PC or Mac?

I'm getting close to entering the computer-based audio world. I've read good things about PC- and Mac-based systems, but I've not read any recent comparisons between well-implemented examples of both formats.

So, initially I was thinking about a Mac Mini-based system since it takes a lot of the computer complications out of the equation -- I'm unfortunately one of those audiophiles who has little patience or ability for troubleshooting computer issues. But if I can get similar/better performance from a Mac laptop I'm open to that too. Right now I'm leaning toward a PC laptop using JPlay (which I don't think is available for Mac as of yet), but wondering how a well-executed version of this would compare to a similar implementation of the other two Mac options?

I realize there are a lot of variables in each of these options in terms of implementation, but if anyone has compared good setups between any of them and has some real-world opinions on sound quality and ease of setup/use I'd be very interested. By the way, although sound quality is most important to me I don't want to mess with endless hassels/glitches. So if there are meaningful sonic benefits I'm willing to do some work and put up with some occasional problems to get them, but if the system's not stable and requires constant tinkering I think that could be a deal breaker.

Anyway, thanks for thoughts or links to other discussions that may have already addressed this topic.
The Win PC option will probably be significantly less expensive. The software available for the Windows platform offers you *many* more choice/options. Unless you are completely brain-dead, I would think the Win PC option is decidedly more intelligent...

I use a Mac Mini for music server and I love its simplicity, stability, low noise and the latest Audirvana plus player ($50) sounds absolutely stunning. I guess I must be brain dead.
Thanks guys. You pretty much just summed up my problem. I'm attracted to the relative simplicity of a Mac Mini system and I'm sure it will sound very good and that I'd be happy with it, but how much better can the sound get with a PC-based system and how much extra time and potential frustration will it take for a somewhat brain dead -- at least when it comes to computers -- audiophile to get there (I'm particulary interested in JPlay)? I'm willing to put in the work if the sound can be substantially better than a well-implemented Mac Mini system, but I haven't read or heard anyone with experience with both say that's the case. Anyone?
I think it comes down to what you enjoy more: listening to music or playing with computer. If you like the later more, you should get a PC. I used to work on PC all day in my day job and I didn't want to bother with it when I listen to music at home so I pick a Mac for the reasons listed in my early post.
I hear ya loud & clear Sidssp. I'm thinking if I do go the PC route I'm going to buy a laptop to use exclusively with my audio system to minimize all the other stuff I need to put/keep on it and hopefully make it a little more stable and possibly sound better (probably a false hope I know).
Mac is the easiest to get good SQ from IME, however it's important to get the right one and do some tweaks to it:



I have also heard from reliable sources that the latest Macbook Pro sounds good.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Thanks Steve. Would something like this be the right thing to start, and is the price in the right ballpark?


Am I gonna need to do anything to it before using it for audio? Thanks for all your helpful posts/info.

Also, have you had any experience running a PC into your DAC running JPlay and how that compares to a Mac Mini system? I know there are lots of variables but this is really the heart of my question but no real answers as of yet. Thanks for any thoughts.
I just read this over at 6moons http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/jplay/1.html and it makes me think twice about going the iMac route.

So many options.

All the best,
Nonoise, that's actually what finally got me to write this thread (I also found the TAS series on computer-based systems interesting as well, and they too found JPlay to be outstanding). How close is the relatively easier Mac Mini setup in sound to a PC-based JPlay setup (with the understanding there are lots of variables in this question)? That's the question I'd like to have at least some idea about before choosing one or the other, but I'm finding there aren't many people who have significant experience with both formats. I'm guessing the PC/JPlay system can possibly sound better, but how much and is it worth the added trouble -- especially for a half brain-dead audiophile?
I would suspect that you will be able to get sound quality on either system that is close enough to not be a factor. Perhaps consider other factors like what software you want to playback with (you mentioned jplay) as well as what you want to use as a dac and what interface it uses. Personally I dont care PC or MAC as both are tools, likely similar from a reliability standpoint, and once both are configured youre done. That aside also consider controls. I know you can remote control a mac mini with a ipad or touch? and that may be a desired feature. I am pretty sure that you can also do it with PC but I've only heard it discussed on mac. I would skip android and linux for now if that matters. too much churn there. Oh and have a look at computer audiophile online and see if there is anything that give you ideas there.
IMO, JPLAY now evens the audio playing field between MAC and PC. Both platforms when optimized can provide very good digital sound quality. Benefit of PC is that you will be able to get more for your $(both H/W and S/W). Downside of JPLAY is that you are essentially placing your bet with what is a side business by a couple of Eastern European programmers. JPLAY may not have the long term stability or support of corporate products like Amarra or Pure Music.
So, so far what I'm hearing is that Mac and PC sound quality is pretty similar when well executed. If that's the case I'd lean toward a Mac/Mini-based system for relative ease of use/setup advantages. Am I missing something here? Thanks for all the helpful input. If I had extra cash around I'd be tempted to set up both systems since there seems to be a dearth of people who have implemented both and compared them at a high level.
Soix - that is the right Mac Mini. Have not compared Jplay to a Mac yet. The hardware platform makes a big difference.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio