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Mac Mini Home Theater

Making the Mac Mini the Centerpiece of your Home Theater

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Tag: audio
Airfoil Logo
Airfoil Logo

We’ve all been there… it’s Tuesday night, you’re in bed, your wife is asleep, but you’ve really got a hankering for some Iron Eagle.  Unfortunately, your wife doesn’t understand the integral part the rock ballads play in Doug Master’s intense training or daring rescue mission at the end of the film.  Enter Airfoil…

Airfoil is a software app that runs on a Windows or Mac computer which can send the audio from your computer to several other network devices, such as another computer, an iPhone or Airport Express device.  The interface is very simple.  You choose the application with the audio you want to send elsewhere, and then select the device you want to send it to.

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Send music to another room with Airport Express

Send music to another room with Airport Express

For most people familiar with the Apple product line, this post is restating the obvious.  For the rest of you:  The Airport Express lets you broadcast your iTunes library to any other room in your house over your wireless network.  I feel like the Airport Express has potential to do so many things, that Apple doesn’t do a good enough job toting it’s ability as a music streaming device.

I recently configured an Airport Express to stream music from a Mac Mini to a stereo receiver on a different floor of a house.  I wrote a review of the Airport Express setup and configuration, and without ruining the surprise, it took quite a bit of patience.

For ideas on how to maximize the Airport Express in your network, click the link to read more.

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Screenshot of Adam Carolla Plex Plugin

Screenshot of Adam Carolla Plex Plugin

Plex just continues to get better as more and more developers write apps and plugins to integrate with Plex. A relatively recent addition is a plugin for the Adam Carolla Podcast. For those not familiar with Adam Carolla, he is a longtime radio personality who got his start working the Jimmy Kimmel on KROQ’s morning radio show. He spent some 10 years with Dr. Drew on Love Lines and has had success on Comedy Central with The Man Show and Crank Yankers. After a recent retooling of an FM talk station, Carolla is now sharing his wisdom with a self-funded podcast. The content definitely earns an “M” for mature, but Carolla really shines in his self proclaimed “long format” interviews with an impressive batch of guests.

I typically listen to the Podcast in my car during my commute, but this Plex plugin makes it even easier to pull up the latest episodes of the Adam Carolla Podcast so you can broadcast it through your entire house.  Fans of the show as well as anyone interested in some fresh comedic anecdotes should definitely check this out.

The critical piece for Mac Min audio integration

The critical piece for Mac Mini audio integration

How could something so cheap provide so much value?  These toslink to mini adapters plug into the headphone jack of the Mac Mini and enable the optical digital audio out from the Mac Mini.  This is the only way (that I know of) to get Dolby Digital and DTS audio from your DVDs.  It also gives you an excellent audio signal for your iTunes collection or any other audio source on the Mac without having to worry about analog audio sound degradation.  You’ll also need a standard toslink/optical cable which you then plug into your receiver (you are using a digital receiver, right??).  That’s it!  Now you’re sending out pristine digital audio from your Mac.

Every recent Mac comes with this capability, yet I’m amazed by how little is made about this feature.  I wouldn’t have even know it was possible to get digital audio until I was looking through the documents on my laptop and I found that the headphone jack was also labelled as digital audio out.  When you plug in this toslink adapater, the computer automatically switches to digital out.  This is perhaps the single greatest reason to use a Mac as a Home Theater PC.  The audio connection is so simple, yet it works perfectly.  You can grab one of these adapters from Amazon or Monoprice for less that $2 (although, I’m sure they get you with the shipping).  In any case, it’s a worthwhile investment, and probably worth grabbing a handful to have around for when your friend tries to bum one off you.