Most people perceive the sound reproduced by a laptop, smartphone, headphone, or speaker system as the final finished product. But this is not so, the sound can make it truly “alive”, rich and beautiful. However before talking about improving the sound, it is worthwhile to deal with the technical side of the issue. The necessary two devices responsible for sound quality are the DAC and amplifier.
What DAC is doing?
The DAC is a device that converts a digital signal into analog sound. Now all audio files are in digital form, but headphones reproduce sound from an analog signal. And for sound reproduction, a digital signal must be converted to analog. It can occur in sound cards, in players, in receivers, or mp3 players, because all these devices just have a built-in DAC chip.
The quality of the analog audio signal received at the output depends both on the DAC chip used and on other technologies involved in the process. In other words, we can say that the DAC is the “brain” of any audio path. So, the sound of the conditional best DAC under $200 will be radically different from Hi-END devices due to the difference in absolutely all components.
DACs are convenient in that they can be connected to any device with a digital output, and most DACs can also be connected via USB. Acquiring a high-quality external DAC can significantly improve the sound quality of your system.
Why do you need an amplifier?
Many are interested in why separate headphone amplifiers are needed. Headphones are now able to work with most devices since they already include an amplifying part before going to the headphones.
The main objective of the amplifier is to increase the detail and atmosphere of sound by increasing the current strength in the amplifier. This factor plays an important role when listening to music, since a large amount of material in the compositions is recorded at a very low volume level and you can normally hear them only with the help of an amplifier. Buying a separate amplifier is often a more justifiable investment than changing headphones to more advanced ones.
Based on the foregoing, the amplifier part is a logical continuation of the analog part of the DAC. And in this case, the presence of these two devices is necessary for enjoying high-quality music.