As an affiliate, I may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
Audio-video receivers are designed to power home theater systems. Whether you have a small setup in your living room or a massive theater in the basement, these devices prove useful.
Digital to analog converters (DAC) are made to change digital signals from numerous devices into a usable format, which is why many homeowners are curious about their connection to AV receivers.
AV receivers have DAC because they need to convert digital signals to analog signals. When a device with digital signals is plugged into an AV receiver, the DAC allows the signals to come through as analog. This process is what transfers the signals into audible sounds and visual screens.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information about the connection between AV receivers and DAC:
- Details about why AV receivers need DAC
- Whether or not all receivers use digital to analog converters
- Various devices that use DAC
Does an AV Receiver Come With DAC?
AV receivers are some of the most versatile pieces of home entertainment equipment. You can plug your Blu-ray or DVD player into it, as well as video game consoles, old-school VCRs, and more. The basic purpose of these receivers is to project the sound and visual components to the screen.
Read my article “What Does A Receiver Do For Home Theater?“
An AC receiver without a DAC would almost always be useless. However, many of them already come with DAC built into them these days. A better question will be to ask if AV receivers need an external DAC to further improve and amplify the sound quality.
To understand the importance of digital to analog converters, we’ll have to dive into the technical side of the equation.
How Does a DAC Function?
According to Audioholics, any device that accepts digital signals requires a DAC. You can see digital numbers on your phone screen, but they’re not the same wavelength as analog signals. Hearing a digital signal is virtually impossible; It’s a visual aspect that doesn’t register any sound at all.
Instead, devices that use digital signals generally have DAC to transfer the digital commands to analog audio and video via preset codes. It might sound complicated, but it’s quite simple once you break it down.
For example, let’s say you open a YouTube video on your laptop. Since your laptop has a digital screen, it needs to convert it to an analog signal for you to see and hear the video. Otherwise, you’d be left staring at endless coding on your screen without hearing anything at all.
The Importance of Analog Signals
Jumping back to the usefulness of DAC found in AC receivers, it’s often mistaken that new-age devices are capable of solely using digital signals. You might not think of analog as modern technology, but as you’ll find in the final section of this article, it’s one of the most useful tools on all of your devices.
Just to show how essential DAC is, your phones, laptops, TVs, and tablets would almost all be blank without it. That’s right; You’d be left without anything to use on the device. You might even go as far as saying that, without a digital to analog converter, new-age technology would often cease to exist.
Why Do You Need DAC on an AV Receiver?
Most sound systems these days have DAC already. If your device doesn’t need it, then you’re good to go. However, AV receivers often either have them already, or they need them to be installed. The good news is that the vast majority of audio-video receivers are well-equipped to make the conversion.
Let’s analyze a list of reasons that you should consider getting DAC on an AV receiver:
- If your device that’s plugged into the AV receiver uses digital signals, you’ll need DAC. There’s no other way to convert digital into analog without one of these converters. You could plug it in and hope for the best, but it’ll never transfer the signal without the proper equipment.
- If you’re using a sound system for your home theater and you want to listen to it through headphones, you should think about getting DAC. While it’s not always required in this instance, it will improve the audio quality, reduce latency, and cut down on static noise.
- If you have a noisy computer running your home entertainment setup, then a DAC chip will remove the sound. Loud fans, overheating, and messy signals attempting to transfer from an old computer can put a damper on your setup. As suggested by Sound Guys, a DAC chip can make a decent difference.
- If your AV receiver doesn’t have DAC, then you should get one set up. Some AV receivers are designed to do the conversions themselves with built-in components, but it’s important to remember that that’s not always the case. Without DAC already installed, you’ll need to get an external DAC system.
- If you want to get the most out of your home theater setup, you should get DAC with the AV receiver. Think of an audio-video receiver as the glue that keeps everything together. All of the speakers and devices are plugged into the system. However, it needs DAC to convert digital signals. You’d be cutting yourself short without it!
What Other Devices Have a Digital to Analog Converter?
It’s fairly clear by now that AC receivers need DAC. However, countless other devices come with it. By knowing which of your devices have converters, you’ll be able to figure out what needs external systems and what doesn’t.
Here are some of the most common household devices that have DAC:
- Smartphones and cell phones use built-in DAC to convert your commands to usable, analog data. It’s then amplified through the screen and/or speakers of the device, creating the desired visual and audio effects. Again, without such components, you wouldn’t be able to use very many apps at all.
- Laptops also have DAC for the same purpose as smartphones. Countless digital signals are being used on these modern devices that require such conversions. The same rules apply to traditional desktop computers, as well as tablets and MP3 players.
Although these devices already have DAC, some people still prefer to use an external DAC to improve the sound quality. White noise, hissing, and other problems associated with digital to audio conversion can be limited and even eliminated through the usage of an external DAC.
There are plenty of other items, such as CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and so on, that require DAC when they’re put into their respective systems. Since they’re nothing more than a disc of data, converting from digital to analog will allow it to be used without foggy, hissing, unpleasant sounds.
While DAC, AV receivers, and many other components of your home entertainment system might sound a bit intimidating, they’re much more common than you think. Now that you know how they function and which devices already have DAC, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether you need to buy one.
Many AV receivers have DAC, but you could still consider getting an external DAC to reduce the white noise and hissing sound coming from a cluttered, messy signal. Whether you’re working through a computer, an AV receiver, or a smartphone, external DACs are more than worth setting up for the most crystal-clear sound available.
If your AV receiver doesn’t have DAC built-in, you’ll need an external DAC to convert digital signals to analog signals. The AV receiver can then transfer and amplify these signals to the speakers and screens of your home theater.
Check out my recommended AV receivers.