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On a PC CD drive there is a separate analog output cable connection. Is this required benifical to be used?. If a cd drive is digital audio extraction capable then it would not seem necessary.


Also, some DVD drives had a digital audio cable output. Is this cable also have any use?


Thanks


Tom
 

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Primarily atavism from the ages when playing an audio CD could slow down other applications - or when other activity, especially HDD activity on the same IDE chain - could cause CD audio to skip. The separate cable allowed feeding audio directly from CD drive to the sound card, bypassing the rest of the PC. An analog connection meant you were at the mercy of your CD drive's (usually crappy) DAC, not to mention that this cable would pick up all sorts of interference inside your PC. A digital S/PDIF connection carried audio in digital form to the card, so you either relied on the cards (usually) better DAC to output the sound, or if your card sported a digital out - I think SB Live! series were first mainstream cards to introduce one - you could get your CD audio pretty much unmolested to a dedicated stereo receiver.


Since those days of yore, I/O bus speeds grew from ~33Mbps to 3Gbps, CPUs went from 66MHz to over 3GHz dual and quad cores, memory sizes from 2-4MB to several GB. Extracting CD audio via SATA, and passing to your sound hardware via southbridge PCI takes up such a tiny portion of resources that a separate audio cable is really not worth the bother.
 

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All subjective. Some will argue that ANY analog output produced in an environment as noisy as a PC will be corrupt, compared to using an external device. That said, some cards (ie HT Omega Claro) are said to sport superior DACs. Some cards, like SB X-Fi Elite Pro, have their DAC in an external break-out box. Then again, not too many people run analogs straight from a PC to high-end amps. In most cases, it's S/PDIF or HDMI to receiver, which means most basic mobo-integrated audio will do just as well as a $250 card - at least for CD playback.


The million-dollar question is: will it sound different in a double-blind? I plug my $60 headphones straight into my PC front jack (card is SB X-Fi XtremeMusic), and I am 100% satisfied with what I hear. My brother is a headphone aficionado, often wonders how I could possibly stand using that crap, so at some point he was determined to have me 'see the light'. After listening to a bunch of music through roughly $4k worth of processing, amping and headphones, I found that ear pads on his phones are more comfortable than on mine.



Then again, maybe it was my cheapskate brain that persuaded me that an expensive setup will not sound any better.
 
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