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Where is the DAC?

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As a newcomer to computer audio I expected not to know much but I thought I knew one thing: There are renderers and there are DACs. I have a Synology 1515+ with BubbleuPnP server and the BubbleUPnP app on a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone. The app shows renderers on the network including the Oppo BDP-103 which I use to stream dsf. To my surprise I noted the Chromecast in my Vizio E65U-D3 UHD TV listed as a renderer. So I tried to stream dsf to the Chromecast. To my surprise, it worked. But I don't get it. Is this $30 device both a renderer and a DAC? The previous articles on Chromecast didn't mention DSD but BubbleUPnP mentioned transcoding improvements: BubbleUPnP Server

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Anytime you have a device that translates a digital signal to audible music, you have a DAC in that device. The device can be a "renderer", it can be a "receiver", it can be an iPhone, a Chromecast device, or any of hundreds of other devices. That sounds confusing, but the confusion comes in over the quality of the DAC. A $30,000 DAC is doing the exact same job as the $10 DAC in your phone. The question is, can the $30,000 DAC do the same job better?


In part, the terminology being bandied about is being used as a marketing tool, and in part, it is necessary to use that same terminology for accuracy. :)


Software (like your music player) renders up digital files - from disk, streamed over the internet, from Satellite, or some other media - in a format a DAC can accept. A DAC renders up digital data in an analog format that we can then amplify and hear.


Hope that helps a bit.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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