DACs or Digital-to-Analog Converters do precisely what the name suggests. They convert digital signals to analog signals. DACs are essential to modern sound systems. If your sound system can play digital media, it has a DAC inside it.
In this article, we talk about audio digital-to-analog converters, their role in sound systems, and how they work. We also help you choose the best DACs for you. Let’s start with understanding what digital and analog mean precisely.
What Are Digital Signals?
Digital signals are audio information stored in a digital format. The information is stored as 1s and 0s on a disk or any other digital storage device. Almost all audio today is stored in digital formats. Digital signals travel through wires as square waves of voltage, with highs indicating 1s and lows indicating 0s. Only other digital devices can read and interpret digital signals.
What Are Analog Signals?
Analog audio signals travel through wires with a continuous variation of voltage. Instead of square waves, the waves can have any shape or amplitude. You’re playing analog signals if you play music from a cassette or a vinyl record.
Why You Need DACs
Audio signals are mostly stored in digital format today. If you have an album downloaded on your computer, it’s saved in digital form. Audio for video games, Netflix, Spotify, and other sources is also all digital. However, speakers work by vibrating according to the frequency and amplitude of the signal they receive. They need analog signals to produce the intended sound.
DACs are used in all digital music players, portable speakers, phones, computers, and any other digital devices capable of playing music. DACs convert easily stored digital signals to the analog language of speakers.
What to Look For in DACs
DACs are complex devices that use various electronics architectures to improve features such as maximum sampling frequency sound resolution. Even the best DACs under $100 are nowhere near the quality of the best DACs under $200. If you’re a professional musician, Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface is DAC we recommend.
One of the main indicators of quality is the sampling rate. It determines exactly how much information the DAC can process at a time. FiiO Portable Headphones Amps have an impressive sampling rate of up to 384kHz/32 bit. If you’re looking for something smaller, AudioQuest DragonFly DAC is an excellent choice.
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