Mac Mini

I am using the Mac Mini as a music server and was wondering what others are useing as an isolation platform.

Does it even matter what it is sitting on?
Dont know.Mine is sitting in a rack made out of black walnut back in the 80's.Its dead quiet and works/sounds real good.Using it with a Bel Canto USB Dac and they are side by side.Haven't moved them in the 18 months I've had them.I hope your as satisfied as I am with the unit.Good luck,Bob......oh,check out if you havent already.
Have you ever been working on a complex spreadsheet when the cat jumps off a chair onto the floor, and you look at the cells in your spreadsheet and all the values are totally messed up? No?? Me neither.

Remember, it's a computer, not a turntable. Unless you're extremely concerned about your Mini outputing "shaky" zero's and one's, I don't think you need to be too concerned about an isolation platform.
I have Vibrapods under mine. Works fine.
Anything that spins, vibrates. Cat or no cat. Reduced vibration equals better sound.

For something inexpensive, try a bamboo cutting board (I like these), any of Herbie's Audio Labs footers (always a good deal), or the Vibrapods as mentioned. Even a foam mouse pad would work well. You could also try a cork floor tile, which would be another good material to dissipate energy.
I use Herbie's footers under mine. I actually have two iomega MiniMax hard drives under the Mini and each unit has the Herbie footers under it.
>>Anything that spins, vibrates. Cat or no cat. Reduced vibration equals better sound.

With all due respect, that's one of the silliest statements I have ever heard in regard to electronic media.
Use some vistek platforms. The Series 320 VIP, and the Series 3200 VIP are good.
The only benefit you would get from reducing vibration to the Mac Mini would be to reduce vibration going to the hard drive--to prevent it from failing. However, as others are hinting with a cat analogy, if the hard drive can read the binary content (1s and 0s) you get your sound and it will be exactly the same.

Arguably, at some point vibration would make the Mac Mini's hard drive not function. But, at that point you wouldn't get sound at all.

Don't believe me that there's no audible difference in isolating a computer? Blindfold yourself and have a friend shake the Mini whilst playing a file and not shake it. Literally, shake it (but don't brake it). You won't be able to tell a thing. It's 1s and 0s.

Again, I do think you could make the argument that you don't want it vibrating because you don't want the hard drive's working reading mechanism (an arm) to slowly move out of alignment and fail. Yet, I would think that you would need a ton of vibration to make it fail or even skip.

Finally, the saying that anything with moving parts needs isolation to sound good is not correct. A phono cartridge will pick up vibration and it will effect sound. Loudspeakers arguably may lose focus if they are vibrating greatly. An amplifier? Now that's a stretch. Someone would need to explain why an amplifier's sound would be effected by vibrations. If you believe this do you also believe that we should isolate our plasma or lcd televisions?

PS Most hard drives and the software running them have giant buffers and error correction. This prevents you from noticing any problems if the hard drive skips or cannot read a section of 1s and 0s.
Cable stands, anyone? :-)
A lot of talk about the D/A process is jitter. Does excessive vibration contribute at all to jitter? I don't know a lot of the subject, but there are a lot of guys on Agon who are obsessed with isolation and vibration. I have my DirecTV receiver, my Mac Mini and hard drive all on the same rack as my other components including my turntable. I wanted less vibration to the turntable. The noise and vibration from the lousy DirecTV receiver was reduced when I put gum erasers under the feet. It's a $4 tip I read on another thread. I liked its result so I did the same with my mini and drive. I think getting them more airflow underneath is good too.

I don't know much about the tech regarding DACs, but the zeros and ones in a computer system that has two way communication is different than a digital audio signal which is one way. If there are problems or errors in the signal the DAC doesn't send a messages back saying 'hey, give me that packet again. there was an error in that last one.'
I was also in the 'it's all zeroes and ones' camp too; it just seems to make crystal clear sense, yes? But, unfortunately, my experience has just as clearly illustrated the opposite. A Mac G5 tower clearly sounds much better than a Mini or MBP in my system, and RollerBlocks under the Tower and external drives have been clearly beneficial as well. I really wish it wasn't so, but it is:-)
In actual fact, the RollerBlocks made more of a difference than switching out an M Audio 24/192 card for the vaunted Lynx AES 16 card.
I would agree with Cutterfilm (above). It looks like there are two camps: those who believe that a DAC puts out varying information depending on whether it is vibrating and those who believe its information rate remains the same until the point of data failure (so much vibration that the buffer cannot put anything out and it skips or stops).

On the issue of "jitter":

Jitter, from my understanding, has to do with the master clock reading those 1s and 0s. I think master clocks come in varying degrees of quality and, therefore, accuracy. The better your clock, the better your DAC, and the better your sound should be to you.

However, the master clock's performance should not be predicated on whether it is vibrating or not. Perhaps massive amounts of vibration would cause a master clock to not function properly, but that should equate to a data error not differences in sound quality.

Again, you close your eyes and listen while a friend blows on your stylus or taps your turntable in the right way--you'll hear it. Close your eyes and have a friend shake your hard drive. Do a double blind test. Repeat. It's not going to matter until the point of data error (where the DAC cannot send out data at all or it cannot buffer enough data during the non-shaking times to give you an audible sound--ie skipping).

In short, I really believe that you'd be better off spending more money on better digital components than trying to isolate the ones you have if your goal is to improve your sound. My rule of thumb would be: computer digital source is not going to sound any better by doing anything to it.

I've never seen any white paper reports indicating that vibration leads to a computer reading less binary information off of a hardrive. That is the real issue.

A third point of view: Where you stand depends on where you sit--I suppose. Those who've invested a lot of money into vibration control for a computer hard drive need to hear it as sounding better. Those of us who didn't spend the money have to say it doesn't.
Oh, here's a picture of a clock:

Reducing the vibration of this clock is going to result in less jitter? It's a circuit board.
I'm using HRS Nimbus pucks (3), under my Mini and I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt that I could care less. I just use them because I have them. It seems that air vents are at the bottom so I used the HRS pucks to lift the Mini off of the shelf a little bit. I'll bet that if given a true blind listening test none of you will be able to tell a difference. If you can, then you have some sort of superhuman hearing. I think your only "telling" a difference because you want to justify spending the extra $ on something you didn't need to.
The Tentlabs clocks are great, if you install this clock in youre CD player, you will never want to sell youre CD player again.