Mac Mini Media Center Setup Advice

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by dpavid, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. dpavid macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2004
    Location:
    Mililani, Hawaii
    #1
    I just bought a Samsung LED 46" TV and want to setup a mac mini on it for various functions:

    Internet
    DVD Playback
    iTunes
    iPhotos
    Front Row
    Plex

    I'll use a wireless keyboard and magic mouse. A PS3 and Cable box will also be connected with the Mac Mini via a Denon Receiver and Bose Acoustimass 10 sound system. I plan to use a DVI-D to HDMI for video output from the Mac Mini and a Mini Stereo to optical for audio output.

    I have a MacPro and Macbook Pro as well and would like to keep all the computers in sync. How do I do this? I have a mobile me account so the calendar, address book, idisk, etc... all stay in sync.

    How can I sync all the itunes library, iphoto library, documents on all the machines so when on change is made, all the mac update?

    I also have a ton of DVD's. What's the best way to rip them onto the HD with the least to no loss of quality? I would like to be able to play them back without the disc and sell them all. I have multiple 1TB hard drives laying around. I did this with all my CD's to iTunes and sold all the disc. I would like to do the same for my DVD's.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
  2. tbrule macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    #2
    I have a similar setup with two Mac Minis running PLEX. I keep everything in sync using ChronoSync and I have a nightly job that runs syncing everything. You can of course kickoff the job manually if you would like.

    Regarding the DVD ripping. I, as well as everyone I know, use Handbrake to rip DVDs. It has a lot of pre-configured profiles but I recommend playing around with the settings to find the right fit for your viewing preferences. I use the following settings and I'm extremely pleased:

    http://forums.plexapp.com/index.php?showtopic=5176&hl=handbrake+settings

    Have fun!
     
  3. gdeusthewhizkid macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2008
    Location:
    NY|NJ
    #3

    what kind of mac minis do u have? which models. if you dont mind me asking.
     
  4. NexusEclipse macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    #4
    Another option

    Centralize server may work. Have one machine as the primary iTunes setup (ie, the mini) and using the alt/option on the other machines when starting itunes, you can point it to the XML file on the mini. Make sure that each other machine has permissions to read/write. Once you do that they will all be able to make and accept changes. Note though when you make changes on machine you need to restart itunes on the other to see them. With iPhoto you can do a similar setup.

    Downside to this setup - No files are stored locally so if you have a laptop the music/videos do not go with you (I use mobileme for remote access to overcome this hurdle)

    RE: the Dvds
    Remember hard drives are NOT permanent by nature. They are magnetic media and like VHS will deteriorate over time (so back your stuff up). With CD's changing the compression down to MP3 or AAC reduces data size thus allowing many CDs to fit on one dvd or even the same CD. So a direct copy would be fairly useless (especially with DVDs). Personal preference for me would be to convert them using Handbrake (in conjunction with VLC) in the highest native resolution and close to native bitrate using an MP4/M4V container with H264 video and AAC for audio. Then import them into iTunes and everyone will have access. You can also use an applescript and call up the Handbrake CLI (Command Line Interface) and automate the process (I am less skilled with the scripting but it is possible).
     
  5. Apollo21 macrumors member

    Apollo21

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    #5
    1) You know it's illegal to have digital copies of discs you don't own, right? You seem like you can afford things, so I don't get why you would do that.

    2) I read somewhere that there are issues with the MP4 container and AAC storing surround-sound audio, so that's something you should check into. I think that's why most tv shows and movies are ripped to MKV, because they can put the original AC3 audio track into it. The downside is you'd have to play them back with something like Plex or Boxee then.
     
  6. dpavid thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2004
    Location:
    Mililani, Hawaii
    #6
    Ideally, I would like to have all movies, photos, media, files, and music on each machine and some how keep them in sync. If one machine fails or the HD dies, at least I'll have the files on other machines to restore. I assume I can use ChronoSync to do this.
     
  7. dpavid thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2004
    Location:
    Mililani, Hawaii
    #7
    Thanks for the legal lesson... Yes I own all the DVD's. I want to rip the movies for the same reason we all rip our music CD's. Ease of use and access. You porbably still carry a DiscMan with a 500 slot caselogic folder full of your music. What a lame post.
     
  8. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2005
    #8
    Why use Handbrake for Plex? Why not just use Mac the Ripper? Files are bigger, yes, but no loss of qualtity, quicker and easier.


    Try reading his post. It's illegal to make copies of the DVDs and then sell them. If you don't own the disc, you should delete the file from your drive.
     
  9. Monetthecat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    #9
    All Apollo21 was pointing out was that in your original post you said that you wanted to sell all the DVD after you rip them and by virtue of that the rips are illegal.
     
  10. ab2650 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    #10
    I'm not trying to be snotty, but the GP isn't suggesting you use your CDs/DVDs, but you must keep them to legally retain your legal right to use them. That, or I suppose you could toss them in a fire.

    The point is when you sell it, you're not technically selling the physical material, you're selling your right (license) to listen to or watch someone's intellectual property. I agree with him. You apparently have enough money to afford some nice things.

    Do yourself a favor and keep your original media in a safe place. Your conscience will thank you, as well as your wallet when a HDD fails without a backup.
     
  11. dpavid thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2004
    Location:
    Mililani, Hawaii
    #11
    Got it. Thank you. I just want to get rid of the disc. They take up so much space. They're all in rubbermaid containers in a closet.We play all our movies through medialink on a PS3 now and in our car through the ipod. I just thought since we never use the disc, what's the point of having them?
     
  12. ab2650 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    #12
    I agree with you (discs are a pain in the arse). I think ethically/morally you could destroy the physical media and still retain the license, and thus the legal right, to listen to or watch the intellectual property. Just don't sell them, because you're technically selling your right to the media.

    The main point I was making was there may come a time that you'll want that original media again. First, DivX/XviD may not be the codec-du-jour in a few years and you may want to re-rip them. This is a moot point if you're just making MTR rips of the discs, however. Secondly, and most importantly, is backing up your media: If you keep the original discs, that is probably the best backup you could keep, and certainly less expensive than buying mirroring hard drives, off site backups, etc.

    Throw away the cases and put the discs in a CD/DVD wallet. Even with a massive collection it would take up only a little space.
     
  13. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    #13
    Because MTR won't rip half the movies you throw at it unless you pony up for the paid version and it won't compress/encode them into mp4 files which might come in useful for any iPhone or :apple:TV viewing he has planned for the future. Handbrake does both and the rips/encodes aren't that long.
     
  14. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2005
    #14
    MTR 2.6 (or whatever the last free version was) has never failed to work for me, and I've thrown many at it. Encodes for an iPhone would look terrible on any medium sized tv.
     

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