We can order a Mac Mini for you or modify your existing Mini. I also recommend a 60GB SSD and 8GB of RAM
(Note: Prices below do not include Mac Mini computer. They do include modification fees and shipping costs within the US.)
Most Popular Configuration- Kora Power Supply
Posted by Kirby on 25th Aug 2014
The upgrade really surprised me! Much better sound stage in both width and depth. Sound is more musical than Before. Thanks again! -Kirby
Posted by Greg B on 10th Mar 2014
Ryan, I would like to thank you and your techs for the fast service. My Mac mini,arrived at Core 1pm Thursday
and I got it back today. After a minute of music from an ice cold Mac mini I noticed an incredibly vibrant, bold and detailed sound. It is like a veil has been removed. I am curious about how much better it will be after a couple weeks.
Congratulations for the improvements you have engineered into the mini server.
Posted by Chris G on 3rd Mar 2014
I have had a Core Audio Mac Mini for about 8 months now. I have bought a few things from Ryan since then and each step of the way has been a step in the right direction. My system has never sounded so good.
Ryan mentioned that they replaced their IPFs, it's hard to keep up with this guy sometimes. He is constantly improving his technologies and mods, but I am glad he told me about this one. He gave me a great deal trading in my IPF and DC cable for his new internal wiring harness. I guess he nixed the IPF because it degrades the sound compared to his new wiring harnesses. Whatever his reasoning, the unit I got back from him was a significant leap up in performance. I compared it to my buddy's CAPS server and Ryan's Mac Mini was just in another league. Really startling performance.
So needless to say I am a happy customer and happy to give my feedback. Highly recommended!
Posted by Greg B on 28th Feb 2014
It has been a month now that I have had the Mac mini upgraded by Core Audio Technology with the Kaia power supply. Every thing promised has happened. There is a much blacker background, more resolution and more of the music is being revealed. The most important beneﬁt of this expenditure is the fun factor. Being an audio junkie is not cheap, so it is so nice to have that return on your investment make listening to your favorite tunes really enjoyable.
My only music source is my Mac mini server and the sound that it produces is the best bang for the buck out there.
In the last couple of weeks the music has been sounding less involving than before, so I started trying to ﬁgure out why. There are always changes when equipment breaks in, but this was going the wrong direction. I started playing around with the up sampling on my SOtM dac/ preamp to the point where I was using no up sampling at all, and I got the realism back. I was very happy with the sound. The same day I get on Core Audio's website and ﬁnd out that not only has a problem been discovered in regards to the Kaia and the Internal ﬁlters, but there are ﬁxes that are said to make it sound much better. In fact there are several upgrade options.
Someone has been very busy.
I am excited about knowing that this great sounding server can easily be improved.
I highly recommend these products by Core Audio Technology.
Posted by MJ on 19th Aug 2013
Well - having read none of the above, but found out about Core Audio on the Computeraudiophile forum, I did order a Kora power supply and level 3 filter form Ryan a few weeks ago, so I can - for what it's worth - share my own experience of Core Audio's products and services.
I've been an Audiogon reader for years but have never really contributed anything to the forum, which I realize gives me less than zero credibility. So let me start by saying - I do exist :). You will find me on ebay with the same alias (Rolandjuno60, after my favorite synthesizer among those I own). I was born and raised in France and have NO connection or interest whatsoever in connection with Ryan. I had never heard of him, let alone spoken to him, before asking him about upgrading my Mac Mini after I read the positive review of his Kora PS on Computeraudiophile. While I usually take their advice with a pinch of salt, on this one I did trust and follow them.
I have a system I'm very happy with - and it's probably worth talking about it a little to give people an idea of what kind of sound I'm after, and the general level of the equipment that the Kora sits with. We're talking about a Brinkmann Avance turntable with Breuer Typ 8 arm and Brinkmann EMT Ti cart, brinkmann Calvin preamp with built-in phono stage, Brinkmann power amp, Amphion Xenon floorstanders, and a Brinkmann Zenith III DAC, all of them extensively upgraded by a friend of mine who - as you may have guessed - was for a long time one of the men behind the Brinkmann name. He also provided the cabling and a mother of a power conditioner.
Apart from the Mac the digital source of choice in my system has been an extensively modded Bow technologies zz8 CD player which used to belong to Lars Moltke, the unit's designer. the whole system sounds (and looks - yes, I'm a little shallow) incredible as far as I'm concerned - very natural, very organic, incredibly dynamic and with just the balance I want between resolution and harmonic richness. I'm a part time singer in a rock band so I know what real instruments sound like, and the system plays them back the way they should sound.
