Why are there so many Mac users?


I am gradually thinking of going the all-digital route, and to that effect I've started reading a lot of threads about all-digital systems.
One thing I noticed is that many audiophiles with such systems are using either a Mac Mini, iMac or other Mac products.
Are there any major reasons for doing so? What advantages do Macs have over PCs (aside from looks)?
I am trying to soak in all the information I can gather on the subject, so thanks for enlightening me!

Patrick
pat70
the Mac is more straight forward to set up. Straight out the box it sounds good. PCs demand a large amount of setting up. Obviously you could get a PC built especially, but I guess that takes some effort too.
I am very biased having used Macs since 1984 in grad school, but the tend to be the choice of people in the creative fields. Watch TV and see how many of the computers in shows are Macs (Seinfeld, 24).

I also think that it is designed for multimedia use having ease of use and most extras built into the box. I love how easy it is to hook up scanners and printers.

And they also look very cool and how doesn't at least think about that when they buy some gear.

You can run windows on them very well.

I teach and we have a digital lab with macs and when we first got them we only had a mac tech till January. From January on to August no tech. The server never crashed, we had no problems and this is with about 400 students using them. The head of IT is considering putting macs in all the computer commons since they run both platforms and they require such little support. (this is why IT staff hate Macs, less jobs for them, lol)

This is just MHO.
Mac provides a far more stable, user-friendly platform. The OS is more reliable (10.5.x ). iTunes is native to the OS. MacMini provides a quiet, reliable, proven piece of hardware to run your music library from. Setup of wireless interfacing as well as all peripherals is far easier on a Mac. Everything about the Mac is far more instinctual and user-friendly. Every time I get on a PC I wonder why anyone would put themselves through this when there is a Mac option?! From a design standpoint, as well as a hardware integration standpoint (computer>base station>iPhone>iPod>anything and everything Apple makes) is seamless, simple and reliable, and beautifully designed. Customer services is second to none (Apple Store / Genius Bar / Tutoring / Phone Support / etc.). Music hardware and software and integration of all is a high priority for Apple and it shows in everything they do.

Disadvantages include: Software range is narrower than PC. EAC is a PC-only ripping software that is arguably the best available (better error-correction than itunes). Hardware can be less expensive - though one could argue Mac is better made and more reliable than most cheap PC options, and with the better PC options that price gap closes fast, especially when comparing apples to apples....er, that didn't come out right...two computers with similar features and add-ons. I think PC is still a bit cheaper. Gee, can't really think of anything else. I guess if you are a gamer you definitely want a PC.
Ditto Jax, plus if you really need PC (EAC) you can boot a mac as PC.
And looks has absolutely nothing do with it. Jax2 has pretty much summed it up.
They are better (if you can afford it)
my new mac pro runs windows 7 flawlessly with $60 dollar VM Fusion Installed.
like everybody said, macs are just easier to run. i've never owned a mac and for the cost difference, i could build a faster, quieter desktop system for the money i'd spend on a mac. some people just don't want the hassle of a pc.
I am a Windows software developer .Net/WPF/WCF/C#....etc. and I use Macs at home for anything other than making money!

They are FAR FAR FAR MORE stable, more intuitive and handles multitasking infinitely better. As a digital source it is better than my former Wadia 7 which was one of my favorite transports of all time.

I use Amarra with iTunes and I have not yet heard the rival. Now speaking of the costs, consider how many time cheap hardware on pc's has to be replaced. I have had the Mac 2.1 (mid 2007 version) running in my bedroom system (Meitner Bidat with Plus mod connected with a glass Tos-Link cable feeding a solid state amp of my own design) and let me tell you...not a problem in over 2 years. I control it all from my iPhone with the free 'Remote' app and I also use 'Airmouse Pro' so I don't even have to use a seperate keyboard or mouse. It is connected to my plasma with a $9.00 DVI to HDMI converter-dongle.

This is why I laugh at all these audio manufacturers trying to sell you a $4k or in some cases a $20k device that can't do a fraction of my $900.00 mac mini (I added 3 gig of mem for a total of 4 gig (although the 2007 mini can only recognize 3.01 gig of mem, using same sized mem chips results in faster page-ins and outs)).

