I wish there would have been responses to this. I am in almost the same place you are, trying to talk myself out of a Mac Mini. I was going with the Mini to free up my Macbook. Three audio store down sold me from other options to Sonos. Go figure.
I still think you can be more flexible with the Mini, including the capability of higher rez music. I'm also a W4S fan, and considered their upgrade of the Sonos. I'm basically paralyzed by in decision.
I can't believe there is not some reasonably priced option to play CD's from a drive and stream Pandora (and others) at up to 24/192.
I used both Mac with Amarra, Asyn DAC and Sonos with ZDAC. Also CD and Turntable as source. I enjoy listening of all their different and they all sound vey appealing to me.
I listen to Sonos and find my favorite music before buying or downloading.
Geh7 - that's too funny. I'm at the same place. Trying to understand streamers and NAS as a way to free up my Macbook (which runs USB to Asynch/SPDIF converter to DAC). I'm thinking I'll just get a Mac Mini and dedicate it for music. I can run ALAC files of ripped CDs that are on an external hard drive (use BitPerfect & iTunes for playback); stream Spotify, Pandora or internet radio and run an HDMI out to an LCD as monitor.
I think I'm going to do the same.
I have never had so much trouble getting rid of money. I think I will consider upgrading my W4S Dac DSD to the Se version. That should have the Mini sounding pretty good. All this assumes that controlling the Mini with an Apple product remotely will work well, but I think that is a given.
Good luck with your system, Geh7. I'm thinking a wireless keyboard and mouse or trackpad will be my "remote control". Need to find out how far from the mini they can be and still work.
I briefly tried using my Macbook to control the headless Mini but the lag time on actions was kind of crummy. I have yet to try one of the remote apps for an iPad. Sonos interface just works so damn well!! Makes it hard to want to mess with something else. One of these weekends I'm going to do a side-by-side between the Mini and Sonos streaming from my server. Probably won't be for a couple of more weekends though. I did download Audirvana though so I have that ready to go.
Jkscherk. You need to get a monitor dummy plug from OWC as it will speed up screen sharing. Works great.
Agree with Skinzy on the plug. You really can't use the Mini via Remote or Screen Sharing without having an HDMI cheater plug installed on the Mini.
I use a Gefen HDMI Detective. Cleaned the lag up perfectly.
Thanks for the tip on the plug. I had heard that was a solution for screen sharing lag. I didn't know it would be needed if you were using a remote app as well.
My core question remains however..will the Mini+Audirvana combo be any better than the Sonos with the Remedy Reclocker or clocker mode from Wyred??
I did that last summer and compared my macmini(JRiver vs my sonos and it was clear to me that the mini sounded fuller.Both went through the same dac and electronics,same songs and same volume level.Also files were on external Lacie drive on the macmini,and NAS Western Digital My Book Live for Sonos.
I admit the Sonos has an excellent interface though,and the CR-200 controller is so easy and convenient to use.But the JRiver music player is no slouch either.I use a wireless apple keyboard and mouse for now on my macmini,viewing the playlists through a 23 inch display.
I cant answer but can say my Mac mini with Amarra Symphony with its room acoustic correction software is fabulous! I use my Esoteric K-01 as the DAC.
JKS - The Mini with Audirvana will be better than most reclockers added to the Sonos, provided you play .wav files and not FLAC, AIFF or ALAC on the Mini and have an external linear DC power supply for the Mini, however, the Synchro-Mesh reclocker will beat this as well as most USB interfaces, except for the Off-Ramp 5. The Synchro-Mesh reclocker is not cheap ($599), but it delivers world-class sound from a Sonos or any other digital source.
It can be further improved by upgrading the power supply to a Dynamo ($749) and adding a world-class BNC-BNC coax cable with RCA adapters ($250). Putting more money into your source is never a bad idea. If you have a poor source, there is little that can be done downstream to fix this.
See reviews on the Synchro-Mesh. It delivers the best sound of any reclocker on the market:
30-day unconditional money-back guarantee, less shipping.
Does it matter less not to have bnc before say the sychromesh, and use bnc out?
If the dac only has rca, would'nt the bnc on one side, if beneficial , be be totally wasted?
My Sonos system goes back so far that it pre-dates the company's records. I have zones everywhere in my home/yard and absolutely love the ergonomics, while enjoying sound that is good enough for distributed listening. Serious listening sessions happen in front of my big rig. However...
There are definitely more options out there these days. I haven't yet heard the BlueSound system, but it looks like a 24/192 knock off of Sonos. By virtue of already owning 11 zone players, I'm married to Sonos, but it might be worth investigating for you.