So what other devices have you compared to the Mini strictly in the capacity of handling the digital stream and with which DACs did you do this comparison? And is it fair to say that synergy or the lack thereof may matter between the two devices?
I only managed to try it against a chord hugo TT in a head-fi setting (audiovalve solaris amp + he1000 v2 headphones). Sure there might be lack of synergy, but usually synergy is more apparent/important between amp/speakers or dac/amp. For digital transport, I have yet to hear a good transport sounding bad due to lack of synergy with other dacs.
When Auralic came out with the Mini, I was quite excited because I liked how the Aries sounded with the Vega. But hearing the Mini for the first time (not optimised of course, definitely better with a lps), left me wanting a bit more. This wasn't the case with the stock sms200, and I haven't looked back since. I've always been a digital person and those simple 1s and 0s.. is actually a bitch to get it sounding right. I'm not saying the sms200 is the best transport, but in comparison to the mini, I think it edges it in resolution and dynamic punch as a pure transport.
Living in Singapore, I consider myself lucky to be able to hear a wide variety of setups at my fingertips. At least 6 friends live within a 5-10min drive, with vastly differently setups. Wilsons, GoldenEar, Kef, Vivid, Spendor, and also.. another Spatial owner
. A 10min walk from my office is a 4 storey shopping mall, dedicated to all sorts of high to ultra high end audio equipment. From budget 4-digit setups till those in the millions, I've had the opportunity to access and listen to all sorts of stuff quite easily.
Despite all this, I settled on Spatial Audio as my choice of speakers (contenders were the Gradient Helsinki and Boenicke W5). Clayton's design really checked many boxes for me, detailed bass without room interaction, wide open staging, minimalistic looking and quite affordable. Are they perfect? Of course not. But the things it does right far outweigh any shortcomings it might have. Do all my friends like how it sounds? Of course not! The open baffle sound takes time to get used to, and are seen as a kind of 'novelty' compared to regular boxed speakers. At the end of the day, it's more important I love them since they are what I come home to everyday