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School me on DACs. What's the point?

post #1 of 2
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So here's my questions. Do I even need a DAC? Is a high end DAC pointless for people who primarily listen to digital music ( Itunes, MP3s) even if they are of good quality. I guess the question, in short, is what is the point in an external DAC when you're not running a high end source?

 

My sources are a Macbook Pro using Itunes primarily through Bitperfect. Otherwise I use my Iphone5 as a portable player with CanOpener. At home I have a Fiio E9 ipod dock with an Ipod classic for listening while I chill. I have some FLAC files I listen to with CanOpener and on my computer and can't subjectively tell the difference between that and 320Kbps. I think for the most part the music sounds fine. Much of my library is Rock/Metal with some industrial/electronic, HipHop/Rap and a bit of Jazz and acoustic music. It's obvious that much of this music is quite compressed and lacking true dynamic range so I don't feel like I'm missing much with lower quality files.

 

I consider the DAC of my Macbook pro to be at least adequate. My Iphone/Ipod seem to be fine as well. Is it worth considering a higher quality DAC than my Fiio E17? If running a higher end amp than my Fiio E9 would the lack of a DAC be more obvious?

 

Current headphones: Denon AHD2000, Grado SR80i, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser Momentum

IEM: UE Triple Fi 10, Sennheiser IE80, Yamaha EPH100, Shure Se535Ltd ( Reds)

 

Looking at acquiring Grado RS1i in the near future. Supposedly easy to drive but benefit from amping.

post #2 of 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by benthughes View Post
 

So here's my questions. Do I even need a DAC? Is a high end DAC pointless for people who primarily listen to digital music ( Itunes, MP3s) even if they are of good quality. I guess the question, in short, is what is the point in an external DAC when you're not running a high end source?

 

 

you sort of answered your own question. The purpose of a DAC is to improve the digital output from your source, which on most PC's isn't very good. If you mean the source FILES, just because it's an mp3 doesn't mean it's not high quality. I believe 320 KBps out of a LAME encode is going to be very high quality, and iTunes also doesn't equal low quality, as myself and many others now rip CDs in ALAC as a standard.

 

That said, I believe the DAC's on Mac's & iPhone's are usually better than PC's / Android - but maybe that was how it used to be. I could be wrong.

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