Details on the decoding process
I have a question that has been in the back of my mind for a long time now. Here's the setup:
media server --> sound card --> Toslink --> pre-amp
I built my media server, and it is essentially just a Linux server running MPD. MPD streams my FLAC files (which I ripped directly from my CDs) to an Asus Xonar DX sound card, and then sends them out via the card's Toslink to the pre-amp.
I'm wondering where the decoding actually happens? My understanding is that it flows like this:
media server (obviously, still FLAC files) --> decoded into PCM by media server (libflac) and sent to sound card --> PCM sent via Toslink cable to pre-amp --> PCM converted to analogue via the pre-amp's DACs
Does that seem accurate? If so, the DACs on the sound card shouldn't be used at all, right?
Basically, I'm just trying to figure out the process, so I can obtain the "purest / least altered" sound, and would like a deeper understanding.
Thank you preemptively.