So, I was thinking that the problem is the output stage, and
that the previously mentioned dac's would have better op amps
and filtering in the output stage (higher quality components,
This is why I keep my 12 year old cdp. I can't find a smoother sounding player.
The dac I use with my Mac Mini is the PS Audio DLIII which offer the 96 or 192 sampling; I much prefer the 96. These dacs are hard to beat for the money.