I-Mac for computer audio?

I am thinking of replacing my desktop PC and getting into computer audio at the same time. I was wondereing if I could use an I-Mac instead of the Mac-mini I read so much about. By necessity (wife!), the I Mac would reside some 40 ft. from the rest of my equipment and I definitely want a hardwire connection for SQ. I have read that Mac-mini's are affected by jitter and don't know if the I-Mac would offer improvement in this area or not. I know I would need an outboard DAC but other than that I know next to nothing about computer audio but I'd like to learn. Does my plan (using an I-Mac as a desktop computer AND a music server) sound feasible?
I bought a 13"MacBook a couple of years ago, purchase a HRT DAC along with Decibel Software for playing back Music Downloads from HDTRACKS.com!! You will be hooked, for ever!! Although I spin a lot vinyl & still record my Lps to a 30 year old TEAC A-6300. Internet Radio Streaming is getting better by the day, check out RadioParadise.com for 196kbps streaming!!
I just started using an imac as a squeezebox server, works great.
I've been using an i-mac for a few years as both my desktop computer and music source. Very happy. Using Apple TV to stream to my big rig in another room.
The iMac works great. I have a mini and an iMac and I can't hear a difference.
If you want to do some reading,do a search in the archives.There is some very good info there.I use an Imac with pretty good results.I would say,that if you are using the Imac for things other than audio as well,get at least 8GB of RAM.And have fun!Ray
I hate to be the wet blanket here but you should keep the distance from the iMac to your stereo about 2 meters or less.

I have a similar dilemma as yours where my iMac is across the room from my stereo. I used a 15' run of WireWorld USB to a Centrance Mini and 15' of Zu Mission ICs and thought I was getting really great sound. I also used the Centrance for headphone listening.

When I got a Schiit Bifrost, out came the Centrance to see duty as my desktop DAC for my headphone listening and for the Audioengine speakers. It was only then that I realized just how much better it sounded when using just 1 meter of USB. So I know that there was some degradation with the greater length.

The Bifrost sounded a bit better serving duty as the conduit from iMac to stereo until I changed around some ICs between my CDP and amp and then I knew I would have to spend a lot more to equal that quality of sound I was getting. I have since stopped listening to my iMac because it doesn't even come close to what I get with my good old CDP.

This is not to say that you'll get the same results as I did. But I'm a firm believer in hard wiring everything. I've read enough to tell me that wireless is good enough for casual listening but not for critical listening. Too much chance for something to drop off or interfere.

I don't want to start a war here about wireless. IMO it's just a convenience and not entirely reliable. Just my take on it. Maybe one of the PC gurus on this site can chime it with their take on it.

All the best,
To answer your 1st question, you won't have any SQ advantage by choosing an iMac over a mac mini. I have both, and both use the same optical out that causes some to complain about jitter.
I agree, however, with the post that questions your setup at such great lengths. I had this same problem, which is why I eventually settled on buying an older, used mac mini and running it "headless" - i.e., no monitor. Apple has an easy to use screen sharing mode where you can access one computer with another Mac.

If you don't want to go the 2 computer route, then you really should consider using an apple tv or airport express to stream wirelessly. Both of these devices have a digital that bypasses the internal conversion and lets you pass a bit perfect signal to a stand alone DAC. I can tell you from experience that they work great and, assuming you're running a wireless N network with the router positioned within a reasonable distance, you won't have any problems with drop outs. The only downside is you're limited to 16/44, meaning if you want to go high res everything you play will be automically downconverted. There is workaround to this, but it requires that you have an iPad (any generation)and still limits you to 24/96: http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/discuss/feedback/newsletter/2011/06/1/ipad-streams-high-resolution-audio-dac1
I concur with ( Nonoise ) keep the USB cable as short as possible.
I like your plan. The implementation....not sure, as in 40 ft for one thing.

I'll tell you what I'm doing and see if it might work for you.

Using my Wifi: I have a dock (Cambridge iD100) that routs the digital stream of one of my iDevices (Phone,Pad or Touch) to a DAC for use in my main system. Been doing that for about a year. Very happy with the results.

A few weeks ago I got an Arcam drDock. It will do what the iD100 does but it also has analog outs using its own internal DAC (Burr-Brown I believe). Using it right now with an iPad (Pandora One) "hardwired" to a CJ ART pre/XA30.5/SF Guarneri system. Again, very happy with the sound.

If that doesn't resonate with you then maybe the Airport Express route. If your system has good resolution, you'd probably want to use the AE's audio out with a mini Toslink adapter into the DAC of your choice that would be "hardwired" into your system.

Either way(s), I think some form of wireless will be needed.
If you use a Mac Mini late 2009 model, you can use a 16-foot USB cable with no impact on SQ. Buy it on ebay. Late model Minis have cable/USB port issues and do not sound as good IME.

If you want the best off-the-shelf SQ at 40 feet, then go with Logitech Touch wireless. It can be reclocked for even better SQ. Not as good as wired USB though.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

Thanks for the info re: late 2009 Mac Mini and that it can use longer lengths of USB. If I can't move to a better place and decide to go forward, that makes it easier.

All the best,