Sound Quality on the Mac mini

dotdotdot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jan 23, 2005
2,381
33
Just wondering how is the sound quality on the Mac mini for someone who loves music and would actually notice if the sound was good or not? :confused:
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,910
41
Andover, MA
dotdotdot said:
Just wondering how is the sound quality on the Mac mini for someone who loves music and would actually notice if the sound was good or not? :confused:
Listened at Store when it was pretty deserted. Headphone quality (via Bose Triport) was quite good. Line-out obviously will be good. Built-in speaker was, er, reminiscent of built-in PC speakers everywhere. Actually, for a speaker the size of a quarter, it sounded pretty good - but it's not useful for music, not really.
 

musicpyrite

macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2004
1,639
0
Cape Cod
I guess it would really depend on the kind of speakers your using, onboard sound is usually pretty good these days...... but I don't know? :confused: Can the mini do 2.1 sound? Any higher?
 

mymemory

macrumors 68020
May 9, 2001
2,495
0
Miami
As an audion engineer...

The Mac audio output is aregular low end mini plug. It is ok for my mom and for my girlfriend or a regular consumer but if you want some quality you would have to get a decent USB converter of 200 or above.

If you plug soem good speakers you are going to give more presence to the sound but if you plug the speakers to a good USB converter the sound would be way nicer, accurate and warthmer.

Just to give you a reference, an MP3s will sound like if was a DVD player, that is how dramatic the difference is with a good usb converter.
 

sjpetry

macrumors 65816
Oct 28, 2004
1,195
0
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
mymemory said:
As an audion engineer...

The Mac audio output is aregular low end mini plug. It is ok for my mom and for my girlfriend or a regular consumer but if you want some quality you would have to get a decent USB converter of 200 or above.

If you plug soem good speakers you are going to give more presence to the sound but if you plug the speakers to a good USB converter the sound would be way nicer, accurate and warthmer.

Just to give you a reference, an MP3s will sound like if was a DVD player, that is how dramatic the difference is with a good usb converter.
How much does a good USB converter cost?
 

dotdotdot

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jan 23, 2005
2,381
33
jsw said:
Listened at Store when it was pretty deserted. Headphone quality (via Bose Triport) was quite good. Line-out obviously will be good. Built-in speaker was, er, reminiscent of built-in PC speakers everywhere. Actually, for a speaker the size of a quarter, it sounded pretty good - but it's not useful for music, not really.
Well if my Windows has an amazing sound card and has all my iTunes music + a DVD player then should I just use the internal speaker?
 

khammack

macrumors regular
Sep 28, 2004
166
0
Portland, OR
sjpetry said:
How much does a good USB converter cost?
I'll second that question, and do you have any recommendations? I got a set of Sennheiser HD280 pro headphones for my birthday. They are plugged into a set of $10 speakers for amplification.

Something must be done about this atrocity.

-kev
 

BillHarrison

macrumors 6502
Jul 25, 2003
332
0
mymemory said:
As an audion engineer...

The Mac audio output is aregular low end mini plug. It is ok for my mom and for my girlfriend or a regular consumer but if you want some quality you would have to get a decent USB converter of 200 or above.
I am not picking on you, so please don't take this wrong, but:

Why is it that audiophiles automatically equate performance with a price tag? Instead of recommending a good USB audio convertor, you simply put "200 and above" as the qualifying statement. There are plenty of good quality usb convertors for less than that on the market. If you believe one is excellent, or better than most, recommend it.

Its not just you, so don't think I am picking on you. I hang out in alot of home theater forums, and I constantly see guys saying "Oh, you paid less than X for that? It isn't any good then."

Price does NOT always = quality

And to make this on topic, yes, the audio output on the mini to my Harmon Kardon computer speaker setup is every bit as good as it was from the onboard audio of my Asus motherboard in my dual Athlon. And, I actually think its better, but this may be influenced by the fact that the mini is SOOOO quiet I have heard things I never did due to the noise my pc made in the room.


