My mini is supercharged.........of course it's got a SSD inside
Your notebook could also benefit from tuning/isolation/vibration control - you are not immune...sorry. In your quest to get greater understanding, you may actually be over analyzing how I achieved a thing or two. Don't overlook the internal fan and a few other challenges.
And yes, been doin' memory play as well. Between OS X, Linux & Windows, I have 19 quality audio players; combos of players/servers.
Back to your analysis. Perform each and every suggestion you've made and will make next, and your chassis can STILL be tuned. Many will assume the box they get from the factory and inside the listening room, once heard is the sound signature of their device. Environment can have a huge impact on one's sonic presentation from the feet they stand on, to the surface that supports those feet, design of the case and housing and so on...lots of stuff to examine if one is in pursuit of excellence. Or simple improvement, 'cause that's what enthusiasts do.
But then, your reality and motivation may differ from my own...
Post Script.: One nice thing I really loved about one of my Linux setups was having MPD (Music Player Dameon) on the Network, while having the front-end client on my notebook pc. It was on par with the Mac/Amarra combo. But after a year having, tweaking and experimenting with several audio players, clients and servers, I ended up where I started...back on the Mac primarily with a few preferred audio players.
With all the chat, I'm gonna have to contribute another pix later today.
And I'm surprised to hear that you prefer OS X for playback - I don't think there is currently anything better than WASAPI on Windows 7/8.
WASAPI Event Style via JRiver MediaCenter and its 64-bit internal audio processing engine (and a 500ms hardware buffer if you want - though it shouldn't be necessary) is probably the best output you will get from a computer.
I also agree with whoever it was that pointed out it was funny that you're using vibration isolation on the Mac Mini, and a TV tray for the turntable.
I'm not meaning to pick on you, I just found it very odd and wondered about the reasoning behind it.
With respect to this thread, a final comment addressing your views. I have the opposite opinion - it seems that you neither know my understanding of digital, computers and audio or my reality inside my own listening room. And do I really need to point out that people navigate the world with different sensitivities? It's becoming quite common on head-fi of members who make comments, not having a direct experience. But expressing what the feel/know to be true. Usually, this is based on what others (experts?) may have weighed-in on. Really though, I respect your opinion and others. But have been pointing out what my own experiences are with tweaking...and their results. This seems fair to me.
That my reality challenges your understanding should bring questions from you; others, and rightfully so. Yes, I did the Win7-Jriver-JPlay-WASAPI this and that, UNIX, Linux and the other suggestions you made.
"I don't think there is..." and "Probably the best output..." sounds like opinion, not fact. It did sound good, though. Don't be so fast to kick Linux/Unix users to the curb.
Please stay focused, all of these other things are beside the point - it should be about tweaks shown inside the pix. For reax from you and others, feel free to express further on the backside (PM). Nuthin' wrong with friendly conversation and the exchange of ideas.
LASTLY, I thought the contrast of the TV tray sitting next to the mini was funny, too. I'm almost certain I explained that contrast a few posts up, but: I had just set the TT up for the first time; I am preparing to move and decided not to accommodate the TT until after the change in residence.
And remember, Audio can be fun, entertaining and engaging...don't be afraid to play around with your gear.
Below: The turntables inside the foyer, waiting to get boxed.
Edited by Silent One - 2/12/13 at 11:37am