I just realized I could connect the Mac Mini to my TV via HDMI, then have the TV connect to the Dac-1 via optical. Is there any compromise audio-wise if I connect things in this convoluted fashion -- ie, does having the TV in the middle acting as the bridge from my audio to the Marantz muss w/ things at all, or will i essentially get the same quality HDMI to optical connection that I would using an extractor-converter?
It's very possible that the TV could limit bit depth and sample rate of the output based on its supported formats. When connected to my Panasonic TV over HDMI, Windows shows the highest supported format as 16 bit 48 kHz. But you'll likely have to connect to your panel to find this out...it's hard to find manufacturer specs on this type of stuff.