In trying to find the cheapest, simplest, no-frills way to get a pure digital signal out of my work computer into an outboard DAC, I stumbled across the Onkyo UD-5:
A USB in and a toslink out, it seemed to me to be the ultimate in soundcard minimalism.
I've never used anything like it, so I can't comment on how it compares to Xitel or M-Audio or whatever, but listening tests suggest that its jerking my signal around somehow, I'm guessing by upsampling to 48k. The manual is mute on the subject, but it does say that it support 44.1k and 48k. Anyway, I bought the last one they had at Fry's, the box was open so it was only $20.
Worth it for a test, and worth it also to unsnap the case and show the curious what's inside:
Anyone recognize any of those chips? Can you comment on their quality? Would it be possible/easy to swap out the toslink connector for a coaxial?
some Wolfson AC'97 codec for analog interface, some korean KC USB audio controller supporting standard USB Audio class formats, 32,44.1,48kHz/16bit, has integrated S/PDIF transceiver, AC'97 link, the chip on bottom is some flash ROM with device description and maybe even downloadable drivers.. nothing special, but pretty cheap.. coax out possible using additional logic and USB power, but it can't fit in such small case..