Know Audio: It All Depends On The DAC

Our trip through the world of audio technology has taken us step-by step from your ears into a typical home Hi-Fi system. We’ve seen the speakers and the amplifier, now it’s time to take a look at what feeds that amplifier.

Here, we encounter the first digital component in our journey outwards from the ear, the Digital to Analogue Converter, or DAC. This circuit, which you’ll find as an integrated circuit, takes the digital information and turns it into the analogue voltage required by the amplifier.

There are many standards for digital audio, but in this context that used by the CD is most common. CDs sample audio at 44.1 kHz 16 bit, which is to say they express the level as a 16-bit number 44100 times per second for each of the stereo channels. There’s an electrical standard called i2s for communicating this data, consisting of a serial data line, a clock line, and an LRclock line that indicates whether the current data is for the left or the right channel. We covered i2s in detail back in 2019, and should you peer into almost any consumer digital audio product you’ll find it somewhere. Continue reading “Know Audio: It All Depends On The DAC”

Know Audio: A Loudspeaker Primer

As we’ve started out on our journey through the world of Hi-Fi audio from a strictly practical and engineering viewpoint without being misled by any audiophile woo, we’ve already taken a look at the most important component in any audio system: the listener’s ear. It’s time to move down the chain to the next link; the loudspeaker.

Sound is pressure waves in the air, and the purpose of a loudspeaker is to move the air to create those waves. There are a variety of “exotic” loudspeaker technologies including piezoelectric and electrostatic designs, here we’ll be considering the garden variety moving-coil speaker. It’s most usually used for the large bass or smaller mid-range drivers in a typical speaker system. Continue reading “Know Audio: A Loudspeaker Primer”