What’s Difference Between DACs and Amps?
DACs are often confused with amps and vice versa. In reality, the two components play completely different roles in your sound system. As a leading speakers reviews site, Speakers Daily has helped countless people find the right DACs and amps for their system. In this article, we explain the difference between DACs and amps and eliminate the confusion once and for all.
So without further ado, let’s learn the functions of DACs and amps to understand the difference.
What Do DACs Do?
Sound is a wave that travels through the air. Speakers produce sound by vibrating a membrane called a diaphragm, which produces waves in the air. Different sounds are produced by different patterns of movement of the diaphragm. When you play music, an electronic wave is sent to the speaker, telling it how to vibrate to create the right sound. This electronic wave is called an analog signal.
The problem is that digital devices can’t store electronic waves or analog signals. Music in digital devices is stored in a digital format with 1’s and 0’s that only other digital devices can use. A Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) converts digital information into analog electronic waves that speakers can use to produce sound.
Related: Best DACs Under 100
What Do Amps Do?
Amps “amplify” or increase the power of the signal. Once a DAC converts a digital signal into an electronic wave, amps use that signal as input and increase the amplitude of all the frequencies. This makes the diaphragm vibrate with more power and increases sound volume.
Amp can also be used to control different aspects of the sound produced. For example, if you want more bass, you can use an amp to amplify the low frequencies in the audio and feed the amplified channel to a subwoofer. Some DACs are also capable of amplifying the analog signal they produce. These are called DAC Amp combos.
Related: 8 Best DAC Amp Combo
Our Favorite DACs and Amps
AudioQuest DragonFly is the most impressive USB DAC we’ve found. This DAC would be ideal for most people. If you’re on a budget, the EarStudio ES100 will give you the best value for your money. This DAC also has an amp. If you only want a powerful amp, the Behringer MICROAMP HA400 Amplifier will not disappoint you.
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