Help design my Network / Home Theater

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by fortytwoeleven, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. fortytwoeleven, Oct 28, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013

    fortytwoeleven macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2012
    Hi Guys, just want to get some feed back on what to do with all these items. I think it's time to make something effective with it.

    Thompson TG782T Modem (I think)
    Technicolour 587NV3 (I think)
    Apple Airport Extreme
    Apple TV 3
    Apple Mac Mini
    Apple Ipod Touch
    10 x USB 500GB HDD

    The above hardware I basically have sitting around, so I would like to put it to some good use.

    The current Network Setup I had running is as follows.

    Thompson TG782T Modem
    Imac 2012
    Macbook Pro 2013
    Iphone 4
    Iphone 4s
    I pod Touch
    Main TV
    Bedroom TV

    Iphone 5
    Macbook Air 2012
    Apple Mac Mini 2011
    Bedroom TV
    Bedroom TV
    Lounge TV

    In regards to my current setup, I feel it could be laid out cleaner and faster and the distribution of the data load could be more even as it's currently running all off the one modem over wifi.

    What I am looking to achieve is to have a HT setup using the items I currently have.

    Mac Mini - this computer is available to run solely as a HT/Server, this computer is currently connected to a TV and does nothing.

    Apple Tv - This device is still in it's box as I have found no use for it, the lack of support for .avi renders it pretty useless to me. Yes I could convert the .avi to a ATV supported format, but unless there is some sort of automation script, I am not really interested in converting it manually then moving it to a spot where it can be accessed by the ATV ....

    The TVs - Only 1 or 2 get used upstairs and 1 downstairs, I believe at least one of these tv's is a smart tv with wifi/apps etc

    I'm thinking the current setup needs a refresh to bet the best setup out of it all.
    Any advice on how to lay this all out?

  2. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    You need to provide a lot more info. What are you looking to achieve? What's deficient with your current setup?
  3. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    *Assuming you have a large digital media library (or want one)*

    iMac --> Install PLEX server software and PLEX client software

    Hard drives ---> Use 4 for media files, 4 for backing up those media files (something like Carbon Copy Cloner), and the other two as Time Machine drives. Well actually, it's all up to you here, so do as you please.

    Other Macs --> Install PLEX client software

    iOS devices --> Install PLEX client software

    AppleTV --> Mirror any client to your AppleTV, and it effectively becomes a PLEX client itself

    From there, hook up clients to TVs as you please, and you're good to go!

    *I suggest the iMac as the server since it's probably your most powerful Mac
  4. Astroboy907 macrumors 65816


    May 6, 2012
    Spaceball One
    Perhaps a software RAID setup? Or automated CCC backups? Actually, with so many drives (who has 10 500gb drives laying around anyway? Nice to have though), it might be worth it to get a dedicated server/RAID type enclosure for all of them.
  5. fortytwoeleven thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2012
    Thanks for the feedback guys :)

    Currently the only computer available to dedicate to a server is the mini, the Imac gets used a lot as well as the Pro and Air.

    I do have Plex setup on the mini, If i used the ATV and pushed what I was laying on the mini to it that would be great.. However I guess I cant work in the background on it while its being used.. hmm..

    Who has 10 laying around? Me! :D
    I went to grab one at a crazy cheap price.. for excited and ended up with 10 .. Lol
  6. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    You can still use the iMac; the software just runs in the background and is unobtrusive. But it's up to you. The Mini would be fine. I use a 2006 Mini myself, so surely a 2011 will do.
    Update it to Mavericks. With Mavericks, the AppleTV essentially becomes a second desktop/space... a wireless monitor of sorts. Then of course any other client can stream from the Mini simultaneously.
  7. DaPhatty macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    It's hard to make a suggestion without understanding your ultimate goal. You have A TON of hardware to utilize, not to mention devices that can play back your media, and you haven't really stated any priorities or preferences.

    I recently began converting my XBMC setup into an iTunes/ATV setup in order to improve the WAF. XBMC was great but too complicated for other people to use. (Yes, I know XBMC isn't difficult to use but...)

    So far, the iTunes/ATV setup has been a HUGE hit. The conversion process is about 90% automated which, in the grand scheme of things, is good because it forces me to keep tabs on my content to ensure it works well. But I digress...

    Let us know what sort of options you are considering so we can make suggestions that are appropriate to your environment.
  8. fortytwoeleven thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2012
    Kylepowers - Hmm Good point, I will look into the mavericks feature.
    Hows this for an Idea..
    Have the mini attached to a tv, have the ATV connected to a tv upstairs,
    Some how run a plex client or something through this, and while it is streaming the client to the upstairs tv, then I can still use the tv downstairs which is hardwired to the mini to do general stuff.

    Does that sound possible?

    DaPhatty - you are correct, I guess it is because i an not aware of the abilities of what i can achieve with this hardware.

    XBMC/Plex are great interfaces, but you are correct. some people just don't know how to navigate them. I guess what I would love to see in regards to automation is the whole process of once the file is downloaded it is then automatically converted into a format that ATV can understand. then move it to the right areas etc.

    Hmm.. thinking thinking..

    On a side note. some times I have to send files back and forth to the current mini from the air, I screen share into the mini and it is very slow .. also sending files between the 2 is super super slow too .. Its possibly quicker to download it on each computer as appose to sending it back and forth
  9. DaPhatty macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Well, here is how I do that part.

