new to mac, looking for advice

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by dale.albiston, Sep 29, 2006.

  1. dale.albiston macrumors member

    Sep 29, 2006

    will shortly (as in some time in november) be replacing my athlon 2000 with a mac pro, various reasons mostly due to it being long past due to replace (it will end up as a file server running SuSE probably), and partly due to 'WGA' problems with a legit copy of XP.

    I'm not planning on migrating hardware from my current machine to the mac, so compatability with that is not an issue, this will be new build. also much of what I ask about below my current machine doesn't do either...

    however, a few questions, please bear with me...

    btw. I've never even touched a mac before, but have used linux for a while and suffered windows, and really suffered GEM on an atari for a while too. sort of technically adept, just unfamiliar with macs in general.

    Q1: how hard is it to get 5.1 surround sound on a mac pro? e.g. what sort of equipment do I have to add to the basic machine. I'm looking for reasonably decent audio inputs as well, preferably line-in & phono connectors to hook a stereo up (ripping tape & old records).

    Q2: how hard is it to get TV/video capture, thinking SCART input (from a video/Digi box/Satellite box etc), co-ax analogue input would be nice but not required, s-video etc a bonus. plus relevent software naturally (mostly to simply view stuff, the plan is to get a decent screen and use it as a second tv in the room this thing is going in).

    Q3: is it possible to get the 'apple remote control' to work with a mac pro? and if so how (I assume an external IR dongle of some sort). essentially since for me this will be a work box for programming (I hope), graphics etc but for my other half it will be a web browser & multi media box. the remote would be nice.

    I know switching will be a bit of a sod, theres only a few things I'll miss, for one reason or another my joystick & game wheel hasn't hooked to the pc for over 8 months, and frankly hasn't been missed. but as an aside does the mac line support things like usb joysticks etc? (sidewinder 2 for example) or do you have to use different ones?

    overall looking forward to playing around with this, just wondering about the above :)
  2. Kelmon macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2005
    United Kingdom
    I have got absolutely no idea about your first 2 questions since I'm a laptop man and limited knowledge of working with video but I can at least answer your final question. Yes, you can use an Apple Remote with a Mac Pro by buying a copy of Mira and a suitable IR receiver (the Mira website points you to supported models). If you also need Front Row then I believe that you can download an application called Front Row Enabler to add it to systems that do not normally come with it.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    EDIT: By virtue of the fact that applications like ControllerMate exists for allowing joystick buttons to trigger complex workflow events I can only assume that things like joysticks can indeed be connected to a Mac. Like a lot of things, you'd be surprised how many things you can hook up to a Mac and they "just work" without needing to load drivers. I can't confirm this one myself since I don't own a games controller, plus games on the Mac don't tend to be a big thing.
  3. gauchogolfer macrumors 603


    Jan 28, 2005
    American Riviera
  4. dale.albiston thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 29, 2006
    thanks for the pointers

    happy to know its at least possible to hook the remote up :) and the bit about stuff just working without requiring drivers all the time... i like, i know linux can do this (sometimes) since essentially the drivers are already there.. happy to know the mac does this too... (driver problems are a killer for windows)

    I know it has optical i/o.. but um.. this is gunna sound daft, but never having worked with optical.. how exactly do i plug speakers into em? of do you get some sort of interface box that hooks up to the i/o ports and has break out connectors for the speakers, inputs etc?

    the second point.. noted and I'll have a look once I'm up and running.

    thanks to both of you :)
  5. gauchogolfer macrumors 603


    Jan 28, 2005
    American Riviera
    I believe the MacPro optical outs are a standard miniplug adaptor, so you could then use that type of cord to connect to whatever stereo you like. Alternatively, if you are a pro, you could use the Toslink ports for audio, which I know nothing about. ;)
  6. KingSleaze macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2004
    So. Cal
    With optical in/out on the mac pro, you could connect it directly to your home receiver (assuming it also has optical connection) and feed from there to your speakers.
  7. amiga macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2006
    I output using optical to my 5.1 DTS, Dolby Digital amp :) yey, its so cool!
  8. dale.albiston thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 29, 2006

    ok tis sounding good, i've just never played with optical before.

    my current 2.1 speakers will be used to start with, but i'll make sure whatever i get for 5.1 has optical ports. since the mac pro has them i assume it can use them (unlike a pc where simply having a port means nothing)

    i'll just make sure whatever i get can have multiple devices hooked to it (thinking a 5.1 speaker set, possibly multiple inputs so i can hook a stereo up as well for output through one set of speakers, as well as feed back in from more than one device) i'm sure i've seen boxes that do this so no worries there.

    as for toslink.... last time i saw anything computer on it with 'tos' it was an atari falcon030.. and boy do i wish the upgrade from that had been a mac and not a pc... we live and learn.

    audio pro i'm not. but if i can rip a few tapes i'll be happy, if i can get external sound inputs in as well (e.g. recording radio etc) i'll be extactic. and yes i know the mic input can handle most of that so i doubt there will be any problems.
  9. emptyCup macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2005
    Mac Pros have toslink ports, all other intel macs have mini combo ports. Maybe this will help.

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