sure about having it connected to the internet or my home network though. Internet will provide occasional youtube (or similar) usage, but there is the risk of viruses etc...
Home network seems more viable though (again the problem here is if it can be accessed via OTHER PC's on the network- PC (windows/linux) and NOT Mac. This is due to my other PC's in the house currently being windows based).

The problems I face include: health and safety risk of having a server on all the time (overheating etc…), choosing a suitable music program and hence choosing a computer operating system, Being able to play the widest variety of files (including lossless-be it apple or not!), and having my ipod touch used as a remote for the music program. I don’t mind purchasing an android based controller if necessary.

I have been searching through this section of the forum for a while now.
But without any other advice, other then whats here in the forums, Im stuck!

I know this seems a complicated issue with many variables. But I was hoping someone could give me some advice.

It seems as though I can either choose a windows based OS or mac OS for the server (bearing in mind that other systems on home network will be windows based pc's that are switched off when not in use).

I think this sort of setup would be a good and even better alternative to SONOS, Squeezebox (which I used to own) and maybe a good option for many out there who want high quality computer audio through a good hifi DAC.
So its between a windows based PC or Mac mini server.
The obvious contenders for Windows based PC are: foobar 2000 (used briefly), Jriver (never used before)
Mac Mini: Not sure what out there except Itunes. (Not sure what pure music or audirvana are)
It needs to provide audiophile performance signal via USB (or maybe coaxial/optical digital output) to my Audiolab 8200CD.

I have heard that the Mac platform provides this with native itunes, without needing any other software. It also has the advantages of no viruses, having a itunes remote app for ipod touch.
Do the sound setting need to be adjusted on Mac for this?

I have briefly experimented with Foobar settings on windows 7 on my laptop, but am wary of using windows based OS due to the fact that I may need to have monitor connection to my server frequently. I also need to change audio settings in windows.
This may not be a persistant problem if the servers sole purpose is audio playback, but youtube (or similar) maybe a problem!
I believe Windows 7 supports WASAPI, and XP requires changing ASIO setting or something.

Any suggestions?????????????????
I have been through the many posts on this and related subjects.

I cant seem to be able to demo this at a hifi shop (obviously), and dont have access to a Mac mini to test this out and compare to a windows based music program.
I can however experiment with a windows based server (or maybe even linux!) before making a purchase. So I can atleast see what the most windows has to offer before making a further decision.
Remembering that Audiophile performance in required for the audiolab DAC.

Has anyone any experience/advice for the mac mini being used for something like this? This would be the new mac mini – Apple MC816B/A.

Sorry to have written soo much, hope it doesnt put you of replying.
But I thought I should atleast fill you in with parameters of my needs before I start getting advice around things outside my needs.

Many, Many Thanks in advance.


Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
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I'm sure we can help, as there are people who use Pcs or Macs as music servers, myself included.

It would help though, to list your exact requirements in a more concise way, as it's difficult trying to dig out all the relevant information from your post.

One thing I would say though, is that Apple products integrate very well. I use a HTPC, as you can see from my signature and dual boot with Windows 7 and Linux Mint and I will be trying to integrate an iPad 2 to use with XBMC, for which there is an 'app'.


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Mar 3, 2010
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I'm a happy user of a Mac Mini. Though I mainly use it for catch-up TV, internet radio and Spotify.
I do have some music ripped to iTunes, notably my 2009 Beatles remasters.
I'm probably not the best person to comment on whether it will do what you want it to though: generally I have very little interest in NAS/computer-based music controlled by iPads and phones. A million times over, I'd rather get a CD off the shelf and pop it into my CD player.


No Apple here, but I would start by investigating what you already CAN do with the gear you have. This is a lot.

I have the WNDR3700 with 1Tb usb disk attached. I imagine the 3800 has at least the same functionality.

The router runs a DLNA Mediaserver, allowing you to access all music on the HD from any DLNA client, including android phones, pc's (Win Media Player, or else xmbc etc), tv's, some cable receivers, game consoles across the house, as long as they have a Wifi or wired LAN connection. You can check this easily. Not all formats are supported though and gapless can be an issue.

At the same time, you can access the HD of the router with all the music as a network share (USB_Storage usually in Netgear), this means that any music program on a pc can play the music (win media player, mediamonkey, foobar, xmbc etc). Also ripping can be done with the laptop or pc, just pump the files to the netgear drive.

The final point is how to get the music also to the amp. I use a netbook for this plus USB Dac. Again the music is at the router disk. If your laptop has optical out I'd test this first. If not you can use analog for testing (lower quality) (or get borrow a cheap usb dac). Finally, as remote I use android + foobar using remote http control. Or I walk to the netbook...

If you like what you have you can start buying..


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