How a High Resolution DAC can Improve your audio experience
The digital to analogue converter
The answer is that the digital “1s” and “0s” are converted into an analogue signal by a digital to analogue converter, or DAC. You can think of a DAC as a translator that’s built into every device that can play digital music files, including smartphones, laptops, MP3 and CD players.
The better the DAC “translation” is, the more nuanced and ‘warm’ the music is going to sound. An external DAC sounds better than the one in your laptop because its components reproduce the original music’s analogue sound wave more faithfully.
Resolution and sample rate
The information on a CD is sampled at 44.1kHz and stored at 16-bit resolution. That means the original sound is sampled (or captured) 44,100 times per second and each of these samples is represented by 16 bits of information.
Many external DACs up-sample and in this way improve audio quality because the dynamic range of the sound is improved. Also, if the sampling rate is 192kHz, or 192,000 times per second and it’s stored at 24-bit resolution, then you need an external DAC to reproduce that faithfully. The sound quality differences include a wider frequency response and higher dynamic range.
A better DAC converter for better music
At the other end of the spectrum, the Quad Platinum DMP is a digital playback centre that features 24-bit 192kHz conversion and allows you to connect all your digital music players, including your computer. So when you download a high-resolution sound file or play a DSD256 recording, you know it’s going to be faithfully reproduced. Without an external DAC, that same file would be reproduced using 16-bit/44.1kHz sampling.
An external DAC lifts your hi-fi system out of the ordinary world of 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution into a new realm of sound appreciation.