Retro screen and audio play nice with new M1 MacBook Air [Setups]

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Goulielmos' retro screen and audio gear work fine with his MacBook Air.
Goulielmos' retro screen and audio gear work fine with his MacBook Air.
Photo: Alex Goulielmos

Alex Goulielmos, based in Piraeus, Greece, works as a software engineer for a maritime shipping company. He keeps it steady as she goes with his WFH setup, figuring, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or don’t go buying expensive new gear to replace it, anyway.

Good thing his recently acquired and “very snappy” MacBook Air works just fine with a 12-year-old Apple Cinema Display and audio equipment that dates back to the turn of this century. His new M1-powered laptop replaced a 2017 MacBook. But the monitor and audio gear may go on forever.

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Retro screen

His 24-inch Cinema Display dates to 2009. That may seem ancient in terms of computer equipment, but it simply works for him.

“The screen is dazzling,” he told Cult of Mac. “It doesn’t have the color accuracy and anti-glaring properties of the previous-generation Cinema Displays, which I also own, but its brightness can’t be beat.”

The monitor features 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution. He connects it to the laptop with a DeLock USB-C to Mini DisplayPort Adapter.

“This gives more real estate than the traditional 1920 x 1080 resolution, without going into the 4K frenzy, which would be overkill for me,” he said. “The DeLock adapter is enough for video, but if the extra features are needed — iSight, internal speakers, mic — then a USB-C to USB adapter is also necessary. I use the Apple official one.”

If the monitor has a drawback, it’s not the screen itself. It’s that the screen height can’t be adjusted, he said.

Old-school audio

Goulielmos, whose work mostly involves database development and project management, uses his audio system for video conferences as well as music breaks using high-def audio files.

He connects his computer via a Sound Blaster Play! 3 Sound Card/Adapter to a Pioneer SA-9500 II Amplifier and plays the audio through Tannoy Mercury M1 Speakers.

“The speakers are truly hi-fi. I have been using them for more than 20 years, and their treble performance is spectacular,” he said. “Plus it’s a nice touch that they are called M1, just like the Apple Silicon.”

The Pioneer amp is also long in the tooth — it previously belonged to Goulielmos’ father — but still works well, aside from one issue.

“It still sounds and looks great, but its retro tech makes it sensitive to some hissing noise from the powerline network adapters that I am using throughout the house,” he said.  “For that I will try a power strip with filtering capabilities. I have a very good APC one which protects from surges, but no filter there. I will also consider moving the PLC adapters.”

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