I’ve been running M-Audio Studiophile SP-5B near-field monitors for a while on a couple of different Macs. My B&W G3 was playing iTunes for several months through them and, periodically I used them with the TiBook as well. In both instances I was using the Xitel HiFi-Link Pro via USB and thought the performance was pretty good. The set up I used here was RCA out of the HiFi Link to a 1/4″ adapter to plug in to the M-Audios. There were a few issues but no real bugs plus noticibly better sound than using the headphone out jack.
With the recent purchase of a G5, and the availabity of the digital out port, along with a bug that would not let me route Garageband through the HiFi Link, I decieded to get a real DAC (digital/analog converter) to take the optical sound output and convert it for the best input on my SP-5Bs, XLR, baby! I picked up a M Audio Super DAC 2496 from Amazon and got it hooked up.
Shazam! There is a noticible difference in the quality even with iTunes but real CDs and DVDs are just killer! Two thumbs up!
I also use Detour to help route sound to different outputs. This worked great with the USB set up. I could pass system and non essential program sounds through the built-in output and route the good stuff through the SP-5Bs. On the new setup the digital out is counted as built-in audio so I can’t run system sounds through the little built-in speaker in the G5. The sounds come through the SP-5Bs. I can still route the system sounds to USB though so If I get a little USB speaker setup that may be the ticket.
Whatever, going with this digital out setup is too cool!