Beginner's Guide

Why do I need a DAC?

A DAC, or Digital-to-Analog Converter, is essential for high-quality audio playback. When you listen to digital music, the audio signal is stored as a series of 0s and 1s, which is ideal for storage and transmission but not ideal for directly driving speakers or headphones. In today's video, we are going to try and explain to you in very simple layman's non-technical language what a DAC does and why you should get one.


Hi guys this is Raghav here from headphone Zone. In today's video I'm going totry and explain to you in very simple layman's non-technical language what aDAC does and why you should get one. 

Why do I need a DAC? 

The music we listen to in today's day and age in all its forms be it on MP3 or ona streaming platform is all stored in digital formats in zeros and ones. The zerosand ones carry the information about what the music file contains, the soundsand the instruments, everything. Now this was recorded in a studio by the artistand exported in a digital format for the convenience that digital files allow us intransferring information all around the world very conveniently over theinternet. The only thing is that our ears and our headphones don't understanddigital formats, they understand an analog format in the form of a waveformthat the headphone plays into our ear canal, reaching our eardrum and finallygiving the brain the information it needs to understand the music you'relistening to. So at some point of time between the file and the headphone thisdigital information needs to change to an analog format and that's where a DACor a Digital to Analog Converter comes into place. Now all smartphones andlaptops of today's generation, every one of them comes along with an inbuiltDAC something that you can plug a 3.5 mm jack to and listen to music veryconveniently. The only problem is that the DAC in built into the smartphone andthe laptop is almost always without exception of a very very low quality, thatdoes not sound very nice especially if you're listening to music on high qualityheadphones. The DAC that is built into the smartphone or your laptop does aperfectly fine job when you're streaming music in low quality and listening to iton a cheap pair of earbuds but the minute you start listening to music at highquality and higher resolutions and with a nice serious pair of headphones you'llfind that you need to get yourself something better that does a better job ofreproducing the original waveform that the artist created from the zeros andones which are stored in the file, be it streamed on Spotify or YouTube or AppleMusic or on an MP3 file that you may be listening to. Good DACs take a certain amount of assumptions and calculations which ultimately take that digitalinformation and produce a much more lifelike sound wave that it's transmittingfrom the 3.5 mm output. A good DAC can make the music sound more detailed,more lifelike and bring out a lot of nuance in the music that you may not haveotherwise heard. This only matters if you've got a nice headphone and believeme if you're watching this video, you probably already have one. Gettingyourself a dedicated digital to analog converter is just the easiest thing in theworld for you to do to improve the sound quality and believe me once you'veheard what a DAC is capable of, you're not going to go back to listening tomusic without one.