Audio Interface Vs DAC: What to Know About These Audio Devices

This article is for those who don't know about Audio Interface Vs DAC. They are all great for audio editing but are they the same device? Let find out.

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: August 13, 2021

Are you in the audio industry and need to know about audio interface vs dac. This article will give a detailed explanation of these two and how it can make your audio production easier. It also outlines the differences between audio interfaces and DACs, as well as their functions, so that you can get started today! 

Audio Interface Vs DAC: Differences And Similarities 

Audio interfaces and DACs are audio devices that can be used to improve audio quality. The difference between the two is fairly simple: an audio interface converts analog signals into digital, while a DAC converts digital back into an analog signal for playback.  

Audio interfaces typically have more inputs and outputs than a DAC, as well as allow users to load software onto the audio interface. 

Audio Interfaces are equipped with a built-in DAC, but they can convert analog signals into digital ones for recording, record microphones, and more. 

The function of both types is the same in that they convert digital signals into analog for playback on various devices and systems, such as headphones or home theaters. Audio interfaces are meant for those who are audio professionals, whereas DACs are for the general public. 

Audio interfaces typically have more inputs and outputs than a DAC, which is why audio pros like them so much! 

M-Audio M-Track Duo USB Audio Interface

So What Exactly Is A DAC? 

A DAC is an audio device that converts digital audio back into analog audio for playback. They are often used as the final stage in a typical home theater system, after all of the signal processing and decoding by other devices such as amplifiers or receivers. 

DACs can come with a few different options, depending on what features you want to have, such as audio switching, audio enhancement features, or audio correction. 

Built-in DAC appears a lot in electronic devices for example audio interfaces, computers, etc. 

With the development of technology, integrated DAC chips are of very good quality, making standalone DACs rarely used. 

But, that doesn't mean standalone DACs are completely useless these days. 

So What Exactly Is A DAC

 

When Do We Need To Use A DAC? 

A DAC can be used in audio devices that are lacking a built-in one. For example, if you have an audio interface with only one input and output audio channel but want to use more than two inputs or outputs simultaneously, then you will need a standalone DAC for the extra audio channels. 

Or when your audio interface is not compatible with the audio format you need, do some conversion by installing a standalone DAC for audio input and outputs. 

Or when your audio output is noisy, use a standalone DAC to correct audio output. 

The reason to get a DAC is not just because of the quality and clarity, but also for noise handling. Noise can be loud enough that it's audible in playback which will cause a disturbance with your music as well as other sounds around you like cars or people talking.

It may become overwhelming at times when noises are louder than what you're listening too so this way if there is any kind of interference going on, then we'll know about it right away instead of relying on our ears to tell us something isn't quite right. 

For converting data, external DACs use better chips. Better functionality, higher bit rates, and higher accuracy can be obtained with these. 

When Do We Need To Use A DAC 

FAQ 

1. Is a DAC better than an audio interface? 

In the case of an audio interface, you have a mixer and a built-in amplifier that you can use to mix your instrument's sound with the monitor's sound. You also get access to effects units such as amps, reverbs, delays, etc. 

In contrast, a DAC will work for mixing only with software solutions because its output is digital instead of analog (plus there are no connections for a guitar amp). 

The two devices are designed for different things; it would be like asking if a dishwasher is better than an oven-- they're just supposed to do different things and one without the other does not make any sense. 

2. Do you need a DAC for music production? 

It's not strictly necessary, but a reasonably decent one will make the sound of your production much clearer and improve the clarity by an immeasurable degree. The use of a DAC is required unless your studio is entirely analog. 

3. Can you record with a DAC? 

No. A DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter) can convert a digital audio signal into an analogue one, but this will not produce any sound by itself nor make any profit while recording. It has only one purpose, which is to convert signals. 

Conclusion 

There are many differences between audio interface vs DAC. Basically, because they are designed for different purposes. That's all you need to know, once you understand the purpose, choosing an audio interface or DAC is no longer a problem. Personally, I wish you all the best-mixed music.  

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