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I use my mac basically just with the logitech keyboard and from netflix to you name it I use it like a desktop if I were sitting at it. Do you find those front ends are only good if you're looking at content stored? I pay for spotify, couldn't live without it, and have wondered why bother with a front end.

On another note what's the best media player for .mkv and what not. Which gives the best flexibility? I use VLC but has it's hiccups. The latest version doesn't seem to like using the EQ while in HDMI encoded mode. Any other mode and I don't hear their voices. I'm running the mini through my receiver to a 3.1 setup. Best media setup I've ever had.

Is there a media player that has great post processing or something I should try that plays it all and has a little magic button that makes things more amazing?


oh and BTW I'm using a 2014 Mac mini. The lowest end model with 4GB of memory and 1.4ghz dual core i5. I'm currently on Maverick. It runs flawlessly, has zero chop, and i honestly use it for everything I use my i7 8GB macbook for and see zero speed difference. I'm really starting to care very little about specs out there. This thing runs 4k and everything else buttery smooth with no lag for startup or anything else. I use to build a lot of systems when I was younger so not having the absolute best has bothered me but damn if I just can't find anything wrong with this unit (wrong as in it would be worth getting a higher end mac mini).
 

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BTW has anyone ever thought to put windows 10 on their mini and just go with that? Do any of you guys use other peripherals?
 

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I use Plex with my mini, it plays just about everything. It is a little harder to set up, but I can use the apple remote to control everything.


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I use Plex with my mini, it plays just about everything. It is a little harder to set up, but I can use the apple remote to control everything.


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Can plex be integrated with netflix or sights with hotlinks?
 

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I use a Mac mini (OS X 10.9). To run it, we just pick up a Apple Magic Trackpad from the coffee table. We prefer the trackpad's multi-touch gestures and taps over punching buttons on a remote in the right order. There's a Bluetooth keyboard stowed in the coffee table if we need to type anything. I have the older 2012 but it has no performance problems (I only have 1080p gear though).

Plex is also installed to manage and play back my own video and audio media archive. Plex has its own channels to online content, but they aren't as well developed or maintained as say Roku or AppleTV channels and they generally don't work with the big streaming channels. But mostly the app in the front is EyeTV for our OTA recordings, or Safari for the streaming services.
 

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Do you find those front ends are only good if you're looking at content stored...and have wondered why bother with a front end.
I suspect the main reason most of us started caring about "front ends" was because we were breaking ground by having 1) a Mac connected to a TV and 2) we had archived all this content--we were recording high def TV ourselves and ripping dvds--and had to find a convenient way to play it back when sitting across the room on the couch. (You also have to remember "streaming" wasn't very evolved yet, there were very few options back then.) You needed a front end because everything had to be bigger in order to see what you were selecting, you needed a front end that could be more easily controlled with some sort of remote rather than a clunky wireless keyboard and mouse. Your home theater wasn't much of a home theater without a front end, so we turned to Front Row, Plex, XBMC.

That was 10+ years ago. What has happened since? Many things...just a select few that has really impacted me...the 2nd gen Apple TV was released, the iPad was released, Airplay was improved followed by massive iOS app development, cablecos were allowed to prevent users from recording high def freely which in turn led to something called "cord cutting," streaming has exploded becoming a legitimate way to receive LOTS of content (rather than recording your own HDTV and ripping dvds and blurays) in short, it is a much more diverse environment and there are many ways now to slide into "home theater" and not really have to rely on a single all-encompassing front end. Especially if you do not have terabytes of content already archived, as it seems you do not.

I still rely on front ends and media players in the house for the Mac Minis and Apple TVs we have connected to our displays but then I'm an old fogey, I have a massive library of content. But it is also very easy now to avoid using the Mini as the media player with a front end entirely--just use it on the back end to distribute the media around the house and play everything through apps on an Apple TV 4. Significantly easier to control with the little remote, in essence all the apps are front ends...compare using Netflix on the Apple TV versus a browser and you'll find the Apple TV far superior...
 

