would usb sound better than a sound card

I am experamenting with pc audio and like what i hear.i am using windows vista and a sound card with coaxial out.i am using a deqx dac-it sounds very good.i was wondering if i can get better sound using a usb dac.and it seems a lot of audiophiles are making this harder than it should.i mean using foobar with this sampling rate,and doing this and that.it seems like it is too complacated.can i please get a simple version of what sounds best.thank you.
HDD to USB dac is vastly superior to using a sound card -- especially a PC sound card (even with Vista). Try a Wavelength USB dac (i have and love the cosecant) and you won't look back.
Gee, if obtaining good sound would have a simple version, wouldn't life be easy!! Jeffrey is right, but there are less expensive options out there, such as Scott Nixon USB Tube DAC.
The simplest USB DAC, and a great value is the Benchmark DAC-1 USB. If you want to use your own DAC, then the Off-Ramp Turbo 2 does the same thing.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I use a laptop and USB Turtlebeach Amigo to send toslink to an external PS Audio DAC III. Sounded good, but something wasn't quite right.

I changed to ASIO4ALL and added the asio plugin to winamp and it sounded much better.

Then, I stopped being lazy and plug in the USB cable straight to DAC. WOW! Things just keep getting better.

I have not had a chance to compare against CD as a transport but I have a feeling the PC will come close, but not better (I am using high bit-rate MP3 files). A future project will be using EAC to WAV to USB DAC and compare against a cheap CD transport.

If you stay PC (noticed, like me, that you ae thinking of making the switch to a Mac, assuming all is simpler and purer there) I'd give a listen to this:
1)EAC to FLAC (lossless open-code that has a Mac version too)
2)FLAC playback through Foobar 0.8.3 (older version, still sounds best), with the SSRC 24/96 upsampler plugin in Foobar
3) Out to your great PS Audio DAC III (USB doesn't like 24/96, so I'd try coax out w/resampling vs no resampling-with-USB; one choice will be better)

It's what I do (non-USB dac currently), but I'm gonna demo the Wavelength USB Dacs, and Gordon says I should go Mac. My own problem is when i ripped in FLAC I ripped to large album files and use CUE sheets (associated file that has all the tags, etc. and Mac doesn't support that mess). If I go MAc I'll use itunesencoder.exe and batch convert all to Apple Lossless and use iTunes on Mac.
Once you go MAC with a Wavelength DAC...You ain't NEVER goin back. : )

Longtime and Proud Cosecant (V2) owner. Last source I will ever need.

CDP's are dead to me.
Get MAC with PS audio USB DAC if your budget is limited. But if you can afford Wavelength go for it. MAC+WAVELENGHT can't go wrong with this set. Have fun! Enjoy.
ok great,thanks for the responses.now i like the idea of a mac but which one and what software version,panther,tiger?thanks again.
Gotsouldr, if you plan to buy a new Mac, then it will come with the "Leopard" OS. If you have an older Mac or plan to buy an older, used Mac, then it may come with Tiger or Panther. Regardless, you should be able to run the latest iTunes with it. Mac OS older than Tiger will not support "Front Row" remote-control capability (there is a workaround).

Sound-wise, I do not believe there are differences between late model Mac OS'es.

If you are using a USB DAC you will hear difference between Tiger and Leopard. The USB drviers have been updated in Leopard and sound better.

Thanks for the correction - I don't have Leopard yet so I did not know that. More reason to upgrade. :)
Steve, are you sure about this? I am on Tiger and have been on the fence about Leopard, but trust your opinion since you have a Wavelength DAC. Did you really hear a difference? And how can I confirm the drivers were updated?
Here is a link on a discussion we had about this:


Yes, I can hear the difference and it is significant with my DAC and system.

But given that all of this is subjective, I can't promise it will be better for you. Just the nature of this stuff.
I have a Cosecant, so it should be able to reveal the difference. You're on a Crimson right?

Anyway, thanks for the information!
I had a Cosecant; now a Silver Crimson. The Cosecant is a great DAC!