Mac mini 2010 Home Theatre/Questions

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by neo179neo, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. neo179neo macrumors regular

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    #1
    Dear all...

    Im from the UK... and travelling to NY in November and want to buy the new Mac Mini... But i have some questions...

    I basically have a lot of downloaded HD movies and TV shows on my 2006 old school macbook in various formats m4v, mkv, mt2s etc etc... and usually connect to my tv to watch, But its a hassle and its slow and cant always handle playback smoothly... so im looking at the new mac mini 2.4Ghz with upgraded 4GB RAM...

    What i want to know is will this handle pretty much anything i throw at it? I use either iTunes or VLC to play media, although ive been reading alot on here about plex, boxee and other sort of programmes? Exactly which im not to sure of what they are/do!

    Im not going to upgrade the internal HD as going to get a 2TB external instead... any suggestions as of which to buy, and how best to connect it?

    The power cable... obviously the cable adapter wont be a 3 pin plug like we use in the UK... do i just need to get a UK cable or can i just get a plug adaptor?

    Lastly... is it possible to mod the mac mini and put a blu ray superdrive in it? Ive read on some forums that people have but i wanted specific details as to which to buy and if its diffcult to install... im quite handy at taking computers apart and i know it'll void the warrenty but i just want to know if its possible as i would be looking at ripping some blu rays that i have... or would buying an external blu ray drive be a more viable option?

    Any views or comments would be greatly appriciated as im a bit of a novice...


    Cheers
     
  2. rgarjr macrumors 603

    rgarjr

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    #2
    A lot of mini users use Plex to watch their movie collections. It pretty much plays anything u throw at it.
     
  3. OllyW Moderator

    OllyW

    Staff Member

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    #3
    It uses a standard figure of 8 power cable.

    If you haven't already got one at home, this is what you need.
     
  4. neo179neo thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Thanks for clearing that point up for me :D
     
  5. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    True. But then, a lot of Mini users consider a 9GB illegal download of The Dark Knight to be "full 1080p". That runs fine, but if you put the 30GB Blu-ray dump into it, I wouldn't be so sure.

    Bottom line: if you're a downloader of HD torrents, the Mini will work fine. And, unlike certain other members I could mention, let me do you the courtesy of defining the word, "fine"; Plex is an excellent interface, your playback will be smooth, and I expect that you will be delighted with it.

    For very high-bitrate stuff, I really don't know about the 2010 Mini - but the 2009 Mini couldn't do it.


    I say again; if somebody has run 100% unprocessed Blu-ray files flawlessly on a 2010 Mini, please let me know. In all likelihood, this would convince me to buy one.
     
  6. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

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    #6
    It'll handle anything except Blu-ray rips that still have the HD audio, provided you use Plex or XBMC for playback. (Note, some VC-1-encoded Blu-rays can be problematic. I've had particular issues with BBC videos, but transcoding them to h.264 with Handbrake fixes the problem.) If you rip Blu-rays, you'll want to extract the AC3 or DTS cores from the HD audio. The HD audio is what really stalls playback.

    Just get a fanless enclosure that has an internal SATA interface. USB2 is fine for playback, but if you write to the drive frequently you should get a FW800 enclosure.

    You can put an internal Blu-ray drive in the Mini, but I'd recommend getting an external drive. I have an LG BD burner in a BYTECC enclosure. USB is fine, but mine has FW400. You'll also need Make MKV software for Blu-ray ripping on the Mac side.
     
  7. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Cave Man;

    I recall you discovering that HD audio was the key problem with the 2009 Mini. Do you know whether the 2010 Mini fares any better? I recall there being some hope that the HDMI socket might allow the HD audio processing to be passed-through, without it burdening the CPU.
     
  8. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

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    #8
    I doubt it. The software would have to recognize the HD audio in the container, then pump it out the HDMI port for decoding by the receiver or TV. I know of no such software for OS X that can do that. However, it wouldn't surprise me if that gets incorporated into ffmpeg, which is the playback engine of many apps (e.g., Plex, XBMC, MPlayer Extended). If that happens, then we might see it.
     
