Should I buy a DAC if I only use Spotify?

Should I buy a DAC if I only use Spotify?

This video is brought to you by NAD with Eigentakt:

Camera: Olaf von Voss | Editor: John Darko | Motion GFX: John Darko | Ad segment: Jana Dagdagan


What is that thing on top of your DAC? It’s a doorstop!

Schiit Modi 3 (US$99):

A short film about the Schiit Modi 3 DAC

Topping D10s (€99):

Should I buy a DAC if I only use Spotify?

AudioQuest DragonFly Red (US$199):

AudioQuest’s DragonFly Red puts high-end DAPs on notice

Mola Mola Tambaqui (€10,000):

A short film about the Mola Mola Tambaqui

Squeezebox Classic/SB3 and Duet:

LG V40:

A journey through hi-res audio w/ LG V40, Apple iPad

Apple MacBook Pro 16″:

GIK Acoustic panels:


A beginner’s guide to DACs:

A beginner’s guide to DACs

DAC 101s:

DACs 101

#spotify #dac #streaming
Darko.Audio FAQ:

What the bloody hell am I talking about?


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  1. Kenway GG on June 19, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Tidal with mqa dac 👌

  2. hezediel on June 19, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    What if you stream wirelessly on Wi-Fi using Hi-Res files? You would not need a DAC, would you?

  3. Blaze Ace on June 19, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    Apple music lossless, i dare anyone to spot the difference

  4. Calvin Lim on June 19, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    Hi John, although this post is quite sometime, i came across it earlier this year n went ahead with your suggestion.

    I an only currently on Spotify but i am already enjoying music through my recently acquired Hifi pieces. Having purchased everthing from Ground zero, i have invested quite abit on Accuphase E800 integrated amplifer n streamed with Esoteric N05XD through my PMC booksheft 25.22. All other wires by Japanese maker Oyaide. Enjoying streaming music since. Many thanks to your video for inspiration. 😊

  5. Nutz on June 19, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    maybe this why every time i listen music from spotify i feel something is missing

  6. Retro Plus on June 19, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    I listen to all my music in mp3s at usually medium to high quality, and by far the biggest improvement I’ve noticed is by using a decent DAC. However, I will add that I was previously using a default PC soundcard, which are infamously bad

  7. Asta x666 on June 19, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    I moved on from spotify to Apple music. Now I need a better equipment good dac and headphone but I’m having a hard time deciding what to buy in poor people’s price

  8. Kayvan Nahid on June 19, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    Of course audiophile person need DAC.

  9. Olof Dahlström on June 19, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    I feel like that my upgrade to a iFi Zen dac v2 and a pair of grado sr325x is probably the best audio upgrade I have done for my computer… even if i mostly only use spotify

  10. MrMeoow91 on June 19, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    1st hand experience is very important.
    I used Spotify to demo the Focal Utopia paired with iFi Pro iDSD Signature and it sounded glorious.

  11. Toledo on June 19, 2022 at 9:55 pm

    3:18 wtf, thats one of my favorite songs

  12. HH AA on June 19, 2022 at 9:55 pm

    I was previously streaming Spotify into Marantz amp through an Echo Dot. After watching this video, I bit the bullet and got a Bluesound Node. The sound quality improvement has been obvious and shocking.

  13. Tommaso Paba on June 19, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    Everything that is said in this video is correct 👍 let me add that audiophiles are the ones that tell you not to listen to Spotify and then they listen to vinyls .

  14. Timothy Lewis on June 19, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks! Well explained and easy to understand for this beginner. Very very helpful and informative. New to streaming and dacs .

  15. Bence Szentiványi on June 19, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    This is a very well put-together video and gives great perspective. One thing I would’ve added is that a lot of DAC/Source file quality discussion and advice comes from the time when lossy compression was introduced and since then the algorithms have improved substantially so a lot of "you need to worry about your source files" talking points just doesn’t hold true anymore. Also, audio engineers have learned a lot since then about mastering for digital and lossy compressed formats and it became the primary medium, so everything is optimised for that too.

  16. Kotsa on June 19, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    Can you review a SYBA sonic’s 384Kz/32bit tube amp/dac?

