At Alpha Audio, we test quite a few digital sources. Think streamers, active speakers with streaming capabilities and of course: separate d/a converters.
A d/a converter – also known as a DAC – is a digital-to-analog converter. So very simply put, a dac turns a digital music signal into an analog music signal.
Why is that important? Quite simply, we humans can’t do anything with a digital music signal. Our ears need analog signals. In this case, the vibrations moving through the air must reach our eardrums. And those pressure differences must match the analog music signal.
Now, every digital source with an analog output has an internal d/a converter. In many cases, this is a chip. Well-known manufacturers of d/a converters are: Burr Brown (Texas Instruments), AKM and ESS (with their Sabre line). There are more solutions, think solutions from Analog Devices, but the above three are the most widely used in the high-end industry.
There are also several manufacturers who develop their own dacs. Think Sonnet, dCS, MSB, Grimm, Mola Mola or Lampizator and Denafrips, for example.
At Alpha Audio we always listen and measure. Listening sessions are often done on our reference set. Measurements are done in our own lab with various measuring devices. If you are interested in learning more about this, we refer you to the training course on measurements. There we explain how we test and how you can read the measurements.
Alpha Audio - Haarlem - Netherlands