How can I get the best possible sound from my PC?

I listen to internet radio. The better 128 kb/s streams are probably as good as FM (what is your opinion, by the way). My bottleneck is the PC. I have decided to use an external DAC (CIA for the office and Musical Fidelity at home). I am also using high quality digital cables (Kimber D-60 and Kimber Select). How can I put the best possible digital signal on the wire? The digital cables alone cost about $1200. So it would make sense to spend some money on the digital signal if it makes a difference. Any advice?

Get ahold of Tok20000 from audiogon and let him know your problem- he may have exactly what your looking for.
Use wav files or some lossless compression on wav files. Get a good proaudio sound card with digital output. Use an external DAC.

EAC is the best ripping program.
Foobar is the best player.
Plextor make the best CD-RW drives.
Thanks Tireguy. I will get in touch with that guy. So the answer seems to be: use a high quality external DAC (which I am doing), use a high quality sound card, and send the digital output from the card to the DAC. Does anyone know what is the best sound card out there in terms of sound quality? And is there an alternative way of doing this that might give me better sound?
Since you have good high end equipment, you might consider a good audio card like the RME Audio DIGI 96/8PAD which has S/PDIF digital outputs (optional AES/EBU balanced digital I/O breakout cable available), good clock synching (for low jitter) and high quality circuitry for minimizing PC EMI noise from within the PC cabinet. This card was reviewed in Stereophile magazine. If this seems like overkill to you, check out the CardDeluxe from Digital Audio Labs. If you want AES/EBU professional quality balanced digital I/O, you can get an optional interface to add on. The CardDeluxe was a Stereophile Recommended Component. For an even lower cost alternative, you can go with an Echo Audio Mia MIDI which only offers S/PDIF digital I/O. Finally, the lowest cost choice would be an M-Audio Audiophile 2496 PCI card which offers S/PDIF digital I/O.
Both EAC and Foobar programs are available for free to download. Google search for them.
streaming radio over a $1200 cable?????? even 160 or 192kbps mp3 sounds flat, lifeless and horid to me, perhaps your source isn't worth this kind of expenditure? maybe bringing a GOOD cdp to work would be a better choice of the $ than throwing thousands to get 'crap' to sound like 'accurate crap' ?

but i do highly recommend the m-audio line of products, anything more i think you reach that 'point of dim. returns' but they are well worth upgrading to over anything that came w/ your PC.
I'm discovering that many Internet radio sources differ wildly in their quality of signal. Some are quite 'hot' in the high end. KCSM ( is one where I get this via MS media player. Others are quite muffled leading me to believe that the studio engineers aren't paying attention to the signal matching.

The most consistent quality audio stream I get is from KPLU ( in Tacoma, WA. Excellent bloom and imaging from my M-audio USB outboard soundcard. I listen to it all day when working from my home office.

BTW, I'm not one for attempting to operate from an internal soundcard that relies on the awful switching supplies in PCs - even using an outboard DAC. The nice thing about USB or Firewire is that you've got clocked data streams instead of that poorly-thoughtout SPDIF.


I have a bunch of mp3s I've ripped using EAC on my computer and ultimately run them through a Theta Pro Basic DAC. Since I wanted to use what I had on hand, the problem is that I've got a little MAudio Sonica USB to toslink converter at the computer end, an MAudio CO2 toslink to coax converter at the DAC end, and about 36' of bad toslink cable in between. They are just mp3s, but can anyone suggest a better transmission scheme with less in the way? Would I be better off with a 36' USB run? The Theta only has coax in; is there a cheap USB to coax option? Is a 36' run of coax digital better or worse than 36' of USB or 36' of toslink?

Don't mean to hijack your thread, but figured the experts might show up here and take a look and be able to answer this one too...
I have bought an used "Trust 5.1 Optical sound expert" soundcard with optical digital output (optical cable is included with it) for about 25 Euro. Through this optical interface I connect my PC with my external 24 bit 48 kHz DAC and I am satisfied very much with this solution. Optical connection is the only way (in my opinion), how to eliminate interferences from computer to the rest of audio-chain.