How do you do a virtual windows on the Mac. Was going to build my own music server, but the time, effort, and lack of real cost savings makes me want to go get the Mac mini. However, I'm a PC guy and like J River.
I run Windows in a virtual machine using VMWare. I have 3 LaCie optical drives including the built-in one in my Mac Pro so that I can rip 4 CDs at a time. The great thing about dbpoweramp is that it uses database in the cloud to save the equivalent to a checksum for each track on each CD, allowing you to "securely" copy your CDs. After each rip, it will give you a confidence score (essentially, how many other people read the same bits as you), to ensure you have a bit for bit copy of the original. Once this is in hand, there is no reason ever to rip your CDs again. And, as stated previously, you can always transcode the archival copy to a new codec.
I think a mac mini would do fine for this purpose. I don't find the encoding to be so CPU intensive that it becomes the bottleneck process.