Yeah its on default, otherwise like you said you wont get any sound from the E7/E9. And I have a regular stock manufacturer onboard sound, its a HP dv-7 and I can imagine the sound chip is probably integrated in the motherboard or something and not possible to replace. Which is why I thought I would hear a big difference in the sound.
But going onto the website you posted, I see there is something they call WASAPI, which is supposed to give application complete control of the sound card and allow them to bypass any Windows OS processing. But I thought there was an option for this under Speakers Properties? "Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device" and "Give exclusive mode applications priority". Or is this something different? Well anyway I use iTunes and Foobar2000 and went into the settings of each application and changed the sound output to WASAPI. Dont know if theres any difference, except that in Foobar2k, changing it from DirectSound to WASAPI causes the program to lag about a second anytime you want to play a new track, or pause. Anyway, I'll leave it on WASAPI and take solace in the fact that I've done everything possible to get the best possible sound output from this DAC/amp.
Thanks for your insight Riku.
p.s. There is also a "dither" option on the output settings page of Foobar2000....they say " it adds noise to the audio therefore resulting in better sound quality"....if that makes any sense. And it should be used with 16 bit sound.....16 bit sound is the highest E7/E9 combo can handle right?
Yep, 48kHz/16bit for the E7. Most music is only available in 16 bit anyway, so unless you're watching Blu-Ray movies or have high-def audio recordings there's nothing to be gained here.
Not all onboard sound is created equally; my laptop and desktop computers both have considerable noise and hiss when using the headphone out. It's very possible that your onboard sound is better than average.
In any case, there's always the E17 to look forward to which will be a huge upgrade over the E7, and will also be compatible with the E9. It's estimated to be released in February, 2012: