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Question about hardware in general (Which has certainly been answered before)

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi there! This is my first post here. 

 

I consider myself to have a pretty good ear. Im not including why, for fear of sounding terribly conceited :D

 

My question is about DACs. I'm guessing that, as per the name, a DAC takes an audio file and turns it into analog waves that can be played by headphones. To my understanding, this means that any audio device contains a DAC. So when we talk about using portable ones, hooked up to mp3 players, what we are doing is bypassing the devices DAC and using a better, external one.

 

Now how would one go about hooking up a dac to a laptop? It seems that it would have to be usb. So do dacs come with a usb input? Basically, it seems to me that a dac is mostly an external soundcard, which would be recognized by the laptop as a usb audio interface.

 

And an iPod. I have seen pictures of ipods hooked up to FiiO devices. As I understand it, these combine a higher quality DAC and an amp for louder audio. For this setup, does the ipod consider the FiiO to be an iPod dock? This seems to make sense, to me anyway.

 

Please excuse my noobiness. I almost positive that this must have been answered many times before, I just cannot think of the right keywords to find it. If someone could point me in the right direction, I would be very appreciative.

post #2 of 4

yes a DAC and a soundcard are essentially the same thing, turns digital data into analouge audio.

 

 

yes usb is the most common way of doing it, optical can also be used though

 

 

erm some mp3 players can be hooked up to use an external DAC, River i think did one with optical out but as a rule no you cant do this.  the player would have to have optical out or be ablou to act as a usb host, very few can.

 

erm no, the FiiO's may have an amp and a DAC inside but the DAC bit is only used when hooked up to a computer.  they are mostly just amping the line out from the given player.

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the clarification. And THIS is what confused the heck out of me!! For some reason, I thought it was a Fii0...

 

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/548529/head-fi-tv-episode-003-cypher-labs-algorhythm-solo-a-game-changer

 

Thank you for the reply!

post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tardisk View Post
[snip] . . . a DAC takes an audio file and turns it into analog waves that can be played by headphones.


If by audio file you mean MP3, AAC, FLAC, etc., then I think you are leaving out a step. Something other than the DAC is decompressing/decoding that MP3 to an uncompressed digital audio stream (presumably PCM) that is then routed to the DAC. On a PC or Mac this "something other" is your music player software, and the hardware doing the deed is your system's CPU. I'm sure the situation is much the same with portable music players, but I suppose that it is possible that someone has (or will someday) combine all the functionality onto a single chip.


Edited by MtnSloth - 5/22/11 at 8:46am
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