How to Connect a Dac (4 Steps)

by W. P. Wentzell
Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

A digital-to-analog converter, also known as a DAC, is a device that converts the digital audio signal to an analog signal for amplification by a home stereo system or external headphones. Many digital-to-analog converters connect directly to a laptop or desktop computer system via a USB port to enhance the analog audio signal for further amplification. Dedicated external USB DACs aim replicate a balanced sound stage for professional and higher-end audio recording and mastering.

Step 1

Connect the DAC to the computer's USB or Fire Wire port. Boot the computer and log in as administrator.

Step 2

Attach the DAC to an external amplifier or headphones via RCA or stereo cable, respectively. Insert the corresponding-colored cables into the rear of the DAC, and attach the cables to the audio input on the rear of the amplifier. Attach the amplifier to any external speakers using stereo cable, and power on the amplifier.

Step 3

Insert the bundled DAC driver installation CD into the CD-ROM drive of the computer. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation. Many DACs do not require any driver installation and are designed to work out of the box.

Test the DAC by opening and playing an audio file. Double-click on a playable digital audio file and start the file playing in the software audio application. If no sound is heard, navigate to the "Tools" menu of the audio application and select "Preferences" or "Options." Choose the audio preferences tab and specify the audio output device as the connected DAC. Click "OK."

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

About the Author

William Paul Wentzell is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, holding bachelor's degrees in English and photojournalism. His work has been published in the New York Times, Deseret News, The Victoria Advocate and The Daily Texan.

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