Anyone uses the Mac Mini in an actual home theatre?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by generik, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. generik macrumors 601

    generik

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    #1
    How do you find the sound board that is on the Mini?

    I am starting to notice that the onboard sound coming from the mini actually sounds very muddy compared to an old Audigy 2 board, but I'm just wondering if it is my mind playing tricks on me because I didn't manage to do a blind test. I definitely seem to need to jack the volume up on the Mini to get the same level of detail that I can otherwise get from the PC though...

    Are there any "better" soundcard options that'd work with the Mini if you are more serious of your sound?
     
  2. w_parietti22 macrumors 68020

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    #2
    The Mini has optical audio out. Try using that instead of the headphone jack.
     
  3. Platform macrumors 68030

    Platform

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    #4
    True, but it's the same jack, just two in one ;)
     
  4. generik thread starter macrumors 601

    generik

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    #5
    Hmm! So it is the same jack? That's something new :rolleyes:

    Doubt it is the jack though because for my PC I used the exact same el cheapo connecting cable and it definitely sounded crisper.

    I tried looking around the specs but there isn't even any mention of Mac support, would the Extigy work on a Mac?

    Anyway I've been thinking of the M-Audio Audiophile Firewire

    http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FirewireAudiophile-main.html

    Anyone has any experience with this?
     
  5. esaleris macrumors 6502

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    #6
    First off, my old Extigy cracked when used with a G4 Mac. It was very bad, so I gave it up.

    If you have a way receiving optical signals, don't waste your money. If you go here and read the specifications - Apple.com Mac Mini Specifcations, you'll see under the Audio section that the mini-jack functions both as a analog mini-jack and an optical jack. This means that you can buy something like this - PureAV Optical Audio Cable w/ Toslink adapter - for about $15 and have a pure digital feed into your sound source via optical cable. Of course, this only makes sense if you have a receiver or something similar for processing the signal.

    I have it hooked up to a Marantz 5.1 90 Watt receiver powering Paradigm Monitor speakers. There are no problems at all - it sounds great. A caveat: if you are going to pursue the M-Audio option, and are used to the Creative sound, you might be disappointed. Creative is notorious for "enhancing" your sound with frequency bumps with proprietary technology - CMSS and the link. This means an M-Audio solution might not sound the same as the Creative - it will sound cleaner, but not be to your liking probably - and not solve your problem. I went through the same experience and love pure, accurate sound with no processing.
     
  6. generik thread starter macrumors 601

    generik

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    #7
    Oh ok, thanks :)

    Didn't surprise me that Creative "cheated" :mad:
     
  7. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #8
    It depends on how serious you are. I'm very serious so don't use the onboard sound, be it optical or analog.

    But as others have said, if you want to stick with onboard sound the optical out can be used for decent results if you're plugging it into a receiver or DAC.
     
  8. Platform macrumors 68030

    Platform

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    #9

    Mac mini @ Apple.com

    ;)
     
  9. tobio macrumors regular

    tobio

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    London
    #10
    I have (had) that exact setup and I was very happy with it.

    I had optical out from the mac mini going to my receiver, I never noticed any poor sound quality, and could play DVDs in surround sound and everything :D

    The only thing I couldn't get to happen was playing 6channel quicktime movie trailers with surround sound correctly (there are some on the apple trailers site). One of the M-Audio devices would probably be able to do that kind of thing better, so the built in optical out is good for DVDs only, because it passes through the signal instead of decoding it.

    Oh yes, and with front row, you can't control the volume when using optical, only with analog.
     
  10. DevilsRejection macrumors regular

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    Apr 13, 2006
    #11
    do you people understand how optical out works?

    it's a raw signal, given to an external audio device which has to decode it.

    an optical out on a $19.99 DVD Player, a $1000 Mac Mini, and a $10,000 gold plated Marantz DVD Player will all output the same bits.

    your "bottleneck" in your audioquality is your audio reciever and speakers. why you would want to spend extra on an external processor is beyond me frankly.

    and to the klutz who said you can't change the volume when you use optical ... do you think before typing? or do you work at best buy?
     
  11. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #12
    I understand very well how it works.

