Why use a USB Audio card?

hi-end audiophile pcie usb audio output card with femto clock

Why use a specialized USB Audio card when all computers are equipped with USB ports? 

Simply because computers are not designed for low-noise digital playback. While USB ports on all computers must comply with the USB specification, it does not mean they are good for transmitting bits to your USB DAC. Motherboards are filled with noisy switching power supplies. Unless you filter that noise, it will get through to your DAC via a USB cable. A dedicated USB Audio card such as the JCAT FEMTO cancels the noise coming from a PC. The use of filters, ultra-low noise power supplies and extremely precise femto clocking on the card allows for generating a clean USB signal which leads to a much better sound coming out of your DAC.

My DAC has it’s own power supply for the USB input board. It does not use USB power at all – only 1s & 0s are sent, so I shouldn’t be concerned with PC noise at all, right? 

Well, no. The fact that your DAC does not use 5V from USB ports does not change that much. The 1s & 0s are transmitted in an analogue form of electrical voltage signals. And this means that PC noise will travel through USB data signals too and will negatively affect performance of your DAC.

hi-end audiophile usb audio card

Will I get any benefit from the low-jitter clock on the card if my USB DAC uses Asynchronous USB transfer mode? 

In theory DACs equipped with Async USB input should not rely on a PC clock. But that’s just a theory. In reality, everything on a computer has an impact on sound quality regardless of DAC used. The more resolving the DAC and the hifi system is, the easier it becomes to hear these differences: in software player, PC hardware and even USB cables used for connecting a DAC. The same goes with USB controller chip and its clock oscillator – here is the USB Audio signal generated. The extremely high-precision FEMTO clock on the JCAT USB Card makes sure that the USB Audio stream is sent to your DAC with absolutely no timing errors. Even if your DAC is buffering and reclocking data, you will definitely hear and appreciate the difference. USB output is the only thing your DAC sees. Make sure it is precise. Customers can buy this product in our webshop (click on the banner below).

JCAT USB Card audiophile low-noise usb audio output


12 thoughts on “Why use a USB Audio card?

  1. Nik says:

    I would like to buy this kind of item.
    Could I know the price and if there is more ( different card) and more info will be appreciated.
    Thank you Nik.

    1. admin says:

      Hello Nik,

      It is available in our shop here: https://jcat.eu/shop/ – USB Card FEMTO
      The price is 435EUR including free express worldwide delivery.

      Best regards,
      Marcin Ostapowicz
      JCAT Founder

  2. Marek says:

    Hi, does your card work with MacPro (e.g. 2009/10) and High Sierra?
    FYI I just installed Sonnet 4PM Allegro PCI-e for USB3 and it works without driver.

    1. admin says:

      Hi Marek!

      Which chipset is your Sonnet card based on? Is it NEC?

      Best regards,

      1. Marek says:

        Hi Marcin,
        it has Fresco Logic chipset.

        1. admin says:

          OK, thanks for the info. I will let you know in few days as we have a customer who ordered the card to use in a Mac Pro.

  3. Jeff says:

    Do you make something that will work with a Mac Mini?

    1. Marcin Ostapowicz says:

      Hello Jeff, yes, please take a look at the USB Isolator: https://jcat.eu/featured/usb-isolator/

  4. roman says:

    Hello! how i can find information about this card in Windows 10 task manager?

    1. Marcin Ostapowicz says:

      Hello, can you please provide more information? This information is available from Device Manager (Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Device Manager). And best set the view to ‘Devices by Connection’. Then it will show in the PCI Express tree as USB 3.0 host controller

  5. Angel Cantu says:

    Hi Marcin,
    Could you tell me which product I need to get? Is it the USB Femto or the NET Card Femto. I put together an ITX fanless computer with an Intel 10100 processor. I use either Amazon Music or Tidal and just stream music. At this time my DAC is connected to the USB output from the motherboard, but I would like to improve the sound quality.
    Thanks in advance,

    1. Marcin Ostapowicz says:

      Hi Angel,

      If I have to choose only one card then it has to be the USB Card FEMTO.


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