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Is PC Sound Card S/N ratio irrelevant, if I'm only using SPDIF/Toslink output?

  1. DBaldock9
    The SPDIF/Toslink connector on my PC motherboard has had the little hinged plastic cover come off, and the Toslink cable no longer fits securely.
    I'm looking at various PCIe x1 Sound Cards, with SPDIF/Toslink connections, and the more expensive models have EMI Shielding, swap-able Opamps, 600Ω drive capability, and S/N ratios from 106dB - 124dB. There's a cheaper model [ https://smile.amazon.com/StarTech-com-Channel-Sound-Express-PEXSOUND7CH/dp/B00X7B2NY0/ ], which has both Toslink input & output connections, but also has a lower analog S/N ratio (~92dB).
    Since I've got several DACs (iFi Micro iDSD DAC/Headphone Amp, Fiio Taishan D3 DAC to drive my portable Amps), and a Bluetooth transmitter, that I can connect via Toslink - I don't use any analog input/outputs on the PC.
    So, is PC Sound Card S/N ratio irrelevant, if I'm only using SPDIF/Toslink output?

    Thanks for any insight in to this issue.

    Take Care,
    David Baldock
  2. cossix
    At 106 decibels it's pretty insignificant honestly. You would literally need to be listening to your music at the volume of a car horn from 1 meter away before you'd notice distortion (110db). If you already have a DAC and amp, I'd just run everything through that instead of worrying about the mobo. Also if you ever see "600ohm drive capability" just ignore it. That spec is absolutely useless. An iPhone can technically drive 600ohms just like that motherboard can, but both will sound like absolute trash and will be too quiet. Motherboard manufacturers like to use buzzwords and terms to make you think the product is good. I'd say don't worry about the mobo if you have good gear already
  3. PurpleAngel Contributor
    If your using the S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) output on the sound card, the sound card's SNR is irrelevant.
  4. buke9
    SNR is only for the amp.
  5. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I would have assumed the SNR also applies to the analog line-output.

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