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Re: Z-E-R-O difference sonically.

Seems to me that by starting with a blank slate, you are in the perfect position to let the application/solution drive the hardware/OS. Least this is what they used to teach us to do back when the world was young...

One could argue that as opposed to the RIP software, the driving application is how you will control and access the library remotely - meaning that it works with Squeezebox.

As a Mac guy I would encourage you to consider the inherent goodness of having a carefully integrated package that brings together the RIP and the software management applications into one interface - ie iTunes. As a bonus iTunes gets along with Squeezebox just fine. It also lets you load your iPod, burn CDs etc. There is something to be said for convenience

IMHO the search for the ultimate db and integration of disparate packages is great if you have the chops and the time. If you don't, chances are that great sound and ease of use will trump the possibility of the ultimate solution. My unscientific guess is that there are a few people who are active posters here who truly enjoy all the fiddling and are rewarded by superb sound. Then there are the twenty million plus iTunes users who don't bother to post because it is dead easy and they are happy as can be...

Finally, if you can I would encourage you to use SATA for your drives rather then USB or Firewire. (Not sure that you can do this with a Mini) No more money and much more robust. Regardless of OS, given current prices and your intention to use wav or aiff I would not even bother with anything smaller then 300Gb drives. As I got into this I discovered that adding a new drive meant more money in enclosures and cables so the fewer units you have to build out the better. Don't forget to plan for a back up strategy...

BTW I have a G5 (I get that you don't need this, but I do) I run my Parts Connexion modified TriVista off the G5 digital optical output. (Like you this is what I had) I also run my modded Squeezebox 2 from the same library but do not have any nifty remote beyond what is provided by SLIM. The library resides on a Seagate 400 SATA drive - it is backed up to 200Gb Hitachi firewire drives which are the remnants of the previous system.

The only thing I can imagine improving is the local Squeezebox surfing experience. That said I tend to make up playlists and then just access those. And I am making increasing use of Internet radio via Squeezebox for my non-critical listening.

And I agree with Mac - at least technically there is no inherent reason that the bits coming back from one OS should sound at all different from the bits coming back from another... that said, attention to detail at every step (which is what you are doing) is the key to superior results

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