But that hardware is not doing the same thing. With a different workload, operational noise and jitter within the computer changes. If you open the case of a stationary computer and listen to it while running for a short while, you should be able to hear some of this clearly with your naked ears. I find it hard to believe that any electronics in such an environment would be unaffected. However, almost everything in a computer is error-corrected and has headroom to spare. Not so with streaming audio...
I think I have heard this with my headphones (Denon 2000) connected directly to the inbuilt audio in my laptop, stressing the memory and not the CPU so that fan noise wouldn't be an issue. Could be placebo though, since I knew what I was doing and I did expect a difference.
Note also that if yeehc0729 had some music in a high enough resolution, he might have been using different sample rates with the different drivers. The higher sample rate of the Windows driver would then have three effects; firstly making every bit way less important, secondly making jitter and noise more of a problem, and lastly stressing all involved hardware more. Remember that the audio card was not built for 192 kHz sampling rates. And that it's a doubling of the amount of data to process, see first paragraph... sorry if I got you into a loop there. :P
Edited by O8h7w - 7/28/12 at 3:06pm