I suggest an Eastern Electric DAC, a HiFace USB adapter with a BNC connector, and Pure Music.
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I am also considering upgrade my Maverick Audio, so, I am interested in this Eastern Electric DAC. But .. is this out yet? I can't find any information. No company web site, no spec, no review .. all I can find is discussion threads. It seems the price is $600 for pre order, $700 after launch in N.America .. It is not cheap. How is it compared to the following:
PS Audio Digital Link III with cullen mod
Wyred 4 sound DAC-1
As you say, you don't need a volume control on the DAC. Your amp's volume control will do the job fine.
You don't have to start with a DAC. You can take the signal off the Mac Mini's headphone output and run it right to your amp. The better your cable, the better this will sound.
If you do use a DAC you have a 99.9% chance of getting better sound than the headphone output will give you. If it were me starting out, though, I would start cheap and upgrade only when my sonics seemed a bit less than satisfying.
I agree with Mezzrow's assessment of the Nuforce uDAC. Its only input is USB but it's very impressive for a $99 piece of gear, substantially better than the headphone output of my MacBook Pro and better than the highly regarded Valab DAC I owned that costs twice as much.