Last Saturday I bought the former and ordered the latter. It was an impulse buy after I had contemplated how to build an audio-friendly PC for over two years. You know, the kind that sounds and looks good in the living room, is silent, and works without keyboard/mouse or screen.
The iMac/Squeezebox combo fits that bill extremely well. I had heard of the Squeezebox but never took it seriously, thinking of it as a toy. Then I saw related posts and signatures from e.g. sleepysurf, Craig, Joey, as well as references to Exact Audio Copy; then did some research in those directions.
Thank you guys, you showed me the light!
Once the sound quality and integration part was out of the way, all I needed was a PC that looks good in the living room, has Wi-Fi and is silent. iMac, et voila! Never had a Mac before - always wanted one since 1985 . And I how like it!
Anyway, as far as the sound is concerned, I need a few more days to make up my mind about how much I like it and which parts I do not like so much. Wednesday, when the Squeezebox arrived, I had had a great day. That night I played FLACed Red Book CDs and enjoyed much improved three-dimensionality of the stage, at the price of somewhat smaller voice and instrument bodies. Treble resolution and bass punch and extension stood out, too. Yesternight I played the FLACed Red Book layers of choice SACDs, and lamented the loss of stage depth. Yesterday I did not feel so well. Coincidence?