I love the idea of playing back ripped files as opposed to CDs, just as a factor of the convenience (iTunes is shit on a lot of levels, but it is very easy to browse and operate) - and the fact that RAM based playback does take a lot of sonic problems out of the equation, linked to the high-speed spinning of a physical disc. So I did go through the hassle of ripping my entire CD collection (about 3200 discs) in AIFF format on a 2 To FW 800 self powered drive, installing Pure Music, and connecting the Mac to the Brinkmann DAC via an Audiophilleo USB reclocker. While Pure and the AP box each delivered a very significant upgrade to the sound vs stock iTunes, the sound of the files played through the Mac was always way inferior to the same stuff played from a CD through the Bow (understandably so) : flat soundstage, short bass, harsh highs. Lots of resolution but that's it.
Now. Enter the Core Audio Kora PS and Level 3 IPF.
First let me say that Ryan was, from the get go, friendly, fast and helpful in his responses to my questions. The whole package was shipped in no time and arrived perfectly packed.
Build quality is very strong. Not uber-high-end, "everything-machined-from-a-single-block-of-heavy-gauge-metal" standard, but way superior to comparably priced mains / power products from the likes of, say, Russ Andrews, and on a par with other devices I own from the likes of Denon or Marantz (there's an NA 7004 in the same system). The PS is a large box with impeccable fit and finish. No unwanted moving parts or any of the issues described above. The filter also looks like a serious little piece of kit, and the on-site video makes installation a breeze.
More importantly, from the first minute and without any kind of burn-in time, the Kora and IPF3 made a VERY SIGNIFICANT difference in sound quality. Much quieter background, an amazingly deep and well-focused soundstage, the deepest bass I've heard this side of 45 rpm 12 inch vinyl, smooth, natural highs, and a midband with not only increased resolution but a striking amount of harmonic richness and "liquidity". On many levels the Mac already sounds as good, if not better, than the Bow - and that says something considering the build and sound quality of the Bow, which remains my favorite CD player of all time so far, because it's the one that sounds closest to what I expect from a good turntable.
I have not tested other PS products for the Mac. I have no idea whether the Joule products, for instance, would perform better or worse. I have enough experience with audio that I know when I love the sound of something - enough that I don't need to go and try something else as a matter of urgency. I love the sound of the Kora + IPF3 combination, I have high hopes that - once burnt-in - it will deliver even better sound quality than a high-end disc spinner, and I've had a great experience dealing with Ryan who has been nothing but friendly and professional - so now the real test will about how the sound quality of the Kora evolves over time; not to mention, long term reliability.
I guess everyone makes mistakes and a common one is to try to run before you can walk. Based on the experience of some of the people in this discussion I think that's the one thing you can say about the history of mishaps with Core Audio products. As someone with a fresh experience of dealing with them, so far I would recommend their products whole-heartedly.
(and no, I'm not getting anything out of this :)).
Posted by LBS, West Lafayette, IN on 19th Aug 2013
Even before we spoke on the phone, I expected that your modified Mini would sound better in certain respects than my Pro. The question for me was: In what areas and, would the improvements be worth $3K?
As far as I can tell, the improvements are in all areas; and, are most certainly worth the money.
Overall, I am astounded.
Notes on Core Audio Modified Mac Mini vs. Mac Pro 4.1
• Mini removes "fuzz" from notes, revealing more naturalness (e.g., violins are silkier, trumpets have more "bite", acoustic guitar much more lifelike), vibrato (e.g., flute piano), and sustain (e.g., piano)
• Soundstage is bigger, with more air. This is particularly noticeable on live recordings (e.g., Roy Buchanan's "Hey, Joe"). There is also more musical space between voices/instruments. Audience clapping is much more natural. Studio recordings with atmospherics (e.g., The Flaming Lips "Do You Realize?", Steely Dan's "Hey, Nineteen") are stunning. (Haven't tried "Dark Side of the Moon" yet.)
• Individual instruments/voices are easier to hear and to follow throughout the piece. Example: Glass's Symphony #9 is a beautiful piece of music that is marred by "musical murk". With the Core Mini this murk is substantially reduced.
