Will an external DAC sound a lot better than my iMac's onboard dac?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by hoosierxhoosier, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. hoosierxhoosier macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2011
    I bought AudioEngine a5's, and am using them through the iMac's onboard amp. I want the best possible quality.

    Will a $200 external DAC improve the sound a lot? I don't want to buy one if it won't make a big difference.

    If so, what is the best DAC I can get for 200 or under?
  2. John T macrumors 68020

    John T

    Mar 18, 2006
    It all depends on what you mean by "best quality". If you really want the best quality, you're not going to get it via a computer.

    However, to partly answer your question, an external DAC will certainly improve the quality from your iMac. The onboard DAC is pretty basic but more than adequate for it's purpose.

    The iMac hasn't been designed for hi-fi quality, if you want the best you'll need a dedicated system.
  3. steve-p macrumors 68000


    Oct 14, 2008
    Newbury, UK
    Short answer is yes it will sound better. Longer answer is still yes, but an external DAC really comes into its own with lossless file formats.
  4. hoosierxhoosier thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2011
    My whole library is lossless
  5. curtisinoc macrumors 6502

    Mar 13, 2011
    Southern California
    (Kind of an old thread but . . )

    Just wondering, did you get yourself a dac/amp for your iMac?

    I recently purchased a FiiO E10 (about $80 on amazon) and was extremely surprised and impressed. Sounds a LOT better than plugging my headphones directly into the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the the iMac.
  6. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    Always wondered about these things. Could it be put between the iOS device and a car's sound system? Or is it only for headphones?

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