I learned a great deal in a recent trouble-shooting thread I had posted and I thought a lot of the information presented there was worth codifying so as to make it easily available to others interested in digital audio. Special thanks to streetfighter 2 and BumbleBee but also everyone who contributed including Sinzia, Jetster and hat. I'm probably going to overlook a lot of valuable information, not to mention making any number of errors, so I'm reserving a few slots for later additions and will edit posts as my errors are pointed out. Please post and indicate any information that should be included and I will either plagarize you post to include it the main sequence or edit it as necessary to keep it clean and easy to understand. HDMI is superior to analog and other forms of digital audio Even people who are tech savvy may not realize that the HDMI interface provides a far superior method of reproducing audio from digital sources. The audio functions are generally seen as a convenience which allows you to have a single cable for DVI video and digital audio. But in fact, it goes so far beyond that. HDMI can handle up to 8 24-bit channels with sample rates up to 192khz (or higher). It can also handle a variety of compression protocols, although the extent of it's capabilities are hardware dependent. This means that if you have a relatively recent discreet video card or IGP, you have everything you need to produce the best sound from any digital source. HDMI vs S/PDIF Most motherboards have the ability to output an S/PDIF signal, however, optical transfer of digital audio has numerous limitations. For example an S/PDIF connection can only handle 4 channels at a 44khz sample rate. And while it technically has 24-bit resolution, it is designed for only 20 bit. In addition, S/PDIF can't handle many of the protocols that HDMI can.