  17. Zach M. on June 19, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    Spotify quality sucks, so no you don’t need it. It only helps if you have headphones that require more power than your current DAC can offer

  18. Mouth of Sauron on June 19, 2022 at 9:59 pm

    Hey man, you’re totally scaring people with ‘loss’ in ‘lossy codecs’!
    I’ve ‘doing’ the mp3 basically since it got out – yes, like 30 years – and it (mp3) was tested and retested and whatnot in highly professional conditions… Say trained listeners, say uncompressed audio mono and compressed audio mono randomly sent to two channels of absolutely high-level headphones, stuff like that… Hell, I did some of it myself. But major guys, say the sound engineer on Star Wars films and suchlike lead experiments, too.
    Anyhow, the conclusion was that "The Devil himself can’t reliably make a difference between mp3 256kbps (Fraunhoffer codec) and CD quality".
    That was then, and now everyone uses LAME (which is actually good) and the sad thing is there is no progress in audio compression, unlike the video – so stuff like OGG, AAC and whatnot have some difference on low bitrates, but not at the high-end. Truth. Spotify 320kbps is LAME mp3 audio-stream, which is as good as it gets for lossy audio and most people LIE they hear the difference on their damned phones and such. They don’t.
    But DAC is needed, really. Even on 20eur headphones you hear the difference. Much more on any type of home audio. Reason is that say, damned iPhone boosts itself with bloody 0.65eur Infineon DAC, inside the case. Integral audio on motherboard is 0.5eur Realtek-something and all the power supplies and converters inside make a terrible mess… Soundcard needs to be shielded, if its DAC is used (can be found for ~100eur). External DAC is better, but no need to go super-high in price, say half of your Amp at max. I use ~300 NAD at home, and that’s what’s enough for my room and my old ears (were much better 30 years ago, heh) and mp3 stream.

    Now, if you’re an audiophile and have a several thousand audio system, then by all means, go for better DAC and lossless audio stream.

    Point is, even you’re not one, you’ll mostly hear the difference if you’re using phone, integrated audio card on laptop/desktop and phones or home audio. What price? Not that important, take what you like. And you’ll never notice lossless vs. high bitrate stream…

  19. Sir Silver on June 19, 2022 at 10:00 pm

    Answer is always Yes, buy dac

  20. k on June 19, 2022 at 10:00 pm

    Very good info. The tuner on my receiver died and the radio reception is bad in that basement space anyway…. just looking for some kind of streamer I could use for internet radio stations and Spotify or Pandora… need to plug it into my stereo and don’t need ultra high fidelity sound, but would like good sound.

  21. Stephen Harding on June 19, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    Hi I am aware that Spotify are working hard to improve the quality of their streaming, and because I like their app I am happy to wait. However, I wasn’t aware the DAC would have a impact on the sound, I thought it was the source, so this has been very helpful and I will look to upgrade soon. Thx Stephen

  22. SaberToothPortilla on June 19, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    Honestly Spotify isn’t quite as bad as people make it out to be. 320kbs ogg vorbis is pretty solid. Solid enough that you’d probably only notice the difference between that and lossless with a decent DAC and a relatively good amp. Or at least the difference wouldn’t be obvious.

    That said, I don’t think that’s an excuse for them still not offering any kind of lossless option. I wouldn’t blame them for not going the full master quality route like Tidal, there are very few people who would benefit from that, but they *at least* need to have a CD quality option.

    If Apple Music is already doing it, Spotify needed to be doing it several years ago. Supposedly they’re going to, but they’d pushed it back multiple times.

  23. Knight67 on June 19, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    I just want to thank you for all your videos. So with that said, thank you for all your work.

  24. Lofty Smalls on June 19, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    First of all stop using Spotify, get Tidal instead for everything that’s cross platform.

  25. Toobs kuiks on June 19, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    Love this video, you’re so nice. I hope you see this.

  26. Damien Phillips on June 19, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    Really helpful video, thanks for sharing

  27. Chris Bland on June 19, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    I was using the headphone output into my amp. It was only when I used my phone, and it sounded better, that I thought there might be a problem. I switched to an Ifi Zen v2. It’s a lash up system – a wharfedale sub, JBL control 1’s and a Rotel amp, all bits from Ebay. The difference is absolutely massive, between this and the headphone out. Interestingly – a lot of bass was going missing. I actually thought it might be a problem with the sub. I do have Spotify set to max quality. And yes, I know it’s not lossless etc. etc. However, the dac in my Dell docking station was obviously not good.
    In short – the old hifi rule of having a decent source remains true.

  28. Kenrick Hadley on June 19, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    GOD, John i can’t tell you how much it means to me to listen to you talk about various aspects of audio each day. You are a means of stress relief to me that brings greater meaning to my continued love of listening to my music at this point in my life. Thank you ever so much for existing. My children are all grown, i am at that point where i think about retiring and finally have time for my art while listening to music.

  29. Jorge Motta on June 19, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    Amazing explanetion

  30. Eugene Tan on June 19, 2022 at 10:13 pm

    Love this video, perfect for a newbie like me

  31. Dunk O on June 19, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    Isn’t the real key issue here for people starting out: the difference between headphone output and digital output from a phone or computer! No explanation of this.

