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Confusion about DACs and AMPs

  1. TheOneAndOnlyEcon
    hey guys

    I currently own active speakers and also an active subwoofer so i never had the need for an amp, but i had a DAC connected between the computer and the speakers(the speakers then deliver the signal to the subwoofer)
    But im now thinking about getting a vinyl player and therefore i‘d need an amp right?
    My setup would have the Computer and the player feed into the amp, and have the active speakers as the output source(can i even have active speakers on an amp??)

    But do i still need the dac, or does an amp have a built in dac? Or are there different varieties of amps, some that do and some that dont?

    Would i just connect the dac between the pc and the amp? Or is that useless?

    I appreciate any help!
  2. Oscar-HiFi
    Keep the PC > DAC > speaker setup.

    Get the turntable, if the turntable does not have a built in pre-amp you will need a phono pre-amp. They you will just need to swap cables depending on what source you want to use.

    Otherwise you could also get something like the JDS Labs OL Switcher and hook up both the DAC output and the Phono output to it, and switch between the two.
  3. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    If you'll use passive speakers with the TT then yes.

    OK...this is really confusing.

    First, what is an "output source?" A signal source will have an output, but it's never called an "output source," just source because it's a given that if it's the source, then it has to have an output so whatever is coming from it - an audio signal, water trickingling down from the mountain spring to the river below, etc - has to go out towards something else.

    Second, as if that wasn't confusing enough, how would the speakers be the "output source?" It's not a source, it's the last step in the equipment chain that handles the audio signal, unless you count the room and its acoustic properties. It's also not the output, it just produces the output, and in that sense, it's the last source in the chain that produces the output sound, but they're not really referred to as the "source" as that refers to the first device in the chain. Same way Escobar is the source, the last step of the output chain is some street dealer in Harlem or something.

    Third, no, you can't use an amp's amplified output for passive speakers to control an active speaker, because an active speaker already has its own amp that amplifies the line signal for it. Not that you absolutely can't do that, but there's absolutely no need to get a high level to low level converter, ie, you'll amplify the signal and just have to "deamplify" (?) it just to work that way.

    In short, and a again, no, you do not need an amplifier. What you need is a Phono Preamp, which is sometimes already built into the TT, but usually you have it buy it separately. Connect that to another input on your active speakers. As long as you have a spare analog input, no problem. If you only have one set of RCA inputs on the active speakers then maybe get a signal switcher like a Schiit Sys.

    In some cases DACs and headphone or speaker amps can be built into the same box.

    In your case your amplifier is already built into your speakers. That's why they need their own power cable/s.

    If you're using passive speakers then it won't be pointless.

    If you're using acive speakers, the effort to use an amp that way - ie amp the signal then use a high level to low level converter - is pointless.
  4. TheOneAndOnlyEcon

    Thanks a lot for the detailed reply! As i said i‘d like to use active speakers, and not passive.
    And as the output source, i just meant the ouput, the speakers, sorry i mixed up the words there. And i know i dont NEED and amplyfier for active speakers but i was asking if i could still connect my active speakers to an amp, because i‘d need the amp for the turntable....
  5. TheOneAndOnlyEcon
    Thanks that‘s a great reply that helps me quite a bit. I assume a pre-amp will do the job because the active speakers will do the ‚amp-job‘ even when the source is smth like a turntable i assume? And therefore i dont need an actual amp?
    That clears things up, thanks a lot!
  6. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Uh...what? Speakers need an amp, regardless of the source being a TT or a CDP or a DAC and PC. That's because you have to take the signal from the source and amplify it into a stronger signal that can move the transducer so that it will in turn move air to produce the sound you'll hear.

    Your TT doesn't need the amp other than if the speaker needs it. Your speakers have an amp built in, so you don't need the separate integrated amp anymore.

    What you need is a Phono Preamp, if the TT doesn't have it built in. Check the specs of your TT. If it doesn't have one get something like the ProJect Phono Box.
  7. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Assuming both the speakers and sub-woofer are self powered (each connected to A/C)
    So the DAC only sent a line-signal to the speakers, the DAC did not power the (self-powered) speaker/sub-woofer.
    Is the DAC connected to the speakers using normal un-balanced signal or are they using a balanced connection?
    Does the vinyl player output a stereo or Mono audio signal (assume mono)?
    So maybe you need to figure out how to split the mono signal into stereo (2 active speakers)?
  8. TheOneAndOnlyEcon
    Only one of the Speakers is Plugged into an A/C, the other one is then hooked into that Speaker.
    The subwoofer is also connected to an A/C.

    The Audio Signal runs into the Speaker(cinch) which is plugged into the wall, and gets split and from there goes through to the subwoofer(cinch) and to the other speaker(copper)

    I have no idea what an unbalanced/balanced signal is, so i can‘t answer that question i fear
  9. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Same thing about it having an amp, except all the amplifier channels are on one speaker. That's just an asymmetrical Master-Slave design.

    You mean you have terminals mounted into your wall for cable management?

    I'm not sure I follow here. If the signal already goes into the Master speaker why are you only splitting the signal there between the subwoofer and the Slave speaker?

    What speaker and subwoofer are you using anyway? I'm gonna look up the terminals. Because normally either you split the signal at the source or preamp, or the Master speaker has a dedicated subwoofer output (on newer speakers).

    He thought you were using symmetrical active monitors, ie, pro monitors, that use balanced signals transferred via XLR or 3-pin phono (ie the same kind of plug as on a headphone, but wired differently).
  10. TheOneAndOnlyEcon
    No.... i said the speaker which is plugged into the wall, meaning the powered speaker. Out of the wall comes normal electrical juice, like power. Normal power outlet....

    And into that speaker, i have the other speaker plugged in via copper cables. (Audioengine A5‘s btw)
    On a dedicated subwoofer output on the backside of the speaker i have a connection running to my subwoofer(Klipsch RS-12)

    Its a really simple setup
  11. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Alright, I got confused because of how it was phrased.

    Which you will complicate by adding an amplifier that isn't even needed since there's already an amplifier in those speakers.
  12. TheOneAndOnlyEcon
    Yeah that was kinda the question, i know it would be unnescessairy to have one, but i thought i‘d need one for the turntable.... but i didnt think far enough to realise that the amp in the active speakers will do that job for a turntable aswell if i connect the turntable to the speakers.
  13. PurpleAngel Contributor
    So they are self-powered speakers, all the speaker amplifier(s) are built into one speaker and that speaker also amplifies the other speaker.
    The sub-woofer is also self powered (so the connection, between the speaker and the sub-woofer is a line connection, signal only, not an amplified power connection).

    Normally for the consumer products, audio connections between devices are un-balanced, one positive signal wire connection and one ground wire connection, all in one cable
    More "professional" audio equipment can use a balanced connection, two positive wires and one grounding wire, all in one cable.
    Unless you went out of your way to buy audio equipment with balanced connections, your using the more common un-balanced connection, between devices.

    It might help to list the make and model of the speakers/sub-woofer?
  14. TheOneAndOnlyEcon
    Thanks for clearing things up!

    My Setup consists of an Audioengine D1 dac, A5‘s and a Klipsch RS12
  15. PurpleAngel Contributor
    You might try connecting the Vinyl players line-output to the line-input (mic) jack on the PC.
    Then have the computer route that signal back out to the speakers (if possible).

    Basically I guess the idea is to figure out a way to take the mono-channel (1.0) audio signal from the vinyl player and make it into a stereo (2.0) signal for the A5 speakers.
    Or just run a cable from the vinyl player to one of the RCA input jacks on the A5 and just listen to the vinyl audio using only one speaker.

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