Adding DAC to computer speakers?

MegaKen

Member
Hi, I have a decent 2.1 speaker system that connects to whatever via a headphone jack. When I plug it into my MacBook - it sounds pretty amazing. But when I plug it into my external monitor - it sounds considerably and noticeably worse. I'm not a pro, but I suspect it's because the DAC in MacBook is better than the DAC in the monitor, which makes sense.

Can I add an external DAC between the monitor and the speakers? And if so, how would I make sure that the signal goes through that new DAC as opposed to being processed in the monitor?

Thank you

p.s. I've tried researching this and I come across devices that are called "headphone amp" - are those just for headphones, or can they be used with speakers? Or what's the device that I need?
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
I guess the simple answer is how far can you polish a poor signal and will you end up polishing the poor parts to to make them more noticeable thus defeating the point. So what are you trying to output via the Monitor compared to the MacBook (is it a built-in TV tuner, if so, does the Monitor have an optical output)?
 

MegaKen

Member
The monitor only has a headphone jack. The idea is not to polish the bad signal, but to circumvent the built-in monitor DAC, to have something else process the sound. Does that make sense? Is that possible? Or only with an optical out?
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
How are you connecting the computer to the monitor?
Which monitor do you have?
Would you consider a third option like using a docking station if the issue is that you don't want multiple cables to unplug when you want to move the laptop?

For DAC to work it has to be given a Digital signal to Convert to Analogue (hence the acronym) and so its a question of if your monitor can output the audio signal its receiving via optical or usb etc
 

gameover16

Banned
Anything related to audio in a monitor will be rubbish unless it's specifically marketed as having superior components or features related to audio.

What is the reason for wanting to use your monitor as an audio source? I'm 99.99% sure there'll be a better solution for your problem.
 

MegaKen

Member
How are you connecting the computer to the monitor?
Which monitor do you have?
Would you consider a third option like using a docking station if the issue is that you don't want multiple cables to unplug when you want to move the laptop?

For DAC to work it has to be given a Digital signal to Convert to Analogue (hence the acronym) and so its a question of if your monitor can output the audio signal its receiving via optical or usb etc
I would consider a docking thing. But wouldn't it work through USB from the monitor?
Monitor is LG 32'' Class 4K UHD LED Monitor with VESA Display HDR 600 (31.5'' Diagonal) (32UL750-W) | LG USA
 

MegaKen

Member
Anything related to audio in a monitor will be rubbish unless it's specifically marketed as having superior components or features related to audio.

What is the reason for wanting to use your monitor as an audio source? I'm 99.99% sure there'll be a better solution for your problem.
I plug a laptop into it, so now I have speakers connected to the monitor, and all I have to do is connect the laptop. Instead of connecting the laptop, and then connecting speakers to the laptop every time.
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
I would consider a docking thing. But wouldn't it work through USB from the monitor?
Monitor is LG 32'' Class 4K UHD LED Monitor with VESA Display HDR 600 (31.5'' Diagonal) (32UL750-W) | LG USA
Traditionally it would be hit or miss as the monitor just acted as a very basic USB hub and basic hubs always had compatibility issues.

Scanning the manual though I see the monitor has a through to second monitor if connected by USB-C... its still not a certain but I'd say the chances of it working are much higher if you connect using the two particular USB-C ports.

There are plenty of devices from the likes of OWC which would put a single cable connection between the laptop and the box and then monitor, keyboard, power (depending on your MacBook) etc all go into the box... you may even find that the DAC in one of those is to your tastes and eliminate the need for a secondary one.
 

MegaKen

Member
Traditionally it would be hit or miss as the monitor just acted as a very basic USB hub and basic hubs always had compatibility issues.

Scanning the manual though I see the monitor has a through to second monitor if connected by USB-C... its still not a certain but I'd say the chances of it working are much higher if you connect using the two particular USB-C ports.

There are plenty of devices from the likes of OWC which would put a single cable connection between the laptop and the box and then monitor, keyboard, power (depending on your MacBook) etc all go into the box... you may even find that the DAC in one of those is to your tastes and eliminate the need for a secondary one.
But why not just stick a DAC into one of the USB ports on the back of the monitor, like this DragonFly Series · AudioQuest
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
But why not just stick a DAC into one of the USB ports on the back of the monitor, like this DragonFly Series · AudioQuest
As said, try it, just my experience of Monitor USB Hubs are poor and whilst they work for basic peripherals like mice and keyboards their ability to work with other devices is more limited (eg external hard drives, graphic tablets etc). I've never tried a DAC so cannot say which side of the fence it'll fall on with my monitor let alone yours.
 

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