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Noob question about a DAC

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

   A complete noob question here. External DAC's seem very popular, but what exactly is a DAC and what does it do and why do I nee one? Some sources call it a "Digital Analog Converter" and others call it a "Digital Audio Converter". Which is correct? You see how confusing this can be for a noob?  =)

 

Thank you

post #2 of 2

A DAC is a Digital to Analog Converter.  It coverts those 1's and 0's stored on digital media like a CD to the analog signal that your headphones / speakers require.  A headphone / speaker cannot properly handle and will sometimes be damaged by a digital signal.

 

A typical audio train would be:

 

CD player --->External DAC ( Output will be analog ) ---> Amp ( higher amplitude analog signal ) ---> Speakers / Headphones

 

Other than the conversion process from digital to analog a DAC is also responsible for controller a lot of the noise in a system.  A good DAC will suppress noise from motors, fans, computer mice, and other internal workings.  A bad DAC may sound noisy with hiss/hum, or even start to blur the sound.

 

Hope that helps.

 

P.S.

 

If you can plug you headphones / speakers into a CD player then the CD player has a DAC in it.

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