Understanding USB DAC/AMPs

jonnyyyl

Honorable
Nov 16, 2013
3
0
10,510
0
I have come across the Fiio E10, did some basic research about USB DAC/AMPs. I get the basic reasoning why DAC can be a good option.

However, upon further research, I reached a bottleneck. I learnt that there's quite a few types of such products, titled mainly: a) DAC/AMPs for desktops purposes (some overlaps with b), b) DAC/AMPs for portable devices, c) standalone DACs, and d) standalone Amps.

Whichever type, the output can mainly be categorized into 2 types: 1) headphones, and 2) powered speakers that do not use 3.5mm jack (eg. speakers made for old school analog CD players, but use use optical, corxial cables, or the colored ones).

Am I correct so far?

This brings me to 3.5mm computer speakers, like the Harmon Kardon Soundsticks. What about them?

Do these 3.5mm computer speakers benefit from a DAC/AMP for desktops?? What should the setup look like? Say the popular Fiio E10 or Audioengine D1 or nuForce?

USB > DAC/AMP > out with the 3.5mm jack or the line out in the back??

Or is a setup with portable DAC/AMP make more sense? Say the Fiio

3.5mm to 3.5mm from desktop to DAC/AMP > portable DAC/AMP > 3.5mm to speaker?

I am feeling a bit confused here.

Thanks.
 
Portable USB DACs can be used with headphones or to drive powered speakers. The amount of power is limited to driving headphones and also by the USB buss that powers the DAC. If you want to use passive speakers you need some kind of amplifier to do that. There are integrated amps that have internal DACs. As the quality goes up each function becomes separated for easier upgrade and to be able to mix and match. How you do this will depend a lot on your budget? The HK sticks are not good enough to go to this much expense.
 
Portable USB DACs can be used with headphones or to drive powered speakers. The amount of power is limited to driving headphones and also by the USB buss that powers the DAC. If you want to use passive speakers you need some kind of amplifier to do that. There are integrated amps that have internal DACs. As the quality goes up each function becomes separated for easier upgrade and to be able to mix and match. How you do this will depend a lot on your budget? The HK sticks are not good enough to go to this much expense.
 

jonnyyyl

Honorable
Nov 16, 2013
3
0
10,510
0


Thanks americanaudiophile.
hmm, I have come to accept my understanding of this whole audio/USB DAC thing is clearly below illiterate. Is there an online systematic guide with a mindmap/diagram of how the entire set up works? types of speakers with various plugs? I have come across one or two guides, but it is just a page full of jargon with no systematic explanation of what goes to where etc. Even if I were to look for one, I wouldn't know what I am looking for. I'd like to follow through and learn more on this subject.

I have been given an E10 as a gift over Christmas but haven't got around to reading about it.
I know this sounds kinda stupid. I (naively) thought that I could just plug the my sticks' 3.5mm jack into the E10...
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
1 Audio 8
G Audio 1
H Audio 3
B Audio 1
K Audio 1
A Audio 1
C Audio 2
G Audio 5
S Audio 2
M Audio 1
T Audio 6
Michael_13 Audio 3
G Audio 5
G Audio 2
X Audio 1
M Audio 1
B Audio 10
AngryGoldfish Audio 4
L Audio 6
A Audio 1

ASK THE COMMUNITY