• Deeper, more textured bass (e.g., bass drum, organ). Bass "thunders" on Reference Recording's "Rite of Spring"
• The Core Mini loves crescendos: As the music gets louder and more complex individual voices/instruments maintain their separate sounds.
• Leading edge of notes are cleaner (i.e., reduced glare, fuzziness). Dynamics are better.
Posted by Michel J on 5th Aug 2013
So I've now installed the Kora PS and IPF3, and played music with the upgraded Mac mini for about an hour yesterday.
Of course the Kora and cable are still FAR from burnt-in etc :-). I'm assuming things will get even better with time. I can already say though, I am thoroughly impressed with the results.
Build quality is very good. The supply, filter and cable arrived in perfect condition. My only feedback would be that a printed out user manual would enhance the value perception of the package – and that the cable could do without the useless screw at the end that connects with the PS… Other than that the quality standard is generally very good, and so was the packing.
Setting up was a breeze – frankly, if I can do it basically anyone can. Only thing is I had to order the right Torx screwdrivers which delayed proceedings by a couple of days… But that's just me and my lack of organization skills. The Power supply sits on a spare granite slab I still have from a previous power amp; the Mac Mini itself sits in my Hutter Racktime basic rack. Power filtering courtsey of a Brinkmann / Corfac 2 "Deep blue" conditioner used for the whole system.
Once setup – the effects are NOT subtle. Impressively wide, deep and focused soundstage – much more so than with the stock PS which flattens everything out. MUCH DEEPER bass extension – basically the deepest and clearest lower bass I've heard this side of 12" 45 RPM vinyl. I use a Brinkmann Calvin preamp / stereo power combo feeding Brinkmann modded Amphion Xenon floorstanders and this is the deepect bass I've heard from them – I knoew they could go low, just not THAT low. Way smoother, more musical treble with none of the harshness and dryness that marred the stock mini performance. Increaseed mid range resolution with the proverbial "new details in familiar recordings" in full effect. Everything is bigger, more liquid, more natural, more fluid, more musical. Very, very impressive stuff.
My CD player is a modded bow Technologies zz9 – in fact a zz8 with improved mechanism which used to be owned by the maker of the model, Bow's Lars Moltke. It feeds (through digital coax out) a Brinkmann Zenith 3 DAC, the last ever made, latest spec courtesy of the designer who created it. The most musical DAC I've heard, much more natural-sounding and refined than all the higher-rez machines I've tried in my system (including a ridiculously over-priced Mark Levinson 24/96 upsampling unit). The Mac mini feeds the same Dac via an Audiophilleo USB reclocker. After installing your PS and filter it essentially performs ON PAR with the Bow, which used to retail for about 20,000 USD when new. Slightly less mid-band harmonic richness and liquidity than the Bow, but I'll wait until burn-in is complete to re assess that. Everything else – staging, dynamics, resolution, bass extension – is better. And it used to be WAY worse.
So, in addition to great comms and fast shipping, so far I'm an extremely happy customer. And I'm not easily pleased when it comes to audio :).
Will write more and post on Audiogon. Thanks already for a great product.
Posted by Tony C on 25th Jun 2013
I have had the Metrum DAC for a little while now, but have long been thinking that my mac mini was a bottleneck in my system.
About two months ago I contacted Ryan over at Core. Something amazing about this hobby: every so often you meet someone extraordinarily brilliant and generous in this hobby. including those who are willing to undertake extra effort without compensation. Until recently, I had never purchased anything from Core Audio, but he took time out of his busy day to work with a customer who paid him nothing in the effort to help him make his system better, my system better. That is truly extraordinary and it is why he got my business. He is one knowledgeable young fellow and his ability to make complex concepts easy for a novice like me to understand is quite a talent -- and it makes sense, which is arguably hard to find in this industry.
I ended up purchasing one of Ryan's Mac Mini upgrade packages, he turned it around for me in a day and it worked like a charm. My settings and everything remained in tact so all I had to do was plug it in and fire it up.
Ryan encouraged me to give it 200 hours before listening too critically. But I just couldn't resist! You would not believe the upgrade this power supply brings. In my 30 years of being an audiophile not once have I heard such a tremendous sonic improvement to my audio system. There is less noise, less graininess. I would equate the sound to filling your listening room with water and you just float there, letting it wash over you. It is the most emotionally involving sound I've ever heard.
I have the power supply, the Kora MKIII, plugged directly into the wall via one of his Katana power cables, which are really nice too btw.
