What is a DAC and how to use it? 

An external DAC next to an iMac on a table
While most users don’t notice, audio output on laptops and desktops can be a little disappointing. There’s a number of elements that contribute to this problem, and one factor is the digital-to-analog converter, or DAC. This integrated circuit isn’t the only element of poor digital sound, but it does play its part.
If you are a user that notices or cares, then the disappointing audio on many machines can be a bit of a buzzkill. And while it’s not the first thing you should upgrade to get a better listening experience, adding higher quality elements to your signal chain is generally a good way to improve your listening experience. To that end, you can purchase an external DAC which takes the place of your built-in processor and includes better hardware.

What does a DAC do?

Signal Processing Chart
A DAC is responsible for converting the string of digital bits that make up a digital audio recording into analog sound waves. It does this by converting the binary representations of sound contained within an audio file into a continuously-varying electrical signal, as seen in the simplified graph of the process above. That’s then transported to an amp. The amp boosts the signal and passes it off to your output device. Your speakers then turn that electrical signal into sound using the principles of electromagnetism.

Why are built-in DACs bad?

Cirrus Logic Chip in a DAC
They’re not always bad. Built-in DACs range from serviceable to awful, and for many uses the built-in DAC is perfectly fine. But a consumer computer is a collection of compromises. Between weight, power consumption, heat, and component cost, manufacturers have to make some tough calls in regards to what to include and what to leave out. And since few users will notice high-fidelity audio reproduction, manufacturers don’t bother to include a high-quality DAC chip.
But even low-quality components can do a decent job. The single biggest problem faced by on-board DAC chips is electronic noise. Whether mounted on the motherboard or stuck to a PCI sound card, the DAC is within spitting distance of some very loud hardware. The electronic noise from the CPU alone is significant and often a complicating factor.

What makes an external DAC better?

Bifrost External DAC
There are a couple factors that contribute to the improved sound you’ll get from an external DAC. The most prominent is reduced digital noise from surrounding hardware. Better components also play a role. External DACs use higher-quality chips for the conversion process. These offer higher bit rates, better accuracy, and improved functionality. Most external DACs also include superior technical designs, better-maintained fidelity of the original signal and reduced extraneous noise.
Some DACs also include their own amplifier. These are more powerful than built-in amps and can also offer a big improvement in sound reproduction. An underpowered built-in amp can lead to all kinds of noise in the signal chain when paired with outputs that expect a strong signal. Most audiophile-level gear is going to expect a fairly powerful input, so upgrading your built-in amp can improve your results. Even basic gear can sound better with a more powerful amp, but distortion becomes a concern.
Something as simple as offering a wider variety of output options is important, too. Many DAC/amp combos include a 1/4″ output for studio headphones, optical outputs, and stereo RCA jacks for line-level output.


The average user probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference between a built-in DAC and an external DAC. However, audiophiles with the right equipment will probably appreciate the greater sound fidelity provided by an external system. You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on a luxury-grade DAC, but even a $100 external DAC/amp combination will likely improve a laptop’s sound in a noticeable way.
Continue readingNov 15th 2017

Advanced Audio Settings. VOX Premium Features

It’s all about advanced settings

VOX Team puts audio quality above all. Now that Hi-Res has taken over low-quality music, our developers, with over ten years of experience in audio engineering, have designed a robust BASS Audio Engine that makes the most out of Hi-Res music using advanced audio settings. Aside from the Equalizer, they include BS2B, Hog Mode, Crossfade, Apple Audio Units and many others. They all aim to enhance your listening experience with VOX Music Player. Advanced audio settings are exclusively available for VOX Premium subscribers. 

Extra Volume

If you ever lack loudness, you can increase max volume to 200%. It’s a great option when you have no speakers or headphones. I always use this feature when my portable speaker is dead.
N.B: Increasing the limit to 200% may result in the distortion of the sound. 

Sync Sample Rate

This feature sets the sample rate of your output device to the sample rate of your audio file. If SSR is disabled, VOX uses the default device’s SR setting, regardless of the actual track’s SR, and high-quality resampling is applied.
The advantage of Sync Sample Rate is that there is no need to re-sample audio during playback, which results in:
  • Better sound quality due to lack of re-computation otherwise needed.
    No anti-aliasing takes place, so the audio sounds as close to original as possible.
  • Less CPU time consumption, as result of avoiding re-sampling.
    This is especially noticeable in Hi-Res audio files with SRs of 96kHz and better. 
As a result, less battery drain.  

Convert Stereo to Multiple Channels

This feature is for users having multichannel output devices (4, 5.1, 7.1 channel layouts). When enabled, it lets stereo tracks play nicely on multichannel output. By default, when Convert Stereo to Multiple Channels is off, stereo tracks will play into Left and Right channels only. When this feature is enabled, VOX will try to blend stereo information into up to 8 channels depending on the output channel count of the audio device.


BS2B is a technology that reduces listening fatigue when listening to music through headphones. Most stereo music is created and produced using loudspeakers. When you listen to music through headphones, you get a sound picture different from what sound producer had. It happens because when you use loudspeakers, you hear both left and right loudspeakers with both left and right ear. When you use headphones - there is a higher level of isolation between the left and right channel. BS2B tries to smoothly blend left and right channels to simulate the loudspeaker setup, so the stereo image in headphones sounds just as if you were listening through loudspeakers in a studio environment.


This slider controls the gap between tracks, or how much they are mixed one over another, or overlapped. You can set either 1 or 2-second gap between track, make music play gaplessly, or start the next track sometime before the previous one finishes, with previous track smoothly fading out. Gapless playback is a must for Pink Floyd tracks. 


HD tracks usually take lots of space. To avoid silence between tracks when they are being buffered, this feature starts loading the next song in advance. This is a vital feature especially if you tend to listen to Hi-Res files. 

Continue readingNov 14th 2017

Best Short Songs Under Two Minutes

Although I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan, I believe that to create an impression of greatness, songs don't necessarily have to be long. Sometimes a few seconds is enough to start the right vibe and give us the 'chills'. Today I'm presenting you my favorite songs up to two minutes. These are compositions of artists famous all around the world, and somehow these compositions are usually left behind. Except for Sex Bob-Omb. Only for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World fans.   

Sex Bob-Omb – Garbage Truck

Lenght: 1:45

Tame Impala – Nangs

Length: 1:43

Arcade Fire – Infinite_Content

Length: 1:42

Gorillaz – Punk

Length: 1:38

Radiohead – I Will

Length: 1:59 (original version)

Queens Of The Stone Age – Six Shooter

Length: 1:19

Continue readingNov 13th 2017
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