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Old 27-07-2020, 11:19 PM   #101
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 44,543
The paper is for aesthetics. Yea.

The thing with USB is that early (and cheaper) speakers are limited to 16-bit / 48kHz max, usually just a simple low-cost all-in-one USB DAC chip, in which case onboard sound usually has better performance. 24-bit/96kHz has advantages when you use volume control or playing multiple sounds at once.

Newer USBs interfaces can do better than onboard sound e.g. 32-bit/384kHz and DSD support, and that's just the USB interface part. The DAC part usually has a somewhat decent DAC that is definitely better than onboard sound. In the case of Edifier however, since the amp stage accepts a digital input, so by using USB or SPDIF you can skip the analogue stage entirely. Imagine having a perfect DAC plus a perfect ADC.

However, not everyone may like USB. For example if your computer has high DPC latency, you can get stuttering once in a while. My case is more weird - Since I also record videos, the data goes to the USB soundcard, and then goes back to the system, sometimes that causes stuttering. Onboard sound is connected to the CPU via the more reliable PCI-E interface.

SPDIF coax/optical may seem to combine the best of both worlds, with onboard / soundcard reliability and processing power connected via a dedicated audio digital interface. However jitter is higher than USB, max bitrate is lower than USB. It also has the special advantage of ground isolation which can be a treasure at times, but in this particular Edifier's case since the amp circuitry is digital there is no chance of analog noise leaking from the connection to computer.

So end of the day is case-by-case. Theoretical best performance is USB. Most chance of screwing up is also USB. Analog is the direct opposite.
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