Overall, highly highly recommend the upgrade and even more highly recommend working with Ryan on your system.
Posted by Joseph T. Seminetta on 10th Jun 2013
I have a highly evolved system with an EMM DAC2X, Shindo LaFon mono block amps, Shindo Vosne Romanee pre, DeVore 096 speakers etc. I have also previously modified my MacMini source. I was somewhat skeptical that Core's Power Supply and filters could raise my system any higher. Wow, was I wrong. I barely have the modified system burned in and can hardly believe the improvements I have received. Voices have much greater depth and realism, distortion (that I did not know existed) is greatly reduced, PRAT is very coherent and real. I am honestly looking at other potential improvements that Core can help me with on my front end. Very highly recommended.
Posted by Frank W on 21st May 2013
I received your IPF2 Kit and Kora today for my Mac Mini. The installation was fairly easy and the IPF fit right in. I've probably only listened for about 15 minutes so far, but was so excited I had to send you a quick note -- this thing is a must-have component for computer audio. The unit is quieter, the fatigue is totally gone, and there's depth to instruments and their tones that I've never heard on any system. It's better than live!
I'm sure I'll email you again as things break in. What are the benefits of upgrading to a Kalos? I am not a firm believer in the merits of power supplies for digital audio.
Posted by John H. on 21st May 2013
I first heard of Core several months ago when doing a google search for Mac Mini upgrades. I spent several months twiddling my thumbs, debating about whether I wanted to go with a Mac Mini or a PC-based server or a Network player. Ryan was very responsive to phone calls and emails, extremely patient with all of my nonsense questions, and was a pleasure to deal with. I should also note that he understands more about high-end audio than anyone I've ever spoken with in the industry, so interesting to talk to!
Anyway, I ended up getting his Mac Mini on a trial basis and, well, I am most certainly keeping it for a good long time. I have been an audiophile for close to 35 years and never have I heard such a tremendous transformation in my system. The sound is more organic, and even my wife said she can hear more of the instruments (and she was across the room). I'm not thinking about high or low frequencies, I just hear instruments in real space. Couldn't be happier with the sound, truly.
The build quality is great, I've had zero issues with the system. It worked flawlessly from day one, I just plugged in my external hard drive and set up Amarra. Not much to it.
The picture quality for Hulu and Netflix is great too!
Anyway, Thank you Ryan! This has been a wonderful purchase and I am a firm believer in your products. I'll be sure to send people your way.
Posted by Gary L. on 11th Apr 2013
I never write these things…. But I do read a lot of them… So here is my story I have been chancing audio nirvana for 21 years.. It started with a Nakamichi Receiver & Magnepan SMG’s. From there it proceeded to Threshold, Proceed, Levinson, Krell, Transparent cable…etc and I thought I had found happiness with Ayre… but the chase continued with all of these systems something was NEVER quite right… Yea I had power conditioners etc… but still just not quite right….
Well as time progressed the Ayre system started to gather dust and I sold all of it and just considered it a colossal waste of funds, as I was enjoying watching movies with my family. As in the case of all addictions I decide to get a mid-fi home theater system… Well I ended up with a hi-end theater setup but not with separates this time I bought a receiver (Arcam AVR600) to tame my addition to separates, still had the silly cable and power conditioning accessories to go along with the system… well the sound was fine with theater boom bag zing!!! It’s when I hooked up my computer based audio that I knew there were short comings…
So of course back on the bicycle of audio and try and fix the problem. I read about people getting fantastic sound with similar setups with D/A converters so down the rabbit hole again. This time though I had engaged my wife with my madness, we go to seminars on computer based music setups etc… etc… We by a D/A converter, more wires and conversion boxes and based on our listening auditions we did get improvements but were talking marginal at best.. Then my dealer decides my ears are to refined for the 6k receiver that he sold me and maybe I should consider separates again and that’s when I just loose it! I told the dealer no this should sound better than it does I’m going to figure out what’s wrong because I’ve bought everything you said would make it better and it did, but not to the degree or value that I deem acceptable…
So I search and read more about computer based audio and I stumble on Core Audio Technology on AudionGon. I start to read Ryan’s perspective and get very interested, and then I read the reviews and say…. You guessed it “yea right” so I vacillate over spending more $$$ on the Mac Mini Kora upgrade, finally I decide to use some personal discretionary spending for the upgrade and decide not to tell the wife… Well I install it in the system and I can’t believe the difference I’m talking about as good as my all Ayre big rig with better dynamics… Yea WOW…of course I think it’s my audio fool addiction to new equipment… but I get conformation the next day when my wife asked ‘what did you do to the music’ see the irony is what she called it…. MUSIC!… That’s all I needed for conformation.. My wife is now fully engaged in the hobby after I explained what the Core Audio Product was doing; she said well that makes sense to bad it took so long for you to figure it out but I’m glad you did because I hear things on my favorite songs I have never heard before…. So if you’re reading this buy Ryan’s product it’s outstanding! Ryan THANK YOU my chase has stopped for now!!!
