explain a dac to me
Mar 15, 2006 at 8:26 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 28

twc5964

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Talk to me as the idiot that I am ! I'm completely clueless about dacs,it's purpose,and how to integrate it with an amp and my computer.

Will it help clean up the digital nasties I hear with mp3's ?
I use both a Gilmore Lite and Z-Audio Lamdba.

Also,would the Headroom dac be a good starting point or is there something cheaper that will suffice please ?

Thanks
 
Mar 15, 2006 at 8:58 PM Post #4 of 28

fjf

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Converts the digital sound files (you know, 1101011010010101 and so on) to an analog signal (current) that can be amplified and later converted to sound by your headphones.
 
Mar 15, 2006 at 11:40 PM Post #6 of 28

Bones13

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TWC - if your are using computer music with an external amp/headphone system, then you are using a soundcard in your computer, either built in to the motherboard, or an PCI card in your computer. There is a DAC in your computer converting the Digital bits to the analog waveform being sent to your amp.

Starting at the beginning though, your computer system is taking the MP3 files from the hard disk and using the MP3 algorithm, converting a highly compressed file format to a digital stream of music, typically 16 bit words with different data corresponding to that fraction of the music. Frequency is 44.1khz (this word length and frequency are the CD standard), so a lot of words are involved.

On this board, it seems to be standard that many folks either get an audiophile quality soundcard (Emu 0404 and up, with other manufacturers too), or choose to have the digital to analog conversion be performed outside the computer box, hoping for better function, and less interference from the computer goings on within the box. So external DACs are considered better than computer cards for this function. That being said, there are internal cards that are probably better than many lower priced external Dacs.

Consider also that your music will sound better with the use of "lossless" file formats. A lot of the music gets lost with the lower number MP3 encoding. As your music system gets better, you can tell the difference in a low quality Mp3, a better quality MP3, and a lossless format (FLAC, or the like).

Many, Many factors to consider from the source to the cans. As you improve the quality of parts of the equation, frequently you find fault with another. Oh the JOY of this forum. Actually, when you hit on a solid improvement, the music itself becomes the reward. Just beware the pain in your back pocket.
 
Mar 16, 2006 at 6:28 AM Post #7 of 28

twc5964

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Thanks for the info. All my mp3's are encoded from 320 to 440. I guess I should have stated a question maybe:how much better would a $400 dac supercede my Audigy 4 ?

I have a better understanding now. Thanks everyone.
 
Mar 16, 2006 at 9:00 AM Post #9 of 28

twc5964

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ok...I'm currently encoding certain music folders to wma lossless(quality 100,96khz,2ch,24 bit vbr..as high as my sound card allows) and comparing the same to wma pro 440.....man,I'm so far behind the times....I never paid attention to lossless encoding until now.

So,your impressed with the Dac-ah ? You have some Klaus components..lucky you ! I've got so much more research to do on Dacs etc.....thank god for this site .
 
Mar 17, 2006 at 2:40 AM Post #11 of 28

Svperstar

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Quote:

Originally Posted by XxATOLxX
It would stomp all over it. Sorry, I don't know much about DAC's in the $400 price range.


That may not be the case. I know the highest end Audigy 4 has a nice CS DAC on it. The same DAC is sold by Headroom for like $299.
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 12:43 PM Post #13 of 28

Bones13

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There are multiple DACs in the "pro-audio" lines of several manufacturers that will fit in your budget. You can even go see many of them at a local "Guitar Store" They even have one down here in Mobile, I I know they have some in B'ham. ProAudio typically is aimed at the performing, or recording musician, so the prices are usually pretty reasonable. Many posts here have touted these items.

I am currently using a Firestone Spitfire with separate Powersupply. About 350 from Firestone Audio, and you can "amp roll" the op amp inside to experiment with different sound signatures. Click on the "Firestone Audio" link near the top of the page. For even less you can get their USB only unit and not the power supply for a lot less.
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 3:00 PM Post #14 of 28

JaGWiRE

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Heh, DACS are the main reason I think people use thing such as pre-amps, and avoid cd-roms which are all binary (0's and 1's, which you can look up at howstuffworks to get a better grasp of) and use vinyl instead. That means less DACS are in the process, and some people believe you'll get better quality, or it is somewhat of a fact I believe.
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 8:52 PM Post #15 of 28

twc5964

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http://www.firestone.idv.tw/cgi-bin/...asp?pdtseqnm=4

http://www.firestone.idv.tw/cgi-bin/...asp?catseqnm=6

Bones,in your opinion,would this combo yield much improvement over my Audigy 4 soundcard ? hm.....I'm still trying to figure out how you connect from the computer/soundcard to the amp.As I stated before,I apologize for my absolute ignorance.

I guess i'm trying to justify spending $350 and if it is indeed a dramatic improvement.My wife is will have a catatonic fit if I order this in the near future.
 

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