A CDE Definition
(USB Digital-to-Analog-Converter) A D/A converter (DAC) that connects to a computer via the USB port for music playback. The USB DAC has become popular because people like to organize their music on the computer with software such as iTunes and Windows Media Center and play it on their stereo system.
Digital to Analog
The USB DAC converts digital audio signals from the computer to analog signals for the amplifiers and speakers. Although an analog connection can be made via the outputs on the computer's sound card, purists maintain that external USB DACs provide superior conversion and better sound quality. In addition, an external DAC may be the only way to play high-resolution music files that are not supported by the computer's hardware (see high-resolution audio).
USB DACs are available in a wide price range from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand. The 2010 CES Las Vegas High-End Audio exhibition showcased a hand-crafted USB DAC for USD $37,000. See headphone amp, D/A preamp, D/A converter and CES.
A Popular USB DAC in Action
An Audiophile USB DAC
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