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Are DACs for headphones the same ones used by speakers?

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by sonido, Aug 31, 2013.
  1. Sonido
    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.
  2. PurpleAngel Contributor
    So, your looking for an external DAC that comes with both a speaker amplifier and a headphone jack?
  3. OddCoffee
    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. 
  4. Sonido
    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?
  5. PurpleAngel Contributor
    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.
  6. Greed
    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).
  7. deskolim
    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?
  8. Koloth
    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.
  9. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    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.

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