Best sounding PC for adudio may vary

Hi I have owned many many different PC,s . From Desk tops to laptops but I have found that HP lap tops the new I5 quad core and 6 gig ram 640 gig hard is my newest toy but it is by far the best on my stereo. It has a much more laid back sound than my Compaq or my old Dell. The Compaq I found very forward with lots of mid bloom that could sound great on another rig but this HP is my boat. The Dell....Well honestly the Dell both laptops and desk top both just were boring and just never made think " this is the best it can be" I knew it was lacking and no one had to tell me that dell isnt what you want for audio. But some swear by it so more power to them. It may intergrate perfectly with there rig. I want to know what you guys Think? Tell sound differences you have noticed between different computers and by the way if you cant tell the difference in the sound between computers ....well...Thanks anyway?
At the risk of hijacking your thread, I wanted to add my two cents. We manufacture the Blue Smoke Entertainment Systems Black Box Custom Audiophile PC, so this a topic near and dear to my heart and wallet.
The Black Box is a silent/fanless, heat-piped Windows7 custom PC. It runs ultra low wattage and contains proprietary software and hardware to optimize integration and sonic performance. On the hardware end, we evaluated many well respected soundcards and a number of USB options. Because we couldn't find an available solution to meet our performance goals, we ultimately spent over one year and considerable dollars to have a proprietary DSP-based soundcard built to our specs. Digital output includes AES/EBU, S/PDIF via BNC, Toslink, and an I2S interface dedicated to the MSB proprietary network (input and output). This I2S interface output takes our already ultra-low jitter via traditional outputs (measured in trillionths of a second) to vanishingly low levels. Our custom soundcard also includes the industry's only hardware-based upsampler. Many algorithms were evaluated before deciding on the one to be included with our system. Should this be improved upon, it will be made available for evaluation/purchase to Black Box owners. We also include a software-based, curve-fit upsampler, in addition to native bit-perfect output through 24 bit/192kHz.
When Robert Harley visited Rockport Technologies in Maine, he proclaimed the Arrakis-based system to be the best stereo he'd ever heard. The digital source provided was our Black Box Server via the I2S interface into a MSB DAC-III Signature Edition. The analog source was the Rockport Sirius III TT.
So, to finally address you question, we have discovered that choices of hardware, OS/software, codecs, digital interfaces, etc., will dramatically affect sonic performance. We have built and evaluated many PC-based and Mac-based systems and components in our highly treated listening room driving Rockport speakers, and found sonic differences to be commensurate with comparing phono cartridges, turntables, CD players, or any other source component. Although there are more affordable pre-manufactured and DIY approaches to server-based sources, we have made a number of design choices that make the Black Box a uniquely "audiophile" digital source.
In case you or others plan to attend CES, the Black Box will be demonstrated through BAlabo electronics, Tidal Speakers and Argento cables on the 35th floor of the Venetian Hotel. BAlabo USA has quite a bit of experience with server-based sources and I'm confident they'd be willing to share their reasons for chosing the Black Box to drive their BD-1 DAC at CES for the second year in a row. We are confident that they will yet again distinguish themselves as one of the best of show. We are also pretty confident that our contribution will be the most affordable!
Thanks for reading.
A mac mini running Amarra, Ayrewave or PureMusic.
Attempt to re-post the link to Robert Harley's experience at Rockport Technologies:
Robert Harley?

6-7K for just the server. I am not very sure how that relates to this thread.
The best thing that has happened to my system lately was the death of my cheap audio computer's mother board. $75 later I had the same CPU and software, but a much improved sound (via USB to DAC). In addition, it runs so much cooler that the fans, which had been audible across the room, now barely come on.
It would be great to have a real production PC sonics shootout. The PCs would have to be capable of working as regular PCs not just servers.
The easiest way to get beyond this sound varibility and generally poor SQ of PC is to go with Mac. Then Use Amarra, Pure Music or Ayrewave for playback. These all have slight sound differences, but they are all excellent.

A Mac Mini is an excellent choice, and if you want to tweak it out, just buy a Mach2 from They have already done the foot work to do all the right things IME. I dont sell these, but I used one of their Minis at RMAF and my system got best of show from TAS. It was not because of the Mach2, but it did make a noticable improvement.

Also, dont even think about ripping with iTunes or using iTunes on a PC. Dreadful IMO. Use dbpoweramp and Accurate rip on PC and XLD on Mac:

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Thanks for the all the great feed back and epecially the Mac ideas guys! Ive heard others say Mac is the best practical everyday use/music server for audio use. My new HP has the I2S output or it looks like HDMI. Should I run that instead of USB to my Wyred 4 Sound DAC? All suggestions are appreciated.Oh does dbpoweramp have a free trial or software?
Jayb - the HDMI output on your computer is not I2S and not compatible with the W4S input. This input only works with the PSAudio transport.

dbpoweramp has free downloads, but you must download several pieces I think and install and configure them. I think it is easier to pay the $39 or whatever and get the pro version.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Totally agree with mechans. I really was refering to most main stream everyday PC,s or Mac,s and the different forms of connections from fire wire to USB or now Is2. Just kinda to help with sonic adjustments. More simple than complicated but the super servers are out there so we must talk about the possibility but I personally may never know the joy of a dedicated audio server. Oh! And much appreciated Steve from empirical Audio.
Steve, I notice that your Off Ramp has I2S output. It's a different connector than the W4S uses, but can they be made compatible?