New (bigger) apartement : how to set up my future Home Theater ?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by FrenchPB, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. FrenchPB macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005

    I just bought a new apartment, much bigger than the studio I used to own during my student years. As a consequence, I have more rooms, and more problems to keep everything "connected" in the house.

    Since I'll have some changes to make in the apartement and many things to purchase before moving in, I was wondering if you guys could help me define a fully Mac-connected apartment.

    Right now, my iMac is connected to my main TV with an hdmi cable, and that's about all my Mac integration in the living room.

    In the new apartment, my iMac will be in the study / computer room on the first floor, making it much more difficult to link it directly to the main TV and home cinema system in the living room. One of my main activity is to watch sports video on my main TV. Those are 1080p mkv or avi files that I don't put on my itunes cause encoding takes too much time and because I only watch them once.

    I also would like to be able to access my Aperture photos on my main TV, as well as my iTunes music. Basically, my current iMac is the heart of the system, and Id like all its content, even the one that is not on iTunes, to be displayed in the different rooms of the house.

    What would be the best solution to do all of that ? I'm scared an Apple TV won't do what I want, but a Mac mini would be a much more expensive purchase. Would there be a way to connect my iMac in the study to my TV through the RJ45 network cable, and control it with an ipad for example ?

    How would you setup a Mac home theater in your house ? Would you use a Mac Mini and plug it to the TV and to a home cinema system, or use Apple TV ?

    Here are the different rooms, and what we'd like to install in each of those :
    - living room : 55-inch TV + home cinema
    - kitchen : 26-inch TV + additionnal speakers maybe
    - master bedroom : 32-inch TV + additionnal speakers maybe
    - study / computer room : iMac + additionnal speakers maybe

    I've heard of some Böse or Sonos systems, would you recommend them for music ?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    look at Plex and roku

    you would run the plex server app on your imac. the roku would then access that over the network.
    plex can access and share your itunes and aperture libraries.
    it also will re-encode your videos as you watch them, so you keep the originals on the imac, but can still play them on the roku.

    **plex can not play videos purchased from iTunes**

    there is a plex app for jailbroken :apple:TVs, so currently only on the :apple:TV2.

    there are player apps for iOS, android, mac and windows. And also some LG and samsung TVs.

    you can airplay from the plex iOS app to any :apple:TV, but it requires an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. and when you're watching something, that device will not be able to be used for anything else.

    with airplay from iOS, you lose 5.1 sound. but would keep it with a roku.

    the one thing that an :apple:TV would get you is airplay, and with that the ability to send audio all over the house. I normally send audio from pandora using airfoil to 2 sets of airplay enabled speakers, an airplay enabled home theatre receiver, and an old airport express with some powered speakers plugged into it.
  3. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    This is interesting, I've never heard of Roku before. I guess it's not available in Europe, but I still could buy it from the US.

    The problem I have with streaming is that I watch high quality videos, 1080p mkv files with high video and audio bitrates. I'm wondering whether an Apple TV, roku box or other devices like that can handle those videos.

    If I have a dedicated Mac linked to the main TV, what specs would I have in order to have a computer strong enough to decode high quality videos in years to come. What processor ? How much RAM ?

    I'm wondering whether I'm better off getting a Mac Mini that would always be linked to the TV, or if I should have a laptop which I could move around the house, and which would be connected to any of the 3 TV... That could be interesting, I basically could hide HDMI cable behind the TV, and have a plug next to a good place to leave the laptop.

    I'd be able to download videos with that machine, go from one room to the other and plug it to any big screen. That might actually be the easiest way to answer all my needs. However, I guess laptops aren't as powerful as Mac minis to decode videos.


    An other solution read on an other subject would be to have Apple TV 2 connected to each TV, and jailbreak them in order to use Flex on them. This *should* allow me to watch all the videos stored on my iMac on any TV, with minimal investment.

    Would that really work ? Would that be good enough to stream 1080p high quality videos ? The iMac would thus stay at the heart of the system, and buying 3 apple TV 2 wouldn't be so expensive.

    Note : why do people recommend jailbreaking the apple tv 2, and not the 3 ? Isn't it possible yet ?
  4. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    3 can't be jailbroken yet.

    the 2 only does 720.

    if you have a good wifi connection, you can stream 1080 via airplay in the plex app for iOS. (obviously only to an aTV 3) but no digital audio.

    aTV can handle dolby digital, Roku does DD and DTS, but neither does HD audio (DTS-HD or true-HD) but plex will convert to something the player can handle.
  5. HobeSoundDarryl, Jan 21, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Mac Mini + Plex for the new living room? Even a used Mini could be a great replacement for his current iMac-to-TV hookup.

    Got any CAT5E (or better) runs between the study and living room? Or could you add any? If so, there are CAT5E baluns that can push content from study to living room over CAT5E or better cable? I haven't seen the same for cable but I haven't looked very hard for that either. I doubt you could get this to go with RJ45 wiring. If you have access to an attic or under the floor, maybe you can run a few cables which can be pretty cheap to get to what you want. The hassle here will be fully controlling the iMac from the living room in a way comparable to having that iMac set up in the same room.

    Does anyone know if those powerline wireless systems can pipe high quality HD streams through home wiring? I'm guessing probably, but I don't know. That might be another way that would keep the OP from needing new cable runs (if it can work). iMac to balun to Powerline adapter: stream over the powerline : Powerline Adapter #2 in the living room, balun #2 to TV. The problem with comparably controlling the iMac from the living room is the same with this option too.

    Since he is really wanting full computer capabilities on that TV (which goes beyond streaming from iTunes), it seems like he will need a full computer still attached to that TV. I'm betting he needs to go Mac Mini for that living room. Used or refurbished will save a few dollars.
  6. vladzaharia macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2010
    I have a Mac Mini acting as a whole-home server. This serves the following media:
    - Music through File Sharing (for Sonos) and iTunes Home Sharing
    - Movies/TV through Plex
    - File Sharing for manual access to Movies/TV

    Plus OSX Login, Profile Management, and some other random things like that.

    Plex is a lifesaver. The client is installed on all the computers in the house, since they have OSX and Windows (even Win8 Metro) clients, as well as on my iPhone. Plus, on the Apple TV connected to our TV for living room viewing. The Xbox and PS3 also can access files, through DLNA.

    For music, I tried out AirPlay but it was not the most reliable. So we very recently switched to Sonos. Right now, we have two Play:3s, one in each bedroom to get used to it, and then we'll probably expand to the living room as well, although they're really powerful. The cool part is everything is completely in sync, so moving from one room to the other results in the exact same thing playing, down to the second. There's no lag, nothing. It's remarkable. The music itself is taken from a File Share on the Mac Mini, which is essentially my iTunes Music folder. Controllers are my Mac and the various iOS devices around the house. No need for the dedicated one. For an apartment, you'll find the smaller speaker is more than enough.

    Cable TV is done with a box at each TV, plus a SlingBox on one of them for remote viewing.

    I'd say an Apple TV is enough for your needs, especially if you jailbreak it and get Plex on it. Just make sure none of your files are multipart. Those aren't handled by the ATV client yet.

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