Quality Speakers for Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Neiloid, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2012
    Hants, UK
    Hi all

    Just in the process of burning all my CDs to iTunes (some 1800) with the thought of using my mini as the central hub for my music to share with my Windows laptop and my iPad and iPhone.

    My question is how good is the audio out and is the speaker/headphone jack the only way to output sound to speakers? I'm also looking for suggestions for quality speakers as my mini will now be my Hi-Fi as the Cyrus monobloc set I had used is now long gone.

    Looking at the likes of the B&W MM-1 and want quality of sound over quantity of sound as I don't need to fill a room only sitting a couple of feet away from the speakers.

    Also, is there any way to enhance the audio output through settings or apps?

    Thanks in advance
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2011
    I'd try both to see if you can notice the difference, but I usually prefer to use usb when I can.
  3. macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    Yes. If you want the best then consider getting an Audio Receiver that expects an optical cable and connect the two wi9th some killer sound processing and good speakers that you can buy separately.

    Then do some test runs important album audio using losses and/or .mp4. Go with what you like.
  4. macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    Mapperley, Nottingham UK
    I've found the audio out to be quite good. have mine feeding into a Roksan Caspian amp - then antique Mordaunt Short floor standers. Ive also used a cyrus 1 and Linn Index. (both second hand from Ebay) to good effect.

    to be honest starting from scratch thats the way I would go. a cheap 2nd hand 'quality' small amp like an old Cyrus or NAD or similar and decent bookshelf speakers.
  5. macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2012
    if you don't use the digital spdif connection of the mini you will be using the internal DAC component of the mini. If you want to improve it, you can use external DAC by sending out a digital signal instead of going analog.

    You can route the digital SPDIF to carry out the digital signal to a device like : http://shop.emotiva.com/collections/processors/products/xda2

    from the XDA2 you can have active speakers (like the Airmotiv 5 or 6 Powered Studio Monitor).

    you can also hook the XDA to an amp and hook any speakers to that.

    Overkill but possibilities are endless.. you can also hook the SPDIF to an AVR and hook your speaker to the AVR.

    the XDA2 can also be connected via USB (192khz/24b).

  6. macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2006
    I have the B&W MM-1s and they are excellent, best desktop speakers I've ever had. I connect via USB which means I'm using the DAC in the speakers.

    I'm no audiophile but I've had my fair share of pretty good audio equipment over the years and these do a surprisingly good job for their size. They look fantastic with an iMac / thunderbolt display too.

    They are expensive though. I managed to grab a pair for £299 (normally £399 in the UK) and I'm very happy with them.
  7. macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2012
  8. macrumors regular

    Sep 5, 2007
    How does the internal speaker on a Mac Mini compare to the internal speaker on an iMac?

    is the Mac Mini significantly worse?
  9. macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2012
    Mac Mini internal speakER (singular)...

    ...sounds terrible compared to the internal speakerS on my 2006 iMac.

    I guess mono is the main reason for that, but not the only reason the sound is so bad.

    By the way, does anyone know how I could use my iMac's internal speakers while running both computers? I tried connecting audio out from the Mini to audio in on the iMac. When external input is selected in System Preferences on the iMac, Sound shows activity, but I can't hear anything.
  10. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I can honestly say my Mini sounds quite awesome connected to my Onkyo 5.1 Dolby Digital/DTS system. :)
  11. macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2011
    Certainly not in the "affordable" department for some, but I use these with my iMac: AudioPro LV2e http://www.audiopro.com/node/458

    Absolute sonic perfection in a desktop system. And many versatile uses as well.
  12. macrumors member

    Nov 9, 2012
    I'd say it is sufficient for the boot chime of the Mini, but for the rest you need real speakers.
  13. macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
  14. macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    I think it is time for some amplifier builders to take their lineup to 2012. I mean, those 5.1-7.2 receivers are total over the top for todays demands.
    We need this:
    - Decent Tripath / DDS amplifier (90% efficient so cool running). Either 2 or 5 channel (I don't bother about subs or 4 rear speakers).
    - Built in DAC or PCM/DD/DTS->DDS converter
    - Built in mediaplayer on open standards, with user upgradable software, with SD slot/USB/Ethernet
    - One HDMI in, One HDMI out, and optical IN.
    - 2 or 5 speaker terminals
    - <10 W power consumption when playing (if you go to insane audio levels this off course will increase a lot).

