Originally Posted by munchzilla
hmm, I am a bit confused. could I have some more in depth explanation of this? is it a USB limitation or is it just digital audio data in general?
are you perhaps saying USB is not the best choice for digital out from a computer?
oh and another relevant question: I am planning to use the Bifrost with a USB hub (powered) - is there any reason why it should not work very well, that way? I mean, it's just digital data right? it's not drawing power from the USB hub/computer?
Some people feel that USB, being a generic interface as opposed to an audio-specific one, is less-suited to audio. With that said, when using a computer you'll either be doing digital data -> sound card (integrated or otherwise) -> DAC through optical/coax or digital data -> DAC through USB. Both of these methods involve various hardware and software steps, and a weak link in any step can reduce the quality (USB or otherwise).
The main thing is that (at least on sites like this one), historically the belief has been that USB implementations have not been as good as using the computer to output through optical/coax. However, there have been quite a few good USB DACs recently, to the point that I would expect the better ones to be indistinguishable in a double-blind test.
A powered hub shouldn't cause any problems with the Bifrost. From what I can tell it powers its USB card through the USB connection but the DAC itself is through the normal outlet.
Oh yes, and as a programmer I'd be curious in an actual technical explanation as to why USB as a protocol isn't ideal for streaming audio, since it's not like it's a lot of data and it's not like it requires much effort to keep a buffer full of data. I can understand an appreciation of a dedicated method just for audio (simplicity is always nice), but complexity doesn't inherently make something inferior.