Buy a mac mini and a iPhone or iTouch and you will never look back. I have archived my entire CD collection and yes iTunes can and does do bit-perfect transfers. I listen using AIFF as I find it sounds a bit better than AAC although I can only really tell on my home systems, not on my iPhone (with earplugs).

Plus is looks Fantastic...
Hope this helps.
I just don't get it. I use my girlfriend's Mac when at her house and I hate it. After using my PC she hates her Mac too. There doesn't seem to be anything better about even after downloading Firefox.
I have owned both Mac and PC computers, and I second Jax2's comments. He summed it up very nicely.

Ease of use is the number 1 reason on my list.
1. Ease of use.
2. Iphone remote.
3. Competitive Sonics to PC.
4. Ipod compatibility.
5. Whole house integration.
As someone who builds his own Windows-based PC's, which have always worked out very well for me, I nevertheless second the comments offered above about Mac's being much more user friendly, and the more practical choice for many people.

Re the comments about lack of stability and poor performance in Windows-based PC's, though, my feeling is that there are three major reasons for that:

1)Windows-based computers built by the major manufacturers are typically delivered with bloated software configurations resulting in large numbers of useless processes running in the background. That can be remedied by reformatting and re-installing all of the software, but doing so obviously requires significant time and some expertise.

2)One way in which the major manufacturers of Windows-based pc's try to keep selling prices as competitive as possible is to offer default hardware configurations which are underpowered (too little RAM; slower cpu's, etc).

3)The fact that most users are not aware of, or don't have the time for, the fundamentals of proper computer maintenance and good computing practices (as necessary for Windows-based machines). See my post dated 11-22-09 in this thread for a list of what I think that means. As I said in summarizing that post:
I have five Windows XP computers in my house, 3 desktops (which I built myself), and 2 laptops (which I reformatted and reinstalled the software on immediately after purchase, to get rid of the crapware that they are inevitably delivered with). These computers range in age from 1 year to 6 years. Every one of them works very fast, very stably, and as well as when it was new. And I have never had to do a re-install of the operating system on any of them.... Obviously all of this will be impractical for many computer users, but my point is that the performance degradation of Windows computers over time, that is often reported, is both explainable and avoidable.
What do I get in return for the time and effort I invest in these Windows machines, relative to what a Mac will offer? Mainly more speed and performance per dollar (which assumes greatly increased importance if the machine is used for computationally intensive applications such as video editing, which I do); much better customizability to my own requirements; and much broader compatibility with third-party programs, including some that are necessities to me.

It's ironic, though, that the much less user-friendly kind of computer has the much larger installed user base.

Regards,
-- Al
Thanks everyone for the "crash-course" in Mac use! I already own a PC, so the Mac would only be used for music (at first!).
"Disadvantages include: Software range is narrower than PC. EAC is a PC-only ripping software that is arguably the best available (better error-correction than itunes). "
Could I rip with EAC on the PC, store the files on an extarnal HD, and have the Mac play the tunes? It might be a pretty simple question, but I'm still learning, and with your help, I am making great strides!

Patrick
Simple -- you can spend your time working WITH your MAC instead of workin ON your PC.

I have had one MAC freeze/crash in 7 years (my personal computers) versus an average of 1 per month with PC (work computer) -- talk about economy problems, I bet if my employer would switch to MAC we could save probably over $100,000 per year in computer related WASTED time!
Here it is in a nutshell:

FUN = MAC....

WORK = PC....
Simple - it's UNIX based, not crappy-Windows
Could I rip with EAC on the PC, store the files on an extarnal HD, and have the Mac play the tunes?

