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Are DACs for headphones the same ones used by speakers?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I could not find this anywhere, but can DACs we use for our headphones also be used with speakers, or do speakers have a different market of DACs? I know a lot of times speakers are connected to a receiver which has a DAC built in, but are receivers the only option for speakers? I ask because if I buy a high end DAC for headphones, could I one day use it for speakers? I'm sure a high end DAC outputs better sound than a receiver you'd find at Best Buy.

post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post

I could not find this anywhere, but can DACs we use for our headphones also be used with speakers, or do speakers have a different market of DACs? I know a lot of times speakers are connected to a receiver which has a DAC built in, but are receivers the only option for speakers? I ask because if I buy a high end DAC for headphones, could I one day use it for speakers? I'm sure a high end DAC outputs better sound than a receiver you'd find at Best Buy.

So, your looking for an external DAC that comes with both a speaker amplifier and a headphone jack?

post #3 of 9

Most DACs these days come with a myriad of varied analog output options, which with the right choice of power amp, can drive any speakers of your choosing. 

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

I know amps are completely different. Headphone amps can't drive speakers, same with vice versa, except for a couple exceptions like Woo Audio WA5 or Bottlehead SEX amps can drive speakers. Also some headphones actually prefer speaker amps like AKG K1000 and Hifiman HE-6. My question is about whether DACs can be used interchangeably in either speaker or headphone setups. It would be nice (and wallet saving) for someone with a high end headphone setup to transition to high end speaker setup if the DAC can be reused and is still considered high end in the speaker world.

 

I guess I don't know exactly how speaker setups work. Is it not source -> DAC/Receiver -> amp -> speakers?

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post

I know amps are completely different. Headphone amps can't drive speakers, same with vice versa, except for a couple exceptions like Woo Audio WA5 or Bottlehead SEX amps can drive speakers. Also some headphones actually prefer speaker amps like AKG K1000 and Hifiman HE-6. My question is about whether DACs can be used interchangeably in either speaker or headphone setups. It would be nice (and wallet saving) for someone with a high end headphone setup to transition to high end speaker setup if the DAC can be reused and is still considered high end in the speaker world.

 

I guess I don't know exactly how speaker setups work. Is it not source -> DAC/Receiver -> amp -> speakers?

A simple external DAC, with a digital input (USB or optical or coaxial) with a line-out output (RCA or 3.5mm)

can be used with (connected to) a speaker amplifier or a headphone amplifier.

post #6 of 9

You should have no problem swapping between systems. I'm like you, and am currently consolidating my system. One dac for a multitude of amps, whether it be for my speakers or headphones. Most DACs higher end DACs have atleast two outputs, a balanced (Dual 3 Pin XLRs) and a single-end out (pair of RCAs).

post #7 of 9
This is great.. I searching anywhere to find this answer.. I have one more question about saving wallet thread.. From my analisis, a source(dap/cdp) have its price based on their dac chip and componens inside. If i already buy a high end dac, sould I also buy a good sources?? Ex.
1.cdp marantz(audiophile cdp) only as transport - high end dac - headamp - headphone
2.normal player(dvd/bluray player but not have special ability in sounding) only as transport - high end dac - headamp - headphone
can be the no.1 and no.2 has the same sound result?
Edited by deskolim - 1/1/14 at 5:29pm
post #8 of 9

They absolutely will. When using an external dac the different sources will sound the same. (The one difference being PC's which have a lot of ways for users to **** up the sound in settings. No such troubles should arise with cd/dvd/brd-players.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by deskolim View Post

This is great.. I searching anywhere to find this answer.. I have one more question about saving wallet thread.. From my analisis, a source(dap/cdp) have its price based on their dac chip and componens inside. If i already buy a high end dac, sould I also buy a good sources?? Ex.

1.cdp marantz(audiophile cdp) only as transport - high end dac - headamp - headphone

2.normal player(dvd/bluray player but not have special ability in sounding) only as transport - high end dac - headamp - headphone
can be the no.1 and no.2 has the same sound result?

 

No need to spend on the Marantz if you're using it only for a transport - any computer or general purpose device can send out a signal to a compatible DAC, not to mention you won't need to get up and get a new disc when you're done with one album.

 

I get home, put my phone on Airplane mode then slide it into the dock, switch on the amp and run a few tracks to warm it up (even though I don't really hear any benefits to the SQ), take a shower, then sit down and listen.

 

If however money is less of a problem for you than for me (given I'd like to find as many uses for a phone that I picked up for $99 thanks to carrier subsidies+lock-in period) and you want an even more dedicated and purposeful digital source, look into music servers more than CDPs. The cheapest I know of is an Aune but only works with WAV on SD cards; Musical Fidelity's M1 CLIC is basically a computer with all the connectivity options but shouldn't be too difficult to set-up if you're just hooking up one external hard drive; while the Cocktail Audio X10 if you can buy them from the right dealer comes with a 1TB HDD already installed inside (over here they're packaged with Castle mini monitors and the drive for roughly $700). I'm waiting for prices to go down a little bit when more such devices become available from more manufacturers, but also because the DAC I like - the ODAC - has only USB, so I'm waiting for a version with SPDIF or another DAC with that but sounds like the ODAC.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 1/8/14 at 8:44am
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