Q: Please can anyone tell me about audiophile 96/24 cards and how they compare... Can we discuss soundcard experiences briefly. From my lurking, some of you folks have some really esoteric kit. I think this input may be useful to those starting and I'd *really* like to learn from those more experienced at upgrading/tweeking HTPC sound than me. I think Soundblaster cards are over hyped, but often underrated. I'd like to hear of real experience, not fud or hype. I'm using a £40 Soundblaster Live Player soundcard in my WinME HTPC. It's fine. I get windows sounds and dolby digital/DTS pass-thru from WinDVD 3. I use it to feed a digital input on a £1300 Denon AVC10SE integrated amp, with an active Wilmslow twin isobaric 10 inch sub and some Linn Index fronts. Not the very best, but close enough to it for my ears! There is a little noise on higher windows volume mixer settings and some tape hiss (!) on the windows digital output (eek!), but not when in pass-thru off WinDVD. I suspect the Soundblaster Live mixer precision and internal noise are the causes here. I find it stange it's in the windows digital output though! However, I suspect the pass-thru digital may be just as good as from my domestic Sony 725 DVD player (always very well regarded for it's digital output quality). I haven't done an A/B and my kit is now in a new room so the sound setup needs "ISF for the ears" tuning (sub location, delay, phase, test tones for sound levels, sub max limit setting, etc.) I had an identical card in a work PC, which I upgraded to a £50 Soundblaster Audigy Player. Even through the PC's relatively modest speakers (modest but clean Creative Soundworks 1000 4.1) I could hear a nice improvement when playing my 15GB collection of my CD's in MP3 256KB/sec. The Audigy is sold as a 24-bit card, but I can't get the WinAmp/MAD/Win2000 output to work above 16-bits. Sounds nice at 16-bits though. Probably due to the precise 32-bit internal mixer which I think is probably one of the few big improvements over the Soundblaster Live! predecessor. The Audigy box states 24-bit SPDIF output at 44.1, 48 or 96KHz. Haven't tried any of them yet. Maybee I'll haul the work PC into my HC room over the Christmas break to try it, but don't know how I'd select it? Is there a WinAmp direct pass-thru digital output plug-in? You know, to bypass any volume or mixer settings. The other nice thing about the Audigy is it's exceptionally low CPU use for Direct 3D sound/gaming if I ever bother to put such things on the HTPC (I'm quite happy with PS2 in via dScaler at present). 3D gaming EAX sound is also more atmospheric than the Soundblaster Live! card (I've heard Soldier of Fortune and Unreal Tournament). I'd love to hear any experience with any of these "proper" 24/96 soundcards. Either from digital or analog outputs. I have noticed some people on avsforum take a 6 channel analog output stright into dedicated power amps. This would scare my as I'm sure the windows volume setting sometimes moves to an extreme by itself; Back to the Future springs to mind on the next Windows startup! I am particularly interested in if anyone really uses the internal DAC's in a high-grade soundcard to get analog output from a HTPC into a serious amp/speaker system. I assume such cards have a cats chance in hell of working inside an electrical noise storm which is a PC case. thanks and regards, Rob.