Someone correct me here if I'm wrong: You can rip using EAC, but you would then have to convert the files (I think from FLAC) to an iTunes-recognizable format like AIFF or Apple Lossless or WAV (In order of my personal preference). This method STILL sounds better (than the same file ripped in iTunes to the same format), to my ears, at least in the case of one experiment a friend and I conducted with one file on two systems. This was at the suggestion of Steve Nugent (Empirical Audio) - who has done a lot of work around this aspect of audio reproduction and makes some of the best devices out there to implement digital audio. He contributes here so perhaps he can chime in on this, as he may have something new to say or correct me if I've misstated anything. Anyway, I believe EAC is among a few PC ripping solutions that have superior error correction over iTunes. I think that actually hearing these differences will depend entirely upon the system/components you are using to listen to the files on. What may be obvious on a very resolving system, might not be on a less resolving one, for example.
I just put an IMac in my system and love it...you can see how I have it hooked up on my system page...

Also have an airport express running the bedroom stereo--it receives music wirelessly from the IMac thru my router and has a mini rca plug to go directly to my pre amp--easy, no wires to run and now I have the same music playing on the main stereo as in the bedroom ...

Still have a PC in my office and am learning the differences twixt them...

Mitch
Couple things: First MAC has between 5-8% of the installed PC base worldwide and roughly 6% of the browser market. No idea about iTunes. Second the reason that MAC do not generally have a virus issue is directly related to the above stats as well as the guts of MAC OS are UNIX and most hackers are running some sort of UNIX/Linux/? and they are not stupid enough to create something to bite themselves. Last time I looked there were 3 virus' (virii?) out there that could hit a linux system. Might be more now? Third by most credible sources the MAC platform is not more reliable than a PC. From a hardware standpoint there is nothing in it. The data is messy enough that a meaningful conclusion is frankly difficult. Bottom line on reliability is that a good PC and MAC will be about the same from a reliability standpoint. MAC should be better IMO as they not only get a premium price but have no off brands crudding up their reputation.

It really comes down to apps and usability. if you like the look/feel/taste than do a mac. Same for apps. MACS are good PC's but they can suck for some things just like a Wintel unit.
One of the reasons often given for buying a PC over a Mac is that PC's are cheaper. That certainly looks as if its true if you look only at the initial price for the boxes.

For years I managed end-user technology for an organization of 300 people, most using PC's because a critical business application was PC only, and the rest on Macs. I was required to establish the total cost of ownership for everything we bought. By the time you added support costs into the equation the Macs were substantially cheaper.

At the same time, if all you want to do is send email and browse the Web a cheap PC will certainly do that perfectly well. And if low cost really is the most important factor a $300 netbook and a free copy of Linux might be an even better solution than a Windows box.
Mac OSX is based on "Free BSD" (Berkley Software Distribution) that derived from Unix. It is even more stable than Unix for the following reason (quote from Wikipedia):

"FreeBSD is a complete operating system. The kernel, device drivers and all of the userland utilities, such as the shell, are held in the same source code revision tracking tree, whereas with Linux distributions, the kernel, userland utilities and applications are developed separately, then packaged together in various ways by others."

MacMini 2008 sees full 4GB of memory. That's what I have (Corsair low latency memeory)

If EAC is the reason to stay with PC then there is software for Mac called MAX (free I believe) that not only does it better (CDParanoia algoritm with option "do not skip") but also translates any format to any format and downloads covers (read about CDParanoia in Wikipedia).
It can take Metadata from Itunes and output result to Itunes.
Third by most credible sources the MAC platform is not more reliable than a PC. From a hardware standpoint there is nothing in it. The data is messy enough that a meaningful conclusion is frankly difficult. Bottom line on reliability is that a good PC and MAC will be about the same from a reliability standpoint. MAC should be better IMO as they not only get a premium price but have no off brands crudding up their reputation.

