I am shocked I just don't know how it does but my little motherboard produces high quality audiophile sound. I now prefer a $135 motherboard over my $800+ bifrost & crack set up through an HD 600. Maybe it is that realtek alc 1150 combined with the TI NE5532 that makes it perform. I never expected my board to outperform that way. I just wanted a board that has decent audio but I never expected it to surpass my main rig. The NE5532 op amp seems to be made to drive high ohm headphones, it can output about 20volts wow. I used the Sennheiser HD 600 for all tests. Comparing 2 Headphone Amps NE5532 vs Bottlehead Crack Speedball ASROCK Z97E-ITX/AC Headphone Out vs ASROCK Z97 E-ITX/AC Lineout to Crack + Speedball Biggest difference I noticed is the motherboard has more details and a higher dynamic range. The motherboard specs say the headphone out is 110db SNR, while the crack is 95 db snr, my hearing test confirms the motherboard does indeed have a blacker background. The crack does offer tube sound (reverb) while the Asrock motherboard offers sound true to the music source. I went back and forth trying to equalize the listening levels best I could and playing through flacs. Yep as much as a love tubes I like my new motherboard sound even more I like the clarity it produces. ASROCK motherboard wins. Comparing 2 Dacs ALC 1150 vs Bifrost AKM4399 ASROCK Z97E-ITX/AC line out to Crack + Speedball vs Optical in Bifrost Uber to Crack + Speedball. They are both very high detailed dacs it was really hard to hear the difference between them when I ran them both to the Crack, because to me they both sounded like the Crack. Through the specs the ALC 1150 has an impressive 115 db SNR line out, while the bifrost has a 106 db SNR. Through listening tests I cranked the volume to max and didn't play anything and tried to see which one sounded darker, through the line out I was able to hear some computer audio hiss but it was nothing major it seems to be caused from a usb port that my mouse was connected to. The Bifrost optical in is just superior in removing computer EMI. I played some Norah Jones flacs, the motherboard ALC 1150 seems to be equal to the bifrost in many ways, though its nothing compared to something such as my dad's PCM 1704 r2r dac inside his RX-V1 receiver. In the end I thought the ALC 1150 sounded more natural than the Bifrost. The Bifrost had an in your face type of sound while the ALC 1150 was more laid back. Its a tie, because I like the Asrock sound but didn't like motherboard lineout EMI hiss. But Asrock motherboard wins on low cost. Edit: Through the motherboard headphone out connected to the HD 600 is when my music sounds its best. I hear no emi hiss and the details and clarity is all there. Edit: 2/19/2016 The Motherboard doesn't beat the Bifrost as a source though. The bottlehead Crack is more musical though. The ASROCK Z97E-ITX mighty fine motherboard for audiophiles it has S/PDIF outputs and it went toe to toe with my Xonar STX sound card so well that I returned my STX.