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Mac Mini....Imac....Power Mac....what?

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Hi everyone,


I'm currently using a Macbook with 200gb HD as my music server. I'm tired of the small screen, hassling with charging the battery, and unplugging/plugging in my DAC. I was looking at a Mini as a replacement and then replacing the HD with a newer SSD and increasing memory as Gordon suggests and then using an external storage drive as music library. But I also like the IMAC, as it seems you get more stuff for the money. Any ideas from others is greatly appreciated.


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Hey Sammie - A couple things to think about with the Mini. Are you going to leave a monitor connected? You may want to so you can run updates easily. On the other hand you could use your MacBook to remote control the Mini without a monitor connected. That way you would be in your listening position and have a great remote. The Mini doesn't currently support 802.11n and it may not be upgradeable because it doesn't have the right internal antennas. I just upgraded my MacBook Pro music server with an 802.11n card and the speed of ripping music to my NAS drive is so much faster!


I've heard that the iMacs are not the quietest Macs around, but quiet is a very subjective term when it comes to audiophiles.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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If your gonna get a new PC, why not leave the MacBook on the system fulltime and just buy what you like for other stuff? No battery issues if it's just plugged in?


If you use a mini you will have no battery and no screen. I can't imagine not having a display, even tho it certainly can be done. I have both iMac and MacBook. MacBook is on stereo system full time and I am forever using the display to fiddle with playlists, do updates etc. The lack of a display (since I don't have a TV wired into that system) would drive me koo koo. The iMac roars like a jet once in a while, but it settles down within a few minutes. I've controlled the MacBook with the iMac, but I noticed the coverflow didn't work right on the iMac. I was doing it as a remote control method, there might be other ways to skin the cat. I like a display because if I put a few thousand songs on shuffle oddly enough I periodically go who is that and can see the info from a distance. I'm too scatterbrained to want to hunt for a lil remote display like a phone or something.


Now a Mini based system is tiny and that has some value, but I'd want a display for sure.


Edit - Oh, quiet is overated!!! I've been doing a Led Zep playlist at volumes that make babies cry. I couldn't hear it if my iMac was playing it's own set of songs, heh.


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At the risk of hijacking this thread from Sammie, I thought I'd chime in here. A couple of months ago I bought my Macbook Pro as a start to assembling my system, and I love it. I am planning on using it as my main everyday laptop as well as Chris' suggested "remote control" for a Mini music server. But.....I've been delaying my purchase of a Mini, based on the rumors of an imminent new version which I hoped, among other things, would have 802.11n wireless. I thought perhaps a new Mini might come out during the Apple developers' conference this week, but no luck. Now I'm getting concerned whether it ever will be updated, or, worst case, Apple will dump the Mini. During this Mini delay I have been re-thinking along the lines of a regular Macbook black. I could make it work space-wise. Might be nice to have the keyboard and display.


One nice thing I keep hearing about the Mini is how quiet they are - anyone care to give an opinion about Mini quietness versus a new Macbook?


Anyone hear any further Mini update rumors?


As far as an iMac, as Sammie mentions, it is also on my list of contenders now, but my concerns are quietness as Chris mentioned, size (it's bigger), and the glossy screen.





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I use MacBlack


I've never noticed it, unless I am ripping in which case I can hear it. Once in a while, as both my Mac's seem to do, while ripping it gets all huffed up and tries to take off. Then it settles down after it's lil tantrum. Drobo I can softly hear when close if no music is on, the drives spinning ... At some point Drobo will go into the backroom, but I have a couple issues to solve related to internet access and competing with my wife's printer.


I'll stick my ear against the laptop with Drobo off and report! I'll try to get a measurement with my RatShack SPL so I can feel official.


Sorry I didn't get time to get the Tektons out of the box so my report there is delayed.


Oh - that glossy screen is gorgeous! I have a lot of PC junk, both Mac and Win and I love our iMac display - smokes my twin Viewsonic 22 inchers. That said, I'm probably not the typical listener. I mean who really cares about a little hard drive spinning compared to a 90 pound lab bouncing, panting and bellowing periodic WOOFS!!!! I'm more concerned about slipping in a pool of drool and busting my ass rather than laptop noise! Then there's the wife cooking dinner banging cabinet doors. I guess if I was listening inside the cone of silence it might be different. But then, I'd have Agent 99 under the table and dreaming. Volume is a great compensator for minor annoying sounds. Yeah Baby. Where's my FIXX???