    I now use a simple Tripath stereo amp on a minijack cable from my Mini (at 15 watt consumption it is really loud with good quality sound), with decent Canton tower speakers, and that is already amazing, but not covering everything I use my Onkyo receiver for yet.
  15. macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    Audioengine 5+ or A2, and the Audioengine D1.
  16. macrumors 6502


    May 22, 2008
    I second that, ive got the Audioengine 5:s and i love em.
  17. macrumors member

    May 5, 2008
    If you just need speakers why don't you take a look at active nearfield monitor speakers? Good ones (not the best) start at around 200,-- $ i think (M-Audio f.e.) and can be directly attached to the mini. Of course an external DAC will be better than a direct connection of speakers to the mini, but a good external DAC can provide a good signal to the active monitors.

    There are a lot of apps for audio manipulation like HEAR from PROSOFT engineering.
  18. macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
  19. macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    Speaker/headphone is not the only output. You best bet is to look for an Airplay solution that lets you ty in a high audio solution through your home network. It permits multiple routing otions for sound play. There are many speaker on the market with it built in, but the Airport Express provides the most flexibility.

    I have a Mac mini acting as media/file hub for the house. I use An Airport Express to stream music to the home stereo system. And Apple TV to stream music/movies to my HT system. I can also route sound/music from other devices such as my iMacs or iPad. Adding speakers to your home is easy as well. This past summer, I added a portable Airplay speaker to the network for use on the patio or in the garage.
  20. macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2012
    I would also recommend looking into active speakers. Like cathul mentioned, you can get good pair for about $200. If you want good sound, the biggest impact comes from the speakers.

    Especially if you can afford the extra $100 more than typical PC/MAC speaker set (e.g. Logitech or H/K Sound Sticks).

    It's very personal thing what kind of sound you like. I would not suggest "studio monitors" like Genelec etc. just because I don't like how they sound, although they've been widely popular among mac users.

    I would recommend you take a quick tour in a local store which has some active monitors available and make your pick.
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2011
    thirded, I have the original 5's and they're awesome. Do add a sub if you want to play popular music, i.e. top 40 stuff. For those who remember, I have the Asub.
  22. thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2012
    Hants, UK
    Wow, thank you all for your input.

    I know that feeding into a dedicated amp and quality speakers would give the best results but half the idea of of going from a PC, albeit an SFF Shuttle, to the Mac Mini was to unclutter the desk and get a modern minimalist look to my office.

    I like the fact that the B&W MM1 have a built in DAC, I was unaware that they took a feed out of a USB port. I like that they are small and non ported and therefore not fussy about placement and match the minimalism of the rest of the Apple peripherals and my Samsung Monitor.

    I also think I'll like their sonic character as I had B&W CDM1s on the end of my Cyrus audio system.

    Last but not least and without wanting to offend anyone, they are British.

    I will get a pair to home trial and look at the other options offered too as there are a couple of options I'd not thought of.

    With regard to ripping CDs I noticed that I have been ripping to AAC and iTunes plus, should I instead be ripping to Apple Lossless and High Quality 128kbps ? All music is through iTunes. and does Apple Lossless take up less space than AAC?

    Thanks again for all your help.
  23. macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    I only rip to AIFF. I don't like compression schemes. Hard drives are cheap. 16/44 AIFF is the worst resolution I will listen to. I do most of my listening at 24/88 and 24/96 AIFF.
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2011
    Since it sounds like you don't have a hard budget req. just go with the B&Ws since it also includes a dac and will match the design of your other components.
  25. macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2008
    I'll add a plus on the AudioEngine 5+ speakers. I have a pair connected to an Airport Express in our bedroom. iPad is close by; we stream iTunes, TuneIn Radio and some Sleep Apps. Sound is great; love the setup. You can usually find at least a 10% coupon.

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