as the previosly speaker I just stumbled over this fantastic site! I have the same kind of question. Currently I have a Windows based Media Center (running Media Portal) where I've converted all my CDs to Apple Lossless and plays them through a Arcam 65+ amplifier with Audiovector K3 speakers with an ordinary soundcard in my computer. It's not great but since this MediaCenter also handles TV, photos, weather, movies etc my family loves the system.
I've been trying to understand how an external DAC would improve the system and also I have been looking at Cambridge Audio DacMagic (200€ in Sweden). If i connect this via the USB interface, will I then in my computer have an "additional" soundcard that I can select and use in my MediaPlayer or is it working in a different way? I've also heard that USB is not the best interface for transferring music, so does this work at all?
At my local HiFi shop they recomended me buying a RME Hammerfall soundcard instead, any opinions about this? According to their opinion using USB is mediocre and connecting the DAC via SPDIF from my soundcard isn't very much better (since my existing soundcard would mess up the signal). Do I need a new soundcard to be able to cennect the DAC?
Looking forward to any replies for us new beginners!