In most devices nowadays (like your computers, phones, and tablets), built-in DACs(digital to analog converters) help transform your music from its digital form to an analog signal that your headphones and active speakers understand. The conversion, however, will have data loss in the middle of the process. This is why better DACs can improve the sound quality of music. Better DACs have way fewer losses during the conversion and preserve more musical details in the signal for you to hear.
The process does not differ when streaming. When listening to Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, or other music streaming services, your music also needs digital to analog conversion for headphones/speakers playback. DACs in your playback device will do the conversion, but as explained before, a better DAC can improve sound quality. DACs are not necessary for music streaming services, but if you want to get the best out of your music listening experience, getting a DAC might be a good idea.
So, should you buy a DAC? If you’re looking for an upgrade in sound quality and don’t mind spending a bit more on your audio equipment, then the answer is yes – DACs can make a noticeable difference in sound quality. However, if you’re not too fussed about your music listening experience or are on a tight budget, you may not need to buy a DAC. In the end, it’s up to you whether or not you think the improvement in sound quality is worth the investment. External DACs are not essential for music streaming, but they can make a big difference in sound quality – so it’s ultimately up to you whether or not you think they’re worth it.