What is a DAC? Why Do You Need It?

A DAC can open up many new avenues when it comes to audio file reproduction. Plus, when you have a DAC in your home or on your computer, you’ll notice you hear more things which makes it easy for anyone to add more detail and add dimension in their own sound effects.

In this post, we’ll break down exactly what a DAC is and how you can maximize its capabilities in your sound card or device.

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What is a DAC?

A DAC is an acronym for Digital to Analog Converter. The basic goal of the DAC is to take digital sound signals and convert them into an analog output which can then be converted back to a digital signal by your sound card. The signal at the end is then sent through your speakers or headphone output.

Most people think that a DAC is only used for digital audio playback, but that’s not true. It can actually be used with both analog and digital connections. For example, if you’re connected to an iPod or PC, then your DAC will be used for digital audio playback to the device. You can then plug your speakers into your DAC and hear your songs in their original form.

Most high-end sound cards have a built-in DAC so the sound card manufacturer has thought about this issue. However, if your PC doesn’t have a built-in DAC, it’s not impossible to use a standard headphone output with a good quality USB DAC for its analog output. It just takes some know-how on how to do this.

Uses of DAC:

When it comes to audio playback, the DAC allows you to listen to high quality audio on high quality devices easily. With the low cost of digital music, it’s become more popular than ever to have a huge library of music stored on your computer or external storage devices.

If you’re using an MP3 player which has a headphone jack, then just plug your headphones into the 3.5mm jack. You can also connect your device to an amplifier or receiver which has a digital output so it can send the signal to the speakers.

One great thing about DACs is that you can actually take your music with you on any device since it’s all digital. This way, you don’t have to worry about cell phones, iPods and computers not having a high enough quality audio output. All you need is a DAC so it will convert everything for your devices.

Do I need a DAC?

When you have a DAC, then your audio output can be transformed into high quality digital files that you can then listen to on any device. Plus, the DAC is also able to convert the analog output from your headphones or speakers so you can listen to superior sound regardless of what device you’re using.

With a DAC, you don’t have to worry about cracking your computer or getting a computer with a crappy sound card for your friends. It also makes headphone use much easier since the cable is only two wires – which keeps things simple and clutter-free.

No matter what type of sound card or device you use, you can connect your DAC with the headphones or speakers. It’s all about knowing how to make it work. But, once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize it’s actually pretty easy!

So why not go ahead and invest in yourself with a DAC? Remember, many high-end sound cards come with a built-in DAC for easy use. It’s like owning a car which has a driver’s seat and steering wheel. Saving time and hassle by removing all that extra equipment makes it much easier to achieve your goal of experiencing superior audio.

And since you already have the DAC, then there’s no reason not to use it! Plus, once you start using it, you’ll be hooked on the quality and detail of your recordings and movies.

Advantages of having DAC:

With a DAC, you’ll notice your audio quality improves by quite a bit. It’s easy to tell the difference between a DAC and regular audio output because it makes everything clearer, crisper and easier to understand.

Plus, there are built-in noise filters which remove any unwanted background sounds  that you don’t want to hear.

You also won’t be limited by what device you can use since everything can be sent through the DAC.


As you can see, a DAC is capable of transforming your sound quality with just a small investment. And since they’re so versatile, they’re great to have on hand no matter what device you have.

Some of the best DACs are fairly affordable. Plus, many of them can be used with most devices so you won’t need to buy new equipment just for the sake of higher quality audio. You can start off by getting a cheap DAC with a USB output so you can plug in your iPod or PSP and enjoy your favorite songs on your computer.


Q: How to choose the perfect DAC for your need?

A: A class A analog-digital converter is for those users who are really looking for the best sound quality. … A class B converter is enough for most fans. In general,a class B would be the best option in terms of quality/price. … Finally,class C devices are better suited to those users accustomed to the portable world. …

Q: Do you need a DAC with a headphone amp?

A: No. Do not buy a DAC for Bluetooth headphones, as they will already have a DAC chip inside to handle converting the digital signal to an analog one to send to the headphone’s drivers. A second DAC would be redundant. I have a Project turntable, a 40 year old Pioneer integrated amp and 50 year old KLH speakers.

Q: How much difference does a good DAC make?

A: Think of it like your music is a picture. An amp will make the reds redder, blacks blacker, etc. Increased saturation. A DAC will bring the image more into focus. You’ll see more blades of grass, more texture on the skin. The two work together to get you more out of the image than what your source can give you on its own, but in different ways.

Q: Does a DAC make a giant difference?

A: Yes, a DAC can and will make a huge difference. What colors the sound the most is its output stage….whatever discrete or IC based. Here’s the result of some real world experiments: http://forum.rightmark.org/topic.cgi?id=4:504-3