Many thanks in advance.
Your main problem with the new mac mini as a source is how to rip tracks. Doesn't have a cd slot, but you could always buy a cheapo usb drive and attach it.
Fwiw I am running two mac mini based source. First and main one is in my one and is comprised of the following :-
Mac Mini (duh!)
Cambridge Audio Dacmagic
Marantz 66 Ki Signature amp (getting on for about 10 years now!)
Mission 780 Speakers.
I use an ipad 1st gen to control album selection and works quite well. Certainly more reliable than the sb3 that I used in the past. That said it was more computer probs than the sb3.
Second source (more of a hodge podge) in the back room doubling as house computer.
Audio Engine A2 Active Speakers.
All cds ripped to alac (two 1xtb usb drives)or m4b for audiobooks. Use a 64 gig ipod touch for music (picked up cheap) and an Ipod classic for syncing audiobooks only (was getting fed up of having to choose which ones I wanted to listen to at work).
Both work well and are stable enough. I toy with the idea of upgrading to something like naims unitiqute (major £££) but can't really be bothered.
Any questions feel free to ask!
I've connected my macs both ways (usb and digital); they're both fine. The real advantage of toslink is that it allows you to connect to an av receiver (or a 2 channel rig with digital inputs) which saves you the money of buying a usb dac. Onkyo has some really good looking new amps with digital inputs: http://www.eu.onkyo.com/en/products/a-9050-85865.html and http://www.eu.onkyo.com/en/products/a-9070-58611.html
Nor worse, right. Optical to me is more versatile.
...also...when I used mine as a source, I used one of these for those times the simplistic idevice remote didn't cut it:
recommended. (cuts out at long range though)