Snow Leopard and audio quality

I just took the trouble of making a clean install of Snow Leopard on my dedicated MacMini systems with iTunes 9.

I am convinced that the new software and the clean install have made an extraordinary improvement in my computer & DAC-based music systems.

Tonality, depth, detail, soundstage, musicality: all seem to have improved in dramatic ways.

Has anyone else had the same experience?
I didn't notice that. Which Mac Mini do you have?
The S'Leopard and iTunes 9x are the best $25 tweak improvement I've made. Surprising to the :) side is a mild statement.

The Minis I have are the 2 ghz intel dual core & 1 gb sdram.

Really, it's night and day. Noticed it when I did a simple upgrade, but when I decided to do a clean install of S'Leopard that's when the differences really came alive.

:) listening,

I gave this a shot today -- hey, what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, right? -- and found, much to my delight, that things are really improved after doing a clean install. It's like the whole system got dialed in, with everything coming into focus. There's a kind of midrange clarity I didn't know I'd been missing, until hearing it just now. What had been really good after upgrading to SL is significantly better after starting from scratch. I'll admit to having had my doubts, but I had to give it a try -- just in case. Now, I'm very, very glad that I did. Thanks so much for giving me this idea.
-- Howard
We are also finding very positive sonic improvements with the latest iTunes / Snow Leopard. With iTunes, this seems to have been a trend all along with even the "minor" iTunes updates (the ones that happen monthly/quarterly). Some don't improve the playback quality at all, but other minor updates do actually improve the playback quality. All for free! Thank god that Apple hasn't figured out they could actually charge audiophiles for these improved sounding updates ;-)
Can someone explain what is meant by a "clean install"? Can it be done on a general purpose iMac or is this only for dedicated Macs used in music systems?

Clean install means reformat the hard disk and install Snow Leopard from scratch, as opposed to installing it over an older OS like Leopard or Tiger as an upgrade.

I had done a clean install of Snow Leopard on my Mini but I didn't notice any sound improvement.
When you do a clean install, do you lose files and programs (Word) and documents? I guess you'd use the auto back up I do on an external 1TB drive.
Mst, Yes, you will lose all files and programs so make sure you backup everything first. Since my Mini is a dedicated music server and my iTunes library is on external hard drives, I can do clean install without any trouble.
Hi Dbaudiolabs,

Good to hear confirmation of my experience. This is true for my three Mini-based systems with SnowLeopard and a clean install. Really quite remarkable in so many ways.

Thanks Apple!

:) listening,

It's generally accepted that the S/L upgrade on a MacMini makes major improvements. I use the 2GHz core with 4MByte RAM and a 7200 RPM drive. Others told me I could expect an improvement, and they were right. I understand the Mac SW/HW is tuned to provide excellent sound. It works for me! I can only wait to hook it up to my MIDI keyboard with GarageBand.
It's generally accepted that the S/L upgrade on a MacMini makes major improvements. I use the 2GHz core with 4GByte RAM and a 7200 RPM drive. Others told me I could expect an improvement, and they were right. I understand the Mac SW/HW is tuned to provide excellent sound. It works for me! I can only wait to hook it up to my MIDI keyboard with GarageBand.
They have made only jitter improvements, like the jitter reduction effect instead making on the main core audio.
Win7 is on par with Snow Leopard. I just got through testing this with a USB Audio Research DAC7.

I purchased the MacIntosh under the assumption that it would sound better than the PC with Win7, I can't tell a difference.

Since the gear will make a difference, here is what was used:
Win7 PC (home built, quad core proc, Solid State Drive, 2gb ram)
Latest model 17" MacBook Pro, 8GB RAM (upgraded)
Audio Research DAC7
McIntosh C500 tube pre-amp
McIntosh MC501 monoblocks (solid state)
Wilson Sophia 2's
Transparent Super cabling (XLR interconnects)
Joelz... that's interesting. What were you using as playback sw? iTunes? or something else?

I used iTunes (x64 bit).

In the configuration settings for each OS, I made sure the OS (Leopard and Win7) was not doing any conversion by setting the audio output to 48kHz and playing WAV files ripped from CD.

Also, iTunes has the EQ on by default on Snow Leopard where iTunes on Win7 did not have the eq on, so I turned off the EQ on Snow Leopard before doing any listening tests.

How do you run iTunes in 64 bit?

I have SL on Mac Mini. When I run the Activity Monitor, I see everything is 64 bit except iTunes. I am running iTunes 9.02. Is there a 64 bit version of iTunes out there?
ah, the x64 bit should have been next to the OS name. Sorry for that! I need to use a word editor for my posts :)

At any rate, I was actually surprised (and a bit T'd) that I didn't hear a difference between Win7 and Snow Leopard since I ran out and bought a Mac after reading these responses above and listening to my local dealer who also has a Mac. I waited too long to do the listening tests and now can't return the Mac.

I'm only 35 yo and wash out my ears regularly so I don't think my ears are bad!

One other tidbit was I used the same cabling (10' Transparent USB cable) for each system.
I just did a clean install of Snow Leopard, had been using Leopard before, and my first impressions are mixed. On one hand the sound is much more present, immediate, up front and "real" - much more "live, in the room." On the other hand, it's also more bright and fatiguing, and the tone and dimensionality of the lower end seems compromised. Anybody else share this experience?
Coverto... SL just made it possible for my DAC, cabling, and setup to fully reveal itself and the music (given the facts and limitations of digital files). I am still amazed and pleased at the improvement.

:) listening,

Which OS version number are you all referring to. I've got 10.5x, I think it's 10.56 or 10.58 but forget. I have not moved to 10.6 yet. Is that the one you call "Snow Leopard"?
Yes, and tweaks have been issued since SN has been released.

:) listening,

I'm reviving this thread because sidssp asked an important question about 64 bit kernel operation that was never answered.

When you boot up Snow Leopard, it normally boots into 32 bit kernel mode. You can confirm this by going into "About this Mac" then "More Information." Highlight "Software" in the left column. In the right column, it will say, "64-bit Kernel and Extensions" and probably "No." To boot into 64 bit kernel, just hold down the 6 and the 4 key while it's booting up (Once you see the apple, you're fine.) To confirm that you're in 64-bit, the "no" should have changed to a "Yes."

If you have a resolving system, the improvement will be evident. I find that the sound is more relaxed, natural and open.
So if I do a clean install of Snow Leopard I have to back up everything in the computer. When I download all the stuff back into the computer after installing Snow Leopard, what happens to my OSX 10.5.8? Does it go back in as well and then needs to be deleted or how does that work? I don't see where you can isolate all programs in the Mac. It is either take everything out and then put everything back in or nothing. Is that right?
Let me rephrase my question better: Do I remove everything from my iMac including the operating system? I am only using 17.1 GB on the Mac HD currently which must include the OS. So if I remove everything, will Snow Leopard (10.6.8 ?) take care of removing the old OSX 10.5.8 when I reload all my programs back into the iMac?

Next step after that would be, I presume, to download all the upgrades to Snow Leopard in case I get the silly notion to upgrade again to Lion.

I know it is bad manners to respond to your own post but I want to be sure a reader understands my question.