  9. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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  10. neo179neo thread starter macrumors regular

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  11. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Sure, although you don't need a writer to rip discs. A simple reader will suffice. I use one of these:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Liteon-IHOS...ftware/dp/B002BAT1GQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    That covers the hardware, but I'm sure you're aware that Blu-rays are encrypted up the hoo-haah. You'll need decryption software for that. I use AnyDVD HD:

    http://www.slysoft.com/en/anydvdhd.html



    EDIT: Actually, before investing in AnyDVD HD, check that it works in OS X. Assuming you're using OS X... I've only used it through Windows.

    Also, you'll probably need some means of remuxing or transcoding the output. I never transcode (I consider it an evil process, but that's just me...), but I believe the software of choice for Mac is Handbrake:

    http://handbrake.en.softonic.com/mac

    For remuxing, I use the excellent tsMuxeR:

    http://www.afterdawn.com/software/audio_video/convert_video/smartlabs_tsmuxer_mac.cfm
     
  12. neo179neo thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    Without sounding too much of a fool whats the difference between remuxing and transcoding???
     
  13. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    When you remux a file, you pull out the streams that you don't want. But you don't alter the bitrate of the streams you leave behind.

    So, if you have a massive .M2TS from a Blu-ray dump (say, 35GB), you can remux that to exclude all the foreign audio and subtitle tracks and shrink it (say, to 30GB), but the video stream and the remaining audio and subtitle tracks are of the same quality that they were before.

    When you transcode, you lower the quality and the bitrate of the output.


    The one caveat to the first paragraph is that, if you pull out the core stream from an HD audio track, then yes, you are altering the bitrate. But if you don't have an HD audio system, it won't make any difference to your experience. That's your call. Personally, I leave the HD audio streams intact.


    EDIT: It's not a foolish question at all, by the way. Many people use the terms interchangeably.
     
  14. neo179neo thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    Do you rip all your blu rays through your mac or pc, or mac running windows?

    So i rip it with that software and it comes out as what a mt2s file? And then you remux it... if you just want purely the film what can you remux it down to... obviously its going to depend on the film but approx file size?

    Most of the HD stuff ive downloaded range from 2-4 GB and are 720p m4v... im guessing they've been compressed??
     
  15. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

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    #15
    Mac, under OS X using Make MKV.
     
  16. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Very good piece of software, MakeMKV. I'd use it more myself, but my Popcorn Hour C-200 media streamer, for some reason, doesn't get on with .MKVs so well.


    Back to the OP;

    When you rip a Blu-ray, it will produce a duplicate of the structure of that disc. There will be a BDMV directory, within which is a STREAM directory; all of the video files are in there, in .M2TS format.

    Now, this is where things can get kinda fishy... normally (not always), the largest .M2TS file in that directory will be the movie. If you open this .M2TS in tsMuxeR, all of the component streams will be visible to you. You can uncheck the streams you don't want, then compile a new .M2TS without those streams. The output will be the movie only, with the specific streams that you've selected, in 100% Blu-ray quality 1080p.


    [this may sound really complex at the moment, but the interface is very intuitive... trust me - if I can do it, anybody can]


    And yes; if you have complete movies in 720p that are between 2 and 4GB, they have definitely been transcoded. For one thing, if they've come from a Blu-ray disc, they will almost always have begun life as 1080p - so, if they're now 720p... well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that they've been processed. If they're .M4Vs, I imagine they've been prepped with Handbrake.

    I have a personal beef with transcoding, but many people really like it. It's, undeniably, a good way to save drive space... but I have more than 35TB of drive space, so I don't care about that.

    I have almost 150 Blu-ray rips, and the movie-only remuxes with English language and subs average 25GB in size. Transcoding can reduce these to around 10GB each with (what other people consider to be) an acceptable loss of quality at 1080p. Smaller still, at 720p. The choice is yours.
     
  17. neo179neo thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Thanks... your advice has been of real help!!!

    So basically i can rip a blu ray from the source and then remux it down to film only about 25GB... and that'll be a m2ts file... using the software you advised...

    Using the makemkv software it'll obviously be MKV and im guessing a smaller file then?

    And after that i could then transcode to m4v? For example if i wanna put it on my iphone? Can you have 1080p m4v's?

    35tb!!!! Wow
     
  18. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

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    #18
    Yes to all the above. My flow is Make MKV > Handbrake. That gives m4v with AAC and/or AC3 audio (mkv can also contain DTS) for any target device. Subtitles can be challenging, though.
     
  19. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    No worries, OP. Feel free to drop me a PM if you're ever having trouble with it.

    Cave Man mentions a critical issue; that being subtitles. Whether or not subs are carried over into a transcode will be determined by the kind of subs that they are. If they're physically written onto the image ('burned-in'), they'll come across just fine - if they're in a subs stream, that's trickier.

    It is possible to extract subs streams from Blu-ray discs (tsMuxeR can do that...), and I'm told a program can be used to 'burn-in' the subs onto the image so that you don't lose them when you transcode. I can't be bothered with the grief of that, which is one of the reasons why I choose to buy more drive space rather than shrink my files.

    Cave Man has done more research on this issue than I have, and he seems confident that reducing HD audio streams to SD audio streams will allow 100% Blu-ray quality 1080p video to run on a Mini. If this is so, you can simply dump the Blu-ray disc, find the movie .M2TS, remux it (leaving the English subtitles streams intact, and trimming the HD audio to the core stream) and the output should run perfectly, complete with subtitles.

    However, these subtitles may need to be manually selected when you start the playback. Some mandatory subtitle streams take their auto-cue from the Blu-ray disc bootup; which, obviously, you will have circumvented by ripping the contents of the disc to a hard drive.


    Is this all making sense to you?
     
  20. neo179neo thread starter macrumors regular

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    #20
    Yeah its all making sense...

    I guess i'll just have to wait till i get back from the states with it... and play around with it! Hopefully i wont get stopped coming through customs...

    Is it worth upgrading the ram to 8GB?

    Oh and i know this is quite off topic but you both seem very clued up on what your talking about...

    Ive got lots of tv shows in MKV format 720p... ive not really played around with plex yet but im obviously very familiar with itunes actually having brought 1 series of south park and love the itunes libary setup...

    So i want to transcode the MKV's into m4v's for itunes... that n so i can watch them on my iphone... ive got handbrake but some of the stuff ive done basically look *****... so can you explain or tell me what custom settings i need to do to practiaclly keep the file quality but just transcode it into m4v... most files i have are around 1GB... im not aiming to reduce the size of file... just want an m4v as opposed to MKV...

    Do you ever think itunes will recognise MKV's as a valid format?
     
  21. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    Well, anything's possible... but I wouldn't hold my breath for it. Particularly as .MKV is typically the container of choice for illegal torrents. I'm sure that won't have escaped Apple's attention.

    I never transcode, so I'm afraid I can't advise on settings. I will say, however, that transcoding a large media library is probably one of the most depressing things in the technological universe. I have several thousand media files ripped from my disc library, all in VIDEO_TS (DVD) and BDMV (Blu-ray) structure format - if I ever had to transcode them all, I think I'd have a nervous breakdown.


    Transcoding takes ages (unless you have a powerhouse computer), degrades your media and causes subtitle problems. I'd rather spend £85 on a 2TB drive every few months than put myself through that crap.
     
  22. neo179neo thread starter macrumors regular

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  23. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #23
  24. neo179neo thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24
    Think ill be ordering some of those!!! How do you link them together then and in what sort of enclosure?
     
  25. term1nal macrumors newbie

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    Oct 3, 2010
    #25
    mm

    Neo,

    I specifically bought the server version for the extra horses under the bonnet, and Im glad I did. My setup is:

    Apple 20" Lcd
    iomega x2 200 2TB
    external LG Bluray
    Elgato Eyetv Sat
    Netgear GS108T and copious amounts of Cat5
    iPhone with Hippo remote app
    Denon amp
    Samsung LED
    Xbox / PS3

    As other have said, 25Gb m2ts file stream is playable JUST. But I think the problem is more software related to Plex, Boxee, XMBC and VLC....as they role out the versions things will improve. Before u take the plunge Id have a think about your budget and where your setting the system up. Is it for your bedroom or main living room? What your budget is? Where your getting your media from, downloaded or ripped?
    Out of the box a PS3 connected to my network storage plays smoother with deeper depth of colour than the mini....(mini is virtually silent though)
    Is your macbook intel based? If so then Id buy:

    PS3 and run PS3 media server through the macbook
    External Bluray and a Lovefilm.com subscription or a virgin 50mb broadband and a giganews package.
    Spend my pennies on some NAS RAID storage thats DLNA compliant (Synology® DiskStation DS1010+)
    And most important Giga Ethernet forget Wifi

    Then Id wait for the next update of the mini, or improvements in the software whichever is the sooner
     

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