Mini Mac as Home Media Hub....
post-1427125
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 22

ZackT

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
500
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Posts
500
Likes
0
There was some discussion as to the viability of using the new "mini Mac" as a home media hub.... you know, playing MP3's to hi-fi speakers and DVD's and such.

The main thing holding people back was the low capacity hard drive (I, for one, have music library of over 200gb (too much lossless)).

It seems the internal HD on the Mac Mini is not upgradeable as it would run too hot.

Here's a solution - 400gb!

http://www.micronet.com/General/minimate.asp

ZT
 
     Share This Post       
post-1427138
Post #2 of 22

450

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Messages
2,259
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Posts
2,259
Likes
10
But does the Mac have enough "raw power" to do this task?
 
     Share This Post       
post-1427144
Post #3 of 22

ZackT

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
500
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Posts
500
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by 450
But does the Mac have enough "raw power" to do this task?



Yup! I'm pretty sure. The HD would do most of the work? It's only playing music. I have a powerbook and it's (like the Mini) a G4.

Does the job fine.

ZT
 
     Share This Post       
post-1427171
Post #7 of 22

450

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Messages
2,259
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Posts
2,259
Likes
10
Oh...ok...whoops
!!
 
     Share This Post       
post-1427239
Post #9 of 22

AlanY

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 4, 2005
Messages
1,456
Reaction score
10
Joined
Feb 4, 2005
Posts
1,456
Likes
10
The Mac Mini makes a very good media hub, especially for the price. There is a thread in the "Computer as Source" forum where Bangraman tried to assemble an equivalently quiet PC for around the same amount of money and eventually gave up, even after stretching the budget. The Mini's core advantages are its form factor and quietness. It does have its limitations though. The most important limitation is that it isn't powerful enough to handle HDTV out of the box, so if your idea of a media hub is an HD PVR, it won't do the trick. The other three main disadvantages are pretty minor: you need to spend extra to get a digital output, if you need a lot of disk space you need to add an extra hard drive, and some hardcore videophiles have pointed out that you can get a slightly better DVD playback picture using various pieces of Windows software. Apple recently released an upgrade to the software DVD player to address some of the DVD playback quality issues, so I'm not really sure if this is an issue any more.

Personally, though, I think it makes a great music hub and a very good DVD player. As Bangraman found out, it's effectively impossible to assemble a similar machine using off the shelf parts for near the same price.
 
     Share This Post       
post-1427362
Post #10 of 22

ZackT

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
500
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Posts
500
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by AlanY
It does have its limitations though: you need to spend extra to get a digital output.


Thanks for the info AlanY. Can I ask about the "Digital Out"? What is recommended? Are you talking about a USB type external soundcard or a DAC? Does the mini have a true line-out I wonder?

ZT.
PS. Sorry if this thread is in the wrong place.
 
     Share This Post       
post-1427411
Post #11 of 22

AlanY

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 4, 2005
Messages
1,456
Reaction score
10
Joined
Feb 4, 2005
Posts
1,456
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally Posted by ZackT
Thanks for the info AlanY. Can I ask about the "Digital Out"? What is recommended? Are you talking about a USB type external soundcard or a DAC? Does the mini have a true line-out I wonder?


It has a true line out. If you want a digital out for connecting to a home theatre receiver or a DAC, you need to add a USB or Firewire external adapter. I use an M-Audio Sonica that I picked up off eBay. The M-Audio Transit seems to be very popular around here.
 
     Share This Post       
post-1427844
Post #12 of 22

cupples

Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 25, 2003
Messages
64
Reaction score
10
Joined
Nov 25, 2003
Posts
64
Likes
10
I'm using my Mac mini for just that purpose - playing my CDs ripped to Apple Lossless through my hifi, and watching DVDs. I've found the Mac mini to be more than capable. It's actually become my main computer, and I've sold both the PCs that I owned! I like the combination of the small size and low noise. I use a M-audio Firewire Audiophile to give a coax digital output, and it works really well. I deal with the limited storage problem by keeping all my music and video on another computer in another room, and accessing the files over the network - you don't have to worry about noisy external hard drive enclosures.

