Mac Mini - do I need one?

Marshall Mike

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I have a Dell Zino mini pc which will be well over ten years old by now. I don’t use it often, but when I do it’s slow as hell. Primary use these days is running Dirac and keeping my harmony remote up to date.

I’ve been looking at replacement options including mini pc’s, laptops and the Mac mini. As I’m pretty deep in the apple ecosystem with iPhone/iPad/Apple TV the mini sort of makes sense but not sure if it’s overkill.

I’m also trying to figure out if it will play hi res music from Apple Music when plugged into my NAD AVR? If so it would be a big attraction. To clarify I do mean hi res and not just lossless which I get through the ATV.

Are there any other benefits I’m not considering with the mini?
 
‘Wants v Needs’, the old quandary.

I too am plums deep into Apple’s ecosystem and recently decided to sell my 7 year old MacBook Pro retina (which in reality never left this house) and replaced it with an entry level Mac Mini M1, iPad Pro M1 and Magic keyboard.

Bingo, this new set up will keep me going for another 7 years. The Mac Mini was a luxury but the form factor, M1 Chip and benchmarks are massively overkill for what I need 80% of the time. Value for money over 7 years, per annum is exceptional despite the highest initial outlay of £1500 I’ve kept the Dell monitor, Apple keyboard and Magic mouse from when I used the old Macbook in clamshell mode.

Can’t give you a 100% certain answer on the Hi-Res from Apple Music but will look this up - What I do know is that my Dragonfly Red DAC and AKG K701’s sound good with Spotify Premium.

I realise that I haven’t answered any of your questions….
 
Are there any other benefits I’m not considering with the mini?

It’s another league to the Dell, but so it should be - it’s 9+ years newer.

If you can get one a little cheaper than the typical going price, it’s well worth it. Just double check the harmony upgrade tool is compatible with MacOS.

Re lossless on your NAD. So long as your NAD supports ALAC decoding, and you’re playing the audio via USB, you should be fine. See here: About lossless audio in Apple Music
 
‘Wants v Needs’, the old quandary.

I too am plums deep into Apple’s ecosystem and recently decided to sell my 7 year old MacBook Pro retina (which in reality never left this house) and replaced it with an entry level Mac Mini M1, iPad Pro M1 and Magic keyboard.

Bingo, this new set up will keep me going for another 7 years. The Mac Mini was a luxury but the form factor, M1 Chip and benchmarks are massively overkill for what I need 80% of the time. Value for money over 7 years, per annum is exceptional despite the highest initial outlay of £1500 I’ve kept the Dell monitor, Apple keyboard and Magic mouse from when I used the old Macbook in clamshell mode.

Can’t give you a 100% certain answer on the Hi-Res from Apple Music but will look this up - What I do know is that my Dragonfly Red DAC and AKG K701’s sound good with Spotify Premium.

I realise that I haven’t answered any of your questions….

You have in part, what ever I do replace the old zino with has to last years.

Does the mini run excel? The wife might get a little use out of it too if it does.
 
It’s another league to the Dell, but so it should be - it’s 9+ years newer.

If you can get one a little cheaper than the typical going price, it’s well worth it. Just double check the harmony upgrade tool is compatible with MacOS.

Re lossless on your NAD. So long as your NAD supports ALAC decoding, and you’re playing the audio via USB, you should be fine. See here: About lossless audio in Apple Music
Although it should support ALAC the NADS USB ports are for storage devices formatted to fat32 if I remember rightly. So it won’t pass hi res via hdmi then? That’s a pity.

I’ll look into the harmony upgrade tool too, thanks.
 
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Although it should support ALAC the NADS USB ports are for storage devices formatted to fat32 if I remember rightly. So it won’t pass hi res via hdmi then? That’s a pity.

I’ll look into the harmony upgrade tool too, thanks.

I wasn’t sure if the NAD had a Mini USB connection. You might be able to pass them via optical though via an adapter.
 
You have in part, what ever I do replace the old zino with has to last years.

Does the mini run excel? The wife might get a little use out of it too if it does.
Yes, have a look at some of the M1 benchmark videos on YouTube, I am barely and I mean barely making a dent into the capabilities of the Mac Mini. Excel or Pages runs like a dream for me - It’s massively overkill for ‘most‘ people’s needs today but who knows what your needs will be in 5 years? Always have some headroom to grow into.
 
I wasn’t sure if the NAD had a Mini USB connection. You might be able to pass them via optical though via an adapter.
It looks like people are using an external dac which is going to be an extra expense. This is the one recommended in a Reddit post:

Topping D10s Mini USB DAC CSS XMOS XU208 ES9038Q2M OPA2134 Audio Amplifier Decoder Black Amazon product ASIN B08FC757YY
Yes, have a look at some of the M1 benchmark videos on YouTube, I am barely and I mean barely making a dent into the capabilities of the Mac Mini. Excel or Pages runs like a dream for me - It’s massively overkill for ‘most‘ people’s needs today but who knows what your needs will be in 5 years? Always have some headroom to grow into.
I’m thinking it’s total overkill now for my needs :laugh:

The problem is I don’t know what I need spec wise to do a good job with Dirac that’s better than what I have now. I realise the answer will be literally anything will be better, but any recommendations on a mini pc/laptop for light/casual use that will see me through the next few years? Something cheaper than the mini but with half decent performance?
 
It looks like people are using an external dac which is going to be an extra expense. This is the one recommended in a Reddit post:

Topping D10s Mini USB DAC CSS XMOS XU208 ES9038Q2M OPA2134 Audio Amplifier Decoder Black Amazon product ASIN B08FC757YY

I’m thinking it’s total overkill now for my needs :laugh:

The problem is I don’t know what I need spec wise to do a good job with Dirac that’s better than what I have now. I realise the answer will be literally anything will be better, but any recommendations on a mini pc/laptop for light/casual use that will see me through the next few years? Something cheaper than the mini but with half decent performance?
It’s a minefield, I’ll give you that
 
It looks like people are using an external dac which is going to be an extra expense. This is the one recommended in a Reddit post:

don’t think you’d need one - just a USB C to optical
 
All roads just seem to lead me back to the mini. I have a friend who works for apple and after speaking with him he was able to get me one with a very nice discount, I pick it up this afternoon :)
 
All roads just seem to lead me back to the mini. I have a friend who works for apple and after speaking with him he was able to get me one with a very nice discount, I pick it up this afternoon :)
Lovely job!
 
Just to follow up, I'm so pleased with this purchase. The way it can interact with my iPhone and iPad is a bit of a revelation to me, things like copy text from my phone and paste it straight into the mini, or mirror the mini screen on the iPad.

As I'm using my TV as a display the best setting seems to be 1080p, if I force it into a higher 4k resolution everything becomes far too small to read. I even downloaded an app called better dummy which is supposed to trick the mini into thinking its connected to a proper 4k monitor rather than a TV, and although it does allow you to change to different resolutions on the mini, my TV always stayed in 1080p and never switched.

I wasn’t sure if the NAD had a Mini USB connection. You might be able to pass them via optical though via an adapter.

As far as getting hi-res music from the mini to my NAD I bought a Nobsound Doug Audio U2 USB convertor and connected to the amp via coaxial. This had the added benefit of cleaning up the signal from the USB, which is a good thing apparently! Anyway, I'm happy that 24/192khz is now being output (don't ask if I can tell the difference :rolleyes:). I still find it pretty ridiculous the HDMI port is unable to carry anything over 48khz.

Here's the link for the NDA U2 convertor for anyone looking into Apple Music hi-res, which should also work with iPhones and iPads with an adaptor:

Amazon product ASIN B072BWTCL9
 

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