Looking to introduce optical to permanently hide ground noise
I know there are hundreds of threads and pointers around troubleshooting and isolating ground noise and that the subject line here truly does only implement a band aid, not a fix. I've spent more than my share trying to get rid of the noise, and I'm just ready to punt on it. That said, I'd love some advice on what I would need to do/get to go down this path.
Right now I have an Aopen i945GTt-VFA motherboard with on-board (Azalia 7.1) audio. I could care less about 5.1/7.1, I just want good ol'e 2 channel stereo ;-) This mobo does have an S/PDIF connector on it (relevant for my quest?)
I have 2 Zapco DC reference amps (no optical input). I'd like to go from PC directly to them...while having optical somewhere in the middle to leave the noise behind.
What would my options be? Would this actually get me my desired result? Would I need an external sound card AND something else to do this? Would signal quality erode significantly if there are multiple devices?
I'm a little clueless in this specific area, so any and all help is appreciated.