Originally Posted by drews
Which Mac? Do you have any actual data to support that claim? I've read about an earlier revision of the Mac mini that had high jitter on the optical/spdif output but other than that the optical output is bitperfect, electrically isolated, and doesn't interact/interfere with other USB devices. Perhaps I'm missing something but spending $400 on an USB-to-spdif adapter is about the lowest bang for the buck investment I can imagine...
Honestly, the negative comments have appeared in the majority places where I have read reviews and/or reports, and were associated with both Mac Mini's and Mac laptops. I really have no desire to go back and dig them up again to prove anything. I was unable to find a single implementation where anyone used the headphone/optical output and derived good sound from it, and I really wanted to. I certainly agree that I would much rather not spend $400.00 on a USB/SPDIF converter, but no one is offering any commentary on alternatives that result in high quality sound, unless you have a newer DAC with a much better USB implementation. And I have no desire to drop my perfectly excellent Bryston BDA-1 DAC, which originally cost $2k.
I can also completely agree that "the optical output is bitperfect, electrically isolated, and doesn't interact/interfere with other USB devices" as you noted, but since when did "bit perfect" have any meaning when ultimately translated to audio quality?