I am new to the AVguide, but a long time subscriber to TAS. I am also an IT professional and I build compters as a hobby. I want to build a music server and have some ideas that I would like to try in order to improve--or rather limit degradation of the sound. So I have been following the reviews and digital concept articles in TAS and other paper and electronic sources for guidence.
One kind of information that seems to be hard to find is a comparison of the effects on DAC performace of the available interfaces: S/P-dif RCA, S/P-dif optical, USB and IEEE 1394a (Firewire in the Apple world). Taming the increased jitter inherent in USB requires more expensive and complicated circuitry, but in other aspects of sound reproduction simple seems to be better than complicated. So it would seem likely that a given DAC might possibly sound better driven by the S/P-dif RCA or 1394a port (if it has one) than by a USB or even S/P-dif optical port.
My interest is practical: A system builder (like me) who works from the motherboard up has many choices available in digital out interfaces in addition to USB. So it would be very interesting and helpful for purchase decisions to learn if a particular DAC sounds significantly better when driven from one or another type of interface.
I could just build it and then see if the audio stores near me would let me schlep it in and test, but even if I could find some place that would go along with this, it would be a pain to carry it out.
If anyone has experience with music software for Windows or Linux, I would appreciate hearing about that, as well.