The device responsible for transforming the digital data into analog audio is the DAC or Digital-to-Analog Converter. So, whenever you hear some digital recordings you are practically listening to analog signal converted using a DAC.

However, although they do the same function, not all DACs are the same. The DAC built into your smartphone is a basic one and it really canโ€™t be compared to external DACs. The sound produced by it is acceptable for a good conversation but it simply isnโ€™t good enough for music recordings.

Do you really need a DAC?

All the benefits of digital audio are given to us thanks to the DAC. If you are interested on how the DAC works here is a brief explanation.

During the recording process in the studio, the microphone collects all the audio signals sent from all the instruments and vocals and it picks them up as analog audio.

Thanks to the DAC this analog audio signal is being converted and stored as digital audio. The entire process is conducted with the recording equipment and the DAC.

In the playback process the DAC will decode the digital signal back into analog and it sends it to the amplifier which delivers the music to your listening device โ€“ a speaker or headphones.

If you are planning to use your sound card for this process we highly recommend to invest in an external DAC because it will result in much higher sound quality and you can make sure that you are getting real value for the money invested. If you want to learn more and check some actual products, you can get some valuable info about the best DAC/AMP combos from this article.

Types of external DAC

Whichever listening setup you choose; an external DAC will do the job perfectly well and the difference in sound quality will be noticeable. You just need to take care of the audio source and type of connections.

  • If your source is a computer an USB DAC will do the job perfectly well. All you need to do is to connect it to one of the available ports. After that attach a cable to the adequate input on the DAC.
  • If your audio source is a tablet or smartphone then you will need an adaptor which will make the USB connection possible. A portable DAC in this case will be a great option.
  • In case your audio source is a home stereo system you will have nothing to worry about the connections. These systems usually have the largest number of connection options. Connecting your DAC to the system will be very easy and simple and you will have great sound in no time.

An external DAC will give a boost to most devices but it is also easy to get audio equipment with integrated DAC. Simply make a quick search and see whether the equipment you already have or plan to buy has an internal DAC as well.

You simply canโ€™t go wrong with a DAC

Our final goal is an excellent sound and having a quality DAC will be of great help you complete this goal. Any of the options we have mentioned here will result in better sound no matter what audio source you are using. The only thing you need to do is to get the best DAC for you, plug it in, and get ready for a better listening experience. So, investing in a high-quality DAC will be a great upgrade to your current audio system. You just have to find the one that fits your needs and your budget.