First off, IÂd give the brand new stuff some playing time. New is not at itÂs best. Even sound cards need run in time. YourÂs may surprise you.
IÂve seen Creative cards used to good effect and have done so myself IÂm not familiar with the names of those youÂve input here however. There is more to a card than the numbers they specify or advertise, to be sure.
For the specifics of your queries on those cards, IÂd suggest calling them first hand, or by email and allow them to address those items.
IÂve gotten pretty good results from my M Audio 24/192 Delta Audiophile PCI card. I aim to acquire a Lynx at some later date though. The Delta card outputs to a BC DAC3, BTW, so why move onto the 3 times more $$$ than the Delta? Read on.
Secondly, the sound card is important IF the output is going to be conveyed via AES, or SPDIF (TOS or coax), or at rates higher than 24/96. There and under USB works, and maybe only a converter from USB to SPDIF might be required to address one part of your interface issues.. The SPDIF Connection only and at rates no larger than 24/96.
Although your desire is to output digital to another digital device which will then convert to analog, some extrapolation of the bits and bytes is being done by the onboard card. Improving this one aspect of the chain will definitely be beneficial in the final analysis.
Streaming web radio normally, or in my own exp, has shown those ÂchannelsÂ arenÂt all of great quality or high resolution. The chain of devices following the pc/SC output will probably make little difference with them alone with other lossless files, and high res files, IÂd say otherwise though.
Given the logistics of your current affair, IÂd say if no other info can be derived to satisfy those questions regarding the SCÂs youÂve listed here, IÂd suggest trying out a M Audio Audiophile 192 card. From either Sam Ash or J River Music, they run under $200 on eBay, maybe even less.
The reason is simply in your list of system components. The Denon will be your bottleneck with the analog product.
My DAC ties into 2 systems as it has 2 sets of outputs. One pr feeds my upscale tube powered 2 ch rig, and the other pr, my Onkyo 805 receiver In various configurations, the receiverÂs preamp section continues to limit the sound quality. Regardless the amps I connect to it, or cabling I use with it.
It sounds fine to me, BUT itÂs still the place where I realize true limitations sonically. Consequently, IÂd not spend tons for gear simply to feed it. IÂve done it merely for convenience purposes. The preposed Lynx card is truly aimed towards the more upscale system, my tube rig. In it, those benefits are easily noticeable and superior to the sound derived from the ONkyo.
Both systems however, use the same main speakers
BTW that MA 192 card outputs either digitally via Coax SPDIF or via 2 sets of analog outs. One pair are line outs for monitors and the other pr are adjustable. like for a HP amp.
There are also likewise associated inputs, SPDIF and analog. It will pass multi ch info if set to external clock in itÂs associated driver/software GUI. IMO it has better flexibility and performance than any Creative card IÂve since used, X Fi, Extigy, and a couple of their USB cards.
Both interfaces analog and digital coax will address or enable you to use the HP amp and the Duet like device.
The M Audio support is far better too than is CreativeÂs. So for well under $200 why not? Also, the cable inbetween your card and your DAC/Squeeze box will make noticeable diffs. I use and recommend a Stereovox XV2, OR ITÂS MORE CURRENT ITTERATION.