  32. Kenneth Sporsheim on June 19, 2022 at 10:15 pm

    I tested Apple Music, Tidal and Spotify on my NAD C368 on bluetooth. Apple Music is on another level compared to the other two. But when using Bluesound, its not that noticeable. Not sure why though 🙂

  33. Patrick Mathieu on June 19, 2022 at 10:18 pm

    Ohhh the big remote control with the super screen haha that does not feels me young 😂

  34. HelloMiakoda on June 19, 2022 at 10:19 pm

    I have Spotify, on my PS5, through a sound bar. If I’m only listening to the music, my PlayStation headphones. I’m not knocking you, I’m honestly asking….
    I love music, and thus setup sounds pretty good to me. I have a laptop with a DAC – the fancy DAC was a feature of this laptop, a selling point, and you can see the seperation from the rest of the board – and it sounds good. I’ve also used external DAC… My question is, whst makes all this seem like drastic changes to some people like you, and not that big an impact for me? You describe incremental changes in set up resulting in improved sound. My phone plugged in to my Sony hifi sounded great to me, and I didn’t see any appreciable difference till we hit systems that cost more than my dream car.

  35. PhilippDitfurth on June 19, 2022 at 10:19 pm

    I’ve worked at/from home before it became a thing (sad joke, I know) and I like listening to music while I work. Sometimes it’s even part of the process in some form or another. So a few years ago I ditched my Logitech 2.1 System and went for a Dragonfly Red with Focal Alpha 50 active monitors. Inbetween goes a Palmer Monicon to adjust for volume. And voila, probably the worlds most powerful and badass computer speakers. Once they’re set up well and I’m not sitting too far from where I work, they deliver like nobodies business. And since I listen to a lot of different music all day, Spotify really is the way to go. Albums that are closer to my heart will be bought in Vinyl anyways and played on a separate System (NAD + Canton) that’s hooked to my Pro-Ject turntable and an Apple TV.

  36. Distorted Vision on June 19, 2022 at 10:20 pm

    Darko, Do you have a definitive date when Spotify are going to introduce Spotify Hi-Fi?

  37. daveo56 on June 19, 2022 at 10:22 pm

    All a bit beyond me this but I stream my music from my phone to a decent Mission speaker via an Echo Dot for a Wi Fi rather than a Bluetooth connection.
    Would it be worth adding a DAC to this setup ?? and which item would I connect it to…. thanks

  38. Володимир Франкевич on June 19, 2022 at 10:25 pm

    Fiio K3 and DT990 – Yes!

  39. Neostar 88 on June 19, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    thank you for clearing this up, for a while i thought spotify might be ruining my listening experience

  40. Will Smith on June 19, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    Anyone know what free streaming service I should use for PC or mobile that is free? I already got a month free for Qobuz and I am happy with the audio quality but don’t see myself continuing to pay for such a small boost in quality.
    Currently using the 240 ohm beyerdynamic dt 770 pros running w/ Fosi Audio Q4 DAC

  41. Jim Jones on June 19, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    Why would you not want your Spotify music sound as good as possible? I use one when streaming it and there IS a difference.

  42. Rocky Ugsod on June 19, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    I subscribed. Loved your content.

  43. -VER on June 19, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    This video aged pretty well since many are getting into the hobby.

  44. Steve Fox on June 19, 2022 at 10:36 pm

    my problem is trying to find a 5.1 dac that outputs a minimum of 4v on the preouts, preferably between 5v and 8v. i cant find anything that does not require a bank loan to buy, everything outputs 2v or less and just wont cut it in my car which sucks as i have a mini PC built but wont trade my touchscreen headunit for a PC unless i can feed my amps with a decent signal.

  45. Ralph Reilly on June 19, 2022 at 10:36 pm

    lol. most devices have a dac that’s more than good enough. get good amp and speakers and be done.

  46. ПАНК ЙОС • 22 years ago on June 19, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    Is a wireless DAC like the qudelix 5k compatible with Spotify (Android)

  47. Omora on June 19, 2022 at 10:39 pm

    I say no. Went from spotify to tidal. There was a noticable difference for me at least. (I have 2 decent set ups, home set up and portable)

  48. David Who on June 19, 2022 at 10:41 pm

    Thank you for this video John. I agree with you. I purchased a Schiit Modi 3 to run my Wiim Mini through using Spotify as the source and the Schiit Modi 3 saved my streaming as I have always been a vinyl/cd guy.
    I always enjoy your vid’s. Please, keep up the good work.

  49. Devansh Shukla on June 19, 2022 at 10:43 pm

    I upgraded to a high fi system. Fairly entry level with shanling ua1 pro as DAC and blon-bl03 as the iem. What I figured intrigued me.Contrary to what people believe, the difference between lossy and lossless is as clear as night and day! Never listening to mp3’s again

  50. STEPHEN ASSANTE on June 19, 2022 at 10:43 pm

    Does Spotify have Lossless files now?