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  #1  
Old 09-03-2012, 07:51 AM
Celador Celador is offline
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Default Do external DAC improve the sound?

Okay, this may not 100% fit into this sub forum, but I think this is still the best place to post my question: What do you think of adding an external DAC to your DAP? There are many opinions out there, going from "Each DAC sounds the same" to "An expensive DAP transports the sound quality into a new dimension". To be honest, the first fraction seems to have the better arguments in my opinion. But something in my mind is still wondering, if it's really only a placebo thing.
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Old 09-03-2012, 08:02 AM
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Oh don't bother with that overpriced crap.
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Old 09-03-2012, 09:27 AM
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Do some research and I think you’ll fine that with most DAPs you can’t really bypass the internal DAC so it’s a waste of money. The older iRiver iHP-120/140 DAC can be bypassed by using its optical out and feed it to a DAC/amp but they're hard to find and expensive for a used product. Also I believe you can bypass the DAC on some (not all) ipods but I’m not 100% sure which ones. There's also some companies that will mod it for you but that's really expensive and then imagine carrying a DAP, DAC/Amp or 3 devices with you, not too portable IMHO. There are also some of those overly priced DAPs but they have other issues with them, not to mention the ridiculously high price tag. On the other hand an external DAC does improve sound on PCs or laptops that have crappy onboard sound cards and many can bypass the internal DAC via USB or firewire.

You can use RMAA as I did to test your sound card and find out for sure if you need one. You'll need to have both in/out connections on your current sound card to do the test and it will provide you a very nice analysis. A little ABX'ing wouldn't hurt either, you many not need all this added expense.
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Old 09-03-2012, 09:45 AM
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Celador...first question in my mind...what DAP do you have (or are thinking about) that you think a DAC will help?

My first answer...get a Sansa Clip ZIP or Clip+, and you won't need a DAC. Spend the rest of your money on better earphones.

Steve
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Old 09-03-2012, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeZ5 View Post
Celador...first question in my mind...what DAP do you have (or are thinking about) that you think a DAC will help?

My first answer...get a Sansa Clip ZIP or Clip+, and you won't need a DAC. Spend the rest of your money on better earphones.

Steve
Good point, while the Clip may not be for everyone because of size and screen size. I am a huge advocate of spending the most on the best headphones/IEMs you can afford (within reason) and this way you will note the best improvement.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:13 AM
Celador Celador is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeZ5 View Post
Celador...first question in my mind...what DAP do you have (or are thinking about) that you think a DAC will help?
I use an iPhone 4 with Sennheiser IE8. There are some external DAC solutions for iDevices like the iStreamer or the Fostex HP-P1. BUT my question is rather a theoretical one than a practical one . So I am not planning to buy a DAC, I am asking just out of interest. It's really curious that there are some people who see it as a basic fact that most of the build-in DACs are bad and an external DAC would do a lot in terms of SQ and other sources proof that there cannot be a siginificant difference between DACs (Jitter is not hearable etc.). And not all people of the first fraction are voodoo people, some of them are rather down-to-earth.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:31 AM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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The DAC in the newer iDevices is pretty good, as far as I am concerned. There are the "true believers" out there that think the Fostex device or the Cypher Labs Algorythm Solo device make a big difference, but without having heard them, I am rather skeptical. Might there be a noticeable difference? Maybe so....but when you factor in what they charge for those gadgets, it's most assuredly not worth it.

A line-out connection to a separate amplifier, I could see....(and I have done so more than once). An external DAC for my portable DAP? Not happening in my house.
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:35 AM
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Built in DAC's in computers are bad in my experience, but not in a good DAP.

I hadn't thought about the HRT tbh - I have a (at home) HRT DAC and it does sound better than my DAP as far as I can tell. (I have used my DAP plugged into my amp at home just for kicks) I'm pretty sure with IEM's the difference will be little to none however and I probably would not bother.

I'm not a voodoo person, but there are minor differences between DAC's IMO. Unfortunately they are often exaggerated to a ridiculous extent.
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