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Massdrop 101: What Is A DAC?
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>>By storing all of the bits that make up a file in binary, this process
>>drastically reduces the amount of space that files take up, as well
>>as the cost of distributing them.
I understand the need for simplification, but I feel this paragraph should have at least mentioned that digital storage continues to evolve and miniaturize, while analog storage has effectively reached its limits.
>>A stand-alone DAC offers more detail, better power supply, and a cleaner,
>>more pleasing sound signature than the miniature versions built into most devices
It should be noted that most built-in dacs on cheap devices are more of a convenience feature. However, some may in fact be quite good so a stand-along dac may not necessarily be an upgrade. External dacs may in fact have more options and features that are desirable however, as opposed to what you're "stuck" with on the built-in.
>>A high-end DAC is designed to more accurately reproduce uncompressed files
Not quite true, though I don't think that was your intent. Compressed formats will be uncompressed before being sent to the dac. Lossy formats however will still be missing some data. The dac's performance will be equally accurate with any of them *relative* to the quality of the data you feed it.