ZackT - I have not heard of anyone having any overheating problems when replacing the internal hard drive on the mini. The Apple discussion forums are an excellent source of information on such things Forums

A couple of issues with the Minimate - the LED is the wrong colour!
I haven't been able to find if this external HD will power down if not being used, or when the computer goes to sleep - that was my main annoyance with my external HD enclosure which made me go for the server option.

Andrew
 
     Share This Post       
post-1427952
Post #13 of 22

ZackT

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
500
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Posts
500
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by cupples
I'm using my Mac mini for just that purpose - playing my CDs ripped to Apple Lossless through my hifi, and watching DVDs. I've found the Mac mini to be more than capable. It's actually become my main computer, and I've sold both the PCs that I owned! I like the combination of the small size and low noise. I use a M-audio Firewire Audiophile to give a coax digital output, and it works really well. I deal with the limited storage problem by keeping all my music and video on another computer in another room, and accessing the files over the network - you don't have to worry about noisy external hard drive enclosures.

ZackT - I have not heard of anyone having any overheating problems when replacing the internal hard drive on the mini. The Apple discussion forums are an excellent source of information on such things Forums

A couple of issues with the Minimate - the LED is the wrong colour!
I haven't been able to find if this external HD will power down if not being used, or when the computer goes to sleep - that was my main annoyance with my external HD enclosure which made me go for the server option.

Andrew



Oh thanks a bunch Andrew (Cupples).

I've been lookin' for some answers and you're a horses mouth (so to speak)

Do you mind if I ask a few questions?

1. I was hoping to use the Mac mini as I really like it's simplicity. I'm wanting to go all minimilist with all the wires hidden in a pipe or behind a shelf. Do you think this would be possible? I was thinking of getting a bluetooth keyboard and mouse. What do you use?

2. Have you got it attached to one of those Aluminium Mac screens or to an LCD TV or other?

3. How does it work networked? Do you have it connected to a larger HD in another room or something. Wires?

4. The M-audio firewire is something I've only vaguly heard of. It bypasses the bult in amp and converts the digital signal like a DAC? Sorry I don't know what I'm really asking here. Perhaps I should do more research but how does that connect to your Hi-Fi amp? Can it go directly to a powered Sub?

Anyway I'd be really interested in hearing how it all works if you have the time.

ZT.
 
     Share This Post       
post-1428919
Post #14 of 22

cupples

Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 25, 2003
Messages
64
Reaction score
10
Joined
Nov 25, 2003
Posts
64
Likes
10
Hi ZT, happy to help.

1. I would like to go down the all-Bluetooth route, but I don't have the cash at the moment - I just use an Apple USB keyboard and MS mouse. But if that was what you wanted to do, then a basic setup would have only one wire coming from it, for the power. There is an external PSU, but it's fairly small, and actually looks quite nice. Network could be done wirelessly. If you were even slightly thinking about using Bluetooth and wireless networking, I would buy those ready installed in the computer, they're a bit of a hassle to fit later.
2. I would love a Mac screen! But I use a Philips 17" widescreen LCD via DVI - this screen has two inputs, so I run a TV tuner into the second port. Refer to the Apple Discussion forum, as there's a fairly large list of screens which are known to work; some LCDs can have problems with the mini.
3. The networking is really straightforward - it's basically plug and play. I've used it on a network with PCs and another Mac, and it really is easy to use. At the moment I have an old iMac with a 120Gb hard drive in another room, and both machines are joined to a network router, which also shares my internet connection. iTunes is set up to use the 120Gb as its storage directory, and it works pretty flawlessly. You can get network attached storage drives - basically a netorkable external hard drive - but I haven't seen any that work perfectly with a Mac, and for the price you pay, you could buy a cheap old computer to do the same job.
4. Have a look in the Computer Audio forum for the M-audio Firewire, there's a lot of info there. Basically, it acts as the soundcard, completely bypassing the mini's (not fantastic) sound output. You can then join the M-audio to your amplifier using normal audio outputs, or use its digital out to join it to a separate DAC, and then to your amplifier (which is what I do), or run your headphones straight from it. It also has a couple of audio input channels for recording (haven't tried these yet). They're available for around $150, and definitely worth the money! As for connecting to a powered sub, that really depends on the sub itself. If it's one which comes with its own satellite speakers, it'll be a matter of hooking it straight up to the audio outputs of the Firewire card; if it's a proper hifi sub, there is a second pair of audio outputs. I've just remembered that you can download the manual for the M-audio Firewire from their website .
Hope this helps, any more questions, please feel free to ask!
Andrew
 
