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Getting the Most out of Your OS X Music Player

or Optimze Your Windows Audio Server

I have compiled a brief overview on building the ultimate music server from your OS X Computer, and optimizing the OS for audio playback. Links to several software downloads are provided to give you the opportunity to optimize your computer more efficiently, and without paying someone $200 or so to do it for you. I encourage you to use this a a guide on improvements you can make to your system.

Audiophiles can spend countless hours and seemingly countless dollars on traditional audio components such as speakers, preamps and cabling; adding expensive additions like EMI/RFI treatment, isolation solutions, power conditioning, and more. The below suggestions will provide you with the greatest return for little or no money...all you need is some time. You may also want to check out: Build an Affordable Music/Audio Server with the all NEW NM24 Tube DAC

Use a dedicated computer for music playback

Today’s computer’s are general-purpose machines designed to do quite a bit, and are extremely noisy environments as a result. We suggest you choose a Macintosh mini and dedicate it to just playing music only. Avoid using the system for email or printing or other tasks while listening, but if you still want to use the mini for other tasks while not listening to music or if you are not concerned with attaining optimal audio playback then you can surf the Web or do some simple tasks while playing your audio. You may also want to use the system to watch TV using EyeTV, or streaming video such as Netflix. Just make sure all apps are shut down, and you do a re-boot when you want to listen to optimal audio. Obviously, there should not be any login items except for your media player.

Choose an appropriate computer

As for choice of computers, Intel based machines are great and from my point of view there is only one choice and it is a Mac mini. Yes, I used Windows for years and was a software engineer on the Windows platform for years, but was converted to OS X about 7 years ago.

Optimize the Hardware

Mac Computer Settings - Basic "Dos and Don'ts"

Once you get set-up then here are some simple rules to follow:

Note: To make your own hardware repairs or to install some component in your Mac, then iFixit.com is a must use resource. They also sell tools for pulling the glass off of an iMac, etc., and all at reasonable prices.

Optimizing Software and OS

Tutorials to learn more about using OS X These tutorials do not cover much of what is below, but may still be of some help.

iTunes Preferences

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

Mac OS X

You can download this OS X script (It is a virus/malware free text file.) that will set settings to maximize the Mac's playback potential. The following will be disabled (There are commands to re-enable the settings): Spotlight, Dashboard/Dock, Spaces, Finder, Journaling, Insomnia Settings, and Time Machine. Some of these you can do manually via the System Preferences. Also, you can type (or for us lazy folk--copy and paste) the desired line of code into the Terminal and run it alone rather than run the entire script. If you want the setting turned back on, then there is code that shows you how to do that. Note: You may want to try the suggestions below first. If you are using terminal commands, then just copy and past the commands into the terminal. Finally, using CCleaner and/or TinkerTool will do most of it for you (explained below.)

Getting Started

For those who want to use the terminal, or learn how, there are some terminal commands that show you how to perform the desired task, and for the rest of us there are the System Preferences.

To open the terminal so that you can run some of the script commands: Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal.app

To open the System Preferences goto Applications -> System Preferences. I would drag the icon to the Dock. While doing this you may also want to drag the Audio Midi Setup and Disk Utility to the Dock. To do so goto Applications -> Utilities -> and drag both utilities down. Play with them a bit to see what their capabilities are.

In Lion the user/library folder is not visible. This is where the .plist, etc. files are contained to turn it on via the Terminal then use the following code:

chflags nohidden ~/Library/

If your all of your drives are not showing on your desktop then goto Finder -> Preferences -> General and select the items you want to appear.

Since you cannot use a mouse in the terminal, then you will need to use OS X keyboard short cuts. Here is a list of OS X keyboard short cuts.

Manually Disabling and Enabling

Energy Saver

Disable computer sleep, hard disk sleep in the System Preferences -> Energy Saver (See image below.)

Energy Saver


Software Update

Disable " Check for updates" in Preferences -> Software Update Will will still want to check for updates and you can do it manually from the same window, or click on the Apple in upper left of system menu and select Software Update.

Software Update


Screen Saver

Disable the Screensaver System Preferences -> Desktop & Screen Saver (see image below.)

Disable Screen Saver

Activity Monitor

List of OSX Processes: To see what apps are running you can go to: Applications -> Utilities -> Activity Monitor. Image below.

Activity Monitor



To disable: System Preferences -> Spotlight -> Privacy, click on the + on the bottom left and then drag-and-drop the HD's that you want to turn off Spotlight indexing. Your backup drives should be manually turned off during audio playback, but if it is an internal drive then you can turn off the Spotlight indexing or not and be sure that Time Machine is off (below.) Note: Once you drag a hard drive over to turn off indexing, then you will have to rebuild the index if you wish to use spotlight in the future (just select drive in below window and click on - ) It will take some time to rebuild the index. The one drive that you do want to turn of Spotlight indexing is the disk used to store audio



Time Machine 

To disable Time Machine you can slide the On-Off slider to "Off"

Disable your media drives by going to System Preferences -> Time Machine -> Options and make selections. Image below

Turn Off Time Machine


Turn Off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and other unused services via System Preferences -> Bluetooth and make selections. Image below.

Turn Off blue Tooth



The Dock does not take up much memory---about 32.8 Mb to be exact. I prefer to use the Dock for easy application/utility access. If you do use it then, goto System Preferences -> Dock and disable all of the animation options. If you do not want the Dock around then you can dispose of it by typing the following into the terminal.

Create a 2D Doc: If you have issues with 3-D, then

defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES
killall Dock

To Kill the Dock You don't want it...woe is me

tell application "Dock"
end tell

But wait, you decided that you want the Dock back...too bad you killed it. Actually, just enter...

killall Dock

Disable Dock Shadow From the Dock pane deselect Enable Dock shadow.



To disable and free up system memory...

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES
killall Dock

To bring it back...

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean NO
killall Dock //This will restart the Dock and Dashboard


Kill A Process

Sometimes you just need a process to stop running. If you want to kill it in Terminal with out using Activity Monitor, find the process ID (In Activity Monitor) and then use the following command. Only really useful if you don't like much clicking or are writing a program.

kill PID 478

Airport To turn off the Airport go to System Preferences -> Network and click on Wi-Fi in left column and make selections. Image below.

Turn off Airport


Show Hidden Folders in the Finder

A lot of the files in Finder are hidden. This is probably a wise choice by Apple as there are countless things you can screw up. But if you want to take a look at how many there are and what they are you can show them within Finder. Be careful as these files are needed by the system, if you screw something up don't come complaining. Repeat the command with false to revert. The image above, click for larger version, show the amount of files there actually is, with these hidden there is only 4 shown normally.

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE


Repair Disk Permissions. Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility. See image below.

Disk Utility


Language Removal Tools

By removing all of the languages that came with the install will free up considerable memory--especially important if using a small SSD. Monolingual is free as is iCleanLanguage for Mac. Warning: some people have experienced problems with Monolingual in the past so you may want to check the status of the software by doing a Web search. Be careful what you remove. Only a reinstall will put the languages back so decide whether you really need the extra space by removing them. Personally, I have removed the languages from four different Mac's (Snow Leopard and Lion) with no issues.


Free Utilities

CCleaner is now available for the Mac and can do a lot of system maintenance BELOW for free. Before doing any of the below, run CCleaner first since it performs many of the tasks below including uninstall.
You may also want to install TinkerTool and use some of its capabilities.


Task to be Performed on Regular Basis, and Some Hints Using CCleaner and/or TinkerTool will do most of them for you.

To learn more about using OS X

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