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If I had a crystal ball I would say the mini is due for an upgrade. Just something simple like going to the 2.2/2.4ghz processors, 4gb max main memory and N grade Airport would be the ticket. Heck probably more powerfull than my G5 PowerMac at that point.


I leave my MacBook connected to the system all the time. Figure it is less expensive than most high end cd's or transports.


I for some reason have not really tried the iMac's though I do have allot of users that love them.





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Innertuber - I got to hand it to you again for keeping us audiophiles inline with reality. When I really get my system cranking I am with you and wouldn't be able to tell if my server was playing its own music.


When one of our cats starts reaching for my speaker grills, which happens only when I am in my listening room, then I wouldn't even know if a jet engine was firing up in the next room. I end up leaping like a frog toward the cat while yelling at the same time. The whole exercise is futile though. And of course I would never lock this little guy out of the room. He likes music as much as I do and most of the time lays right on my lap while we are rockin'. I can't resist.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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Heh, we should get your cat and my lab together for a listening session! That would be a hoot. Your lucky that lil feline doesn't curl up on top of a nice warm amp for a cozy snooze. When we had our cat, our lab would give him, uhhhhh labby lovin kisses and that lil siamese's fur would look like Cameron Diaz's hair sticking up in Something About Mary.


Sorry I wandered so far off track here ... not!


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Besides what has been said already, there is one big difference between the Mac Mini and the iMac that may or may not be important to you: the iMac allows you to drive another monitor, which could be a TV. Thus, you can use the iMac as a video server as well as a music server. When you want to listen to music only, you won't have to turn on the TV (which you need to do with an Apple TV, for example). Best - MM


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Thanks everyone for the helpful posts...lots to think about. I think I will wait to see if a newer version of the mini surfaces, although I've read that it may be on it's way out. In that case, maybe one can be had for very cheap in the coming months. I'm a little discouraged about the IMAC due the possiblity of more noise. I really wish my apple store would let me borrow an IMAC and a Mini to try out for a couple of weeks. I'm so used to that with any high-end stuff I use......can I take it home for a few weeks? Why, sure!


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With my ear right against my Black MacBook I can hear a slight hum. At two feet away I hear nothing. Tested streaming from Drobo and internet radio.


Ditto for my iMac. Tested playing Easy Living, from my high school days, via iTunes.


For playback both are pretty quiet. Maybe if I leave the iMac on a while it will heat up and a fan will come on.


Both periodically raise some ruckus when ripping.


I don't find either the least bit objectionable for playback from a sound standpoint.


The Drobo is a bit noisier. You can hear it if you listen close in the same room unless music is playing. Not loud, but you can hear it like a soft fan. I gotta get it in another room and think I'm going to have to buy their network gizmo to make it work right.


No way I could test them for SPL unless I drug out a mic and put them in a box or something. I'd say my dogs toenails on the tile floors are louder than all 3 combined at once. How's that for a total lack of real science?


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Mark - some guy bought my KHorns over the weekend - I'm weeping. What to do next? I guess everything I own is for sale at some price. I set up my Tektons which I must say sound fantastic for what they are. But heck, those Tektons wouldn't even smash Bose 301s in a drop test (The Tektons are for our bedroom). My KHorns could smash near anything cept for maybe Altecs or a Ampeg bass cabinet. Then there was the sound ... I was playing some Al Dimeola on vinyl and I wonder if I'll ever get that sound again.






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though. ... I don't really know what to say. You must have had a good reason. Palladiums in the future maybe? I know what it would mean to me to lose 'the sound'. I plan on keeping my LSI's until i choose or am forced to reduce my life to backpackin' on the road. But plans don't always work out do they?


I'll smash some inferior-sized speakers for you in the mean time. I purchased all of the Uriah Heep that I have (most of it) on vinyl back in the day. I bought two copies of most of them, and those 2nd copies are virgin or almost virgin. I'll hold a memorial marathon for you this upcoming weekend.





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Hi, I'm interested in this whole issue too - which Mac? I am just about to get stared. The Mini seems attractive because it is cheaper and possibly a bit quieter. Does it have all the ports needed for DAC options, optical, USB, firewire, etc? Apart for noise isues, any other major advantages/disadvantages of Mini over iMac for sound reproduction. Do any of the Mac models sound better than others?