    I use MP4Tools to convert my files into an ATV compatible format. This process is automated by setting MP4Tools to monitor my download folder. MP4Tools creates the new version of the file in a folder called Converted. File organization is handled by Sickbeard and Couchpotato. Each app is configured to watch the Converted folder to move TV Shows and Movies into their appropriate library folders. You can also use these programs to rename your files if you'd like. Since each application uses online databases to correlate downloads with their associated metadata, neither program will interfere with one another.

    Now the final step is, unfortunately, manual. Once the files are in their proper place, I use Identify 2 to tag my files and add them into iTunes for playback on my ATV.

    BTW, Sickbeard and Couchpotato are free but you will need to pay for MP4Tools and Identify 2 if you want the automation/iTunes integration features.
  10. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    You can just throw properly tagged files into the "Automatically Add to iTunes" folder. iTunes keeps an eye on that folder and automatically imports content from there.
  11. fortytwoeleven thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2012
    Thanks DaPhatty, I will look into that

    Out of interest, any reason to use mp4 tools over handbrake?
  12. westrock2000, Oct 29, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013

    westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    Mp4tools remux'es files you already have from one container to another (mkv to m4v for example). The video and audio are not altered.

    Handbrake is a transcoding tool that reads a video file and then recompresses it another specified container. So with Handbrake the data is altered.

    Now that being said about transcoding, if you start with a high quality source and transcode with high bitrates and proper settings, the chances of you being able to see a noticeable loss of quality are extremely low to non-existent. However you do gain control in creating an output file that matches your criteria exactly.

    Remux'ing is for people who already have a transcoded version and want to put it in a container that matches their current requirements. These are generally people who are either transitioning from one setup to another or people who do not acquire their content from the original disc (if you know what I'm saying).

    EDIT: Let me clarify, that's the difference in regards to those two programs. MP4Tools actually does a whole lot of things that are useful when your stuck in some weird situation. Like joining Lord Of The Rings extended edition 2 disc movies into 1 movie :)
  13. DaPhatty macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Westrock's explanation is spot on. I use mp4tools primarily to convert my digital video files from whatever format they are currently in to an mp4 file. The process typically takes 2-10 minutes per file depending on size, etc. In some extreme cases, I've had to run a file through MP4Tools twice (to remove header compression, whatever that is) but this extra step still saves me a ton of time when compared to using Handbrake, especially since most of my video files are already in an MPEG4 container (mkv).
  14. Astroboy907 macrumors 65816


    May 6, 2012
    Spaceball One
    Just curious, how good of a price and when? I am upgrading to a 3+ TB software raid system, holding out until black friday to get drives, hoping they go down a bunch then. Having a couple other drives solely as media backup wouldn't be bad either.
  15. fortytwoeleven thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2012
    Ahh makes sense.. I'm going to have a look into all this and get it happening I think!

    Astroboy - Usb 3 slim good brand.. got them for 80% off. Via pricing error :)
    New release as well :)
  16. fortytwoeleven thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2012
    Da Phatty - So i started with Grabbing and registering mp4tools.
    Not being a converter person myself, what is the best settings to go for here?
    Assuming most of my stuff is .avi I guess.

    Also you did say that you can have it monitor a folder, yet I cant find this option in the program?
  17. Nimiety macrumors regular

    Sep 6, 2006
    I use TVShows, Magic Marker, and, of course Transmission. For most things the entire process is fully automated and hands off. We've cut our cable and despite a family of kids, loving our shows, and my addiction to baseball, we haven't missed a beat.

    Either way, you've got enough tools to build something nice. I would just be cautious of the wireless range for your layout from device to device. At high quality formats, you can really push a weak network.
  18. DaPhatty macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Since most (all?) of my library is already in MPEG4 format, I simply used the Pass Thru Video setting to change my mkv files into mp4 files. Assuming your AVI files are also MPEG4, Pass Thru should work for you too. I don't know much about AVI so it is possible that your files will need to be transcoded instead of simply remux'd.

    The monitor folder option is actually called Watch Mode. The Watch Mode button is located underneath the Play Button on the right hand side of the app. (You may need to Open a file before these buttons show up.) By default, Watch Mode is greyed out. To get Watch Mode to work requires that you create a preset for both Video and Audio.

    Creating a Preset

    In the middle of the application, you will see the Presets menu along with a Settings option and Track Selection option. Click the Edit button next to Settings and MP4Tools will present you with the Presets menu. From here, create a preset (or several if you'd like) to your desired specs and make sure you configure an Action for both the Video and Audio categories.

    (My Apple TV preset uses Pass Thru for the Video Action, Pass Thru for the if Stereo Audio Action, and AAC (5.1) with a bitrate of 448 for the if Surround setting plus the add 2-Ch. Track checkmark)

    Once you've created your preset, choose it by selecting the preset from the drop down menu underneath Settings. Track Selection will change to whatever you configured in your preset. At this point, Watch Mode becomes available and will use these settings when converting video files detected in the Watch folder.

    Note: Watch Mode will only convert new files as they appear in the Watch folder. Pointing Watch Mode at your existing movie folder won't do anything. You'll need to manually move your files into your designated Watch folder. This isn't a big deal if you are incorporating MP4Tools into your automated download process but it does add some overhead to your library conversion.

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