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Definition: DAC/headphone amp

A D/A converter and headphone amplifier in one box. In lieu of connecting headphones to the analog audio-out headphone jack found on every computer and mobile device, the DAC/headphone amp provides audiophile quality digital-music-to-analog conversion.

The Device Bypasses the Source DAC
The DAC/headphone amp uses its own DAC, bypassing the DAC in the computer or mobile device. It converts the digital data to analog and amplifies the signals to the appropriate levels for headphones. See USB DAC and headphone amp.

Bypass the Apple DAC
Nuforce's Icon iDo plugs into and bypasses the DAC in the iDevice. Using its own DAC, it converts the digital music to analog and amplifies the signal to the headphones. It also provides a passthrough to the user's DAC and stereo. (Image courtesy of Nuforce, Inc., www.nuforce.com)