Originally Posted by lilVaratep
I recently bought the creative sound blaster z, and my friend told me that this: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-System-SB1240/dp/B004275EO4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1358154965&sr=8-3&keywords=xfi+titanium+hd
would have worked better. Could someone please explain to me how source components work? I thought you need a sound card, amp, and dac altogether to have the best possible outcome. Friend is telling me that integrated sound card -> dac -> amp -> headphones is pretty much the same quality has dedicated sound card -> dac -> amp -> headphones. does having an amp and dac cancel out the sound card? will I lose surround sound and my audio card's functions if I use a dac and AMP? how does this work?! so confused now.
The SBZ (Sound Blaster Z) should offer better audio quality then that external SB1240.
An external S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) DAC and headphone amplifier sound quality would be the same hooked up to a motherboard's on-board audio or an add-on internal sound card.
(Using an external USB DAC/amp bypass most of the features of on-board audio and you can't hookup a USB DAC to an interbal add-on sound card)
If you have the SBZ ($120) installed inside your PC computer, I do not see any real reason to add an external DAC/amp.
The SBZ comes with a fairly good DAC chip (CS4398) and headphone amplifier
If you where willing to spend over $200 for an external DAC/Amp. and hook it up to the optical output on the Sound blaster Z card, it might be worth it
and you would still be able to use the SBZs audio processing features.