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Discussion Starter #1
After a long time the Mac mini is here in a updated version (late 2014). For an AV-enthusiast two questions are interesting:

- 4K/UHD support details (HDMI version, HDCP version, colorspace support etc)?

So far Apple only released the following specs:

"HDMI video output
Support for 1080p resolution at up to 60Hz
Support for 3840-by-2160 resolution at 30Hz
Support for 4096-by-2160 resolution at 24Hz"


- Support for more advanced audio formats (like DTS-HD, Dolby True-HD, 7.1 etc)?

I couldn´t find anything yet from Apple about the sound capabilities.

These issues also relates to the support provided in Yosemite.

The real question is: Are there any benefits of upgrading to the new late 2014 mini (compared to previous models) as an HTPC in regards to new video and audio capabilities?
 

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So, same HDMI output specs as my 2013 rMBP. Wake me up when they start supporting 4k (and for that matter 5K like the new iMac screen) at 60 Hz or above.

We may see a 4K capable AppleTV first...
 

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The real question is: Are there any benefits of upgrading to the new late 2014 mini (compared to previous models) as an HTPC in regards to new video and audio capabilities?
I think the 2011 and 2012 Minis are still powerful and flexible enough to handle HTPC duties for most of us here...I liked that they had both HDMI and Thunderbolt and for me they've always been fairly good bargains because you could put your own 2 drives inside and add your own RAM. After testing a 2012 for a while I went back to the 2011 with the HD 6630M graphics for my living room and have loved it ever since, using both the FW 800 and Thunderbolt for external storage. (I've been a Mac user for a very long time so I was invested in firewire for a long time and I jumped in on Thunderbolt very early, it has been nothing short of amazing.)

I haven't read reports of anyone who has gotten one yet, but I doubt there's any significant difference in audio with the 2014's, we'll have to wait for an official tear-down but Apple's not gonna change course now and all of a sudden support the high def Bluray audio formats. What I like about the 2014 is they've kept the HDMI and added a 2nd Thunderbolt port (the loss of FW800 is no big deal unless you work with professional audio apps and have firewire interfaces, there has been some discussion that the inexpensive TB to firewire adaptor doesn't do bus power as reliably as native FW ports.) HDMI, two TB and a bunch of USB3 ports will be pretty nice on something so small, reliable and cool-running. I feared Apple would change the form of the Mini and severely reduce its footprint. They did not, so far so good.

But, if as stated the RAM is no longer user-upgradeable, i.e. if it is indeed soldered on AND it's not as easy to get inside to swap drives or add a 2nd drive, then that changes the Mini value equation for me a little bit--you'll be paying Apple to beef up your machine rather than rotating your own stuff inside and shopping for bargain RAM. I'd give at least some consideration to staying with a price-reduced 2012 refurb that you put your own RAM and drive(s) in. Thunderbolt daisy chains quite nicely, and both the 2011 and 2012 Minis boot perfectly off of SSDs in Thunderbolt enclosures if you are the slightest bit concerned about opening the Mini up yourself...because my experience doing this has proven so safe and reliable, I suspect even the low end 2014 Mini with the Intel 5000 at $499, which seems like a weak value proposition on paper, will do quite well in the home theater if you boot it off an SSD over Thunderbolt 2.

That has me thinking, the low end 2014 model may not sell all that well, if it exists mainly to get people to step up to a machine perceived to be a better value at a higher price point, as result it may show up fairly quickly as a refurb and then I may just upgrade to it since I'm already set for external SSDs and Thunderbolt.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Some more info out now:

Apple released info about connecting 4K displays:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6008

In contrast to MacPro 2013, MBP 15, iMac 27 Retina, etc the mini CANNOT use Multi-Stream Transport (MST) displays (which gives possibility to 60Hz 4K). This indicates a limitation in the graphics hardware on the mini...

