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DAC performance using USB power Vs. dedicated power supply

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Apologies if this has been covered, I tried searching but can't find anything related to what I'm looking for.

 

Recently I saw a video somewhere (wish I could find it but alas I misplaced the link) where it made mention of the fact that the small, portable USB DAC's that are commonly used & recommended can't quite output the maximum power / current to deliver the full (or optimal) audio signal due to the limitations of USB power. I think it also mentioned that DAC's using their own dedicated power supply DO output the max (or optimal) power by virtue of the fact that they're not hampered in their thirst for power. Now, I'm not an electrical or engineering genius, but I am pretty tech savvy when it comes to computers and from what I know about USB, this SOUNDS logical to me. I am wondering if this is correct, if the difference is significant or not, or if there is any additional info out there on this topic. 

 

It seems like common sense that any component that draws power will probably operate & perform better with its own dedicated power source, rather than piggybacking off a computer using USB, but I'd like to know how much this really matters or affects the audio signal or not.

post #2 of 3

It all depends on the design of the DAC - there's enough power available (2.5W) but USB power isn't clean and therefore needs to be regenerated (or regulated - but then the voltage is limited). Given this requirement, its just easier to get the appropriate voltages at low noise coming from AC mains rather than from 5V DC. AC mains is dirty too though, so its all a matter of careful implementation.

post #3 of 3

Earlier today I was using a USB/DAC/amp, a ELE-D02 ($19), it was connected to my PC with a USB cable and the EL-D02 was also driving my Beyer 250-Ohm headphones.

So there was no lack of power there.

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