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Audio Files: Digital-to-Analog Converters

Making your hi-fi or headphones sound heavenly

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AudioEngine D2
AudioEngine D3
Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS
Jolida Glass FX Tube DAC III
MusicalFidelity V90-DAC
Pro-Ject Stream Box RS

Upgrading your hi-fi system usually requires some expertise. You have to put your new speakers in just the right places, position your phono cartridge within 1 mm or so, and dig deep into onscreen menu systems to get your audio/video receiver properly configured. But there is an upgrade you can make that’s as simple as plugging in one extra box: adding a separate digital-to-analog converter.

A digital-to-analog converter, or DAC, converts digital audio signals from downloaded or streamed files, or from CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, into analog audio signals that can be amplified and played through speakers. Digital-to-analog converters are built into computers, smartphones, tablets and CD/DVD players, but in most cases the DAC is a generic chip chosen for its low cost rather than its high performance.

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Originally Published