Buying first amp. Noob questions.
Dec 27, 2009 at 2:48 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3

deniall83

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 24, 2008
Posts
272
Likes
14
Hey guys.

I have finally decided to take the plunge and buy my first portable amp but I have a few questions.

If I bought an amp with no DAC it could only be used with my iPod as a source, correct?
If I bought an amp with a DAC I could use it with my iPod as a source and also my computer, correct?
If I bought an amp/DAC would I need a decent soundcard in my computer to make the most out of it?
Would an amp/DAC be better than just an amp for my iPod?

Basically I just want to improve my listening experience with clearer music. I generally only use my iPod as a source but having over 200GB of music stored on my computer makes me wonder if a DAC would be a good option too. I'm just not sure how the DAC could be an advantage as I don't really understand how it works. Any info would be great.
 
Dec 27, 2009 at 7:20 PM Post #2 of 3

ben7337

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 9, 2007
Posts
138
Likes
10
1. A portable amp with no DAC could take in any analog line out signal from any portable or not so portable source that can output a line out signal.

2. With the DAC you can use the amp with your computer and bypass all of the computer's internal audio hardware, bypassing the amp and dac in the computer to use the ones in your portable amp. However you could technically use a headphone output in your laptop, using the amp and dac in the computer and then output that to the amp through the line in and amplify that signal. However since the computer would likely be outputting a less than amazing signal compared to the portable amp, and reamplifying it will likely only make things worse or not any better, there isn't much point to this and so the DAC is recommended.

3. No you would not need a decent sound card. The portable amp with DAC acts as your sound card essentially. It can only output stereo audio to a 3.5mm headphone plug mostly, but still, there would be no benefit from a good sound card.

4. For audio from your ipod, the dac wouldn't be used as the signal is already analog out of the ipod


To explain things better, when you have data on an ipod or a computer or anything that stores data digitally, like a cd, you need to first convert the signal to analog in order for the headphones to play it. However you usually put it through an amplifier as well, so you can change how amplified the sound is, thus more or less controlling the volume. I am not sure how to explain this any better, but to put it simply, convert audio to analog, then amplify to control volume. In order to have a headphone output, every single thing has a dac and amp to go along with it. Therefore, your ipod, your computer, everything has those components. In buying a portable amplifier with dac, you would plug into a computer via usb, and the digital signal would go straight from the computer to the dac in the portable amp first. With an ipod, the dac inside cannot be bypassed, and thus only the amplifier in the portable amp is used. Similarly, since you are outputting a digital signal to the dac in the portable amplifier from a pc, you are bypassing everything inside that computer, nothing in the sound card in it is used. Everything is handled by the portable amp. Hope this explains things better, sorry if I rambled and jumped around a bit,
 
Dec 28, 2009 at 6:36 AM Post #3 of 3

deniall83

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 24, 2008
Posts
272
Likes
14
Thanks a lot for the help mate. Your post included everything I wanted to know. Rock on!
dt880smile.png
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top