     Share This Post       
post-1428965
Post #15 of 22

ZackT

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
500
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Posts
500
Likes
0
Ok then, you did say if I had any more questions to ask so here goes....

I really like the FireWire Audiofile. I was (around a month ago) thinking of getting the USB version (it's a bit cheaper) but this seems in a different league.

Tell me...
1. When you say that you have the Mac Mini linked to the FireWire Audiophile (by a firewire cable) then to your amp why do you have a DAC inbetween? What DAC do you have and does it make a huge difference to the sound? Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm such a newbee) but doesn't the FireWire Audiophile (FWA) take the digital sound and make it analogue? Are you just repeating yourself - please explain.

2. What do you think the headphone socket on the FWA? Would you use it over the one in your HiFi?

3. I already have an external FW HD. It's 250gb and holds my lossless files. I could just connect this to the Mini Mac too but I remember what you were saying about the noise (powering up / down etc). I guess anoying in a quiet living room? Would it be better to get a really long firewire cable? Is wireless networking really any good? Will it effect sound quality?

Thanks for your time.

ZackT

Quote:

Originally Posted by cupples
Hi ZT, happy to help.

1. I would like to go down the all-Bluetooth route, but I don't have the cash at the moment - I just use an Apple USB keyboard and MS mouse. But if that was what you wanted to do, then a basic setup would have only one wire coming from it, for the power. There is an external PSU, but it's fairly small, and actually looks quite nice. Network could be done wirelessly. If you were even slightly thinking about using Bluetooth and wireless networking, I would buy those ready installed in the computer, they're a bit of a hassle to fit later.
2. I would love a Mac screen! But I use a Philips 17" widescreen LCD via DVI - this screen has two inputs, so I run a TV tuner into the second port. Refer to the Apple Discussion forum, as there's a fairly large list of screens which are known to work; some LCDs can have problems with the mini.
3. The networking is really straightforward - it's basically plug and play. I've used it on a network with PCs and another Mac, and it really is easy to use. At the moment I have an old iMac with a 120Gb hard drive in another room, and both machines are joined to a network router, which also shares my internet connection. iTunes is set up to use the 120Gb as its storage directory, and it works pretty flawlessly. You can get network attached storage drives - basically a netorkable external hard drive - but I haven't seen any that work perfectly with a Mac, and for the price you pay, you could buy a cheap old computer to do the same job.
4. Have a look in the Computer Audio forum for the M-audio Firewire, there's a lot of info there. Basically, it acts as the soundcard, completely bypassing the mini's (not fantastic) sound output. You can then join the M-audio to your amplifier using normal audio outputs, or use its digital out to join it to a separate DAC, and then to your amplifier (which is what I do), or run your headphones straight from it. It also has a couple of audio input channels for recording (haven't tried these yet). They're available for around $150, and definitely worth the money! As for connecting to a powered sub, that really depends on the sub itself. If it's one which comes with its own satellite speakers, it'll be a matter of hooking it straight up to the audio outputs of the Firewire card; if it's a proper hifi sub, there is a second pair of audio outputs. I've just remembered that you can download the manual for the M-audio Firewire from their website .
Hope this helps, any more questions, please feel free to ask!
Andrew



 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top