HR Playback Host

On Dec 8, 2012, Marco, one of my TS&G readers in Italy, wrote me with the following:

I’m reading your book today, and It’s very easy to read, complete and interesting. Next year, I’ll be buying an iMac and I’m undecided which of the following configurations to go with:

Configuration 1
– iMac 21,5″ CPU – i5 2,7 GHz Ram – 8 GB
– External SSD 40 Gb for the OS
– External HD to store my music, (upgrade to NAS or RAID ASAP)

Configuration 2
– iMac 21,5″ CPU – i5 2,9 GHz Ram – 8 GB Fusion Drive – Double Boot (partition with OS dedicated to the music server)
– External HD to store my music, (upgrade to NAS or RAID ASAP)

Thank you for your advice.”

Since I wanted to answer Marco’s question, I thought you might be interested as well in my thoughts on this…

My advice for an ideal configuration based around and iMac would be an iMac 21,5″ ( i5 2,9 GHz), with the cheapest internal “normal” drive you can buy. Here in the US, that means a 1TB, 5400 RPM, Serial ATA drive. Then, buy a big SSD (I like the 240 GB OWC Mercury Electra 6G at, remove the 1 TB internal drive, and replace it with the SSD. Now you’ll have a fast Mac, which will serve you longer as things inevitably need more compute power over time, and a fast SSD internal boot volume. If you partition the SSD, you can have your dual boot version; one partition for day-to-day work, and the just other for audiophile enjoyment.

Drop the 1 TB rotating media factory drive that came with the Mac into an external case, and use it as your Time Machine volume. OWC also sells their On-The-Go Pro “Add your own Drive” enclosure kit, which is perfect for repurposing that factory drive.

The minimum factory complement of RAM is 8 GB, which is fine for most work, including file-based music playback. If you’re rich you can always swap it later for more…Combine that host with an external volume or RAID (you need to protect your music library, don’t you?) to store your music and, wow, you have a very nice host!

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