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limitations of a mac mini...

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by phrygianpastor, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. phrygianpastor

    phrygianpastor closet bassist...

    Apr 16, 2005
    hey all,
    just getting into the recording realm...wanting something cheap and stable and easy to use for the church. so we thought of the mac mini to just record sermons and stuff like that...simple one track stuff...

    but i guess what i'm asking is...down the road if we wanted to live multi-track and do more intricate things (not even sure what right now) would i be limited by the mini? i mean, i can upgrade the ram (with a putty knife), buy an external interface (like the firepod) which runs through firewire, and even an external hard drive to run at 7200rpm if i really wanted (although i'm not really sure how crucial this is...anyone care to explain in simple layman's terms?). but are there other things that are intrinsically limiting about the mini over a macbook or a macbook pro or even a full tower?

    thanks...for those of you with experience in a church setting that'd help alot too on what i'd want to prepare for in the future too...
  2. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    You will not be limited by the Mac Mini unless you want to go to dual screens. As it is, the Mini will do 1920x1200 resolution so a large monitor for your mixing and such will be more than enough screen real estate.

    Why you will eventually want a firewire drive: The drive inside of a Mini is a laptop drive. You can do good things with them, but there isn't a lot of ventilation inside the case of a Mini so taking the hard drive which will be doing the most reading/writing out of the case is a good thing. You can also get better performing disks than the Mini comes with, but the disk in the Mini is pretty decent. It really depends on how many tracks you want to go up to.

    All in all it's a good machine and will serve you for a long time in this capacity.
  3. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    If all you're doing is mono or stereo of a service then the Mac Mini will do. I was using my Mini for simple stuff for long time until I finally updated to a Mac Pro. The Mini hard drive is a slow laptop drive so you might want to run an external FW hard drive. I cloned my Mini's drive to an external and ran that way until I got my new Mac.

    I know church budgets are tight, but once they start to record they will want to record more and higher quality always seems to happen. I would try to talk them into a 20" or 24" iMac. It can hold more memory and a full speed hard drive. The new iMac's are good for recording we use one for our editing of services. An iMac with a large internal hard drive will leave it's all it ports open for you interface of choice.

    You need to decide on your interface and see what version of OS X it supports and has drivers for. A lot of the audio gear is just now starting to support Leopard.
  4. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    Looking at the spec's there isn't really much to choose in spec between the mini, and the entry level MacBook, and even the iMac - the extra for these goes towards the screens, and the nice boxes. The entry iMac is about twice the price though. To get seriously more punch you need to be moving up to the Mac Pro which is seriously pricey.

    If you assume that the mini can do the basic stuff, and take you some way towards the more complex stuff that you MIGHT want to do, then it'll be hard to justify the extra cash. Just go with the mini, and if in a year or two you outgrow it then you'll be able to repace it with a much more powerfull mini for the same price, and you'll have a couple of years of learning experience behind you.

    I'd go with an external drive for recording onto. You're GOING to fill it. There's no reason to put the entire system onto that drive though - keep the internal drive as the system drive, and get an external or two for recording onto. That spreads the load over two drives (gving better performance), and you can remove the external drive and put it in a safe place/take it home for mixing.

  5. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    The iMac can hold 4GB of RAM and if they keep recording they will need it. iMac can also have up to a 1TB hard drive and all iMac drives are desktop speed not the slow laptop drives the Mini has. Last the iMac has more ports than the Mini. So it is a big step up from the Mini and add in the connivence of being all one piece with a nice screen they make good recording computers. The Mini Garageband is about as much as it can handle the iMac makes a nice basic Logic or PT setup. I know because I just upgrade from a Mini.
  6. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    If you keep it basic , it can do a pretty good job.

    Don't expect 30+ tracks mixing sessions with loads of plugins & VI's....
  7. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Actually as long as you're not using plugins or virtual instruments, a Mini could go way over 30 tracks. Especially with a decently appointed external firewire drive.

    Number of tracks is dependent on the disk being read from and written to, not the CPU.

    And you would be able to use a very useful amount of plugins with a Mini, depending on how you use them and how CPU intensive they are.

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