With due respect - In my experience, the experience of virtually everyone I know who has extensive experience with both platforms including many who write code exclusively for PC, and several who work at the Death Star across the water from me on the Redmond campus...your experience, in this statement, is entirely contrary to what any of these folks have to say, as well as my own experience. As far as the hardware is concerned - with the better PC's I might agree with you. As far as the software/platform is concerned, especially the current OS for each platform, I would completely disagree. The Mac platform is FAR FAR more stable than any Windows platform. Given an average user, with no other concerns other than ease of use, reliability and stability, setup, peripheral interface setup, integration of peripheral hardware as well as ease and stability of use of those peripherals, MAC is a universe away from PC...IMHO. I don't know what "credible resources", or what "data" you are referring to, but real-world experience, as you can very plainly see from the ratio of posts above confirming this, speaks something entirely different than what you seem to suggest. How much time have you spent using a MAC platform? I've been using MAC's since the early 90's for work, and PC's only peripherally for otherwise unavailable software, or troubleshooting other family members PC problems. Back then I would have concurred that the two were much closer in terms of stability. Since around MAC OS10.x I couldn't disagree more. I cannot even recall the last time my computer crashed or that I lost any important data, and I rely on my computer (MAC) for my career. I've never once had a computer virus or a worm on any MAC, ever. That said, I've heard good thingas about the new Windows platform (is it 7?). After Vista, you couldn't possibly do anything but improve on things. Wait a minute, we're talking about Microsoft!
Let me give you example how bad Windows is. Every time new program brings new version of certain DLL (dynamic link library) older programs might stop working because it has the same name and new DLL was not fully tested with existing programs or older programs depended on "bugs" in DLL. Even if DLL is in separate (program) directory things might go wrong when path changes. I had 5 different versions of the same DLL in different location with the same name. Apple's solution is simple - gives files different names. I'm using my Mac Mini for over a year without single crash and without antivirus software. The only viruses for Mac, as far as I know, are viruses for Windows applications like Office that Mac executes in "sandboxes" where they cannot get outside.

As for ease of use - I bought big book on MAC OSX and never opened it - it is that easy. Now I'm sorry that I didn't switch earlier and that I have to use Windows at work (where every single day stupid Windows installs the same update because it cannot recognize that it is already installed).
I am a hard core PC guy since the 1st IBM AT. Macs are, a, were better, until windows 7. Now PC's are.... close.
......showing my age - I thought this thread was about McIntosh Audio products !!! I learning a whole bunch of new stuff !!!
Jax2 I understand your response and and nothing to say to your experiences. I refer to statistical issues and not personal ones. I have a wintel gaming system that I have never seen hang or fail in anyway what so ever! I make no claims on wintel systems do to this. I have seen MACs crash and I have seen PC's crash. From a software stability standpoint I have to give the edge to MAC as they are far fewer players in that market and MAC has much better control of content. MS has lots of control but no where near the same. If you want a mess put a noob on a linux system and wait for the next kernel update or something. Personally I've spent lots of time on macs and can give some good examples of colossally stupid things like the lack of functioning dynamic memory allocation on OS9. OSX is a huge improvement. As for credible sources several companies have published their findings and there are regular IT reviews among that crowd. I dont count most of the stuff on the web in this case. THe last data I saw from one of the largest support groups in the world showed that there was not much between the units (hardware wise)
the reason you dont get virus is that there are few that can hit it. wait a while the number is increasing really fast. Ignoring the user feel (that is preference IMO) the big difference is that MAC has much better control of the system than MS. If MAC wants to get MS big they will need to give up control and then they will hit the same issues.

personally I have used every mac since the apple II, every windows since 3.1, and about every unix flavor and a dozen Linux distros and personally I've seen failures in all of them. My first virus was on a mac oddly enough. I am not insulting MAC Jax2, merely pointing out that the world is not full of exploding windows boxes and that the consumer needs to figure out for themselves what they like. PC's are tools, nothing more.
PAT 70 I think that in this usage the MAC would likely be a the best solution for you. While drivers can easily be an issue with new equipment in this case there are lots of examples of MAC's being used in this field and you will not need to invent anything. You are correct about the smaller software case but the mac build should work fine for you including ripping. I would suggest checking the PC audio forum and seeing if you can get a "recipe" from someone. Personally I just got a mini for my father in law (intuitive and small form factor) and the mini version with the big HDD caught my eye for this application. This with iTunes and a good dac should be sweet.
Can mac be used to download and playback 24/96 and 24/192 files via external DAC? Where can I learn more to setup a mac based server playbacl system?
Have you noticed that Windows keeps trying and trying to be a MAC?
Paulsax - I went thru all DOS and Windows version in last 25 years nad now have Mac Mini for about a year. Oh my God - what a difference. The problem is not only that Windows is clumsy and unstable but that Microsoft doesn't fix their own mistakes - they just publish bugs on their website but nothing is done. Windows XP cannot, for instance, make backup to CD but it can backup to floppy (bug published on their website). It wasn't fixed from beginning of Win XP and most likely still isn't. I had to unistall Norton from my work computer because was hanging up fighting with Windows for resources.

