1

I am looking for a hardware to plug-in the headphones (Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO 250 Ohm).

1) What is the difference between DAC, Sound Card and AMP?

I'm wondering about clear difference between these 3 kind of hardware items. And is there anything combined into 1 ?

2) Also what will be the difference between built-in sound card (Macbook pro) and some external usb\thunderbolt sound card (Audio interface) while working with any sequencer?

2
  1. I am looking for a hardware to plug-in the headphones. Please explain WHY you can't just plug them into the existing headphone jack on your device (Macbook?)
  2. What is the difference between ... DAC A DAC is a Digital to Analog Converter. In order to actually HEAR audio out of any digital device (llike a computer or music player, etc.) you must convert the digital signal to an analog audio signal.
  3. What is the difference between ... Sound Card? A "sound card" is the section of the computer that contains the DAC plus other things to get digital audio out of the computer as an analog audio signal. And also a ADC (Analog to Digital Converter) to convert analog audio coming IN to the computer into digital.
  4. What is the difference between ... AMP? Assuming you mean "amplifier" that is a circuit that takes a relatively weak analog audio signal (as from the headphone or line-level output from a computer) and boosts it up to higher power suitable for driving speakers.
  5. Is there anything combined into 1? All sound cards contain a DAC and probably an ADC. You will probably never see a "raw" DAC outside a sound card. There are some amplifiers that have a USB interface so that they contain the DAC inside and perform the function of the sound card.
  6. What will be the difference between built-in sound card (Macbook pro) and some external usb\thunderbolt sound card (Audio interface)? In almost all cases, an external "sound card" will have better performance (lower noise at least) than a "sound card" built into any computer. It makes no difference what is the source (sequencer or whatever).
  • Thanks Richard, good explanation. re 1) because I think that macbook will not handle the impedance 250 Ohm properly :) So basically I am choosing between 32Ohm and 250Ohm and considering to take good advantage between good sound quality (250) and price (32), since additional devices for like amplifier could take some additional expences – Maksym Dec 21 '16 at 23:27
  • It seems unwise to just assume that the Macbook headphone output won't handle 250 ohm headphones. At least without not actually TRYING it. – Richard Crowley Dec 21 '16 at 23:54
  • Did you try? I don't have a possibility to try, so I am asking who might already tried. All assumptions made based on read feedbacks and the technical specification of macbook, don't think it's unwise. All complains boil down to the low volume on output and not the best quality. Do you think these are truth complains? thx. – Maksym Dec 22 '16 at 9:27
  • 0 down vote You really want the 80ohm. 32ohm is for multimedia playback such as iPhones and tablets. I don't think a Macbook will drive 250ohm very well it will be very quiet and they're not intended for that. – Melloj Dec 22 '16 at 12:02
  • @RichardCrowley, thanks, i've chosen the 250 ohm with the Presonus Audiobox USB which should be pretty enough to gain this impedance. Thank you for explanation – Maksym Dec 26 '16 at 18:13
2

Strictly speaking a "DAC" is a "Digital to Analogue Converter" which is a specific and critical component of the audio processing chain that connects a digital audio processing system with your hearing.

However, it is also used to describe a hardware device that works as an "external audio device" specifically for replaying higher quality audio than can be replayed using the stock audio hardware on a computer.

I believe you are referring to the latter description when you are referring to DAC in this context.

A Sound Card is a peripheral device that can be inserted into a computer motherboard to add additional and possibly enhanced audio processing and interfacing capabilities. It differs from a "DAC" in that it will sit inside the case rather than outside the case (and connected via USB).

An AMP is short for "Amplifier". This component takes "line" level audio and amplifies it for use with speakers or headphones. These devices can be discrete devices in their own right, contained within speakers (Active Speakers) or contained within sound cards or DACs as discrete low-power devices specifically for driving low-power headphones or speakers.

Most "DAC's" will have an "AMP" as part of the device. This is less likely with a "Sound Card" as these will usually just drive other audio devices or headphones.

Most DAC's will operate using stock drivers either contained directly within the operating system, or using manufacturer provided drivers. Either way the driver will abstract the functionality of the hardware away from the software so you shouldn't notice a difference when using your sequencer application other than simply selecting the correct output device.

1

You really want the 80ohm. 32ohm is for multimedia playback such as iPhones and tablets. I don't think a Macbook will drive 250ohm very well it will be very quiet and they're not intended for that.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.