Do AV Receivers Have DAC?

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Does an AV Receiver Come With DAC?

If you are confused about the different Audio-Video receivers with Digital-to-Analog Converters (known as DACs), you are not alone. Many consumers are sometimes confused with their role and how they impact your home theater system.

A little background about the role of AV Receivers in the home theater setup is needed to understand their role in receiving audio and video signals.

Previously, you had to connect all of the video components of your home theater system separately. These include the TV, audio receiver, DVD player, cable box, and VCR, etc. Each of the devices needed to be connected separately, using a plethora of cables, and a lot of frustration usually resulted.

A home theater receiver is essentially an all-in-one device that combines the functions of a television, an AV pre-amplifier, a DVD player, a CD player, and a tuner. AV receivers are a result of the high-resolution revolution, and it solved the problem of connecting video components to home theater systems. Most of them come with a DAC system included.

How Does a DAC Function?

A DAC is an acronym that stands for Digital to Analog Converter and is a part of the AV receiver that converts digital signals to analog format.

If you’re not familiar with digital to analog converters, think of it this way: in an analog format, words are spoken, music is played, and images are displayed as analog signals via speakers or display devices. You can’t tell the difference between a recording and a live performance, because the information is the same. The sound, image, or visualization is transmitted to your ears, eyes, or brain as analog signals.

On the other hand, in a digital format, words are digitized and filtered through a digital receiver. The digital signal can be broken down into 0–1–0.1³ formation. For instance, in the case of a CD player, the digital signal is passed through a DAC from an optical to an electrical signal. The electrical signal is then sent to an amplifier to convert the digital to analog format.

The advantage of having a DAC is that it can repackage the digital signal in a different format and display it via speakers, headphones, TVs, and more. A DAC allows you to use different speaker cables for different sources.

The Importance of Analog Signals

DAC stands for Digital to Analog Converters. DACs are used to convert a digital signal into an analog signal, which can be handled by the receiver’s more basic analog circuitry. Without DACs, higher-end receivers would only work with digital signals.

However, most digital receivers now come with an internal DAC, in addition to an HD radio tuner, so a DAC is not necessary for most models.

As you probably already know, Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II all refer to surround amplifier and speaker setup that uses a digital signal to represent audio more accurately than conventional stereo soundtracks.

What you might not know is that these digital signals need to be processed by a DAC to be converted into analog signals that your surround sound system (like the front left, front right, and center speakers) can then process.

When building a surround sound system, you will find that only higher-end receiver models feature the various DACs needed to process these surround sound formats. Newer receiver models also offer internal DACs in addition to the HD radio tuner so that you can still enjoy surround sound technology without needing extra hardware.

Why Do You Need DAC on an AV Receiver?

In a nutshell, DAC converts the coded digital audio signals from your sources into coherent analog signals to your amplifier.

Without a DAC, your audio may not sound as good as it potentially can. On the other hand, with DAC, the best quality sound possible, closest to the original source, will be delivered to all your speakers.

Without getting too technical, a DAC is an important component in your home theater system, whether you are streaming content from the internet or a cable box, or playing DVDs or CDs. It always takes a lot of hard work to digitize sound in the first place, and then transmit it to your receiver. If digitization is handled improperly or without a suitable audio codec, your sound will suffer.

A DAC does not do all the heavy lifting. DAC is the last step or output in the process. It’s responsible for taking the raw digital signal and converting it into an analog signal that can be conveyed easily to your speakers or amplified system.

Here’s how it works: all AV receivers contain a DAC. However, this can be a generic DAC that can be used to process all surround formats. Some receivers, however, have Digital Audio Processor or a more powerful DAC that is tuned to handle specific surround sound formats.

What Other Devices Have a Digital to Analog Converter?

An integrated digital to analog converter or DAC is included in digital audio devices such as CDs, DVDs, and video games. Without DACs, your digital music would have a series of binary numbers and not the music you enjoy.

An integrated DAC is designed specifically with digital audio playback in mind, and they don’t always work with other devices. For example, a TV doesn’t have an integrated DAC, but one is included in an A/V receiver, so you can use the A/V receiver to listen to digital audio from a TV, DVD, CD, or video game.


If you’re looking for digital to analog conversion, or want to convert your analog sound to digital, a DAC is your best bet. A DAC is more suited for converting audio signals from digital to analog than any other device. The quality of audio will depend on the DAC technology used; in the majority of cases, however, consumer-grade DACs are about as good as it gets.

There are many other devices you can use to connect your digital audio without needing a DAC; however, a digital to analog converter is best suited to the job.