USB DAC

Audioengine D1 USB DAC

Audioengine D1 USB DAC

How quickly do things change? Just a couple of years ago a headphone enthusiast could count the number of headphone DACs in a handful of seconds. Now, in the early months of 2012 the list is significantly larger and growing with each passing day.

Specifications:

DAC type: Dual Mode USB and Optical (SPDIF)
Inputs: USB/Optical (SPDIF)
Outputs: RCA stereo/3.5mm headphone
D/A converter: AKM4396
Optical receiver: CS8416
USB controller: TI1020B
USB: Type 1.1 or above
Full-scale output: 2.0V RMS (RCA and Headphone)
Output impedance: 47 ohms RCA, 10 ohms headphone
Power source: USB 5V
Power requirements: 200mA
USB power filtering: 2-stage redundant regulation
SNR: >110db
THD+N: <0.002%
Crosstalk: <-85db
Frequency response: 10Hz – 25KHz +/- 0.5db
Input bit depth: up to 24 bits
Input data rate: up to 192kpbs (optical), 96kpbs (USB)
Product dimensions: 3.5” x 4” x 1″ Shipping weight: 1.0lbs (0.5kg)

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Tec-on Model “55” Integrated Amp/USB DAC

Tec-on Model “55” Integrated Amp/USB DAC

Specifications

  • RCA single-ended inputs
  • USB DAC (accepts 16-bit 44.1/48kHz)
  • EL84 x 2 output tubes [fitted with 6P14 “Beijing” in current production]
  • 5755 Raytheon NOS driver tube
  • Self-biasing
  • Zero global negative feedback
  • Choke input filter
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) @ 1kHz, 8 Ohm less than 1% at 4.5 Watts
  • Frequency Response: 17Hz – 27kHz (-3 dB); 30Hz – 17 kHz (-1 dB) Input Impedance: 47 KOhms
  • Power Source: 115/230VAC switchable Power Consumption: 80 Watts Dimension: 7 1/2″ (W) x 10″ (D) x 7″ (H) Weight: 13 lbs
  • Price: $749, currently on special for $398 with free shipping in USA

Confessions

Let me start by stating that I am not a tube guy. It’s not that I have anything against the little glass bottles of fire, or that I think sand amps have any inherent sonic benefit. In fact, some of the best systems I’ve heard have been tube based, not to mention that I love the warm glow when listening in the dark. I’ve also dabbled with hybrid power amps in the past, specifically the long-gone Counterpoint designs in which their MOSFET solid-state output probably colored the music more so than the tube input stage. I even toyed with a couple of DIY tube preamps, albeit with mixed results most likely stemming from my all-thumbs abilities with a soldering iron. But for one reason or another, I myself have never ventured headlong down the valve audio path.

Bottom line – I’m no tube guru that will wax rhapsodic about topologies, transformers and rolling the lastest NOS finds from Ebay. On the contrary, my penchant for Magnepan speakers has directed me towards monster-power solid-state amps given that I do not have the wherewithal to invest in the kind of tube power needed to drive these hungry, lowefficiency transducers. More recently, I’ve embraced the new generation of Pulse-Width Modulated (PWM) amps which are more commonly, though perhaps incorrectly, identified as “digital” amps. I love their typically neutral sound (though some may think of it as overly analytical) that is detailed and effortless combined with remarkable bass extension and control. I bring all this up as a point of reference to properly frame the following review. read more…

Musiland MD10 USB DAC

Musiland MD10 USB DAC

If 2007 wasn’t, then for sure 2008 is the year for music servers. Add-on products are popping up right and left, leading to a myriad of choices and some definite confusion among music server newbies. One of the most fascinating DAC units is the multi-purpose Musiland MD10. It has a tremendous feature set for a small form factor unit that looked quite at home on top of the Underwood modified PS Audio Trio C-100 or the Jolida JD100 cdp.

Specifications:

  • 24bit System, up to 192kHz Sampling Frequency
  • BNC, Coax, USB or Toslink inputs
  • Microcomputer Control, LCD Display, OSD Menu Line or Earphone Analog Audio Output Interface Class A Earphone Amplifier
  • Sampling Frequencies: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz
  • 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz or, 192kHz Analog Audio Output Interface: RCA 3.5 mm Phone Socket
  • CIRRUS CS4398 D/A Chip, Up to 120Db SNR Dual digital filtering: 102 db or 75 db
  • Balance Analog Filter class A AMP.
  • LCD Display Real-time to Show Sampling Rate
  • Dimensions: (inches) 6.25. w x 8.5d x 2h
  • Price: $299
  • Manufacturer: DIYEDEN

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DIY: Poor Man’s Music Server (with apologies to Sooloos)

DIY: Poor Man’s Music Server (with apologies to Sooloos)

Some months back Sooloos brought to the market a stunning evolution in music servers. Combining a 17” touch panel screen (Control), rectangular computer module (Source), hard drive modules (Store), and an advanced software package. It has taken the music server system to a new level of sophistication along with a stratospheric price tag of $12,900. For those wishing to stay in the four figures, there is the Qsonic Q110, starting at a measly $5995 for a 250 gigabyte version. read more…

Benchmark DAC1 USB

Benchmark DAC1 USB

Specifications

  • USB, XLR balanced, BNC coaxial, and TOSLINK optical digital inputs
  • Compatible with Windows Vista/XP/2000 and Mac OS X without driver installation
  • Elected low-impedance 10, 20, or 30 db pads on bal- anced outputs
  • Jumper-selected low-impedance 10, 20, or 30 dB pads on balanced outputs
  • -10 dBV unbalanced RCA analog outputs, +13.5 dBu maximum output level
  • Two HPA2™ high-current, 0-Ohm, high-output 1/4″ headphone outputs
  • HPA2™ gain jumpers to match gain to headphone sen- sitivity
  • Front-panel volume control for headphone outputs Front-panel volume control of all analog outputs (in “Variable” mode)
  • Rear-panel “Variable/Calibrated” mode switch enables volume control of analog outputs
  • Rear-panel “Variable/Calibrated” mode switch includes a mute position
  • XLR outputs are preset to +4dBu at 0 dBFS in “Calibrated” mode (20-dB Pad enabled)”
  • Automatic “Standby Mode” -activated after 15 seconds of loss of digital input signal
  • Instant wake-up from “Standby Mode” –
  • THD+N = -107 dB, 0.00045% @ -3 dBFS input, -105 dB, 0.00056% @ 0 dBFS input
  • Automatic de-emphasis in response to consumer pre-emphasis bit (44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz)
  • 115 V, 230 V, 50-60 Hz international power supply
  • Low radiation toroidal power transformer Dimensions: 9.5in W x 1.725in H x 9.33in D Weight: 7 lbs
  • Price: $1,275.00
  • Manufactured in USA

For several years the world of digital audio has been going through a metamorphosis. Audio enthusiasts have seen the creation of several high resolution encoding formats. However, the state of these formats is uncertain, and it is quite probable that all of the current high-resolution formats will fade from the audio landscape. Still, the standard compact disc soldiers on, and comprises large portion of most enthusiast’s music library. Even though it is a mature technology, the audio community is still finding ways to tease higher levels of performance from this format. One of the recent trends in digital audio is the storage of music on large computer hard drives. In these systems, the traditional CD transport is completely eliminated. The cost of large hard drives have fallen dramatically over the last few years, and have become a cost effective way to feed a high quality signal to a digital to analog converter. From a practical standpoint, the hard drive will rival the signal quality of a very expensive stand-alone transport. The tricky part of this process is interfacing the hard drive with the audio system. read more…

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