Hi I've recently bought a budget soundcard -- the xonar ds-- and I'm wondering if using the front panel 3.5mm jack (connected to the card via internal header) would be worse in terms of sound quality vs using the port directly on the card itself located on the pci brackets.
also, why does it sound louder when I connect my headphones to the front panel?
my sound memory sucks so I really can't qualitatively test which sounds better unless I can switch ports instantaneously so I'm looking for opinions.
Technically, the front panel will sound worse because the signal is going over and around power wires and electronics which induce noise in an analog signal. The only way the front panel will sound as good as the rear is if the output on the board and cable are balanced going to the port on the front. You can check this by seeing if each channel (Left/Right) has 3 wires, a +, - and ground - six conductors being connected at both ends.