New Mac Minis for Music Production

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by bradPiano, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. bradPiano macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    Greetings everyone,

    I'm a longtime reader/first time poster. I have had quite a few apple products in the past, starting back with a powerbook g4 in college. I'm currently making money as a web developer, using a 15" 2006 macbook pro 2.33ghz.

    It's been a workhorse of a machine for me, but my recent ventures into serious pro audio recording have begun to reveal the end of the line for this little guy. I'm running Logic Pro 9 & several VI's including Native Instrument sample libraries, along with Synthogy's Ivory II. I'm finding that I can get less than 4 tracks going simultaneously, and it's at a point where freezing isn't even helping. It's so restrictive that I can't conceivably work on, let alone finish, a serious album project.

    After some research on good budget macs to get work done with, I've ended up going with a stock Mac Mini Server 2011, the dual 500gb drives, and an upgraded 8gb of ram.

    All indications are that this thing is going to be quite a massive step forward for my purposes. I struggled between this & the mid-range model, but ended up deciding that I don't game much on my pcs, so I assumed the quad core would be better suited for audio processing (correct?).

    Anyhow, I was curious if anyone else out there has been using a mini for audio production, specifically recording/mixing in Logic Pro? There isn't that much info out there, and I wanted to get an idea of what to expect when this thing arrives.

    Any advice, expertise is greatly appreciated!

    Cheers :)
  2. sebo macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2011
    I started using my Macbook a few years ago for music production and the associated GarageBand it came with. Then this year, the main hard drive on the Macbook went boom, got a new one and have since been working with GB 09 version, which has a few effects taken from Pro Logic. I also bought the Pro Logic Express to use on my new Mac Mini - but I'm still getting used to a lack of a driver on the Mac Mini itself as I'm using a PC monitor to display rather than buying the separate Apple monitor which would have included a driver at the side.

    The whole procedure is pretty much the same as it is with a Macbook. I have my keyboard and drum machine already connected through a USB hub since there are only 2 usb ports on the Mac Mini. Once that and the software is connected up, the whole Pro Logic system & GB can be connected and started. Just make sure you go through the sound settings and preferences/MIDI set up to ensure all instruments have complete accessibility.
  3. bradPiano thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    Display issues

    Hey thanks for the reply :)

    Got my mini server in the mail just now! Unfortunately, I'm having issues getting the display to turn on.

    I have 2 monitors, both vga, so I purchased a miniDisplay to VGA adapter, which I then plugged into the Thunderbolt port. When I power on the device, I hear the mac startup tone, alongside the white led power indicator. It definitely seems like I should be seeing some picture, but 'No Signal' displays on both of my monitors.

    I've tested the vga cable, and it's working. Also, both monitors power my xbox 360 as well as a standard desktop pc I have laying around. I can't imagine it's anything to do with either of those. Is there some weird issue with the new mac minis and VGA monitors I wasn't aware of, or are chances greater that it's an issue with the TB port or the computer itself?

    Any help is greatly appreciated!
  4. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Are you using the Apple connecter or a third party?
  5. bradPiano thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    It's the mini displayport to vga adapter that's made by apple. I purchased through amazon.

    I'm going to bring it to an apple store this evening & hopefully get some assistance on what to do next. I really hope it's not a monitor issue b/c I have 2 that have worked flawlessly on everything I own and really don't have use for another. :confused:
  6. bradPiano thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    Display issues

    Just an update.

    I got to the Apple store & the genius had trouble powering any of the vga display monitors he brought out. They finally took the mini back to test on a giant display that was nailed to a wall. He came back out & said that the consensus was that monitors below a certain resolution (I believe he said 1280px - not sure if that's vertical or horizontal - I'm guessing horizontal) were incompatible.

    I came away thinking that vga is just a bad idea for the mac mini. I bought an hdmi cable & was able to successfully hook up the mini to my tv, which had previously failed to display using the vga adapter.

    So, there seems to be some muddy gray area with vga resolution limits, etc. Not very happy, as this means I'll probably need to get a new monitor, which I don't need save for this new device & the current tv setup is definitely not an ideal solution for a work machine.
  7. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 27, 2011
    Harrisburg, PA
    Here are a few things to try/help make the best of the situation:

    1. You may actually want to try using a MiniDisplay to DVI adapter, in conjunction with a DVI to VGA adapter. It may be a long shot, but you can always return the adapters if they don't work. Or try the included HDMI to DVI adapter in conjunction with the DVI to VGA.

    2. If you do end up buying a new monitor, you can get a 30' HDMI cable from Amazon on the cheap. With that, you can run your main monitor through your TB/MDP port, but also have one to your HDTV. As many Mac Mini users will tell you, it's a great home theatre PC.

    Ideally the first suggestion works, but if not maybe you can make the most of the situation. For music production the Mini Server has ample power with a small footprint--and even if you do have to buy a new monitor it will still be a substantial cost savings over other comparable Macs.
  8. DeepIn2U macrumors 603


    May 30, 2002
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I'd personally return your rig. Save some money and get the Corei7 Mac Mini (2011), double the RAM like your existing rig, and use a larger external HDD; possibly even the Thunderbolt port connected 4/6bay unit.

    But you've got more than enough power to enjoy editing.
  9. bradPiano thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    Display recommendations?

    Thanks for the suggestions, Mak47 :)

    Unfortunately, I traded in the vga converter for the hdmi cable, so I'm no longer able to experiment with the displays. I'm relegated to the living room tv, at the moment.

    Having said that, I was able to get the 8gb installed, Logic 9 works just fine, as do all of the plugins I had been planning on using. This is a relief since I had been hearing a lot of compatibility issues with Lion (I'm using SL on all of my other devices). While I haven't done anything beyond basic tests in Logic, I can safely say that this computer is quite speedy, compared to any other machine that I have! The jump from 4gb to 8gb really can be felt. I can only imagine what will happen when ram & sad prices come out of the stratosphere.

    The remaining piece of hardware that will complete this setup is an awesome monitor. I haven't purchased one in years, so I'm out of touch. Any recommendations?

    I'm also a web/graphic designer, so a true color palette could be vital. Can I get anything decent for $150-250?

    Thanks again, everyone.
  10. Drago89 macrumors member

    Mar 22, 2009

    Yes. For about $250 you can get Dell U2312hm or the previous model U2311H. Both have IPS panels and after calibration they are really good.
  11. bradPiano thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    Mac Mini is amazing :)

    Thanks for the monitor recommendation, Drago89. I'll check it out.

    As of now, I'm using a 24" tv as my display. It's working ok, and has the added benefit of preventing me from watching tv while I work!

    I wanted to send out a quick update to let you all know that Logic 9 is working unbelievably well in this setup. I've been throwing everything I could think of at this thing, and it hasn't even flinched. I've got dozens of tracks, multiple virtual instruments coming from multiple software plugins, audio files with eq, compressors, gate, tuning, you name it.

    I don't know if I could be happier with this machine. It's so important to be able to have that space to be creative and experiment when you're writing, recording and producing. My other machine wasn't physically capable of allowing me that, but this mac mini 2011 server model is a breath of fresh air :)
  12. TheRdungeon macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2011
    Yeah bro I agree, was going to get a server then went with a 2.2 MBP, the quad cores are crazy, 8 processing threads in logic with hyperthreading make them amazing for the price
  13. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I thought Long And Hard

    Between Mac Minin and top spec iMac. I went for the i7 iMac 2gb graphics 16GB ram, and th 27" screen.

    I do a lot of video work too, and I must say it fits the bill perfectly. Nothing wrong with the mini if you have a screen with decent real estate to go with. 16GB is a must 2GB graphics a must too.

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