Looking to get started with high-resolution computer audio?
It's really pretty easy, for less than $100 you can buy an M-Audio Transit
to get up to 24bit/96kHz digital audio off your computer via the USB interface, and output Toslink optical digital audio to your digital to analog converter. And boy does 24/96 audio sound smooooooth!
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="340" caption="The Transit converts high-rez USB audio into optical S/PDIF digital. "]
The thing you've really got to understand is that as of this writing USB drivers for the TAS1020 chip in the Transit and your computer operating system are still a little crude. So you have to change settings in the easy to use M-Audio driver application to match the sample rate of the music being played. In other words, you can't just make a playlist mixing 16/44 tracks from cd rips mixed in with 24/96 music downloads as the computer will resample the high-rez track to whatever is set in the driver. So, at least for the moment, you will have to make separate playlists of high-rez music and manually set the driver to 24/96 in order to get the full benefit.
All HeadRoom digital to analog converters
accept high-rez audio on their optical input, as do most other currently built commercial DACs. The biggest high-rez music download site is HD Tracks
. One of the best places to learn more and stay up to date on this subject is at Chris Connaker's "Computer Audiophile"
blog. Check out his page reviewing high-rez download sites
and his terrific Computer Audiophile Acadamy
section to learn much, much more.