PC motherboard S/PDIF output - useful?
Nov 8, 2008 at 12:03 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

taz

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Frustrated at not being able to get a digital output signal easily and economically through my iPod Classic, i'm now pursuing alternatives in playing my music library which is all in Apple Lossless format.

My PC runs Vista 64-bit and I have iTunes on it. The motherboard has an S/PDIF out connector.

I need to fill in the gaps in the following chain:

PC-->Vista-->iTunes-->S/PDIF-->[DAC]-->LD MKIII-->HD595s

Firstly, is this a viable source path? If so, I assume I will need an S/PDIF cable to take the digital out from my PC to the input of a DAC. I then presume I will need to connect the DAC to my LD MKIII via standard audio RCA cables.

If all of this is correct then will I be able to just play music via iTunes on my PC and listen to it on my headphones at the end of the audio chain? Additionally, will I be able to use the volume and audio controls in iTunes to control the sound quality and volume? Finally, any recommendations on a DAC that will provide _much_ better audio quality than the iPod?
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 1:10 AM Post #3 of 7

punk_guy182

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I also use spdif coaxial from my motherboard.
The ZERO DAC is a very good one to start out with, that is what I use
and there is a very detailed thread talking about the DAC and you can mod it easily for cheap.
I have the MK IV SE with HD 595 also.
For quality cables for a good price I strongly recommend Bluejeanscable.com
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 3:33 AM Post #4 of 7

fordgtlover

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Personally, I found that the S/PDIF out of my MB was very poor. I didn't realise how poor until I got my HAGUSB, which converts USB to S/PDIF.

While you certainly will be able to control the volume from within iTunes, it is often recommended to have the volume at max in iTunes and manage your listening volume on your amp. But, as everything in audio, try it out and see what combination sounds best to you.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 6:19 AM Post #5 of 7

punk_guy182

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It depends on your onboard audio. My audio codec is bit-perfect capable and yes I leave volume at max on Foobar200 with WASAPI.
 
Nov 8, 2008 at 8:01 AM Post #6 of 7

krmathis

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Yeah, it can certainly be useful.
S/PDIF from a computer to an external DAC, then down the chain can make a really nice headphone system.

..and yes you can just play your music though iTunes. The volume can be controlled from iTunes as well, even if its recommended you control it at the amplifier.
 
Nov 9, 2008 at 9:16 PM Post #7 of 7

StanZigo

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That setup will work fine, no worries.

If you are serious about getting a good DAC, I would advise you to make sure you can get bit-perfect output from your mainboard's SPDIF output.

The reason I bring this up is that low-cost computer audio hardware has the tendency to do sample rate conversion to 48kHz with, shall we say, less than optimal quality.

Lots of people are concerned with the sample rate conversion of Kmixer (and rightly so) but the SRC quality of cheap soundcards is usually far worse, and would defeat the purpose of a good DAC.
 

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