Return of the mac (mini)

Happy M1 mini owner here, my Apollo X6 works okay but I have had some bugs waking from sleep where I need to restart the Apollo.

fwiw, i’ve been having those issues too with an apollo interface since big sur and i’m not on m1.

The M1 looks like a solid deal right now, the only other thing that I would think about – besides what has already been said – is if 16Gb of RAM is enough on the long run. 16Gb is not a lot for todays standards and might be even less in 3-4 years. Though of course Harddrives are so fast nowadays that they can make up for it and it really depends a lot on what you’re doing.

The VST architcture (process() is called in the audio thread, directly) doesn’t make it easy or even optimal for a VST to be, itself, multi-core capable (it is entirely possible, but very complex to implement for diminishing returns). DAWs are usually responsible for distributing each track’s processing across the cores already, so in most cases there’s very little to be gained from a single VST being multi-core to begin with as you spread out its contention for resources across cores that are already contending for resources for other plugins and tracks. Unless you’re running one single track with one single VST that needs ALL your horsepower, which is a niche case, there’s less to be gained from a VST being multicore than there usually is to be lost by it in overall system performance, DAW-wide.

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I’ve been using a Mac Mini 2018 and it has been ok, although I was having strange issues where the computer wouldn’t wake from sleep properly and would shut off. Those seem to have gone away for the most part after the Catalina upgrade which I think replaced the t2 chip firmware. Occasionally my samsung monitor doesn’t work when I wake it but that’s probably the monitor.

Do you have a source for this? I expect that Apple will spend the next 1.5-2 years re-establishing their product hierarchy. So in my view, we won’t see new chips in the mini until every other product tier is established with a faster better chip. At that point I expect they’ll start to refresh the entry models that were given the ARM chips in the roll out.

I went 16gb RAM and 512 SSD. For my uses (Ableton, Logic, Max without large symphonic libraries etc) that is plenty and external storage is relatively cheap for archiving non-active projects etc.

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yeah, it just kinda depends if apple chooses to do an upgrade to the mac mini chipsets when (or shortly after) they roll out the new imacs.

I just installed a new M1 Mac Mini in my music studio as my dedicated music hub, and I am really excited for it. It’s going to be running Ableton Live Suite 10 primarily, along with other software (Reaktor Blocks, VCV Rack, PD, etc). Super happy with it so far after getting it plugged in and some software installed!

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I got a 8gig new mac mini to install at my work as it will be more than enough for that space.

I’ve been playing around with it at home to get things setup.

I do visual work on my main computers so it needs to be able to keep up.

I mostly use ffmpeg, hydra, blender and am just starting with unreal engine.

so far it seems like unreal engine is the only thing that takes time to really open up and think about.

my main complaint is centered around bluetooth and it is possibly not the computers fault.
I’ve got several minirig speakers and they seem to have a hard time connecting or will drop out some times.
That being said those speakers have always been weird via bluetooth but I’ve never had the drop out issue before.
I will bring home another bluetooth device that has always worked reliably elsewhere to test.

for me when I start running a couple threads of ffmpeg displacement or morphing my macbook starts eating itself. If I run a couple instances of hydra in browser it has issues. There is no reason to even try installing unreal engine. Blender wasn’t too bad with a small project but that was as far as I got.
I want a computer that gets plugged in so I don’t have to worry about battery management during this creative flow.

I’m very happy with the mini but will certainly get a 16gig version for myself

with how 8gigs is handling everything I’m throwing at it I can tell 16 is more for peace of mind than anything.

here are some examples of the kind of things that I’m doing.
foooo
this was done using blender
2d person image > 3d mesh
in a scene with a bunch of assets from the video synth


ffmpeg doing displacement on a couple videos

ffmpeg doing displacement and some crop/padding
people get upset (myself included) when good videos are shot vertically
so because I am who I am I feel the need to incorporate vertical videos into the processing workflow of the video synth.

pure ffmpeg morphing on an old VHS rip

ffmpeg processing on video synth output with norns audio
this was my first ffmpeg creative output and I’m still really excited by the process behind it :slight_smile:

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I’ve had issues with bluetooth devices working well when USB 3 is in use. Very odd, but apparently there is some conflict in the 2.4 ghz frequency band. This is an issue on my 2018 mini.

