Media Server For Mac Mini

 

Some DNLA software aka. UPnP software includes the ability to 'transcode' video and/or audio files from one format to another. So if you have a mixture of DNLA clients which do not all support the same format it can convert the files for those that need it. You may want to take this in to consideration when choosing a DNLA package for your Mac.

Plex

Mac Mini Server Setup


Mac mini media server: how to connect a Mac mini to your TV Macs are superb for any context – including in the living room acting as a hub for your video and music enjoyment.

Before I get on to DNLA I would say that DNLA is old, poorly supported, poorly featured and I would advise if possible to avoid it. There are other approaches which you may decide are better for you but if not then move on to the DNLA answers below.

OpenMediaVault is the best and lightweight home server OS that is built using. Media Center will also play DSD files. (Presumably other music server software will add that capability if they don't already.) However, if properly implemented, the best way to use a Mac as a music server is to use the USB output. You can use a Mac laptop, an iMac, a Mac Mini, or a Mac Pro tower.


Firstly, other non-DNLA approaches. The premier approach for doing multi-room audio is to buy a Sonos system. With this you either buy Sonos speakers e.g. Play:3 or you buy a Sonos Connect which allows you to plug in to an existing amplifier. Sonos supports all the audio formats supported by iTunes including Apple Lossless which is going to be the best format to use if possible. While Sonos is the market leader there are other brands offering similar solutions. Examples of other similar systems to Sonos include Logitech Squeezebox, Roku SoundBridge (discontinued), an Apple TV3 or TV4, etc. All these support Apple Lossless and all allow different rooms to play different tracks at the same time.


A second approach is to use Apple's AirPlay standard, many AV Receivers now support AirPlay if you have a network interface on your AV Receiver which these days is either standard or an option on most. iTunes would then stream directly to the AV Receiver using the AirPlay standard.

Media Server For Mac Mini


A third similar approach is to get one or more AirPort Express WiFi base-stations, these have an audio out connector, you AirPlay from iTunes to the AirPort Express and it outputs via its audio connector to the attached audio device which could be speakers or an AV Receiver.


Now there is a limitation with AirPlay, a single iTunes can only output via AirPlay the same content to one or more AirPlay destinations, if you want to play multiple different music tracks at the same time then this is where Sonos and similar solutions win hands down. The iTunes however can be a Mac, or Windows, or an iPhone, or an iPad.


Moving on to DNLA. You are probably going to find many DNLA servers for the Mac are either discontinued, or semi-discontinued in that they have not had a recent update and therefore may have problems with newer versions of OS X, or only work with some clients, or do not do Transcoding well or at all. In other words like DNLA as a whole it is rather a mess. You will therefore find that you may have to buy a commercial DNLA package although this will be still cheaper than say buying a multi-room Sonos setup. I would advise testing the trial versions, make sure to remove each before trying the next.


With no particular sentiments, have a look at the following.


Over the Thanksgiving weekend I moved my Plex Media Server from my iMac to a Mac mini, and it was an almost painless process. Actually the process was painless, the problem was that I had not done enough homework. Let me explain.

I had been thinking of moving Plex off the iMac for some time because there were just too damn many things running on the iMac, and I thought the Plex server deserved a dedicated home. I asked about it at the local Apple Store on Walnut Street and was assured that a Mac mini would be more than up to the challenge, and since I stored all my media files on an external drive, a base model mini would probably be all I needed. I knew that once set up, the mini could be managed remotely from my iMac, but I was concerned about the initial setup; they reminded me that the mini had an HDMI port, so I could use my TV for that. And I had an old keyboard and trackpad, so that took care of that.

At Plex’s website I found the instructions for moving a Plex server from one system to another, and so I felt confident to go ahead. I ordered the base model Mac mini.

When the mini arrived, I plunged into the move. Plex’s instructions were clear and easy to follow, and I had no trouble. Since all my media files were on an external drive, I didn’t have to worry about tinkering with the Libraries. Once the move was done, Plex recognized them instantly. Plex on the Mac mini was behaving exactly like it had on the iMac, except it seemed to be running much more smoothly.

There was only one hitch. The mini now had only about six Gigabytes of free disk space. That wasn’t enough space to install an OS update.

What I had neglected to find out was just how much space the Plex server files take up. They were using up about 90 Gigabytes of file space; as the base configuration of the mini only had 128 GB, they were hogging most of it. The main culprit was a folder called Media which had about 70 GB of files.

After asking on the Plex forums if their server files could be moved to an external drive and not receiving a prompt reply (it was Thanksgiving), I recalled that Apple had a 14 day return policy. So I ordered a mini with a 256 GB internal drive and returned the first one.

Best Media Server For Mac Mini

The move to the second mini went just as smoothly, and frankly I couldn’t be happier with the mini and the way Plex is performing on it.

Just a word to the wise: if you move Plex to a new system, check the size of the “~/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/” folder, and make sure your destination system’s internal drive is large enough to handle it with room to spare.