Posted by David H. on 29th Mar 2013
I jumped into computer audio about one year ago. Recently, I had listened to Ryan Mintz's advice as he assisted me in replacing my pre-amp with a prism orpheus dac and my system sored. Having had a few high end mods to my Oppo BD player by Rick Schultz of Electronic Visionary Systems, I believed I was hearing some of the better front end sounds available. Ryan assured me that once I heard the mac mini with an outboard linear power supply, I'd never listen to the modded Oppo again. With a money back guarantee, what's to loose? Well, the leap forward again was analogous to that of removing the pre-amp. Its difficult to believe that one's system can get much better for the money spent. Organic, transparency, control, nuance, dynamics, color, you name the adjective, all greatly improved. It appears that by decreasing the distortion from the front end source with the proper power supply, one can rediscover your own electronics downstream. Can't wait to upgrade my Core audio PS again. Alpha ps, mm, po, sim w-5, synergistic, GV's
Posted by David P. on 29th Mar 2013
I have been an audiophile for years and have spent literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on gear. The other day I ordered the Kora power supply for my Mac Mini which I honestly thought at best would give me a small insignificant improvement ( when you get to this level even a 1% improvement is worthwhile ) Let me tell you, the Kora completely transformed my system from extremely good to utter bliss. Never in my audio experience have I ever experienced such an amazing transformation ( and for so little money ) I can't thank Core Audio enough for taking my system to the next level. If you use a Mac Mini as your media server this upgrade is an absolute must have.
David from Canada.
Posted by James C. on 29th Mar 2013
I've come close to writing audio reviews on various components that
I've liked over the years, but this time I'm actually doing it because
I think I've stumbled upon something that is really outstanding and
which people -- everybody who's into audio, really -- should be aware
of -- the power supplies for digital components made by Core Audio
Technology, a relatively young company based in Los Angeles.
I must say at the outset - I think this company and its products could
be a game-changer for the whole industry - a company that we all will
have heard about in a year or two... more on that later.
After doing a ton of research, a few weeks ago I sat down with the
wife and explained to her the advantages of clean power for digital
audio -- taking the Mac Mini that we use as a music server off the
grid with battery power, for example... Well, I was quickly told me in
no uncertain terms that NO WAY IN HELL was I going to introduce a car
battery into our living room or anywhere near it, no matter how big a
soundstage and black a background we were talking, so that sent me
back to the drawing board...
I found a handful of non-battery power supplies for digital,
corresponded with a few of them, and was feeling tentative, getting
the sense that this was still a somewhat undeveloped niche. Then I
somehow found the Core Audio site on a google search, thought there
were some intriguing blog postings on the very subject of digital
audio, and sent them an email. Within minutes, I got a response from
Ryan, the company's owner.
To make a long story short, Ryan's grasp of the issues of digital
audio seemed to be anything but undeveloped, and I fairly quickly
decided to try the entry-level power supply for my Mac Mini. It's
called the Kora (most of their components have names that start with a
"K" for some reason) and it's $600, also requiring the installation of
an internal power filter for the Mini for a total of $1150 - not chump
change, but fairly comparable to the battery option I was considering,
and some of the others too.
I should mention that my system lately has included a dB Audio
Tranquility SE DAC as well as an Ultra Fi DAC-41, which I've been
using to feed an EL84-based Sam Kim Heathkit integrated amp
(astonishing piece of gear in its own right), driving a pair of Tonian
TL-D1 speakers. I've got a wonderful Sablon Audio Uber Robusto power
cord feeding the Tranquility SE, and using various excellent ICs to
the amp including KCI Silkworms, Ridge Street Audio Poiema 3s and
Audio Magic Liquid Air Illusions.
