Apple TV vs. Apple Mini

I am currently running a couple of Apple TV's with external DAC's as well as one Airport Express connected to powered speakers using the analog out on that device.

In the Amarra vs. Pure Music thread, I noted that I can't get Pure Music to play wirelessly. It made me wonder how great a sonic advantage running a Mac Mini to a USB Dac (I have a PS Audio DAC III connected via Wireworld toslink in one system)

I love the video aspects of the Apple TV and its interface with iTunes, but wondered how much I am missing. I have a couple of reasonably high resolving systems (McIntosh MA 6900, Martin Logan Ascets/Descent sub, Synergistic Research cabling in one system, Magunm Dynalab MD 208 Receiver, EPOS M5's, Kimber cables in the other).

I could use an iPod with Remote to control both.

Worth the bother? Any way to preserve the video interface while controlling iTunes?
FWIW... i have an appletv and a mac mini... the appletv has sat idle since a week after i got the mini. The usb digital out on the mini has noticeably nicer sound 'fuller less digital' than i got from the opyical out on the Apple TV. The mini also gave me many more video options (internet tv show replays, etc.) than the appletv did. The Plex hack i executed gave me the ful Plex experience, but the video was always choppy and pretty unacceptable. I was too cheap to purchase stuff from Itunes, but that did give a good video watching experience.

The mini also gave nice remote options not as available on the appletv. I can control the mini through VNC clients on my pcs as well as on my ipod touch. I installed the dvd player and can share my DVD library on my pc across the network trivially and without having to re rip the DVDs to get them into itunes.

If plex or boxee get the hack working well on the appletv, it may come close, but the mini is really a pretty awesome package.

Also, now that the cable companies have loosened their grp on tv tuner technologies for computers, it is likely that a tv tuner for the Mac will come along. That's pretty unlikely for the Appletv.

I'm sure there are others with more complete info but that's my experience, and i don;t think i am by any means an expert (although i am pretty geeky :-) )
The ATV is a good sounding unit- I think it is just as good sounding as the mini.

From an audiophile perspective the fundamental difference between the two is that the mini can play 24 bit material while the ATV cannot. The mini does get you firewire which I have taken advantage of as well. The mini is much more flexible.

So depending on how you use it it could be a close race- or a blowout. I wouldent jump to a mini for USB alone- but if any of the other advantages apply than go for it.
Thanks for the comments. It seems like neither Amarra or Pure Sound are compatible with ATV; hence my interest in the Mini.

The grass always seems greener etc.

Thanks for your replies.
The Mac Mini is a lot more flexible and offers a lot more options - it is a real computer that is easy to connect to a TV and stereo.

The ATV is a wonderful media device that gets no respect. It is basically a big iPod that connects to the home TV and stereo that sounds wonderful and is easy for the rest of the family to use.

I have both, the wife uses the ATV, and I couldn't live without our Mac Mini and its "50 inch monitor" in the family room.
Banyon100: Thanks for your reply. My main rig has a 60 inch Sony attached that I use with the Apple TV. Could you elaborate a bit on connecting the Mini to the TV? As you can gather, I am not much of a techie.

Sounds like a great solution.
If your TV has an RGB connection you can use an Apple DVI to RGB converter plus RGB cable to connect. If not, you can use a DVI to HDMI cable or converter to connect. In either case you will have to use a separate audio cable as the HDMI will not carry audio. Good luck and enjoy.
Thanks again Banyon100. I will check it out. Best regards.
When researching ATV audio playback, I found a website out of Hong Kong called Odyssey Audio, I think, that created a small USB dongle filter for the ATV.

Basically, the USB power is shared internally with the toslink transmitter in the ATV. The Dongle had some capacitors that filtered the +5V USB power rail, which in turn, cleaned up power going to the toslink transmitter. Apparently, this resulted in a better sounding digital output.

I've been meaning to build a filter, but I never find the time.
I just returned my Airport Express and literally stood in the store for an hour debating on the Apple TV vs Mac Mini. I opted for the Apple TV as I really just want a music server at its most basic level - hard disc storage, digital out and a slick user interface. I like that I can sync a library off my PC into the Apple TV and play it back off its internal hard drive.

The Apple TV is a slick multi media device and could not be easier to set up.
This is interesting to me. I recently switched from a DVD Changer into a Channel Island DAC to an Apple TV into the same DAC. I was under the impression that the DAC was ultimately responsible for the sound but I swear it actually sounds better. The only change other than the Apple TV is the switch from coaxial from the DVD to optical from the ATV. Is it possible that the ATV sounds better than my DVD changer as a transport?