Using standalone converters vs audio interfaces nowadays

Years ago I saw a lot of people recommended to use some high end converter, think it was a standalone digits to analog converter or vice versa. But I’m thinking with dacs that are made lately, aren’t they good enough.

There is a reason to use dedicated converters… AFTER you have spent tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on other aspects. ESPECIALLY room treatment, and then monitors, and the rest of your signal chain.

For most people, no, don’t bother.

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I saw this and I thought about it but I will invest in improving my room first among other things

S.M.S.L M300 MKII HiFi Audio DAC, AKM4497EQ Apt-X USB DAC Decoder, Hi-Res Bluetooth 5.0 32bit/768kHz DSD512, Full Balanced Output, 6 Digital Filter Modes/3 Sound Color, New Edition

What are you comparing to? That will be a lot better than what is built into a laptop. Compared to a comparably priced recording interface like a small Focusrite, probably not a very noticeable difference.

I currently have a m-audio fast track c-400.

So you already have balanced outputs and decently low noise and distortion levels. You could get slightly lower noise but I bet that assuming you are working in a normal domestic environment and not a sound isolated studio you already don’t hear the noise floor of your DAC. Plus that C400 interface has a monitor control section built in with volume control and headphone driver, if you had a plain DAC you would still need a pre-amp with volume control and headphone amp, and you would no longer have any audio inputs. Definitely not worth changing out at this point.

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I understand. I do have a decent audio interface, just not sure if I have decent mix prees and all that but maybe it’s good enough

I assume that was a typo and you have some anxiety about your mic pre-amps.
I understand, but you should take some comfort in knowing that much better musicians and recording technicians than you, playing much higher quality instruments than you have in much better sounding studios than you have access to have made some wonderful sounding classic recordings using equipment with worse technical specs than yours. Modern equipment is better in most technical specifications than most old equipment in a very broad sense. Headroom is not as good, sound at the edge of overload is not as good, in some cases ergonomics and durability is not as good, but noise and distortion will not be a problem for most cases people discuss on this forum.

There may come a day when you find yourself recording a world class musician and think to yourself “I’m recording a $4000 guitar through a $2500 microphone, maybe it’s time I upgraded my $300 audio interface” but until then practice well, work on your listening skills, read everything good you can get your hands on, and stop worrying about your audio interface.


I don’t think most people who listen to music, or at least very few (ok, perhaps me… :slight_smile: ) have ever said “I love this track, especially the bit where the singer uses that really expensive mic pre…”


Thanks I I understand

Right lol I agree.
A lot of times we don’t know how’s it’s recorded

I’m just going to leave this here…



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