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Do I need an amp? What are these acronyms like DAC, DSP, or DSD? What even are all the components that make up an audio chain? Let’s take a beginner’s look at the core, essential building blocks of a digital audio chain, and lay it plain what each piece does. We can cover the major pieces separately, but I’ll still include a few tips to optimize playback here. Please hit the little bookmark button and feel free to check and share this guide whenever you need a reference!
For people who need a visual and audible explanation, or are worried it would take too long to get a working knowledge of the audio chain, here is my YouTube video on this subject that is just 7 minutes long! I like writing though, so let’s get started with an overview, then break it down into what each piece does and how an upgrade would benefit the final sound quality.
Image credit @SpeleoFool https://drop...
Among life’s great questions—Why do we exist? What is the key to happiness? Where is the remote?—stands one that continues to vex music lovers and newcomers to the audiophile community: What is an amp?
How It Works
Lots of us might have a basic idea of what an amp does, but exactly how it functions (and the many benefits it can provide) are larger questions worth considering. The word amp is derived from the latin word amplificare, which means “to expand” or “to enlarge.” The basic function of an amplifier is to increase the power of a signal by taking energy from a power supply and converting it to a larger amplitude—therefore boosting that signal.
When sound is recorded, an electrical signal is generated through a series of vibrations and fluctuations in air pressure. First, sound waves move a microphone diaphragm back and forth, and the microphone converts that movement into an electrical signal. Then, a recorder encodes that signal as a pattern in a certain format...