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Mac Mini + DAC + HDD +

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Currently: 2 monoblocks / 1 preamp / 1 Mac Mini (with 1 SSD boot) + PSU




A) CI Audio Transient MK II DAC + VDC-5 MK II PSU / Internal HDD for Mac Mini music library (2nd drive)




B) Wyred4Sound DAC2 / External HDD (USB3 and/or Thunderbolt)





1) If I go with CHOICE B (and adding an external HDD for my music library), do I get bus powered or one that's wall powered?


2) Regardless of bus or wall powered, would it be necessary/important/etc to then get another audiophile quality usb cable for the external hdd-to-mac mini connection, or is this overkill, even from an audiophile perspective?


3) If wall powered, does that crappy dc cable become a weak link in the system, or not?


4) Would thunderbolt be a better choice over USB (sound-wise)?


5) Would there be any reason for sound difference between bus/wall powered?


Appreciate the help. Feeling a bit stuck on it as I know cables are always the weakest point in any system.

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Cables can be the weakest link, but they aren't always. The current experience of many people here is that if you are using a USB DAC, then you should try to use a different pathway for your files into the computer. So thunderbolt would be the way to go. (Or FireWire, or Ethernet, if available). And much better if it is independently powered, rather than bus powered. This releases the computer's power supply from the task of supplying more inconstant and noisy (from an electrical point of view) parts. The goal is to keep the internal supply as constant and quiet as possible--there are several good threads on this. And a quieter supply on the external drive helps. I can't speak about the cable from the drive to the computer, I'm feeding off a NAS.


Also, you should make sure that you plug the DAC into on of the "cleaner" USB ports on you Mac mini. You can tell by looking at the tree when you go to about this Mac and look specifically at the USB tree--you want the more direct port.

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