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it does not beat out an older naim cd player, with two chassis, from the 90's. i believe it was the cd x.
i may have the model number incorrect, but what i heard sounded better than anything i have heard since that time.
i have heard a mac desk top, I believe it was a g5, connected wireless to denon's top of the line dac, 90's vintage, about $12,000 in price. it was very good digital, but inferior to the name.
Thanks for the responses. The question assumes that the person responding has a reasonable level of experience with both reference CD players and the very latest mid-level DAC/computer sources.
I'm asking because I don't have that level of experience, and am trying to determine if I'm being snowed by a sales person. I will say that I did take home an inexpensive DAC last weekend that was surprisingly impressive when hooked into my computer source. Sounded way better to me (from memory) than a CD player that 10 years ago was the top of the line player of a well-know British company.
There are a few more blanks.
a. it has to be a dedicated Mac Mini for music playback not something you use to file taxes, surf the net etc as well. That means disabling as much background processes and optimizing the system for audio playback
b. keep the external storage on a separate bus from the SPDIF connection (FW and USB or vv respectively) and use a good USB-SPDIF or FW-SPDIF connection (like a Wavelink HS or Offramp)
c. run Audirvana Plus
If you keep the DAC to 1-1.5k, I am going to say 10 years
If you don't limit the price of the DAC, I think the sky's the limit.
I think with A+ and the USB-X box on my Playback EMM Labs, the difference becomes very very close.
Yes, using dedicated 2010 Mac Mini , 8GB RAM, with SSD drive for OS (Mountain Lion). Using glass optical for the most part. Using Audirvana. Time to upgrade the DAC, which is what this is all about. Budget is an issue, though. Going to give the new $800 Schiit Gungnir a test drive. Hoping against hope it's a giant-maimer, if not killer.