Using an external DAC for home MP3 listening- How necessary is it?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by skhan007, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. skhan007

    skhan007 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,123
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2007
    Location:
    NoVA
    Question for you guys- If I'm doing most of my listening with an iphone or ipod, using itunes and Spotify, how necessary is the external DAC, like a Dragonfly or an Apogee One? I recognize the caliber of these products as being dedicated external sources for creating this conversion and what's likely built into my iphone or ipod is minimalist by comparison, but can you guys really notice and appreciate the difference in sound quality? I mean, tweaking the EQ on Spotify is really nice, so I'm curious if a DAC is appreciably better?
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  2. Maltese Fan

    Maltese Fan Member

    Messages:
    2,379
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    If your listening to MP3's I wouldn't be concerned about conversion too much.
     
    NicDo, nondeplume, Lance and 2 others like this.
  3. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

    Messages:
    20,241
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    It is not necessary.

    There's this idea that Apple uses a crappy DAC in the iPhone, which is odd.
    DAC's are cheap, particularly if you're ordering millions and millions of them, unlike whatever standalone box you're considering as a potential "upgrade".
     
  4. twoheadedboy

    twoheadedboy Member

    Messages:
    9,108
    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    It isn't necessary. However, it is certainly true that the DAC in my Focusrite interface sounds better than the one in my laptop.
     
    dingdongditch likes this.
  5. blues bird

    blues bird Supporting Member

    Messages:
    800
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Electric Ladyland
    If you are seroius about music you should stop listing to mp3 in the first place. There is really no need to listen to lossy compressed audio formats these days.
     
  6. mute

    mute Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Location:
    Norway
    The principle of **** in **** out applies: A DAC cannot make the source better than it is (and unfortunately neither can it fix a brickwalled cd quality source).
    I do not know the quality of the DAC in Iphone, or other mobiles for that matter, but I would be very surprised if they have high quality.
    Also earbuds..... do yourself a favor and listen to a good home audio system with at least cd quality and a source that is not brickwalled to the hilt.
     
    NicDo, BUK, Papanate and 1 other person like this.
  7. skhan007

    skhan007 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,123
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2007
    Location:
    NoVA
    I agree with these posts. On occasion, when time permits and the stars align, I actually enjoy listening to music on the turntable. However, these occasions are less and less frequent. I find that overwhelmingly, I'm listening to digital formats. Makes sense about a DAC not being able to compensate for a poor source.
     
    johan likes this.
  8. mikebat

    mikebat Member

    Messages:
    8,678
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Location:
    It's cold outside.
    We are unfortunately conditioned to listen to music in compromised ways. In these ways, with the compressed file formats in question, a nice DAC is more or less throwing your money out the window.

    A nice DAC is worthwhile in a studio environment, listening to high definition tracks, and in a dedicated music listen space/set up with high definition tracks.
     
  9. uraniumwilly

    uraniumwilly Member

    Messages:
    559
    Joined:
    May 26, 2016
    Location:
    Berkeley
    The Apogee Groove i use on my laptop makes a huge difference for the other investment: my powered speakers.
     
  10. MickeyJi

    MickeyJi Member

    Messages:
    1,562
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    I'd get the best speakers and earbuds/phones I could afford and only use lossless files first before worrying about a better DAC!
     
  11. cugel

    cugel Member

    Messages:
    4,199
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Location:
    eugene oregon
    mp3s are like a low resolution image file. zoom in on a 200x200 pixel image then compare that to a megapixel image. thats what an mp3 is: low low on the information scale. why bother with a converter? turd polishing IMHO. i use them for working out and thats it
     
  12. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    17,264
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I agree with mute.

    IMO if you want to improve your listening experience - get better speakers
    and don't use headphones. With standard 128 kbps 44.1K MP3s you will
    hear all the information available - but you won't 'improve' the sound very
    much. The standard 128 kbps MP3 will still sound lifeless and flat - but you
    will be able to amplify the bass and treble more which gives the impression of
    more energy.

    An improved audio convertor like the Apogee will not change much if you continue
    to listen on ear buds or headphones.
     
  13. soulohio

    soulohio Member

    Messages:
    11,025
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Location:
    vin drin dop
    best format digital file> PreSonus USB AudioBox > JBL LSR305

    that is the shite mates
     
  14. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Messages:
    18,117
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Get yourself a FiiO E9.
    The MP3 story is well told here:
     
  15. abergdahl

    abergdahl Member

    Messages:
    3,416
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2002
    Location:
    Stockholm; Sweden
    I would say that a DAC is MUCH more important than losless.. mine make ALL music in all formats A LOT better. I use a Chord Mojo:
    http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/product/mojo/
    Anyone saying that it will not make a difference with ordinary iTunes mp3 downloads or streaming is just plain wrong, or deaf.. at least wrong. even makes a HUGE difference with $30 earphones, mp3, $30 phones with mojo sounds better that, lossless and $300 phones..
    So it is NOT like just zooming in or something like that, it is also an amp so obviously you get a lot more energy into the music, dynamics is hugely improved..
    Of course if the source is bad, meaning that it is mastered i a bad way, there is not anything that can save it.. but a Mojo DAC will make listning to iTunes, CD's, spotify, bandcamp, soundcloud, tidal MUCH more enjoyable.
     
  16. 1radicalron

    1radicalron Member

    Messages:
    2,065
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2004
    Location:
    Fog City
    No matter how hard you try, You can never turn **** into ice cream. = If your source is streaming mp3, no External DAC will help.
     
    blues bird and BUK like this.
  17. KHAN

    KHAN Member

    Messages:
    3,055
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    Ceti Alpha 5
  18. loudboy

    loudboy Member

    Messages:
    27,396
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2003
    Location:
    Sedona, AZ
    It depends on the resolution of your mp3s - if you've got 320K, you'll be hard-pressed to tell them from CDs, in most instances.

    A better DAC than the one in your phone or laptop will be an improvement, mainly due to the better analog circuitry which follows the actual conversion.

    I think there are many in the $100 range that would be fine for your purposes. You can Google for recommendations.
     
    Fred132, skhan007 and abergdahl like this.
  19. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

    Messages:
    20,241
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    Yeah, I've never been able to hear the difference. Ditto on the HD versus CD spec. Plus all my friends seem to have very little hearing about 16kHz, so we're pretty much fine with whatever.
     
  20. karmadave

    karmadave Member

    Messages:
    4,163
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Bay Area
    I wouldn't say a DAC is absolutely necessary, but most people are not just listening to MP3's. For CD quality, and better, an external DAC will help your source files sound better/fuller. I have an AudioEngine D1, connected to my MacBook Pro, with a pair of AudioEngine A5+ powered speakers. This is my primary sound system for my iTunes Library and Apple Music.
     
    teleman1 likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice