or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › USB vs Optical With a Sound Card
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

USB vs Optical With a Sound Card

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I've seen the whole USB vs Optical debate before, but not quite in this context. I have a sound card (SB Z) that I'm currently using as a DAC/Amp for my Q701s. I was looking into getting some new hardware (Schiit Modi+Valid), and I need to figure out what I'm doing with the sound card. I can go TOSLINK out from the sound card into the DAC, or I can go USB out from the motherboard. I've heard that with USB you have to deal with interference, which I'm sure my rig has plenty of. However, I've also heard that you want to choose the "path of least resistance" and going through the sound card will just decrease the quality as opposed to going straight from the motherboard. Which is the better option, as far as sound quality is concerned?

Also, if I use USB I won't be able to use the SBX surround sound from the sound card. I'll have to use something like Razer surround sound instead. Of the two, which software do you think is better sounding / more positionally accurate?
post #2 of 3
Optical will probably give better quality. It is a digital signal, so the only quality loss you will see in the soundcard before it reaches your DAC will be any digital processing that it performs. Turn off any processing in the creative control panel except the surround sound if you want that. I think the advantage of the optical spdif is that it has lower jitter than usb, and uses an external (cleaner) power supply rather than usb power.

Regarding the path of least resistance, you still have to go through a usb controler, so that's not all that different to going through a sound card. I dont think finding the path of least resistance is important in, or even applicable to, digital signals. The whole point of digital audio is that you dont loose any information (quality) between stages in the digital signal path.
post #3 of 3
If you want to use the surround DSP of the SB Z, then I would consider the argument over which sounds better moot, myself. Especially since I've heard so many arguments supporting both sides--I don't think there is a clear answer.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › USB vs Optical With a Sound Card