Here is a teardown of the mini Late 2014:
https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Mac+Mini+Late+2014+Teardown/30410

This thread should be limited to graphics and sound but anyway, heres my 2c on the mini late 2014 compared to previous models:

+ option of faster PCI-E SSD (max upgrade seems to be one SSD blade (PCI-E) + one SSD or HD in normal 2.5 form factor (SATA)
+ better integrated graphics than 2012 (but not better than 2011 with discreet graphics)
- soldered RAM (big minus in my opinion, RAM-upgrade was extremely easy with older models)
- lower CPU performance limited to max 2 cores
- hard to open, uses Torx Security screws, most people will need to buy a new tool for this
 

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- Support for more advanced audio formats (like DTS-HD, Dolby True-HD, 7.1 etc)?

The real question is: Are there any benefits of upgrading to the new late 2014 mini (compared to previous models) as an HTPC in regards to new video and audio capabilities?

you will NEVER have HD audio support if you insist on using OSX. Period. Apple simply refuses to support HD audio tracks.

the only benefit to getting the 2014 revision is that it has the haswell CPU which has perfect 24p playback. its the most consistent 24p framerate playback of all GPUs to date. Besides this, the 2012 mac mini is equal to or superior to the 2014 revision in every way. The 2012 version is easily upgradable and has all the same features, except for consistent 24p support, which Intel didnt support till haswell.

This does NOT mean that you cant get a mac mini and playback HD audio. You simply need to bootcamp windows onto it. Windows supports everything works beautifully if you want to use it as a standalone HTPC. I have a 2012 mac mini and it works great as a windows machine (i bought it specifically to load windows onto it because at that time, I needed a pretty htpc box that also had legacy audio support since my a/v equipment predates hd audio), and if were really building a windows machine and wanted hd audio support, it would behoove you to just get an intel nuc, which does more and costs about $100 less than a comparable '14 mac mini.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The choice of processors in the new mini seems to limit the graphics support to both HDMI 1.4 and max 3840 x 2160 @ 30 Hz through the Display Port. See enclosed chart.

If Apple chose a H-series processor instead they would have been able to output 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz through Display Port. (The current 2.6 model uses a i5-4278U processor.)

I would like Apple to offer a more HTPC-capable config of the mini with:
HDMI 2.0
Larger color space
Full software support for HD-audio and 4K/UHD video

The above shouldn´t cost more than $100 more at retail and I think a lot HT enthusiasts would pay this price in order to get a "real" HTPC. But with Apples current upgrade ambitions I am pessimistic...
 

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Hi,

Have someone tested and confirmed that macmini 2014 can passthrough bitstream hd audio (DTS-HD and DD TrueHD) to a receiver with bootcamp Windows 7 or Windows 8 ?
 

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Hi,

Have someone tested and confirmed that macmini 2014 can passthrough bitstream hd audio (DTS-HD and DD TrueHD) to a receiver with bootcamp Windows 7 or Windows 8 ?
cant see why it shouldnt...? works fine with the 2012 Mac Mini. Dont use Win8 though.
 

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Hi,

Have someone tested and confirmed that macmini 2014 can passthrough bitstream hd audio (DTS-HD and DD TrueHD) to a receiver with bootcamp Windows 7 or Windows 8 ?
It's works but only in MPC-HC ( Windows 7 x64), no bitstream hd audio from TMT 6.7.199 :( I don't now why ?
So hardware do, software not necessarily.
 

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I don't understand one thing about the HD audio support. I have a 2014 Mac Mini that I just bought recently. I use Audirvana for audio and I can play surround DSD audio in PCM 5.1 at 24-bit/176.4kHz. Audirvana is decoding surround DSD into PCM 5.1 at very high bitrate. If my receiver (NAD T775HD) had supported DSD directly, Audirvana would have streamed DSD directly but since it does not, it converts into PCM. Why can't the video players (Plex, etc) do the same thing to Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD-Ma, etc. For crying out loud, even movies that have PCM 5.1 audio in it don't come out as PCM 5.1. Has anyone submitted a radar to Apple about this? One other thing is Netflix. Does netflix support Dolby Digital+ for Windows? If it does and only does not support it for Mac because Apple does not, may be if enough of us submit radar feedback, they might do something about it. User feedback is important for Apple and not in forums. Direct through radar.
 

