I apologize that my first post is a question, but I'm merely looking for advice and some answers to some questions I have not been able to find the answers for by just crawling.
I've recently purchased a Xonar Essence ST (PCI) to replace my dead SoundBlaster X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty CE (PCI). I have also managed to find a UK based seller that stocked the H6 Extension (Daughter) board and purchased one as well. Both are on their way to me and should be arriving by the end of the week. I foresee International shipping delaying the daughter board a week or so depending on my luck.
Long story short, I've been doing a lot of reading. And I had to do a lot more before I decided between the ST and the STX. I believe everyone here is in agreement that the ST (PCI) Essence is better. While I don't understand the technicalities of why that is so, I chose the ST based on the H6 compatibility, which oddly, the STX lacks.
The reason I purchased the ST and the H6 expansion board were because of a common trend in all of the threads I read regarding the card's Digital vs Analogue ability to produce sound. The majority seems to be pointing that when it comes to surround/home theater setups, one should always go with the Analog vs. the Dolby encoded digital route. What I'd like to know is why and how that is so. Logically to me it seems that the Dolby Digitally encoded bitstream should sound better and crispier than that of the DAC counterpart, but somehow it is not.
I have a Z-5500 and for the longest time I've used it via Analog (3.5mm). And I had to go out of my way to locate an H6 board just so I can continue to utilize them in that fashion. Have I been doing the right thing all along? Or should I just ditch the H6 board and use one TOSLINK and call it a day.
I really would like to hear from the masses about this subject.
My second question, is OPAMPs, what do I need to be looking for in an OPAMP? I've been to multiple places where I am presented with hundreds of choices. How does one know what to pick? Say I just would like to buy a collection of 10 OPAMPS so I can try swapping different ones until I get the sound I want. And honestly, is it worth the trouble? Is the jump between the stock and AE that significant?
I hope I did not bore you with this long read. But I felt the necessity to explain where I'm coming from and what I'm trying to achieve to give a better understanding of my questions.
Thanks in advance.