This post has been along time coming for me. I have been lurking around for years, and have learned a lot from the people here. So here it is....
I really like my Apple Mac and iPhone. I like the quality hardware and simple software. I like that it works. I like than I can automatically backup with Time Machine and Time Capsule. I like the AirPort Express. I like the Remote App. I have ripped all of my music to Apple Lossless. I have a main system that I connect directly to and other systems that I stream using the AirPort Express. I like the way Apple allows me to access my music and share it with other devices, and around the house. I am very, VERY happy with my Apple setup.
I want to squeeze every bit of "musical information" out of my Apple system. Here is what I have found works best, but please feel free to make recommendations. I haven't listened to and tried everything.
1. MacBook Pro with a nice SSD drive. It sounds silly, but the SSD makes a huge difference. Not to mention how quick boot time and app launches are.
2. Van Den Hul polished glass optical cable to DAC. I've tried "coax" and "USB", but the optical output seems to sound a little better and more consistent.
3. Altmann DAC with a Optima Red Top power supply. Geeky, but that DAC sounds wonderful when battery powered.
4. Altmann AMP or 47 Labs Shigaraki amp. Both are sweet and gentle.
5. 47 Labs Lens speaker. Amazing!
6. 47 Labs OTA cable for interconnect and speaker cable.
As you can see, I like a smaller (more intimate) sound. I have owned a lot of Linn and Naim gear in the past, but the Altmann and 47 Labs gear still amazes me with every listen.
I'm open to something new, if I can improve.
What other DACs with optical inputs should I consider?
What about "chip amps" and single driver designs?
Thanks for your time....