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I don't understand one thing about the HD audio support. I have a 2014 Mac Mini that I just bought recently. I use Audirvana for audio and I can play surround DSD audio in PCM 5.1 at 24-bit/176.4kHz. Audirvana is decoding surround DSD into PCM 5.1 at very high bitrate. If my receiver (NAD T775HD) had supported DSD directly, Audirvana would have streamed DSD directly but since it does not, it converts into PCM. Why can't the video players (Plex, etc) do the same thing to Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD-Ma, etc. For crying out loud, even movies that have PCM 5.1 audio in it don't come out as PCM 5.1. Has anyone submitted a radar to Apple about this? One other thing is Netflix. Does netflix support Dolby Digital+ for Windows? If it does and only does not support it for Mac because Apple does not, may be if enough of us submit radar feedback, they might do something about it. User feedback is important for Apple and not in forums. Direct through radar.
I wonder if this issue has been addressed at all in El Capitan OS X 10.11 beta? I heard Kodi might be able to do this where Plex does not?

My 2012 Mac Mini serves at the heart of my HT and not having support for 7-channel audio is horrible. I'm looking at Atmos now and the Mac hasn't even caught up with 2007 era audio tech.

EDIT: I did a bit more reading/research this evening, and while I wasn't able to confirm anything, I do think I understand the issue better and thus the necessary solution. The issue is that OS X does not support HD Audio Passthrough. Apparently, Windows does... You can install Windows on a Mac and get HD Audio Passthrough.

On the other hand, as you noted, OS X may (to be confirmed) not have a problem with passing 8-channel PCM. So player software that's able to decode HD audio and output it via PCM should work on the Mac.

Apparently Kodi can at least do this for Dolby TRUE HD (Or whatever it's called)... Need to confirm. I'm unsure about support for DTS-MA. I think it depends on the capabilities of the AV decoder these programs use which I believe is ffmpeg or something like that. I think Kodi might be using a more recent version compared to Plex, hence the different support.

It all needs further exploration and confirmation.

Edit 2: Plex can also decode TrueHD to PCM on OS X but there is no open-source decoder for DTS-MA so no app will handle that codec.

Good thread here...
https://forums.plex.tv/discussion/102378/hd-audio-on-mac-with-plex
 

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I submitted a radar bug report against this with Apple. Yet to hear back about the progress. I briefly ran Windows 10 beta on my new Mac Mini and Windows clearly said that the HDMI port supports all the HD codecs. No mention of it on the OS X side! Sigh.
 

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I have not heard back from Apple regarding the lossless audio support. However, I noticed that AppleTV 4 (just announced today), supports Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 (first time Apple is supporting newer codecs!).
 

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Just to follow up on my path to finding a solution on a Mac Mini that can bitstream HD Audio...

I've installed OpenELEC and Kodi on a 2014 Mac Mini which has proven very easy and rewarding. I don't miss OS X as it's an exclusive media player box and I only ever interact with it via the remote. It plays everything I've thrown at it, including bitstreaming Atmos soundtracks. Of course I don't have any 4K content, but all my high bit-rate 1080p stuff plays perfectly.
 

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Just to follow up on my path to finding a solution on a Mac Mini that can bitstream HD Audio...

I've installed OpenELEC and Kodi on a 2014 Mac Mini which has proven very easy and rewarding. I don't miss OS X as it's an exclusive media player box and I only ever interact with it via the remote. It plays everything I've thrown at it, including bitstreaming Atmos soundtracks. Of course I don't have any 4K content, but all my high bit-rate 1080p stuff plays perfectly.
Is it possible to have both openelec and OS X on the same mac mini? Like with windows and os x...?
 

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Yes. I believe it is. But I don't know how to set that up. I did come across some threads here and there... You will likely find them if you start searching.
 
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