Thanks (from UK)




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Think it's just preference Phil. Here's a few thoughts:


Mini - certainly the smallest and very quiet. No monitor can be a pain unless you are wired fulltime for video out to something like a TV. You can solve that issue with a secondary monitor. Some people are so good at this stuff they don't often need a monitor. Updates can be a pain and surfing the net for streams (I listened to Bonaroo over the weekend) will be a little trickier. If you have crappy vision looking at a small remote might cause wincing. I've heard at least one person using a mini say I wish I'd of got a MacBook. If you add keyboard and mouse and monitor cost approaches MacBook. Is not portable. Some would mention the mini is getting a little "aged".


MacBook - never heard anyone that uses a MacBook say I wish I'd bought a mini. Solves updates, portability and gives you the ability to surf for whatever with ease. Close the top to hide, run the display on CoverFlow mode and always see who is playing on shuffle. You can drag the laptop off on vacation and have the functionality of ... well, a laptop. And, if you are ripping a hundred CDs you can drag it to the garage, the back porch or wherever. It's not anchored like the other options.


iMac - This would be the most "in your face" solution. But, I like the way they look. We use ours to actually watch DVDs now and don't even have a TV at that house. It would definitely stand out as an object in the audio system, where the other two options are a little more background. Nothing wrong with that at all - that's just the difference I see. I suppose it's just a hair louder when playing music than the other two, but to me it's not objectionable.


Go stick your flappers up against all three at your local apple store running iTunes and get some real field experience. They all can make too much racket ripping sometimes, but I pretend its correcting all those errors to get it just right so I can try to blow out the windows.


I don't think the sound is an issue. For me, the noise isn't an issue. More noise from your external hard disk storage. That's more deserving of careful choosing.


I use a black MacBook and love it. I don't use more (so far) than the little apple remote to goto the next song. Get the one you like or fits your budget.


Happy hunting




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I have been having the same dilemma but a couple of things have made me opt for the MiniMac over a Mac Book


I have a spare 17" LCD i can leave connected until such time as i am sure i have the Mini properly configured

As I have a PC connected to my NAS with CAT5 I will not be using the Mini to rip, therefore the lack of 802.11n support should not be an issue.

If 802.11n does become an issue perhaps i could get an external 802.11n USB device?

Mini is just so dam.................Mini!

Oh yeh.......the price.


Regards Paul



Are all audiophiles obsessive compulsives or is this just a Stereo Type? Yorkshire UK

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Don't want to hijacjk this thread so i will keep it short.

I have a wireless PDA, so I was going to try using that at first, can't recall the name of the software at the moment. (saving money again! any one would thinks i was a Scotsman).

Expess is a good idea, it would save me pulling the floor up to run CAT5 (which I may yet do)

I bought a house that requires loads of work so have had most floors up at some point, while this was going on I ran Cat5, alarm, coax and phone cable all over the place. A few $'s of cable hidden under the floor is better than having to re-decorate. So why o why did I not run CAT5 to my listening room.......Doh.


Paul (Dumb ass)


Just remembered the PDA is running Nevo so I can control all my IR stuff with the same device.



Are all audiophiles obsessive compulsives or is this just a Stereo Type? Yorkshire UK

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but there is also a wish list for the outdated mini.


I agree wholeheartedly with Innertuber's thoughts. I love my Macbook Pro immensely. A former coworkder convinced me a few years ago to use my PC for work and my Mac for play and I couldn't agree more. I was immediately blown away on how well and how easy things work on the Mac and I guess part of that is not trying to be all things to all people. I think that except for not having 24/192 toslink out (it only has 24/96) the Macbook Pro is perfect (it does have firewire at 24/192 and USB at 24/96). If you can afford a Macbook Pro, buy it - you will not be sorry.


I find the Mac mini to be dated and wanting. Considering that the latest iPods have 160GB HD, the hard drive in mini should be at least 320GB if not 500GB. Another nice feature would be if the mini had a link to use the iPod or iTouch displays and click wheel instead of what users need now (an external monitor and keyboard).


And while I speaking of dated, I feel the iPods are dated. I applaud Wadia on the iTransport, but is there any reason why an iPod doesn't have digital output through either firewire or a toslink/headphone jack like on the Macbook Pro?


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