Originally Posted by adamlr
while were on the subject, id appreciate some clarification, and an answer to a question, if thats not too much to ask.clarification:
as far as i could understand, a DAC exists on anything that plays music, it takes the digital part, ie the 1's and 0's of your mp3/flac/aac/whatever and turns them into the analog bit, which is basically an electric pulse/wave (i dont know the terminology) which then goes into you headphone, making the membrane "dance", compressing and moving the air in a way that our ears (or rather our brain) interpret as sound. (please correct me if im wrong of course)
is this why your meant to plug a DAC into your DAP via usb and not through the headphone jack? because if the music got to your headphone jack it would already be an analog wave (again, terminology) making the external DAC useless?question:
i understood what you said, and again, keep in mind im just a newbe who doesnt even own a dac, but say i want more bass or more treble or any other emphasis in the music im listening to, what difference does it make where the color comes from? if its from my bassy headphones, bassy amp, bass boost switch on an amp, a dac that colors the music or for that matter - an equalizer? would a bass heavy headphone give a better quality than a bass heavy dac? i hope im making sense, ill try and clarify:
you said that the more expensive, coloring amps cant "outperform the transparency of a competent DAC chip", it sounds like your being critical about amps that provide color and i just want to know why, because no one speaks up when one talks about bass heavy headphones, or equalizing music for emphasis on treble, but DACs seem to be a heated subject for some reason.
edit: is it a question of whether or not DACs can provide you with any coloration at all?
and btw, whats the difference between a DAC and an external sound card? are they the same thing?
Pretty well answered by now, but here it goes. You do own a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) unless all you play is vinyl or analog tapes. Any computer file, stream or CD (or DVD or Blu-ray disc) presents digital data. To make a speaker or headphone move and create sound, this information needs to be converted to analog signals in a DAC. So all these devices have a DAC in them: on board sound chips in computers, soundcards, CD, SACD, DVD, and Blu-ray players, mp3 players, home theater amplifiers and some TVs. Oh yes, cell phones too.
Can a DAC have any coloration? Yes, because it has an analog section which usually has some amplification to do. That circuit, even if it is on a chip, might not be transparent. Perhaps the reason why some of us do not like the idea of DACs not being transparent (passing on a signal louder but otherwise unchanged) is because the DAC is your source. There are ample oportunities later on to modify the music, but if you mess with it at the beginning you have no benchmark, nothing to compare your results to. Having no anchor, no original unaltered reference, you are adrift not knowing where you have been or where you are headed. That makes it very, very difficult to get the sound to where you want it.
The headphone is the most productive place to work. Simply get a headphone with more bass emphasis. After that, use either EQ (equalization) or get an amp with old style tone controls. Find an old amp with variable Loudness and you will be a happy basshead. My old Marantz DC series had a ten position knob. Digital EQ happens in the computer before the DAC; analog EQ is signal processing after the DAC.Edited by Clarkmc2 - 10/4/12 at 8:42pm