Integrated DAC for digital input headphones
Mar 9, 2013 at 4:31 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 2


New Head-Fier
Mar 9, 2013
I would consider myself a newbie to audio, and this has been bothering me after poor and dead cables. I started browsing around here to look for a USB Audio card to integrate into my cans and had to ask this.
Microchips and components are getting cheaper and cheaper. Can someone explain to me why we're in the 21st century and yet from device to headphones is an analogue signal? Why aren't cans with a built-in DAC the standard? The average device the average person will use processes sound as a digital signal. Most people do not need analogue capable headphones. So why are we still using an analogue signal across the worst possible cable-choice of any setup? A cable that will be under extra duress compared to most other cables and thus wear out faster. We've got dollar-store HDMI cables that can do full 1080 resolution video streaming, yet for our headphones we must have silver cables forged under a full moon with the blood of a virgin OR annoyingly oversized if we don't want to lose sound quality because it's still analogue. Why not the cheap, thick wiring between the integrated DAC and the actual speakers as an unflexable connection for the analogue signal, and then a digital signal over the exposed and abused cable to the device? No more extra worrying about damaging analogue cables, or even about the quality of the cable. If you don't like the standard DAC, replace it with a better one.
Mar 9, 2013 at 9:40 AM Post #2 of 2


100+ Head-Fier
Nov 24, 2012
Most of the cable talk here is bunk. Swapping out cables shouldn't make a difference to anything other than length and flexibility. The thickness requirements of a cable (gauge) is only dependent on its length.

Having a built-in DAC means having a built-in amplifier too, and all of that needs to be powered somehow. I don't know about you, but any time I've tried headphones that have an integrated DAC & Amplifier (digital wireless headphones like the Sennheiser RS180/RS220 for example) I thought they sounded terrible with high levels of background noise and just generally bad audio quality. And it all adds weight to the headphones too, and most of the higher-end headphones are already too heavy.

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