Thanks. Im aware that the receiver is what’s decoding the signal to analog, and it does a better job than just plugging my headphones into the audio out jack on my sound card. However, the Yamaha will only be as good as the source that’s feeding it, which in my case is the low end Realtek chip. You can take 2 different CD source’s (brand X for Sony and brand Z for Denon), plug them into the same DAC and still get different sound from each of the units. Not all digital outputs are created the same (contrary to some belief!). Im sure whether I use the Xonar card by itself or plugged into the receiver the sound will be improved.
I’ve read some reviews on the Xonar card and they are all very good. However, reviews tend not to reflect long term real life performance. Despite Asus building rock solid hardware (won’t use another motherboard) - this is somewhat of a rare enthusiast product that may have some overlying issues that were not brought up with the reviews online. And the interwebs is the best place to find these issues!
A high-end soundcard isn’t my only option, could grab a external DAC/headphone amp (or separates) but this seems to be the cheaper option….more money for the music!!!
Curious to know what others have as a set up.