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difference between DAC and amp?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

So just out of curiosity I was wondering what the difference was between an amp and a DAC and as a first what do you recommend?

post #2 of 12

All DACs have some kind of amp in their circuitry, but dedicated amplifiers are usually more powerful. Some DACs have a powerful enough internal amp that they advertise it as a feature.

post #3 of 12

DAC and amp two completely different hardware.

 

DAC = Digital-to-Analog converter

Amp = hardware to increase the power of a signal to physically move the drivers in headphones and speakers

 

DAC converts digital signal to analog signal bur it doesn't increase the power of the result signal (which is what an amp does). All headphones (sound they produce for you to hear) are analog so any digital information (1's and 0's) stored on CDs, DVDs, music files on a computer must be converted into analog signal in order for audio to be reproduced. By the time a signal reaches your headphone/output jack, the signal is already analog.

 

So the process goes like this:

 

Your music is stored using 1's and 0's on your CD/file (digital signal)  -> DAC converts into analog signal -> amp increases the power of resulting analog signal -> Your headphones/speakers use the increased-powered signal to produce sound you can hear.

 

What you need first depends on what your setup is (source, headphones, etc.) but most likely a good amp would benefit you more, and some DACs comes with a built-in amp.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

I mostly use my ipod, so I'm jsut wondering if dacs or amp run can be used on ipods rather than a computer

 

also what do you guys think is a good starter amp or dac, I really don't know much but I've read that the pico slim and fiio e7 are good options

post #5 of 12

most dacs have amps

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by haarism View Post

I mostly use my ipod, so I'm jsut wondering if dacs or amp run can be used on ipods rather than a computer

 

also what do you guys think is a good starter amp or dac, I really don't know much but I've read that the pico slim and fiio e7 are good options



 I am also pretty new on here and recently asked myself this question as well. From my understanding if you want to drive a high impedance phone from your ipod you would need an (portable) amp, the ipod is already converting the digital data to analogue, so to that effect you already have a dac ;-)

 

what I am wondering is whether there's a way to output the music digitally (ie at the bottom of the ipod) and then lead it to a dac/amp combo (my understanding is that the ipod is pretty pad in terms of sound quality, so that might be a way to improve it)

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fejglobal View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by haarism View Post

I mostly use my ipod, so I'm jsut wondering if dacs or amp run can be used on ipods rather than a computer

 

also what do you guys think is a good starter amp or dac, I really don't know much but I've read that the pico slim and fiio e7 are good options



 I am also pretty new on here and recently asked myself this question as well. From my understanding if you want to drive a high impedance phone from your ipod you would need an (portable) amp, the ipod is already converting the digital data to analogue, so to that effect you already have a dac ;-)

 

what I am wondering is whether there's a way to output the music digitally (ie at the bottom of the ipod) and then lead it to a dac/amp combo (my understanding is that the ipod is pretty pad in terms of sound quality, so that might be a way to improve it)



http://www.headphone.com/accessories/sendstation-ipod-pocket-dock-line-out-mini-usb.php

 

It is true there are better DAC's out there than the DAC in the ipod, but 5th gen Ipod's original DAC isn't bad if you release its full potential.

 

http://redwineaudio.com/products/imod

 

However, if your ipod is not from 4th gen - 5th gen, then yes, you would definitely want dac/amp combo for the worthy sound.

post #8 of 12

Also, you should refer to other threads on head-fi regarding this topic. There's one formed since 2009, and another formed since 2007. Very useful information. Another reference is headphone.com:

 

http://www.headphone.com/learning-center/

post #9 of 12

Hmm.  to get the most value for your money.  Always start with the speakers/headphones, Then move to Amp, Then the Source, 

post #10 of 12

An ipod cannot be connected to an external DAC because it only has analog outputs, and no digital ones. Fortunately, there are special docks that are able to take the ipod's digital signal and output it directly without having to use the ipod's DAC.

post #11 of 12

Apple iPods do have digital outputs, just like they have line outputs. Apple just happened to combine them into their proprietary licensed dock connector. I'm sure part of the reason is they get a paid royalty (income) for every third party device or even cable on the planet that has a dock connector (or they turn their huge team of lawyers loose to seek injunctions and damages if someone isn't paying the dock connector ransom).

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by nwavguy View Post

Apple iPods do have digital outputs, just like they have line outputs. Apple just happened to combine them into their proprietary licensed dock connector. I'm sure part of the reason is they get a paid royalty (income) for every third party device or even cable on the planet that has a dock connector (or they turn their huge team of lawyers loose to seek injunctions and damages if someone isn't paying the dock connector ransom).


Interesting. That is really clever marketing.

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