Question Digital Line Out+In via USB - Possible?

Nov 7, 2019
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I have a laptop and a desktop which I listen to simultaneously via the desktop.

Right now, the laptop's Speaker Out 3,5mm is connected to the desktop's Line In 3.5mm via aux cable. Desktop uses Windows' built in audio mixer to listen to the Line In, allowing me to hear both computers.

Is there any software that allows me to replace the aux cable between the two computers with a digital signal? In theory, something as simple as a USB cable can transmit this data, but I can't find any software for this. I'd prefer to avoid audio over ethernet if possible.
 
Feb 16, 2019
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Many do have optical SPDIF, but you'll have to check whether input or output. Also, HDMI may be possible...HDMI output to HDMI input. Both formats are digital. Whether or not software can make it happens depends on your hardware.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
I have a laptop and a desktop which I listen to simultaneously via the desktop.

Right now, the laptop's Speaker Out 3,5mm is connected to the desktop's Line In 3.5mm via aux cable. Desktop uses Windows' built in audio mixer to listen to the Line In, allowing me to hear both computers.

Is there any software that allows me to replace the aux cable between the two computers with a digital signal? In theory, something as simple as a USB cable can transmit this data, but I can't find any software for this. I'd prefer to avoid audio over ethernet if possible.
This all hinges on one thing, does your laptop have an optical audio out? If not, you will need to get an external DAC with an optical out.

What is the purpose of having the laptop audio go to the desktop and why are you looking to change connection type? If to make it "better quality", just going from analog to digital won't make that happen enough that you would notice. Now using an external good quality DAC would help there, although with then going into another input and then through the second computer sound card that would pretty much kill any benefit.
 
Nov 7, 2019
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10
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This all hinges on one thing, does your laptop have an optical audio out? If not, you will need to get an external DAC with an optical out.

What is the purpose of having the laptop audio go to the desktop and why are you looking to change connection type? If to make it "better quality", just going from analog to digital won't make that happen enough that you would notice. Now using an external good quality DAC would help there, although with then going into another input and then through the second computer sound card that would pretty much kill any benefit.
Neither of my systems have optical audio right now - I'll look into this option.

Main purpose of the setup is to be able to listen to both systems simultaneously through my headphones. I realize that sending the laptop through the desktop is not the best solution - I think a digital mixer would do much better - but my current setup barely works without the high cost.

My reason for changing the connection type is right now I have to max out the volume on the Speaker Out and/or increase the gain on the Line In to hear the laptop, but both methods add a lot of noise. I think changing the connection type might help to improve the laptop's signal to noise ratio, and avoids converting the laptop audio from analog back to digital through my desktop.

So far, I've found ways to stream the audio online to the desktop (AoIP), and that's digital, but that's an added network layer which I'd like to avoid by using a direct connection.
 
Last edited:

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Yes you are correct about a mixer being the right way to do this, and for you to use anything other than the line out you would need to get an external sound card, for both systems unless your PC has an optical input as well.

You can find pretty good mixers in the $30-50 range for what you are doing like this one https://www.amazon.com/JUST-MIXER-Audio-Mixer-Portable/dp/B01LPT8JY8/ref=asc_df_B01LPT8KQA/?tag=&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312139358556&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4962947825121620454&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9001834&hvtargid=pla-347792540286&ref=&adgrpid=62521174699&th=1
 
Nov 7, 2019
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Thanks, that looks like a good suggestion with 3 stereo channels. Hopefully that fixes the noise issue, otherwise I will try adding an external DAC.
 
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