Getting the Most out of your Music Player

Streamlining your Mac to be an Audio Component

Audiophiles can spend countless hours and seemingly countless dollars on traditional audio components such as speakers, pre-amp and cabling; adding expensive additions like EMI/RFI treatment, isolation solutions, power conditioning, and more. As a computer audiophile, you should spend some time streamlining your Mac to make it perform as music server rather than an all-purpose appliance.

We’ve compiled a brief overview on building the ultimate music server from your Apple Mac Computer. We encourage you to use this a a guide on improvements you can make to your system. The field of computer playback is changing each day so we also provide some links to places to keep up to date.

Use a Dedicated Computer for Music Playback

Today’s computers are general-purpose machines designed to do quite a bit, and are extremely 'noisy' environments as a result. We suggest you choose a Mac and dedicate it to just playing music. Avoid using the system for email or printing or other tasks while listening.

Choose an Appropriate Apple Mac Computer

An office computer will 'work' for the purpose of playing music, but is it the optimal setup? Your audio setup is a highly refined system and your computer should be up to the task. Learn what it takes to make your computer the best it can be.

As for choice of computers, Intel based machines are required for Amarra products. Install a minimum of 4GB RAM, 8GB is recmomended. For the computer, in order of preference we can recommend the following:

  • Intel Mac Mini- Current or recent model
    4GB RAM or more
  • Intel Mac Tower
  • Intel MacBook, MacBook Pro
  • Intel iMac
  • Recommended Software
    Intel: Mac OS 10.8 and later
    iTunes: version 11.x and later

Mac Mini

How to Streamline your Apple Mac Computer *

*Optimizing your Mac requires detailed knowledge of the OS and should only be done by those with appropriate experience

Download and run this handy Mac OS X Apple Optimization Script:

Sonic Studio has prepared a special application to make optimizing your Mac for music playback easy. The Mac OSX Optimization Setup application will disable un-necessary processes that affect your music computer's performance.

Download MacOSX_Optimization_Setup.app

  1. Quit all Applications
  2. Locate and double click on 'MacOSX_Optimization_Setup.zip' to unpack this app.
  3. Double click on MacOSX_Optimization_Setup.app and this window appears:

Optimizations Script

* We recommend selecting 'Disable All' for best performance, however you may select only the items you want to disable from the

To re-enable features you have disabled, launch MacOSX_Optimization_Setup.app and select the items you want to enable.

iTunes Preferences

  • Disable the Crossfade Songs in Playback Settings
  • Disable the Sound Enhancer in Playback Settings
  • Disable Sound Check in Playback Settings

Other Items

Install a Solid-State Hard Drive (SSHD)

Computers with a Solid State Hard Drive installed can sound significantly smoother than their spinning hard-disk counterparts. Same goes for a Network Attached Storage (NAS): it can sound grainy as compared to a locally-connected SSHD.

Sonic Studio recommends a small Solid State Hard Drive (100 GB or so) be used for the Mac OS and Applications, then a larger FireWire- or Thunderbolt-attached Solid State Hard Drive be used for your iTunes Music Library and other music file storage such as HD Tracks downloads. Generally SLC (single-level cell) drives are considered better, more dependable drives vs the cheaper MLC (Multi-level cell).

Spinning drive or NAS is best used for storage/backup of one’s library.

Here is a link to the fastest SSD drives. Storage Search SSD...


Where to go online for help

DAR - Digital Audio Review
Part-Time Audiophile
Computer Audiophile
Audio Asylum
The Well Tempered Computer
Stereophile
Silentway - Audio interface comparisons
Hi-Rez Music Talk

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