Digital to Analog Converter (DAC)
Digital music comes from many sources. Streaming from the internet, your storage device, a CD and even your Cable TV. They all share one thing in common: they need to be connected to a DAC (Digital/Analog Convertor) so that your stereo can belt out the tunes. They come in all shapes and sizes and each has a specification page about a mile long, filled with jargon by the way, to highlight how advanced the DAC is. A single glance at those specifications will show almost all appear to be the same. Yet, they sound different. Once again, we are dealing with a situation where specifications are interesting, but do not tell the whole story.
Believe it or not, a DAC is mostly an analog device. Sure there is a digital stream inbound, but the device quickly converts that data in voltages (analog signals) and sends them off to the preamplifier. What differentiates DAC makers is how well they do the conversion (not on a spec sheet) and how well they create and pass along that analog signal (again, not on the spec page). If the builder cuts corners, the specs are meaningless. It will sound like corners were cut. Invest in proper power supplies and analog conversion and you will be amazed at the outcome. There is nothing “binary” about DAC’s. They all sound different and each has a defined market.
Sonnet Digital Audio
Although a relatively new company, the technology developed and utilized by company founder Cees Ruijtenberg has been highly regarded for many years. The Sonnet DAC is by far the most well known product and has garnered incredible recognition for its unique design and cost effective price points. But, the company offers Digital Bridges, Power Amplifiers and speakers. All with outstanding performance and all very attractively priced.