You say that Windows 7 is way better - I heard this after every Windows release. I suspect that they don't even want to fix bugs in order to sell next version.

New 64 bit Snow Leopard takes 100MB less of a disk space while Windows takes more - it makes you think.

If you really have to use Windows with constant hang-ups and cryptic error messages better be very familiar with software and computers. If you're new to computers - forget it and get MAC.
I'm a Mac user, never had anything else and like Jax2 use it for my photo business where processing is vital.

Here are links to a web site that is critical of everything computer, they beat on Mac, Google and others but have a heyday with Microsoft.

http://rixstep.com/1/20090822,04.shtml

http://rixstep.com/1/20090907,00.shtml

http://rixstep.com/1/20090822,05.shtml

http://rixstep.com/1/20090822,03.shtml

http://rixstep.com/1/20090708,00.shtml

There are too many articles to link, but look around the site for amusement if nothing else. They have an intelligent and somewhat cockeyed sense of humor.
Maybe the question should be: Why are there so few Mac users?
"Maybe the question should be: Why are there so few Mac users?"

Good one. I wouldn't mind migrating to Mac for my upcoming HT Laptop. But 2 things hold me back- no HDMI and no Blu-Ray. And when I mention no HDMI, that's realizing that I can convert DVI, but I'd still have to send audio through another connection. Which pretty much eliminates hi-rez soundtracks, even if they supported BR- which they don't.
Macs are somewhat limited.
Rwwear:

As a Windows developer and as a Mac 'enjoyer' I'll attempt to answer your question regarding why so few Mac users.

1. Office is/was (depending on how you view SAS/cloud computings future) a great app and allowed for an dramatic increase in productivity in the corporate office on the standard pc architecture. People used a pc at work, and you know how resistant human beings can be to change.

2. Say what you will about MS but they are/were great marketers totally destroying OS/2 (a far more stable and superior os to Win 3.11/95...etc) in the bid for the desktop.

3. Employment of the marketing strategy that if you want to offer Windows at all as a pc vendor then you must install or at least supply a copy with all machines that exit your facility, i.e. you must buy a license for every box you push out the door. I think this is one of the things that landed them in several anti-trust lawsuits.

4. Apples always carried a cost premium compared to a pc.

Ok, now that we have completely lost the spirit of this thread....I use a Mini cause my mac works 24/7 for the last 2.25 years and has not had any problems and it sounds fantastic as a music server out of the box. I look at the way XP handles multitasking and memory sharing and it is a joke...compared to OSX. My 2GHZ 3GIG Core2DUO MINI running Leopard smokes my workstation (Dell 3.06 GHZ with 3GIG mem Core2DUO (running XP Pro with SP3). Ok, guys I'm moving on to more music related topics.
My 2GHZ 3GIG Core2DUO MINI running Leopard smokes my workstation (Dell 3.06 GHZ with 3GIG mem Core2DUO (running XP Pro with SP3).
I find that surprising, Audiofun. Is your Dell running an as delivered software configuration replete with bloatware, or have you installed/reinstalled the software yourself? How many background processes does Task Manager indicate are running? Are you using a Norton/Symantec security suite or other security software that is commonly reported as leading to instability and/or slow performance? Do you defragment the hard drive periodically?

My XP Home SP3 installations (installed from scratch by me) have only 25 to 30 background processes running, even though I have a LOT of software installed (upwards of 70 programs). These systems all fly.

That includes even a 6 year old Pentium 4/Asus P4C800 system, as well as two systems I've built more recently that are more powerful than your Dell (E8400 and E8500 Core2Duo's overclocked to 3.8GHz on Gigabyte X48 and EX38 motherboards). All three systems have 4gB RAM and Western Digital 10,000 rpm Raptor hard drives as system drives.

