Mac as a audio player / Game console

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: Dec 30 2003
Posts: 85

I need an advice on a small project I have and would appreciate any input.

I have a 6500/275 (128MB RAM) with a FM/TV tuner, S video and TV out and I would like to set it up (with a large HD) as a music box (hooked up to an amplifier). To do this, I also have a SoundBlaster Live! for Macintosh (I have actually never tried it, got it cheap on eBay long time ago).
I'm planning on using OS 8.6 (since I have it) but if there is a compelling reason, I could get 9.X.

So my questions are really regarding the audio part. Which format should I store the audio files (MP3 or AAC or something else) and which program can this old workhorse handle? What I would like to do is to make multiple play lists and be able to rather easily select them using the TV as a monitor. I would also like to keep the option open to upgrade the computer significantly later if I (and my wife really) like this (being able to pack all the audio CDs would be nice) so I'd like the audio format to be as good as possible (realising that the current computer may be a limiting factor here). Any comments regarding this would be appreciated.

On a side note, I'm also planning on running MAME and some old Mac games on this (Star Wars etc.) computer and use the TV as a monitor (have an old Firebird joystick for this).



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Kurenai's picture
Joined: May 28 2004
Posts: 82
on that subject

store the audio as MP3, or maybe AAC but i would say use blade encode(freeware) and do mp3, run soundapp for playback, o and run the independintly rebuilt version of mame for mac, its much better(more stable, faster) all of these programs run on my old powerbook 1400(166mhz, 64mb of ram) so they should run great on your powermac, although when encoding mp3s set aside some time. as the best ive ever gotten is 0.52x encoding speed. o and another interesting tidbit
apple did have plans to realease a dreamcast-like game console. with a power pc processor, but it got killed faster than a sucsessor to the newton, then did make a few though, they were sorta like xboxes, they had 4gb hardrives, 256mb of ram and a 160mhz powerpc(604e i think). i would buy it

AG-Wolf's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 136
It was the Apple Pippin @mark

It was the Apple Pippin @mark or @world. It was only a 66mhz 601 or 603 (well 603 and 601 are the same, a 603 just runs cooler). my friend has a developer's unit, they're pretty neat, but you can't really do much with them.

here's an article I scanned like 4 years ago, from a may 95 issue of gamepro
(sorry for bad compression, I wasn't too fluent in all the image-editing nuances back then Tongue )

and here's some info by that japanese dude who did the all-out G3 500 Power Color Classic:


Anyway, as far as using a 6500 as a gaming and music machine; I've got a 6500 with a 350MHz G3 L2 upgrade card and os 9.1, 96mb ram, and a 13gb hard drive. Even with all the stuff I have on it (extensions, control panels, 3rd party ext and cp's, etc etc), it runs very well (I too do music editing and playback, along with assorted emulators...and 4 million other things XD ). If you were to setup a 6500 with a G3 upgrade card

(or check ebay for cheaper...), and do just a low-end install of 8.6 or 9.1, along with the bare minimum you need for the sound apps and game (are you talking emulators?) stuff, you should be all set. The only significant benefit of 9.1 is that it's more recent, obviously. Definitely try to go with 9.1 since you have the full 128mb ram.

As far as audio, I don't know if AAC is able to be done on pre-X OSes, but there may very well be a program out there that can do it. Check

to see if they have anything right off the bat. If you can get AAC, go for it; but if you're stuck with MP3 (and I usually get 2.5 or 3x speeds with iTunes since I have the G3 card), do:
Mono: 80 or 96kbps
Stereo: 192 or 224kbps
VBR @ "highest"
"Smart Encoding Adjustments" -on-
"Filter Frequencies below 10hz" -off-
"Stereo Mode" - "Joint Stereo"
"Channels" - "Auto"
"Sample Rate" - "auto"

Those are all the settings for iTunes 2, since you can't use 3 or 4 on pre-X machines. I've never used any other mp3 management program (MacAmp, Audion, etc etc...) because iTunes does everything -I- need, though other programs might have something you need/want.

