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Do I need a dac/amp or just amp on a MAC?


New Member
Jul 28, 2022
So I’ve not been researching audio for that long, but I think I am slowly getting there…

It took a while until I realized that most (?)of the staging/EQ/tuning/separation/etc is coming from the AMP and not the DAC. The DAC is really just a “technical” transformer?

The reason I am asking this is that I got a DAC dongle (Fiio KA1) to test on my MacBook M1 16 inch 2022 and to be fair there’s not that much difference, just a tad. Tidal and I’ve also used audirvana to veryif outputs and up sampling. Yea I know this is an entry level dongle and not anything more.

But it seems the macbook is pretty ok for DAC… the question is then could I use an AMP only? But if I connect an AMP to the MAC through USB I’d get no “transformation” from digital to analog? Or will the audio (headphone jack) be fine?

Or is this stupid?

I’ve found an amp I like but it’s not got a DAC…


Aug 27, 2021
The second part of what the dac does is preamping the converted (analog) signal to a nominal voltage.
You can plug an amp into your pc's headphone jack with a simple 3.5mm (or whatever the mac's jack actually is) to rca. The output voltage likely will be less than the 2v an external 'single ended' rca entry level dacs do. Adjusting the volume on your pc will be adjusting the output voltage that the amp sees. The more voltage the amp has to work with, the more power it will make.

Reddit objectivists say macbooks onboard dac and amp measure fine. You can start like this and add a dac later.
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