Regards,
-- Al
I've never been a Mac fan and I do not care for Apple at all.

Then again, I really do not care much for PCs either, but at least there is a more open market for PC related gear which benefits the end user from a cost of ownership perspective.

I go with PCs because you get more for the $$$.

Macs are probably still easier to deal with for most and look nice but you will pay a premium.

MACs are popular in the graphics arts industry in particular.

If you are looking for a computer to use as a music server, either will suffice just fine for that purpose alone.
My girlfriend's Macbook is just a pain. It's slow and if you download anything or even open a PDF file it's simply a pain in the arse. I hate the way Safari works. Firefox has helped but still doesn't work like it does on my four PCs. The keyboard is slow and leaves letters off if your not careful. When you close a program by clicking the X it's still running. Macs don't have HDMI and you have to buy an adapter to use them with a TV/monitor. The Macbook also doesn't have a digital out like everyone of my PCs even my 9 year old Sony which still works great. And if it locks up on a program, which it does, just try closing it. All of this and they charge much more. I suppose they fit right in with audiophilia.
All joking aside Mac does have some strong points.
Even though I have owned Macs from the beginning, it was Amarra, Weiss, and the use of Firewire that achieved a level of performance that I have not heard in any other digital. I just think it is ridiculous that USB is being used. AES/EBU and S/P Dif sound much better than USB if you are not going to use the best, Firewire. Incidentally, I hate Itunes, but Amarra takes over and you hardly notices its sales pitches.
This is a development machine and I have a master image for my dev boxes as such, there is no bloatware. I run the Altiris suite which is Symantec, and a number of background processes (~ 50) as any Windows box would in the course of dev.

It is not surprising at all to me, the way that memory and multitasking are handled falls in line with the difference in performance when running multiple apps.

Not to be rude, but I think this topic is getting to far into left field for this thread, so I hope everyone likes there boxes and I hope they yield what you desire, but I again am going to respectfully back away from the merits of one vs the other. The fact is I use both albeit for different tasks...
Amarra is quite nice :)
Even though I have owned Macs from the beginning, it was Amarra, Weiss, and the use of Firewire that achieved a level of performance that I have not heard in any other digital. I just think it is ridiculous that USB is being used.

I'm pretty sure Firewire's been used in Pro-audio since before adopted by PC-audio high-end manufacturers. There are implementations of USB that are better than others (USB>I2S, and asynchronous USB). As I understand it, using Firewire requires custom plug-in software that is proprietary to the device used, whereas USB can be implemented more simply and universally without plug-in software. A recent review of Empirical Audio's OffRamp and DAC in TAS (FWIW) claimed that the USB combo of the OffRamp and Empirical's new DAC surpassed the performance of the Weiss Minerva with Firewire interface. In that same article (again, you throw in as much grains of salt as you see fit) the reviewer claimed that using the Empirical USB Offramp with the Minerva improved on the direct connection of the Minerva via Firewire. Details in the Feb '10 TAS.

Rwwear - sounds like your GF needs a new MacBook :-) I actually use a Macbook, but NOT for a music server (I use my tower for that) and would not recommend the base MacBook for that purpose. Especially not older ones...they will not run the current OS (10.6) well at all. It's the same planned obsolescence with PC's - my brother and I just replaced my Mom's PC (only 3-4 years old which is a lifetime in the PC world - this is not exclusive to either platform) for similar reasons. The hardware has to keep up with the software and eventually it will clog up and bog down. The new OS for both platforms requires more RAM, more HD free space and more processor power than ever (even though streaming music is not really processor/memory intensive). FTR - I would definitely choose a MacMini or iMac as a music server over a laptop.
"The new OS for both platforms requires more RAM, more HD free space and more processor power than ever (even though streaming music is not really processor/memory intensive)."

No, new Snow Leopard requires 100MB less disk space than Leopard. Also Snow Leopard runs faster - check here: http://www.macworld.com/article/142425/2009/08/snow_leopard_performance.html

As for firewire - in general firewire is peer-to-peer network where devices are inteligent and can negotiate bus conflicts. USB is a Master-Slave architecture where devices are dumb. Firewire has separate processing unit and can make transfers without loading main processor while USB always slows down processing (depends on main uP).
"The new OS for both platforms requires more RAM, more HD free space and more processor power than ever (even though streaming music is not really processor/memory intensive)."

