Digital output = better?
Getting my new cpu soon, with a SB live value card. I'll also be getting the FPS2000 speakers, and was just wondering if there is a differance in the sound quality between the digital/analog input. I'm asking this because the value card doesn't have digital output from what I hear, and was wondering if upgrading to one that does would be worth it.
I doubt you will hear any difference between analogue and digital connectors.
Essentially digital is great for long distance connections, greater than say 5 meters, as analogue connections tend to pick up noise as the length of the cable increases.
Digital is also good if you own a high end Hi-Fi system with it's own built in D-A converter. However, most people won't hear a difference between the D-A in your sound card and the D-A in a high spec Hi-Fi.
Think about this: The reason for connecting your computer to speakers is to play games, and play mp3s. Games use multichannel mixing for sound effects, usually 8 bit, so the sound quality is not really Hi-Fi. Mp3s use lossy compression, which means you give up a slight bit of sound quality for a lot of compression.
Hmmm ... This means that your computer is not actually a Hi-Fi device, and all the arguments about "digital is better" and "use only gold plated connectors" don't hold that much water. If you can afford em, why not. But I wouldn't say that they make much difference to your sound quality.
I have a live value and a desktop theater. I bought a $15 bracket from Hoontech (www.hoontech.com) and a coax cable to connect to my speakers. There is noticeably less hiss in the sound from the digital bracket. This also allows me to enjoy dolby digital on my dvds.
As for sound effects, most games now use 16-bit sounds.
If this were a $50 addon, I'd say that it's not worth the cost, but spdif output makes for a relatively clear signal, and it's only $20 for the bracket. (Your cable may cost you more though. )