Use motherboard's DAC or speaker sytem's DAC?


Apr 2, 2013
I have an ASUS P8Z77-V LK motherboard in my PC. I like how the onboard realtek sounds with my current speakers, but I am about to upgrade to a Boston Acoustics Soundwares XS system and it has both an optical input and the normal analog inputs (rca and 1/8"). I am wondering which way to hook it up to get the best sound.

Use the optical input and let the DAC in the speaker system's amp convert the signal to analog?
Or use the 1/8" input and let the motherboard do the DAC work?

Which would do it better?


hard to say.

on one hand, having an external dac means that its away from the electrical noise inside the pc however in this case it is inside the subwoofer which might introduce noise of its own.

on one hand the sound onboard your motherboard isnt low end but isnt high end either so an external might be better however that speaker system likely doesnt have anything too terribly high end inside it either.

if possible i would try both solutions out.

my personal preference for that system would be via analog though.

why analog?
-sound recorder works to copy sound you are playing over speakers.
-you can use virtual surround sound products to emulate surround sound on your speakers
-no need to buy an expensive optical cable

however as i said... i would suggest trying both if possible.


Optical output is probably best, but as said simply try BOTH for an extended time to see what's best.

Both DAC's are likely identical or nearly identical. The main issue is how well the analog signal is amplified AFTER that which is why a good OP-AMP for example can make a difference.

The motherboard is unlikely to do anything that those speakers can't do as good, or better.

*Also, the AMPLIFIER section in the speakers is optimized for those speakers to take the digital signal and amplify it. If you choose ANALOG from the motherboard, the motherboard amplifies the signal, then this signal is AGAIN amplified a second time in the speakers which may cause some quality loss.