New Mac Mini Outputs

I was thinking about a Mac Mini as a first step into PC Audio (24/96), but I see the new one has only USB, HDMI, and Firewire. Would it be better to buy a used Mini with S/PDIF, or not, and if so what model? Thanks.
The biggest issue I have with the new mini is that the installed iLife 11 didn't come with IDvd........ so I had to re buy the retail CD of iLife11 to get it (what a con)..... Apple don't sell the retail packs anymore, the iLife app doesn't have it........

They're pushing this iCloud to replace optical drives....... So if you burn digital camera videos or pics to DVDs look out.......
"The new minis sound better according to mach2music"

Not what was just post a couple of days ago here by Darrell of Mach2 Music. See this thread:

"We prefer the Snow Leopard sound quality overall, but Lion can sound very good with lots of work to the OS."

Their web site may say something different, but they are selling products there.

You are missing the point about the USB bus, there is not an unused port regardless of how many or few external devices are plugged into the Mac mini. Check "About This Mac", then select "More Info" tab, then under Hardware select the "USB" you will see your USB DAC sharing something like the IR receiver, or Bluetooth, etc. This is not the case with the 2010 version as there are at least 2 unshared ports that can be used for the DAC.

Also Gordon Rankin of Wavelength (also in a thread on the Asylum) recommended getting a 2010 Mac mini while they are still available for the reason mentioned above.

My recommendation is to get a 2010 Mac mini while you can, if one needs a Mac mini with thunderbolt that can always be purchased later.

Thunderbolt hard drives will be of little use in a dedicated music server (at this point) application as even Firewire 400 on an external HD is more than fast enough for loading songs into main memory (eg. Memory Play with Pure Music, as well as others).

Noisy fan in a listening room??? No thanks, not for me.

Lion may someday be cleaned up to where it is equal to or better than Snow Lepoard, but that is in the future. Then again maybe never.

Just to clarify a couple of Mach2 related quotes, some taken from a few months ago, and some recently. Our opinion is:

1) 2011 Mac Mini > 2010 Mac Mini
2) Stock Snow Leopard > Stock Lion

We just released a Lion Mach2 but we had to do much more to Lion to make it sound good, more than most people will want to try on their own.

Mach2 Snow Leopard is similar in sound to Mach2 Lion, but not exact. Overall, I personally prefer the Mach2 Snow Leopard, but this decision could come to system synergy. They both sound excellent.


If you have a 2010, I recommend you go with Snow Leopard. I think Lion does better music playback when it has the i5 core processor and Sata III speed behind it. Snow leopard sounds great on the 2010 (and 2011 for that matter).

I wasn't clear, the new minis sound better using snow leopard. So USB sharing mustn't be too bad......... It depends on how the harware handles muliple tasks , i5 and i7 chips are far better at this, Lion enables hyper-threading so the second cores can be fully utilized.

Fan doesn't come on when playing music, only when converting video or something that can actually stress an i7 chip, mini is only slightly warm otherwise.

We shall see what happens with thunderbolt, it's more than data transfer if you can run the new display from it at those resolutions and still use FireWire/USB.

It's a mute debate as thus time next year there'll be something else!
@Alan49 regarding Thunderbolt hard drives will be of little use in a dedicated music server at this point"

At this moment you are correct because Magma and others haven't yet released PCI expansion via thunderbolt. When that happens, you could use a SOTM PCI USB card and power it with a linear or battery PSU. Dedicated/Unshared USB with independent PSU and the ability to disable the 5v output over USB would be a big deal for some folks.