OK, here's a final postscript from me, in case anyone reads this thread later to solve their own problems.
Mike's suggestion to use the Behringer UFO202 DAC was a winner (thanks Mike!). I've now got nice clean audio from my media players (e.g. VLC) and elsewhere (e.g. youtube). Actually sounds pretty good!
It's an easy fix. Just plug the USB cable of the DAC into any USB socket on your computer, and then plug your speaker cable into the microphone jack of the DAC. There's also some output RCA plugs on the DAC too in case you have monitors that will accept these. Then, all you need to do is select the DAC for your sound output:
Go to the Systems Settings app in your Menu
- Select "Sound" in the Hardware group settings
- Select the Output tab
- Select either Digital Output (S/PDIF) PCM2902 Audio Codec OR Analogue Output PCM2902 Audio Codec. They both seem to work OK.
- And that's it!
I guess this is a bit of a kludge, but hey it works and the DAC was reasonably cheap. Maybe some future update in the kernel will solve the problem for the RealTek898, but who wants to wait?
Happy listening and good luck!
the Behringer UFO202 will do up to 48khz sampling. CD are normally 44.1 khz -- either sampling rate allows the circuitry in the DAC to reconstruct the original audio signal -- as it was when it was recorded
there are a lot of arguments about CD v. vinyl today that go on and on -- . the reading i have looked at suggests the real difference is in the mastering -- what the audio engineers did when they mixed the master that was used to press the commercial copies -- the vinyl or CD
this will get you into a discussion of the so called 'loudness war' . apparently a lot of music for CD is mixed more like the old 45's,-- intended to play LOUD. for that reason they compress the dynamic range of the piece,-- suppressing the loud parts, boosting the quiet parts, and juicing the whole thing to +4 db. Rock baby rock !!
the other connectors on the Behringer are RCA jacks for line level outputs ( to your amp ) also inputs -- (switchable ) for mag cartrige phono, or line level to connect to the REC OUTs on your amp . ( the 3.5mm jack is marked 'earphones' -- not 'MIC'. )
you should find you have AUDACITY already in your Linux dist. which will let you record from your amp. I use 24 bit / 48khz FLAC on my system. I'm running some tests v. 32bit float .wav format -- which is what Audacity masters with -- which may be slightly better . the REALTEC audio onboard in my ASUS M5M88-M mobo can sample at 96khz that sound card i listed from NewEgg can do 192khz. lots of good arguments about it all. CDs are 44.1khz at 16bits -- plenty to cover the 20-20khz standard audio quality.
FLAC is lossless (unlike mp3) -- and is also FSF stuff -- free of ugly nasty encombering software patents and licences common to the commercial trolls.
Home assembled box using ASUS M5A88-M motherboard and x64 AMD Phenom II X4 3.4GHz cpu; 4x4MB DDR3 RAM