Originally Posted by warrian
This is not to argue with anything in your rather detailed and useful post but I will echo what gsr said:
"It all depends on how good the DAC in your receiver is compared to the DAC in the Oppo and whether you're using anything like room correction in the receiver."
I have for the most part bypassed my analog outputs and lossless audio because to my ears, my receiver does a much better job with the lossy audio over optical than I'm able to achieve tweaking the analogue outputs in the OPPO myself. This is partly because I live in an apartment where I don't often push the limits of the system but still...
Lossless audio's superiority, like many other things, is only guaranteed when all other things are equal. If you have the option of analog inputs on your AVR, then you should definitely try them out. But optical can still have its uses for those of us with high-end non-HDMI receivers.
I understand completely, since my AVR is an old pre-HDMI Yamaha RX-V457. I use its multichannel analog input to connect my Oppo, but for Amazon Prime I connect its optical input to an Amazon Fire TV that can be set to transcode Amazon's (and Netflix's) Dolby Digital Plus (which requires HDMI) to classic Dolby Digital for its optical output.
One virtue of my old AVR is that it's a relatively unusual one that gives its Multichannel Analog input the benefit of the distance settings, bass management, and channel level trims applied to its other inputs, so those don't have to be set up separately inside the player.
I just took another look at the original question by brollend
and saw that the post was asking about (a) stereo use and (b) streaming from an Apple TV. For those applications, optical would be fine, since (a) for stereo, optical can carry lossless PCM and (b) anything streamed by an Apple TV, a Roku, or a Fire TV is going to be lossy surround to start with. DD+ may be better than DD, but it's still lossy.