I consider myself to be an audiophile. It's a bit of a curse, actually. The never ending pusruit of getting better sound can be tiring. On the flip side, I spend a lot of time enjoying the hobby, and so I'd say it's worth it.
I read something the other day that I have not been able to let go.
It was on a software audio player forum. The software loads a piece of music into RAM on the PC, and then "plays" it from there. Playing it actually means sending it to an outboard DAC over USB using an Asynchronous USB approach, where teh DAC is the master clock.
The author made the claim that he tested the following 2 scenarios, and one was "better." (Of course, we could be dealing with a placebo effect here, but bear with me.)
In method A, he connects an HDD using SATA > USB> MOBO, loads the music into RAM, disconnects the drive, and plays the song. (Disconnecting the drive is done to minimize "noise" [ground loops, EMI/RFI, etc.])
In method B, he connects the HDD using SATA > USB > Optical (galvanic isolation) > USB > MOBO.
The claim is that B is better!
He thinks that "how the data gets into RAM" has an effect on the sound.
Could this be? Is the "noise" of the HDD connected in method A stored along with the bits in RAM? Are not all Zeros created equal? Am I missing something? And better yet... how can I test this?
When the computer sends the song to the DAC, does the CPU make any determiniations about the state of the Zeros and Ones? Is it "harder" for a chip to determine 0 or 1 if the signal is "less clean"?
So many questions!