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What's the value of desktop DACs?

maximum3535

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So as far as I understand it, desktop class amps are useful because the extra headroom allows for better bass response, since bass levels in recordings needs to be elevated to match audible levels compared to other frequencies.

However, I'm trying to figure out the value of desktop DACs. If the tanchjim space measures 115 SINAD, and let's assume that cleaner, better measuring sound is what we're after, and that we're satisfied with 115 SINAD and how all the other DAC-related measurements stack up for the tanchjim space, is there additional value to desktop DACs at all in terms of sound quality?

I'm also wondering what volume level to set my dongle DAC when connecting it to an amp. I read somewhere (https://www.head-fi.org/threads/using-dongle-as-dac-for-external-amp.938411/) that it's optimal to set it at max volume or close to max. However, I was wondering, if at max volume for the dongle DAC there's less headroom, wouldn't bass response fed into the amp be reduced? I've tried to wrap my head around resistances, voltages, power, etc. but I can't make sense of it.
 

staticV3

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DWPress

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One consideration is that quite a few DACs meant for portable use do not put out a full 2 volts for line level connections. Many amps will perform best, and utilize their full volume potential, if they are presented with 2V for single ended and 4V for balanced connections. Quite a few of the dongles I've seen reviewed here are around 1V which is perfectly adequate for headphone use.

Your dongle of choice spec sheet should give the information.

Edit: I just looked it up and the tanchjim space has a few options for output voltage (a lower outputV can give better test results esp in SINAD) but it will do both 1V low 2V high for RCA or 2V low 4V high for XLR. Everything you need it to do and you won't be missing anything that's happening on the recording or potential SPL.
 
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OldTimer

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The only reason is the desktop looks big and feel nice on the table than the small portable and not seen from far. So, it’s only looks and feels.
 

ZolaIII

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Their own clean power source as one of the advantages. More input types including fiber optical Toslink securing no interface or ground loops leeks in from noisy sources such as PC (sometimes even without power input from USB audio connection). Seriously we lack on front of multichannel stand alone DAC's and DAC's with embedded DSP's a lot as it is on the market. There are such interfaces but most folks don't need high grade DAC's and mic preamplifiers which come with such and have to pay for it and even that is limited to balance one's only.
 

Palladium

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I tried the Apple 3.5mm dongle once from my Win10 PC to LSR305s and they sounded anemic. So you really want a DAC at least 2V line-out to high impedance inputs like speaker amps or active monitors.
 

staticV3

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I tried the Apple 3.5mm dongle once from my Win10 PC to LSR305s and they sounded anemic. So you really want a DAC at least 2V line-out to high impedance inputs like speaker amps or active monitors.
The LSR305 puts out 92dB SPL at 1m, with 0.25Vrms input:
Screenshot 2024-01-28 at 14.26.12.png

If it sounds anemic using the Apple dongle, then that's a setup issue.
 
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