USB digital audio signals across different platforms

It’s not an appropriate question to post here, but I couldn’t find the answer on the internet.

I have got a DAC amplifier and wondered if different operating systems produce the same USB digital audio signal. For example, dual boot Fedora / Windows 10, and how about MacOS?

I know it sounds dumb, and I think it should be the same. However, I once thought that I noticed a slight difference when I was playing the same song on Windows 10 and Fedora (Same laptop).

Any Fedora audiophiles out there?

Thank you

It should sound 100% same if (and that’s a big “if”), both OSes are using exactly the same drivers, libraries, and audio processing software. Knowing the origins of Windows and Fedora, I wouldn’t expect the same performance.

If i’m remember well, in Windows there is built-in audio equalizer. If it’s turned on by default?

Really!? The built-in audio equalizer will alter the digital audio signal? I thought it might all be the same, just like an optical output from a CD player. So, all different CD players send exactly the same signals which were burnt to the CD.

Thank you, but could you explain in more detail about the same drivers, libraries, and audio processing software, please? I used to think that digital audio signals should be exactly the same if the source file/medium(Eg. a CD) is the same.

Well, I am an audiophile, but I have no idea how to answer your question. In fact, the question never occurred to me. My DAC/amp allows me to select particular CODECs when connected to Bluetooth devices, but there seem to be no options when connected to a USB device. Well, if there are options, I don’t know how to view them back on my PC.

And, yeah, this is way off topic. But interesting.

The signal coming from the CD (mp3, etc) is always the same.

How the system processes it before you hear it depends on the software (the DAC) handling it.

Thus, one system does not necessarily produce the same audio output as another even though the source is identical.
Reasons for the differences are myriad; ranging from the codec involved, to the equalizer used [and its’ settings], to the amplifier, and even the speakers.
Each user likes specific sound qualities which is why, back in the days when stereo and even quad audio outputs were the rage, many different companies each built sound systems they claimed were the best.
Today we find stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 DAC systems that do the same but not all software (nor the hardware using them) are the same, nor are the speakers.

I am not an audiophile, but years of experience have taught me that finding the ‘right’ audio setup is a matter of trial and error. Usually involving a lot of research.

This is not really off topic since it is related to the software used.

Although I cannot give recommendations for what will work best for the OP, it does address why the same audio source sounds different when processed on a different system.

:stuck_out_tongue: :smirk_cat:

@blueshurricane4, @vits95, @computersavvy

Dear blueshurricane4, computersavvy, vits95,

Thank you for your contributions. I am not an audiophile, but I am picky about music. I have entry-level HiFi components.

However, I used a simple low budget DAC connected to a Sony mini HiFi for this little test.

Using my Macbook Pro (late 2008), I used the equalizer of iTunes to alter the sound, and it did produce different digital outputs. I am now guessing that it broadly explains what you guys wrote.

Next, I turned off equalizer on both iTunes and VLC Player and compared the sound. To me, they did not sound so much different. In fact, I am almost convinced that they seem identical. If that is not the case, digital audiophiles would have a difficult time choosing and arguing which app would deliver the best sound! And again, what about different computers? Mac, Windows, “Linuxes”, and Windows/Linux dual boot? I am still quite confused, so I am taking the question/s to HiFi system companies, namely, Schiit and Cambridge. I will let you know if I hear anything back from them.

@twohot @vits95 @vits95 @blueshurricane4

Hey guys,

It’s been some time since I said I would contact the audio companies. I have had some responses from them. One did not want the information to be circulated, but the other one was fine with it. HOWEVER, the person wanted to make sure that it’s not the company’s official statement. I am pasting the email below. I will not say from who and which company the email came.

  1. Same program on different computers should produce the same output.

  2. Different program same computer CAN in my experience provide different sound. I’ve found Roon and Audirvana the best sounding programs in that regard. That said, we aren’t a software company, so that’s something you’d be better off asking the individual software companies about.


Apparently, Audirvana only runs on Windows 10. Roon looks good for Linux, though.

Audirvana offers one month free trial for both Windows and Mac. I am currently trying it out on my Mac. Like I said, I am not an audiophile, but I like music, and am quite picky about it. However, I don’t notice difference when I connect the Mac to my better system (entry level components). If it’s not because my DAC is a cheap one, I think it’s a gimmick.

One good thing about it is it does not allow the computer to play the system sounds through my Hifi. The system sound comes from the Mac’s internal speakers.