That's some great gear, to my ears. But I believe that adding this
power supply to the Mini was the biggest single improvement my system
has ever had. Both of the DACs I've been using have reputations for
lending a very analog-like sound, and I've appreciated that aspect in
both of them. But it wasn't until I dropped the Kora into the mix that
it REALLY started to sound like something I could potentially mistake
for vinyl... The soundstage got bigger, far more detailed and with
more vivid tonal colors throughout the midrange, Airy, lush highs,
etc,. with a far more robust, tight and well-defined bottom end. Above
all, things just got more effortless, engaging and enjoyable.
I could go on about the sound, but the bottom line is that everything
got better - and by a considerable margin. I can't imagine that anyone
using a Mac Mini as their server would not come to the same
conclusion. I would encourage anybody in my situation to consider
reaching out to Ryan - who by the way has provided the most responsive
customer service I've ever experienced for just about any product.
Meanwhile, I just turned another friend of mine on to the Core Audio
power supplies who, in addition to powering his Mac Mini, is also
using one to power a relatively inexpensive DAC - he said the result
is a DAC that completely blows away his DAC-41 in the same
configuration, and for less money. According to Ryan, that
configuration is good, but nowhere near as good as hislamp, which
takes a digital feed directly from the Mac Mini and keeps the digital
signal intact, amplifying it and reclocking it before it's converted
to analog at the output stage. The result, I have been told, is
mind-blowing and unprecedented in audio, and I've just ordered one
that's slated to arrive next week.
I don't generally like using superlatives, but in this case I think
there's a product that deserves such praise, and I'm just at the entry
level right now. I think we all will be hearing a lot more about Core
Audio and its products before too long. I'm happy to answer any
questions, but would also recommend that folks try Ryan, who has some
of the most interesting perspective on audio I've ever come across.
Posted by Luan D. on 29th Mar 2013
A few months ago I decided it was time to get into this digital front-end game. I noticed many vendors at the audio shows all incorporated some sort of Mac Mini/DAC combo in their listening rooms. The rooms that left me in awe always had a big box underneath the Mac Mini and/or the DAC. I never thought to ask what this was, but now I realize it must have been a separate power supply.
It wasn’t until I purchased a Mac Mini/DAC-41 that my journey really ran off on a tangent. I was happy with the sound, my front-end sounded much better than my modest CD player and I was starting to realize the potential and convenience of computer-based audio. The sound was very fluid, dynamic, lush, and transparent partly attributable to my Tonians/Melody no doubt. But I wanted more detail and a bigger sound stage without killing the magic I had already discovered.
Enter the Kora...
With a slight nudge from J, I decided to mod my stock Mini and mate it with Ryan’s entry level power supply. The power supply is robust and feels like a tank. Within 7 days, I had the Mini/Kora back and fired it up. I was completely blown away. Was I hearing things that I just wanted to hear because I just forked over a good chunk of change? Maybe, but I highly doubt it. Melody Gardot has a very captivating voice that reverberates with emotion. This aspect was rendered nicely without the Kora and stock Mini in the mix. But with the Kora, I was utterly amazed at the new-found clarity and sense of space surrounding her voice. It was like someone lifted the haze from the Tonians. I immediately sent an email to J and my brother telling them that my system had been transformed to a higher level. I kept shaking my head in disbelief and was so stoked that I finally “got there”
I compared the Opus 21 to my new rig and although the Opus is pretty sweet, the deeper sense of emotion was missing. I came to the realization that the thing that lit up the innards of my system was indeed the Kora. Without the Kora my system sounded great. With the Kora it’s just spectacular and so involving, IMO of course. I would be totally shocked if anyone was ever disappointed with the Kora. To reiterate J’s point, the Kora is the SINGLE best upgrade I have ever made to my system and am confident this niche will spread like wild fire. It’s like a catalyst that ignited the strengths of each link in the chain. Bear in mind I use DIY extension for my speaker cables and economical ICs. Forget about using cables to fix the sound, I am now a firm believer in reducing distortion and noise floor at the source first and foremost.
What makes my journey so special is how the Kora now enables me to listen to music at higher listening levels with no listening fatigue. I can sit down and enjoy hours upon hours without leaving with that clubbing-ear sore. This is remarkable. Over the years, my right ear has become very sensitive to distortion and glare. The Kora in some ways has “cured” my sensitive ear. I know that is a bit far-fetched, but mysteriously enough it’s true and that is why I cannot recommend the Kora enough.