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also an issue here, 2019 mac mini. keyboard and mouse disconnect regularly

I had problem on a Mac mini (a 2012 model though) with the Bluetooth and especially the wifi. If turned out to be my external hard drive that made some electromagnetic interference when it was plugged in and being placed too close up against my Mac minis backside.
It’s worth keeping in mind

Yep that is the issue. I mainly had issues with a wireless mouse. I now am using a trackman wired mouse, so it’s a non issue. You can also use a usb2 extension cable if I recall, dropping the speed on the hard drive.

Can you talk a bit more about your experience with Unreal? Did you eventually get it to work? What version?

This is one of the things that worries me about potentially transitioning to the new chips.

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I’m on the latest version 4.something

I’m just learning so I can’t speak to how well anything in particular works versus how it worked before.

I will do a screen record of the program starting up when I get home so you get a sense of how long it take from opening it to being inside a project.

I didn’t have any issues getting it running on the m1 mac mini. I just had to download the xcode stuff, epic launcher and then unreal through epic and it worked no problem.

I don’t really have any 3d program experience but it seems to be fairly reasonable.

My goal is to allow my partner and I to build sets for our theatre so actors get a better idea of blocking…

also building little stages to fill with video synth assets and then re process through the video system.

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Nice, that’s good to hear. I read some forum posts where people were having a lot more trouble than that, and having to use older versions (4.21 in some cases instead of the current 4.26).

Depending on the project, UE4 will often take forever to open it for the first time, as it’ll compile/build a lot of stuff then so that it can run the project in the editor. That’s just part of UE4, which bundles lots of good with lots of bad. If you don’t need UE4 for some particular reason, definitely try Godot as a much lighter alternative…

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Please keep in mind that there’s a dedicated Apple thread to discuss problems and issues:

https://llllllll.co/t/apple-mac-issues-hardware-firmware-interfaces-etc/

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Thread resurrection to ask: would it be silly to buy a 2018 model Mac Mini in 2022, now that the M1 versions have been released?

I always try to buy 2nd user hardware to assuage my guilt at adding to e-waste and the i5 models have become quite affordable from refurb sellers. The i7s are still quite expensive (1.5 x the price of the i5s) and I believe they run quite hot. My work laptop is i7 and that is also hot.

I have a lot of older software: Ableton 10 (Intro, so no upgrade to 11 Intro), Reaktor (which may never be ported to M1), Renoise.
I also use a lot of open-source software, such as KiCad for PCB design, and I’m not sure if that is M1 compatible either.

The config I’m looking at is i5, 32GB RAM and 512GB SSD for £700. I’d hope to keep using the computer for at least 5 years, and somewhere up to 10 would be even better.
Is this a good idea, or just throwing money away? Would I be better stumping up the extra ££ for the i7?

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I bought my Mac mini i5 just before the new M1’s were announced. It’s my studio computer and it works fine for the job.
It does run quite hot. I bought the 16gb model and extended it to 32gb myself. It was much cheaper that way. Though I’m not sure if I actually ever use so much memory.
The price you name looks really high for the i5. Also have a M1 laptop and it really is much much faster then the i5 macmini. So getting the M1 is really recommended unless you can get it really cheap I would think about €500?

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Against the advice, and possibly good judgement, I did buy a refurbed i5 Mac Mini with 32GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. Thanks @Shiftr and apologies for ignoring your advice!

I’m actually really pleased with it. It is super quick compared to my bottom of the range 2015 MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and 2.5GHz Dual Core processor. I think having the extra RAM and the 6 cores is what makes it feel super snappy.

Best of all - all my software still works, including Reaktor 6, and my USB hardware.
I think this i5 Mac Mini will be a good workhorse for the next 5 years and then the M1 Macs might have better software compatibility.

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