Bill
 

Sol

macrumors 68000
Jan 14, 2003
1,564
6
Australia
Innexpensive USB audio that even audiophiles would like

There is a USB audio device called the iMic that is inexpensive and good at what it does. It provides a line-out for connecting to AV equipment like amplifiers and computer speakers. It also features mic and line level input, something that the Mac mini does not feature out of the box.
http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/imic/
 

thecow

macrumors 6502
Nov 24, 2003
400
0
Timonium MD
I had the iMic and it isn't that great. There is always a slight buzz in the background when using the line on or the line out. I now have the m-audio sonica theater and it is great. I found it for about $80 on the net and it is worth it. It also supports surround sound. :)
 

mymemory

macrumors 68020
May 9, 2001
2,495
0
Miami
Right now I am using a Tascam 224 mixer that is around $200 but it comes with tons of other features (like Midi) that you may not use.

Probably you can find a good MBox from Digidesign on eBay. Now I am telling about things whit a list price of $500 but you can find them for less than half.

I am not hunting for any device because I have mine already, usually the industry will add more features to one of those you actually need.

Now, about the speakers/ headphones... you are a bit confuse there. We are talking the digital to analog converter, that is the step before the speakers we want to skip by replacing for a good USB or even Firewire device that is going to take the digital signal from the computer and transfer with higer definition to the analog output. I mean, is the difference that you see between different televisions when you go to buy one and look at them side by side.

As a result if you use a box like the MBox your speakers are going to sound way better because they will be receiving a good quality analog audio signal.

Now, this is not even audiophile, and audiophile person won't use a computer to play music because the laser and the mp3 quality, but that is some other field that we do not care now.

Actually when I got the iTunes for first time I had a big complain for the equalizer, still sound metallic and is taking the deepness away, it is better to yous the EQ of the home theater.

That is why recording studios buy $1000 in just one EQ plugin for their software while they have already 16 different ones, just because of the texture... and you can really tell about it.

I would say to look for something more than a useb to miniplug only because you may get the same quality, get something a bit more sofisticated IF you really want to have a good sound. Probably your ear won't tell at first because you will have to educate it, but if you listen to your music for 2 weeks and then you go back using the original mac output you will clearly tell there were a lot of stuff missing there.
 

sjpetry

macrumors 65816
Oct 28, 2004
1,195
0
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Question

I have a iMac G5 and is the optical out on the back just as good as a a USB thing. I am guessing that the iMac has better sound than the Mini. Am I right?
 

jadam

macrumors 6502a
Jan 23, 2002
699
1
sjpetry said:
I have a iMac G5 and is the optical out on the back just as good as a a USB thing. I am guessing that the iMac has better sound than the Mini. Am I right?
Well in order to use the optical out, you would need a pair of digital speakers, or need an optical decoder to hook up a regular speaker system to it.


Ohh for a 5.1 Sound card, check this out, http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/firewave/

$99
 

mymemory

macrumors 68020
May 9, 2001
2,495
0
Miami
sjpetry said:
I have a iMac G5 and is the optical out on the back just as good as a a USB thing. I am guessing that the iMac has better sound than the Mini. Am I right?
The optical is a digital cable, it will depend on what is on the other side. If you connect that to your stereo optical in that is what will set the sound quality.

I see people here confuse about audio connectors.

The Macintosh has a mini plug out put and imput port for audio. Those are called analago to digital converters or viseversa because you are transforming an audio signal in to digital data.

If you have a CD player and you plug your head phones to the phone jack, that would be the Digital to Analog converter.

Now, the difference between an expensive one and a cheap one is how accurate they transform the analog signal from the digital. Those are chips and they use algorythms and re sampling functions to achieve more fidelity from the upcoming digital signal.

It is just liek having 3 different computer monitors from different brands, each one give a different quality to the colors even they are receiving the same digital signal from the same computer.

Now, speakers can mask some details in the sound, most of the time they are mean for that, the manofacturers add more base or change the frequency response or even add some reverb. But if you connect those speaker to a good output they will sound way better.

Actually recording studios always look for the real accurate sound from the source and studio speakers get very expensive because the components are mean to move the diagfragm very fast emulating the vibartions you see in the wave forms of the music.

So, those are the basics.
 
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