No, new Snow Leopard requires 100MB less disk space than Leopard. Also Snow Leopard runs faster - check here: www.macworld.com/article/14242...

Thanks for the link, Kijanki. I was aware of the improvements there. To be clear, I never said it was slower or inferior in any way. Just that the requirements were different. I don't use SnowLeopard as my tower is a dual-core PowerPC and they dropped support for the older processor. I did not say anything about how fast the OS ran. I also did not mean the actual space it requires the OS takes up, if that's what you are referring to (100mb is nothing these days anyway)...I meant that all the new OS run much better with more free space available on the native drive. Minimum requirements are just that (minimum does not mean optimum), but when you start filling up that native drive everything may work, but the OS slows everything down. That's been my experience with all versions of 10.5.X - and I'd bet had something to do with Rwwear's GF's laptop bogging down. That's another good reason to store your music library on an separate drive (among other reasons).

Snow Leopard Minimum Requirements are 1gb RAM and 5GB free HD space, and of course a 64-bit processor. Since it's optimized to take advantage of the processor it does not surprise me that it's faster. That's double the RAM required by the previous 10.5.8 OS, but indeed less HD space than 10.5.X required (9GB vs 5GB). Again, I'd caution that "minimum" and "optimum" are very different in my experience...then again, music streaming is not terribly demanding at all. I speak from experience of dealing with very large graphics files on a regular basis. I don't think it's unique to the platform... in general, the more bells and whistles they include with the OS (Windows or MAC) the more demanding they'll be of space/memory. Correct me if you think this is inaccurate, but it certainly follows the progress of the OS 10 development in real-world use.

As for firewire - in general firewire is peer-to-peer network where devices are inteligent and can negotiate bus conflicts. USB is a Master-Slave architecture where devices are dumb. Firewire has separate processing unit and can make transfers without loading main processor while USB always slows down processing (depends on main uP).

I am not worthy! Thank you for the lesson - You clearly know way more than I do on this subject. So how does that apply directly to streaming music where a buffer and reclocking is likely going to be involved? Would it suggest one were better than the other for that purpose? What about the implementation of asynchronous USB? And what of the conflicting observations in the review I cited, again, FWIW. Ultimately the proof is in what's coming out of your speakers I suppose. It would seem like most folks using a box for their music server are probably dedicating it to just that service. So I wonder how much processor demands, or bus conflicts come into play - perhaps I'm misunderstanding.
Jax2 - I don't really have feel for the disk space required by new OS since I installed it not so long ago.

As for Firewire, I did not intend to give, as you call it, "lesson" on network protocols (I'm hardware guy) but rather point out the main difference that might affect computer operation. In my system, for instance, heavy usage of computer's processor might impede on USB transfers but won't make any difference to Firewire transfers. I also like the fact that Firewire is a daisy chain thing and doesn't require hubs or multiple connectors and cables coming from computer. My three external drives connect to each other and only one wire comes to computer. This is not a "lesson" - I just stated what I like (and YES I think you're worthy - feel better).
Jax2. I will have to read the article, but Minerva has no USB port. Also, many do recommend the Mini as first choice over the Powerbook Pros, but the Imac is usually not recommended. Some suggest that the Powerbook running on battery is best. I have not tried that yet but will tomorrow.

Kijanki, Snow leopard is greatly faster than prior OSXs.Turn on and off is almost instantaneous.
I will have to read the article, but Minerva has no USB port.

Indeed, you are correct - the Minerva has no USB. The improvement was reportedly made using an Empirical Offramp which would have fed the Minerva via SPDIF or I2S if it has that option. That was said to be superior to the Minerva fed by its native Firewire interface. The Offramp is a USB device.
Tbg - Yes I've noticed it. I was nicely surprised with Snow Leopard. Only $29 and easy flawless installation.
Has anyone tried to make their Mac DVD drive region free? So far it's another pain in the arse. With a PC you just download DVD Region Free.