That is the question and I figured it might be worth a post or two to explore. The original question posted was this: what's the sonic difference of using a Mac Mini or a NAS as a server? It's a very good question, asked often.
First, let's get clear what each is, then we can go on to answering some of the more perplexing aspects. Both a NAS (Network Attached Storage) and a Mac Mini are computers. Both have hard drives, both have operating systems, both have GUIs to control them, though built in and require an external monitor, mouse and keyboard to control.
So what are the differences? The Mac Mini is a sophisticated computer with a hard drive, and a NAS is a hard drive with an unsophisticated computer. Think of them this way: Mac Mini is a computer first, hard drive second, and a NAS is the opposite.
One of the major differences between the two is how they connect to our DACs, though the Mini is a bit of a chameleon and can go both ways, while a NAS cannot.
Tomorrow let's start with understanding the NAS.