My brother recently heard my system over the Holidays and was impressed and that’s not such an easy task. So much so that he is waiting for Ryan to finish the production version of his PC-based server. I can now relate to my brother’s sense of revelation after he stumbled upon his Yamamoto 45 and how that piece sent rumbles through his system.
Although I might not agree with some of Ryan’s views regarding audio, I do think that he is on the precipice of something special. He does have awesome customer service and is super quick when responding to inquiries. Please do yourself favor and at least read what he has to say on the Core Audio Technology website.
Kora = Voodoo
Posted by Fred C on 29th Mar 2013
Listening with the Kora power supply in the system. First a little perspective, 2010 mac mini 4GB ssd, running Pure Music, Jkenny modded usb interface, Metrum Octave DAC, 76 tube line stage. 91A-2A3 SET amp, REL stadium III sub, and would you believe, I also have Tonian TL-D1 speakers. In fact, you can see my modest system before the Metrum Octave went in, on the Tonian website. I’m a little short of the 100 hr. burn in, but I think I can make a few relevant comments. A lot of people agree that when you are listening to you system you are listening to music, and your power supply, at least in simple terms. A more transparent power supply will allow more music to come through. I agree more than ever now having the Kora in the system. The reduction in power supply noise that I didn’t even know was there has revealed aural cues that have improved my listening in every way, tone, texture, openness, reverb tails, depth, and on and on. More than that it has allowed musical notes that were bent and twisted like corrupted DNA, to stand up straight and strong, the musical foundation is sturdier and more real, less distorted. If you want to take your system to the max by addressing problems that can be addressed in no other way, you may want to consider one of these. I’m keeping mine.
Posted by Phillip M. on 29th Mar 2013
After getting into digital audio for the first time in my life, I purchased an Ayre system, stereo amp, DAC, & DX5 Transport Deck, then a mac mini, with Sonus Liuto speakers, the difference between the DX-5 & Mac Mini was so far apart, I was ready to put the Mac Mini to PC use instead of musical use. then I stumbled across Core Audio Web Site, sent an email about their upgrade package for the Mac Mini, Ryan was and is a very patient man! I could tell my ignorance in the digital music arena was a little challenging for him! but at the end of the day I got on the same page as Ryan due to his epertise & patience explaining what they did to improve the Mac's musical performance. It just so happen at the same time I was ready to order the Mac upgrade package, the new Mac Mini was coming out, So I went ahead and let Ryan buy the New mac and perform all their upgrades and add their power supply. When I received the Mac and power supply from Ryan, I removed the old Mac and installed the new upgraded mac, and when I listen to the first song from Nina Simone (feeling good) Well before the song was over I was emailing Ryan and Saying Ok, you have convinced me!!!. it really rivals the Ayre DX transport deck a $10K Deck! with the Nina Simone SACD, I don't have my analog setup yet, but its coming, regardless the money was well spent, and I now I really enjoy my I tunes library! Thanks Ryan & Core Audio, your products perform exactly as advertised!!
Posted by Daniel L. on 15th Feb 2013
In a word, WOW! I have to tell you, I was listening late last night and my wife even noticed a difference. This is one of the largest upgrades I think I've ever made. As much trouble as I've been getting this thing set up and installed, you are one patient guy. I can't wait to hear your amp!
Upgrading the power supply on your Mac Mini is one of the single largest upgrades you will ever make.
Bad in = bad out.
The Mac Mini runs off a dainty little switchmode power supply. Switchmode power supplies generate tremendous amounts of noise, particularly above their switching frequency. The Majority of power supplies focus solely on low frequency noise filtration within the audio band, but examining the image below shows that the majority of noise exists outside of the audible band.
Removing this high frequency noise from the noisy power supply is step one. This noise adds or subtracts from the PWM signal in the mac mini. All signals inside the Mac Mini computer are processed in real time as a Pulse Width Modulation. This PWM signal is a square wave, or an analog representation of a digital signal. Any noise that exists adds or subtracts from the amplitude of the square wave. The introduction of this noise introduces harmonics into the signal that do not exist! These amplitude distortions account for the majority of the anomalies we hear in digital audio. It's also where the "Mac" sound comes from.
To remove this noise we replace the stock switchmode power supply with our Kaia modular power supply design, shield the logic board, and install a SSD. These elements plus powerful DC and AC Cabling serve to eliminate noise and create incredible performance from the Mac Mini hardware.