    It's a raw signal which is not error corrected and is subject to jitter (SPDIF, be it optical or coaxial). It's not so much about what's outputting the signal, although that is important, but how that signal is received that's even more important. The sender and receiver needs to work in tandem for the best results. I have an RME Fireface hooked up to the Mini which is a clock slave along with the DAC. This is not a bad way to get around some of the disadvantages of SPDIF.
     
  12. DevilsRejection macrumors regular

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    #13
    that my friend is overkill lol, but who am i to interfere between an audiophile and his passion :)

    viva la headphones!
     
  13. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #14
    Oh I'm not a real audiophile, it just bugs me to think I'm missing out on anything ;) Headphones? Huh?
     
  14. generik thread starter macrumors 601

    generik

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    #15
    Headfi.org

    A $3K pair of headphones with a good amp probably beats half a mil' worth of equipment.
     
  15. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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  16. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #17
    That's absolute b*ll*cks. Yeah sure, you may get really great tonal balance and dynamics, but there is one HUGE limitation of headphones, and it really is a HUGE one.

    Music is always mixed on speakers, no decent studio will mix on headphones.

    How many times do you see people putting the speakers either side of their head? Never!

    How many times do you see people sitting in the middle of the band at a performance? Never! (unless they are the musicians performing).


    Headphones do sound great, but a pair of £400 ATCs with an Arcam Solo would wipe the floor with the best pair of headphones money can buy because they reprosent the musicians in front of you, not the musicians either side of your ears...
     
  17. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #18
    Good info here so far. I just wish Apple would take and bring out a Media Mac Mini? Who knows I might just pay the price for 40" HDTV display from Apple to match up with the Media Mac Mini.
     
  18. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #19
    Get a big (40") monitor from someone like Samsung or Pioneer (they make some nice ones) and run the DVI straight out from your MacMini. Set the display off time to something like 2 minutes, so the display switches off when you don't want it on, and get a USB soundcard with 5.1 analog outs so you can control the volume with your Mac remote. Get some nice active speakers and Bob's you're uncle! Entire movie system :)
     
  19. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #20
    I am looking for integrated DVR functions too... a turn key solution with out add-ons.
     
  20. janstett macrumors 65816

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    Chester, NJ
    #21
    I have an M-Audio Transit USB->SPDIF, I use it with my PC laptop and was going to use it with my G4 mini until I put the mini to use elsewhere. I did find the M-Audio drivers to be flakey with the G4, it would produce noise or get stuck looping on the same samples in the buffer over and over. It works fine with my PCs. At this point I have an HP Media Center laptop I will probably use for HTPC, but I still think about getting an Intel mini.

    Plus, I'm not so sure I like the integrated Intel graphics on the Intel mini... And on the PC, it's easy to get AC3/DD out of an AVI file (for example I have downloaded Battlestar Galactica episodes in HD with AC3) with AC3filter, I havent' found a way to do that with the Mac/Quicktime (anybody know if it can be done?). Finally, with the mini you are stuck with Apple's DVD player, on the PC you can choose between PowerDVD, WinDVD, and Cinemaster which are always competing with each other for better quality and upscaling.
     
  21. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #22
    I'll throw in a recommendation for the Focusrite Saffire LE. I have the one with DSP (the 'full' Saffire) and it's a nice soundcard for all-purpose use. $300ish. The LE being black-fronted doesn't match the Mini so much but it's a fairly unobtrusive little box with very versatile I/O.

    http://www.focusrite.com/productdetails.asp?id=63&iRange=5

    And if you have to use dem po'boy headfones you can do that too :p
     
  22. Greebazoid macrumors regular

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    Mar 20, 2006
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    Cape Town
    #23
    I use my mini in a home theater setup.

    Audio is via a mini-jack to toss-link fibre cable into a sony 5.1 amp.

    Video goes via DVI-SVid converter. Its wired to the LAN via cat-6 to a gigabit switch.

    Front row works fine for music (shared from other macs) and DVD's and since I added something (cant recall what) to Quicktime, it's now OK with most AVI's as well.

    I think its a great little setup. Next to be added is a miglia TV box.
     

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