An external DAC amp solution is becoming increasingly popular due to HiFi audio becoming more mainstream through streaming platforms like tidal. The advancement in technology has also allowed audio to flourish in other entertainment industries like gaming and movies.
This widespread availability of HiFi audio has made high-end audio equipment like the use of a DAC not only confined to a select group of people. Many new people are exploring this niche and talking about it giving it more exposure.
The newer people embracing the audio scene carry limited information regarding DAC amps so we see the question of what is a DAC amp frequently along with people asking do I need a DAC or amp for my audio setup. In this article, we are set to answer these two popular questions.
What is a DAC Amp?
A DAC and an amp are two completely different components that have their purpose. For us to understand what is a DAC Amp we have to look at these terms individually. So why not start with the DAC first.
A DAC abbreviation of Digital-To-Analog Convertor is responsible for converting the audio signal into a state which can be picked up by the human ear. Due to this reason, all electronic devices that handle audio have a built-in DAC. Even the pocket-sized smartphone you carry daily has a DAC.
The audio when digitally recorded on a computer is in the binary code language which the computer can recognize. The binary language contains a set of 1s and 0s so it cannot be processed by the human ear. For the human ear to process this digital signal it first has to be converted into an analog signal. It is the DAC that carries out this operation.
An amp short form for amplifier is exactly how it sounds. This is the component of electronic hardware that amplifies a small source signal and makes it bigger. For a clear understanding let us take a brief look at what a signal is. An audio signal is basically vibrations in the air at different frequencies that make up the sound. These frequencies have a different sound character. The purpose of the amp is to amplify the source frequencies without altering or distorting them.
A DAC amp is a piece of hardware that has both the DAC and the Amp built into a single unit. Having both the DAC and the amp is a single unit makes it convenient for the consumer as he now does not need to hunt for two separate solutions for his audio needs. Also, it saves up space on the desk and a single unit is also easy to use as compared to a stack.
Do You Need a DAC or Amp?
Most manufacturers do not put enough effort into their stock audio solutions whether it may be for a mobile phone or a computer. This affects HiFi audio and limits its true potential therefore if you are remotely serious about your audio getting an external DAC or amp is a worthwhile investment.
The DAC will not only improve the sound quality and unlock the true potential of the audio but it will also help in reducing any distortion or interruption in the audio signal. This is because the internal DAC in your smartphone or computer is bound to face some distortion due to the other components in its vicinity. A standalone DAC does not have this issue because there is nothing else going on besides audio decoding.
An amp is also a requirement if you want to use audiophile headphones or some other high-end audio gear. The computer and phone does not have enough power to drive these high-end headphones. If such headphone is paired with a computer the volume of the sound will be low and the audio will lack clarity. Therefore, investing in an amp is a great idea if you finally want to ditch your earbuds and start using something HiFi.
DAC or amps are also getting increasingly cheaper. Lately finding a solid DAC or an amp for a bargain price is possible. Therefore, we do believe that if you are an avid music listener or you want a better audio experience during gaming or media entertainment give an external DAC or amp a chance. Start with the more budget-friendly options and then if you like the concept move onto something better.