What is a DAC amplifier

Digital to analog - converters and converters make it possible

Be it the system inherited from your father from the 1980s or a completely new analog hi-fi system - sooner or later you will want to play digital signals with it. Sources can be, for example, the MP3 player or the television, the Blu-ray player or the game console. It doesn't matter which of these devices you want to connect to your analog hi-fi system: their digital signal won't get you anywhere. This can be remedied by a digital-to-analog converter or converter that converts the digital audio signal from any source into an analog one.

Why is it still analog at all?

We have long since arrived in the digital age. We receive television digitally, and music is also mostly stored digitally. While there are hardly any reasons to stick to the analogue era in television, there are far more weighty arguments against digital music in the hi-fi sector. Without wanting to rekindle the never-ending discussion about digital or purely analog systems, one can say that at least both parties have their arguments. There are definitely good reasons to hold on to your analog equipment: On the one hand, of course, because a good system has a long service life and can therefore remain in operation for a long time. On the other hand, you might want to stick to the sound of your analog components out of conviction.

Why do you need an audio converter?

Whether digital-to-analog converter (D / A converter), audio converter or DAC (digital to analog converter): In principle, you need one Converter to bring a digital signal to an analog device.

Incidentally, many modern amplifiers and AV receivers already have a built-in DAC. The same applies to MP3 players, CD players and the like and even to most televisions. Because without the audio converter, output via a conventional 3.5 mm headphone connection (analog) would not be possible. After all, the audio signal is received and processed digitally. It only has to be output in the case of a headphone connection.

But if you want really good sound results, you'd better not connect these devices to the headphone jack. The built-in audio converters rarely deliver good results. In contrast to a digital connection, for example the usual TOSLINK connection. Here, the maximum possible is extracted from the digital player. Anyone who wants to supply a multi-channel system with it has to resort to the digital interface anyway. A Flat screen TV plus analog hi-fi system is one of the main uses of the small digital-to-analog converter.

Like to play everything: loudspeakers from Teufel

Plug and Play - the simple digital-to-analog converter

In the hi-fi world you will often come across products that serve the same purpose, but are worlds apart in terms of price. The situation is no different for audio converters. They range in price from a paltry 20 euros to a hefty 2,000 euros and much more. But let's start at the lower end first. Almost all of the smaller DACs come as handy plastic box therefore, comparable to this model. The corresponding audio connections are located on the front and rear. Some of the models also have a USB port, so you can connect them to your computer, where they then serve as an external sound card.

Pure USB DACs for computers are also available, which are then only the size of a USB stick and improve playback via your tried and tested headphones.

A volume control on the converter is certainly advantageous, but is not found on all entry-level DACs. Most devices are limited to the basic function: convert digital signals into analog signals. They can do that quite passably, but they usually don't do more than that. This makes them ideal for uncomplicated use between television and hi-fi system, since the television signal only delivers mediocre audio signals anyway.

An enrichment - digital-to-analog converter at HiFi level

However, if you want to convert your digital signal into the best possible analog signal, you won't get very far with such a small plastic box. As with many of the audio converters already built into the devices (amplifiers, CD players, etc.), the technology involved is usually very poor.

A really high-quality DAC, on the other hand, can be a real asset to your hi-fi system. Although such devices cost significantly more, they can also be a dusty one Bring purely analog hi-fi systems back up to date quickly. Let's take the Audio Research Reference DAC as an example, which costs about the same as a small car, but lives up to its name and is the absolute reference in this area.

The device is not just a digital-to-analog converter, but also a preamplifier that provides all possible connections for listening to digital music. The Reference DAC can connect to the Internet wirelessly, receive Internet radio, has an optical and a coaxial S / PDIF input and three USB ports: one for the computer, one specially designed for iPod / iPhone / iPad and one Front input for USB sticks. According to the testers from Connect.de and Hifitest.de, it converts digital signals into analog signals like no other.

Although such a device is outside of most budget limits, it is a good contrast to the simple DACs. Of course, the whole thing is also a little less reference-heavy for far less money. An example is the Vincent DAC-7, which was also very well rated - here is a test report.

Teufel will help you retrofit your tried and tested system

  • ▶ Teufel Connector: Staying up to date with the latest technology can be a challenge. And with expensive purchases such as a hi-fi system, you will hardly want to have a replacement every three years. In order to still enjoy all the advantages of modern technology, we enable you to connect your system to the Internet with the connector and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of music streaming via Raumfeld. By the way: The connector even has an integrated high-end D / A converter.
  • ▶ Bluetooth USB adapter: Our handy Bluetooth receiver is small but nice. It makes your system Bluetooth-enabled. You can connect your smartphone to the receiver and play your playlist directly through the system.

Further accessories from Teufel

Conclusion: decide on a case-by-case basis

  • The iPod should be quickly connected to the analog hi-fi system? Simply plug in the jack and you're done - you don't have to worry about a digital-to-analog converter.
  • The new television should be connected to the analog system? Then the TV will only output a digital signal and you will need a converter - but a cheap DAC will do just fine.
  • If, on the other hand, you want to combine all the advantages of the analog and digital hi-fi world, you need a semi-professional converter. Otherwise the sound quality can suffer greatly.
  • Devices such as the Reference DAC from Audio Research manage to significantly enhance the digital signal before it is forwarded in analogue - but the whole thing must be worth a few thousand euros to you.