Monday, February 8, 2016

Did You Know???? (For all of you music fans out there)

Did you know that a current generation Mac or Windows computer is capable of producing great sound without a sound card?

You do not need to put a high-end sound card into a computer to get really solid sound out.  All you need is a USB cable and a digital to analog converter (a DAC) or an audio device that includes one.  These are not hard to find and run the gamut from surprisingly cheap to outrageously expensive.

I usually end up somewhere in the middle on these things.

In my study, where I spend a lot of time, I feed the USB output of my computer to a Music Hall digital to analog converter.  The Music Hall DAC also has a digital optical input connected to a Sonos player.  

The Sonos system is marvelous.  I've got mine connected to a music collection stored on a networked file server.  I alternate between music fed by my computer or coming from the Sonos system by selecting which input on the DAC I need.  The DAC converts the digitized music into good old fashioned analog sound waves, either driving some headphones or a set of DynAudio speakers including a modest subwoofer.

I have placed Sonos devices throughout my house so that the music accessible to me in my study can be played anywhere I want.  The Sonos devices connect to each other through their own wireless network.  The setup is really simple.

I use a pair of Sonos speakers in my basement to create a no frills sound system.  I use more elaborate gear with a different DAC to feed one of the inputs to my traditional stereo system.  The gear is very flexible.

The Sonos devices are controlled from a computer or with an app on your tablet or smart phone.

And it all starts with a simple USB output from a computer and little else . . .


Just as I was prepared to push the publish button on this note, I decided to see what the good people at The Wire Cutter had to say on this topic.  I am not surprised that they raved about the Sonos system too.  Here's their review.

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