USB digital ouput or Toslink from a Mac Mini?

I have an APL Denon 3910 which has a S/PDIF digital input, which would enable me to use the player as a high quality DAC/Preamp. What I want to do is use a new Mac Mini to store some of my music, and run a digital connection out of it into the APL Denon.

My question is, which would give the highest performance... 1) Going digital out from the Mac Mini using the Toslink digital output then into a Toslink to S/PDIF converter box and into the APL Denon via the S/PDIF digital input, or 2) Going digital out from the Mac Mini via a USB cable then into a USB to S/PDIF converter box and into the APL Denon?

Any opinions one way or the other?

Next, what is the best solution for a Toslink or USB to S/PDIF converter? Are there any high quality solutions out there? I know Empiricle Audio makes a USB to S/PDIF converter, but are there any others?

[Tagging this so I will be sure to see the responses.]
Going USB to SPDIF should give you better performance because it the USB part is buffered and thus, in theory, jitter free. You also have the advantage of being able to run a long USB line if needed from the Mac to the receiver.

The HagUSB is an excellent USB to SPDIF converter if you don't need any extras. Comes in kit or ready built form.
Couldn't you just use an Airport Express to wirelessly send music from your Mac to the AE and then Toslink from AE to the Denon? I do this with my iMac to a TriVista and the quality of sound is indistinguishable from playing the CD in the TriVista. I don't know if you can use an AE with the Mac Mini, but if you can, the AE will get you to where you want to be for $129 total.
The digital input on my Denon is an RCA, so I need something that will convert either a USB or Toslink to RCA. I decided to try the following: going out of a new Mac Mini via its Toslink/miniplug using an optical cable that is terminated with Toslink on one end and miniplug on the other (Van den Hul OPTOCOUPLER Mk II) and into a Monarchy Audio DIP Classic. Then out of the DIP via a digital RCA and into my Denon. This combo might be interesting to compare to going out of the Mac Mini via USB into a USB/Coax converter box and into the Denon.
Ggil -

Where did you pick up that Van den Hul OPTOCOUPLER Mk II???

I've been looking for a high-quality glass optical cable terminated with toslink and mini to use between my AirPort Express and Monarchy upsampler..


Hi Chris,

I bought it directly from the Van den Hul online store.

Here's the link:

Perfect. Going to go order one myself now.

Thanks Gary.