In Part One, I bought the first part of my new system: A screen. Rome wasn’t built in a day and nine-fifty per hour only buys so much. I had to build my new “Internet Entertainment Center” one piece at a time, and Frankenstein parts of my old AV system and computer to fill in the gaps.
I brought along my Mac (current eBay value: $355) , 5.1 AV Receiver (current eBay value: $0), and sundry cables and cords.
Yes, my “Media Center PC” is my primary machine. The trusty Dell (running gOS) is literally falling to pieces and only gets booted for web browsing. My TV is my only computer, more or less, and vice versa.
How I set it up in my new place is enough for a post of it’s own.
If my computer is going to be my primary entertainment machine, it’s going to have to be capable of more than just Stereo Sound, even if the majority of today’s net-video is only 2.0.
The first thing I did was connect my ten-year old Sony 5.1 amp (model STR-DE835) to my Mac. Every Mac has Optical Out, but the towers have Toslink ports so I didn’t even have to buy a converter and could use the same cable I used on my last three DVD Players.
Once the cable was in place, I made a few adjustments to my Mac.
First, in System Preferences->Sound-Output I changed it from “Internal Speakers / Built-In Audio” to “Digital Out / Optical digital-out port”. As soon as I did this, all system sounds and iTunes played out of my amp. As a side-bonus, whenever I turn my amp off, it reverts to the built-in speakers, so I’m never without audio.
I then made two other changes.
First, to DVD Player. In the Preferences, under Disc Setup/Audio I changed it from “System Sound Output” to “Digital Out-Built-In Audio”
Second, to VLC. Under the “Audio” Menu, choose Audio Device -> Built-In Audio (Encoded Output).
Now I can play Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 encoded files and discs in my Mac. Cool.