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I suspect the main reason most of us started caring about "front ends" was because we were breaking ground by having 1) a Mac connected to a TV and 2) we had archived all this content--we were recording high def TV ourselves and ripping dvds--and had to find a convenient way to play it back when sitting across the room on the couch. (You also have to remember "streaming" wasn't very evolved yet, there were very few options back then.) You needed a front end because everything had to be bigger in order to see what you were selecting, you needed a front end that could be more easily controlled with some sort of remote rather than a clunky wireless keyboard and mouse. Your home theater wasn't much of a home theater without a front end, so we turned to Front Row, Plex, XBMC.

That was 10+ years ago. What has happened since? Many things...just a select few that has really impacted me...the 2nd gen Apple TV was released, the iPad was released, Airplay was improved followed by massive iOS app development, cablecos were allowed to prevent users from recording high def freely which in turn led to something called "cord cutting," streaming has exploded becoming a legitimate way to receive LOTS of content (rather than recording your own HDTV and ripping dvds and blurays) in short, it is a much more diverse environment and there are many ways now to slide into "home theater" and not really have to rely on a single all-encompassing front end. Especially if you do not have terabytes of content already archived, as it seems you do not.

I still rely on front ends and media players in the house for the Mac Minis and Apple TVs we have connected to our displays but then I'm an old fogey, I have a massive library of content. But it is also very easy now to avoid using the Mini as the media player with a front end entirely--just use it on the back end to distribute the media around the house and play everything through apps on an Apple TV 4. Significantly easier to control with the little remote, in essence all the apps are front ends...compare using Netflix on the Apple TV versus a browser and you'll find the Apple TV far superior...
This is an interesting approach. I have yet to be able to successfully Airplay a 1080pMVK file with lossless audio from my 5k iMac to my ATV3. VLC is woefully unstable. Whats a better app?
 

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This is an interesting approach. I have yet to be able to successfully Airplay a 1080pMVK file with lossless audio from my 5k iMac to my ATV3. VLC is woefully unstable. Whats a better app?


Using the plex app on the current Apple TV 1080pmkv works like a charm!
 

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Nathan, at the moment the only content we Airplay is Amazon Prime, even though we also have a Roku it's usually just more convenient to Airplay it to our Apple TVs from an iPad, of which there are plenty in the house.

is your target aTV3 wired or wireless in your setup?

test whether it is the lossless audio that's tripping you up--prepare a test file with the exact same 1080p MKV video quality but with the HD audio track removed, just leave the core audio...then try to stream or Airplay that file the way you're presently doing it...do you see the same behavior with the apps you're using?

gomo657's suggestion is a good one, try streaming the file from the Plex app on your iMac to your older aTV3 over AirPlay...Plex has a lot of audio options and generally supports HD audio well.

As an aside, after you use a 4 with apps for 5 or 10 minutes it'll be really hard for you to go back to your current setup with a 3 (though I have and like the aTV3 I also ran XBMC on an aTV2 and Crystalbuntu on an aTV1 w/ the Broadcom card.)
 

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This is an interesting approach. I have yet to be able to successfully Airplay a 1080pMVK file with lossless audio from my 5k iMac to my ATV3. VLC is woefully unstable. Whats a better app?
Using the plex app on the current Apple TV 1080pmkv works like a charm!
Seems like with a 5k iMac and an ATV3 in the room I should be able to do this without buying additional hardware.
Plex isn't additional hardware. You can run the server on your iMac and the client on your ATV. It will transcode whatever containers and codecs your ATV doesn't natively support.

Airplay is not a good home theater "solution" - it isn't meant to throw a 1080p remux with DTS-HD audio to your ATV. It is a good solution for other things, like throwing a video you shot of your kid's graduation onto the screen for grandma to see, etc.

A good ATV playback app would be the MrMC Media Center https://mrmc.tv/ - it is a Kodi fork, so it will playback anything you point it to. It's a little more to setup, try an alternate skin to improve the look, also point it towards your movie shares on your iMac. Whatever if finds in your movie share will be scraped and presented for playback.
 
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