Anyway, that's as much help as I can give right now 'cause it's rather late and I'm pretty tired XD Hope something helped, and feel free to contact me if you need any other advice/help/suggestions...I'm a big 6500 fan, and have been working with them long enough to know the ins and outs of pretty much anything you might want to do with them.

(ps: I have every video/audio hardware piece except the Avid Video card, and the Svid/RCA video waves of jealousy pour from within Tongue )


Main PC: Sempron 2Ghz 256k L2/768MB Ram/40,60,120Gb HD's/CDRW/DVD+-RW/WinXP SP2
» Main Mac: PowerMac 6500 inside Color Classic/G3 500Mhz 1MB L2/128Mb Ram/40Gb HD/OS 9.1/ATI Rage 128/OrangeLink USB-FireWire/CSII E-net/TV-FM Tuner

smykes24's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 52
Keep in mind that your hard d

Keep in mind that your hard drive size will be limited to 128 GBs due to ATA limitations. The only way to solve this is to use a ATA 133 PCI card solution, such as the ones that Sonnet offer.

Other considerations you should make are how you are going to control the machine from afar? Most wireless input solutions are either USB or PS2. Depending upon how far away your couch is from your TV you might want to consider adding a USB card. (The aforementioned Sonnet has a 3 in 1 card that does USB - Firewire - ATA. Let it be said that on the stock CD-ROM drive your RIP speed is going to be absolutely abysmal. Due to the limitations of the onboard IDE bus on the 6400/6500 it will not take a drive in slave mode. So if you want to add a faster drive you will either have to find a faster SCSI drive (Plextor comes to mind) or an IDE card.

It would be cool if you could use the open 5.25 quarter bay for something useful such as front mount USB headers or a compact flash adapter.

Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 19
It looks like you have a soli

It looks like you have a solid set up for audio given the hardware. Now its just a matter of software. I haven't seen a player for AAC encoded audio for OS 9. I haven't really looked either. So if you can confirm the existance of an AAC player for OS 9, plan on using MP3's. Playing back MP3's on the 6500 shouldn't be a problem with the right player.

If you're thiniking about a serious MAME box, I'd get a G3 upgrade and a decent PCI based video card. For me, MAME runs rather slowly on a G4/550 with a Radeon 8500 under OS X. Also, the TV Tuner doesn't mix well with PCI video cards - TV will stutter if displayed through a PCI video card.

FYI for the other posters, the 601 and the 603 are two very different chips. Also, the Pippin shipped with a 100 Mhz 603e after developement units based on the 66 Mhz 602, and 75 Mhz 603.


171 computers and counting...

Joined: Dec 30 2003
Posts: 85
Lot of help

Thanks all. This helps a lot.

Here is some more information on my planned setup that answers some of the questions/comments that came up in the replies.

My main computer is a QS/933 running 10.2.8 so I was thinking about having it do all the encoding of the music CDs that I have. I haven't still decided where I'm going to store the audio files, but I would like my QS to have access to them as well. So it will probably be a home network (wired for a start) using 100baseT (I have a 100baseT PCI card for the 6500). If I store the files on the 6500 I'll get a large IDE HD and 128GB will be enough (an overkill as a matter of fact).
I actually have the remote for the 6500 so I plan to use it to control the audo player if possible. I really like iTunes and I may try to use it if it isn't too slow. A G3L2 card would be really nice but I don't know if I want to spend that much money.
Since I'm looking into using the TV as a monitor I would have to get good TV/out specific video card to make an imrpovement in that category. I have a Voodoo 3 (or maybe it is 2, it is 16MB) that I flashed for the Mac and it works fine (but no TV out). Anyway, to run anything on the TV, the resolution must be 640x480 so I think the built in graphics should be enough.
Any comments on the Sound Blaster Live! for Macintosh use? I haven't compared the specs to the built in sound but I "assume" that the sound will be better?

Finally, AG-Wolf, I might be able to help you out with that jealousy regarding a Svid/RCA out card. Let me know if you are interested.