Well, no, optical-out is _not_ processed by the card beforehand. It's the raw digital signal to the DAC. You could use that as an alternative to a usb connection to the DAC. So the sound card would mostly be an alternative to the amp+dac stack. But, you can probably take a line out from the sound card to your amp, if you were inclined to use it with the sound card instead of the dedicated DAC.