Why DAC/Amps like THX Onyx matter for Hi-Fi music streaming

THX Onyx with headphones and a cellphone

Since THX Onyx™ launched back in April, there have been some questions about what DAC/Amps are, what they can do, and how they fit into your life as a music lover. The answers to these questions are less complicated than you’d expect, and it’s something that’s going to be rising in importance in the near future – more on that in a moment. 

What is THX Onyx?

THX Onyx is a digital-to-analog converter and amplifier that decodes digital audio files and boosts the power available for your headphones. THX Onyx does this exceptionally well because of our THX AAA™ technology that’s capable of running power-hungry headphones without introducing fatiguing distortion and noise to the listening experience.

What is a DAC/Amp?

The first part stands for digital-to-analog converter. DACs take the digital signal from sources like hi-fi streaming services, MP3s and CDs and convert it to an analog signal that our analog human ears can understand. Amp, which stands for amplifier, is the powerhouse of the combo. Its sole purpose is to give your headphones the necessary power to produce a signal it’s receiving from the DAC. 

Together they’re the underappreciated bridge of our digital-listening world because they’re everywhere without most people giving them a passing thought. Think back to when a 3.5mm jack wasn’t a novelty on a cellphone. Anytime you plugged in your earbuds, it interacted with a DAC/Amp. Anytime you plug into a tablet, laptop, etc., you’re still interacting with a DAC/Amp. 

Those Bluetooth headphones you love? DAC/Amps are there too. But in this case, they’re built into the headphones. 

Why would I use a DAC/Amp?

The audio market is flush with independent DACs and amps for a few reasons. One of which is the rise in hi-fi streaming services and the improvement in audio quality that comes with them. By the end of 2021, consumers will have hi-fi options from audio streaming platforms such as Tidal Hi-Fi, Qobuz Studio, Amazon Music HD, Spotify Hi-Fi, and the yet-to-be-named hi-fi tier of Apple Music. 

With that jump in quality comes a conundrum: To fully appreciate the quality of the audio files, music lovers will need to trade the convenience of Bluetooth headphones for the quality of a wired pair because Bluetooth codecs don’t support the larger file sizes yet. 

Now, where do you plug in your wired headphones to your new smartphone? 

DAC/Amps, Wired and Wireless Headphones

Enter the DAC/Amp dongle. To fully appreciate the quality that these streaming services offer, music lovers need to augment their listening experience and add in a more powerful audio jack supported by a DAC/Amp, like THX Onyx. 

Don’t be confused: THX isn’t advocating that you fill your life with dangling wires and plugs of varying sizes and shapes. But this is a question of tradeoffs. When it comes time to get things done and have a soundtrack to your workout and errands, wireless headphones and earbuds are a solid option and can sound great. Just ask people who use THX® Certified Razer HammerHead Pros or the DROP+THX Pandas

But when it’s time to hear your music – when it’s time to pay attention to and love the music you’re listening to – the convenience-quality pendulum should swing toward pairing your favorite headphones with THX Onyx.  

THX Onyx, Built for Music Lovers

You will appreciate the better quality, because there’s more music in your music when listening to hi-fi sources. When an “audiophile” uncle talks about MP3 or Bluetooth bitrates and how the Grateful Dead sound better on FLAC, here’s what he means:

MP3 and Bluetooth bitrates are relatively small compared to the studio music files for convenience’s sake. With that lack of data or compressed bitrate comes lacking quality. Hi-Fi streaming services like Tidal Hi-Fi offer you a larger file or less compressed bitrate. And DAC/amps make sure you hear everything in that file. They’ll be so important, in fact, Apple announced users will need a USB DAC, like THX Onyx, to get the most from Apple Music.

If you’ve never ventured into hi-fi audio, we think you’ll be shocked at what you’ve been missing in your music. And if you’re looking for a great DAC/Amp, THX Onyx is the one to get.