Shielding the logic board is critical. Because of the very fast oscillations of a computer's CPU there are severe high frequency transients that are generated and must be damped. Not only does the computer radiate EMI, but it absorbs it from other devices in the air. This problem is solved via our proprietary cryo-shield technology.
No, this shielding doesn't go on the case. That's too far away from the noise source. We're dealing with very high frequencies with very low impedance, the distance from logic board to chassis is just too great to be an effective shield. Our Cryo-Shield is our own proprietary shielding technology. This technology both absorbs and blocks EMI and is attached directly to the motherboard in key areas as well as to the internal power filter and power supply. This shield is comprised of several layers designed to block and absorb EMI between 10mhz-100ghz. The construction of the material allows for extremely fast response time, enabling a wide bandwidth filter that offers 60-70dB of noise reduction across the aforementioned bandwidth. By attaching the material directly to the chips on the motherboard EMI is more effectively absorbed and shielded. The impact is immediately noticeable.
OSX is another source of noise in the Mac Mini system. While optimizations can be done to OSX, there is very little benefit to them with the introduction of our new IPFs and power supplies. The better solution is to install Windows 8. If you've seen our Kryptos Servers you will notice the focus on a windows-based system. Simply, Windows just sounds better. We use our custom-built windows OS, which we've reduced from a 3.5GB installation to 2GB Installation. This removes quite a bit of garbage from the windows architecture and dramatically improves the sound. By running Windows as the final "piece" of your Mac Mini puzzle you can truly remove that "Mac" sound and have a truly reference music server.
The DC Cable is a direct extension of the regulator's output stage. So any Capacitance, Resistance, or Inductance on that wire slows transient response and decreases power supply performance. As you go up each level in DC Cable you are decreasing the LCR characteristics of the cable, which in turn reduce power supply noise and self noise generated by the cable. Each level up provides more scale, richness, clarity, rhythm, and resolution. Each level up is a significant upgrade from the predecessor. Because this cable is directly part of the output stage of the regulator its performance is MISSION CRITICAL and the first place we recommend upgrading.
Which should I upgrade first: The Internal Wiring Harness or the DC Cable?
The DC Cable itself is more important than the internal wiring harness, but generally we recommend harnesses of the same level performance as the DC Cable. We also offer hard-wired DC Cables, which can improve the sound by eliminating the Barrel connector as the mac mini power input. This option is recommended.
We now offer a Mac Mini upgrade to a custom carbon fiber Chassis. This may add one day to turnaround.
Core Audio Technology is now offering the Atomic Audio Labs Mac Platform. This was demoed for us at RMAF 2013 and proved far more than worthy. I'd say it is certainly $350 well spent and at least as big an upgrade as upgrading to our high-end DC Cable, if not better. A must-have for any mac mini configuration and more effective than the stillpoints under the Mac Mini. The Mac Platform is designed to be out of phase with the resonant frequency of the Mac Mini, thus canceling all chassis vibration. Even using no fan and an internal SSD, the Mac Platform made a really nice improvement on our show system that everyone in the room heard. Highly recommended.
High Frequency vibration in audio electronics can wreak havoc on your sound. Microvibrations down in the nanosecond range create stray magnetic fields, which in turn create noise voltages in your component and limit dynamic range, resolution, and harmonic content.
We do not believe in "tuning" your equipment through the use of feet. Stillpoints will not change the tonal color of our equipment, instead it increases microdynamics, resolution, and spacial characteristics within the system quite dramatically.
We offer two footer options, both of which are a significant component upgrade. The Ultra SS (pictured right) offers one packet of stillpoints antivibration technology, so using 4 per component offers a total of 4 anti-vibration pockets. The ultra 5 (Left) offers 5 packets per footer and a total of 20 isolation packets per component. The ultra 5 is expensive, but the upgrade is the equivalent of tripling the price of our product.
The Stillpoints work as an isolation device. There are two paths for vibration to travel, from stand to component and from component to stand. The stillpoints offer separate paths for each type of vibration and have no direct vertical path from top to bottom. Instead they use ceramic bearings in a stainless steel housing to dissipate the microvibration as heat extremely rapidly. Unlike most isolation devices and footers, these footers work on ultra high frequencies rather than within the audio band, this is they key to successful vibration isolation. Their effect is simply incredible and certainly worth the price of admission.
The kit version is $100 cheaper.