I just discovered that my Macbook Pro has a Toslink S/PDIF out. I've been using the Mac for years, and somehow never knew this!
Up until now, I've been using a simple USB to SPDIF converter to feed into my DAC. While I do have some jitter reduction built into the system, I still find that SQ is better when played on a CD transport than from the Mac through the USB port. Perhaps I need a better USB-to-SPDIF converter (maybe with async capability?)
Today, I got the mini-Toslink to regular Toslink cable and connected it between Macbook and DAC. The sound is now really close to what I get from the CD: when doing A/B comparisons, level-matched, I can occasionally hear very slight differences. Sometimes the CD sounds a touch better, sometimes the Mac over S/PDIF. Overall, I feel they are very closely matched now.
So, the question is: do you folks use (and prefer) the S/PDIF output on the Macs directly or is a high quality USB-to-S/PDIF converter a better choice? Are there some software limitations with Mac S/PDIF output that do not exist with USB, or are they equivalent from software perspective?