Hifi News - DACs

Review - iFi Audio xDSD

iFi Audio xDSD

Introducing the iFi xDSD – next-generation mobile audio
T he iFi xDSD is a portable h-res headphone amp and DAC that replaces the iDSD (and competes directly with the Chord Mojo) at £399.

■ Product summary

• Uniquely specified and supremely musical hi-res DAC tech – studio-quality sound in your pocket

Review - Chord Mojo

Chord Mojo

Chord Electronics launches Gofigure, an intuitive configuration App for the advanced Poly streamer
C hord Electronics has launched Gofigure, the official configuration App for the advanced Poly network music streamer. Gofigure is an intuitive configuration App which provides easy network set-up and simple settings management, all within a slick and powerful interface. The App, which will initially be available for iOS devices with Android to follow, offers effortless navigation through Poly’s main configuration options and features an easy-to-use software wizard for simple network set-up.

Review - Chord Qutest

Chord Qutest

Chord launch the Qutest DAC
T he Chord Qutest at £1,195 can be approached in one of two ways – either as a cut down and cheaper alternative to the Hugo 2 (£1,800) or as an upgraded and direct replacement for the 2Qute. As a cut down Hugo 2 gone are the volume control , remote , headphone amp, rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth - the Qutest is also fixed output so requires a preamp or integrated amp. As an upgraded 2Qute the Qutest has the twice as powerful Hugo 2 chip and Hugo 2 controls and the digital filters. There are three new features in the Qutest which are - a user selectable output voltage of 1, 2 or 3 volts, galvanic isolation for better USB performance, and dual BNC digital inputs, capable of high speed data transport. So if you can’t stretch to a DAVE DAC but can stretch to a Chord Blu II transport the two can be paired together to take advantage of high speed digital transfer rates.

Review - Chord Mojo

Chord Mojo

Chord Electronics launches high-quality protective leather case for Mojo and Poly just in time for Christmas
C hord Electronics has introduced a high-quality Japanese-made protective leather case for Mojo and Poly. (£120) which is available now. Designed to complement Chord Electronics’ award-winning Mojo DAC/headphone amp and Poly wireless streamer/player, the Poly/Mojo leather case offers stylish protection for on-the-go usage. The case has been styled by Chord Electronics’ John Franks and Fumi Higashi San of VanNuys Inc. and is exclusively manufactured by VanNuys Inc. in Tokyo.

Review - Chord Mojo

Chord Mojo

Chord Officially launch Poly - A Streamer for the Mojo DAC
C hord Electronics, is empowering smartphones as hi-fi-quality music players with the launch of Poly, an advanced streamer that combines with Mojo to wirelessly stream music from a range of devices, with smartphone control. Poly is available now at £499; the Mojo DAC is £399.

Review - Chord Hugo 2

Chord Hugo 2

Chord Electronics announces protective leather case for its award-winning Hugo 2 DAC/headphone amp
B ritish high-performance audio specialist, Chord Electronics, has launched a high-quality Japanese-made protective leather case for its new Hugo 2 DAC/head amp which is available now priced at £125.

Review - McIntosh MHA50

McIntosh MHA50

McIntosh sound quality on the move with the new MHA50 Portable DAC + Headphone Amp
M cIntosh have entered the world of the Chord Mojo and Oppo HA-2 SE with their very first portable DAC headphone amp the MHA50 which offers both wired and wireless connectivity to devices via aptX Bluetooth 4.1. Inevitably it is more expensive at £895.

Review - iFi Audio iGalvanic 3.0

iFi Audio iGalvanic 3.0

iFi Audio launch the iGalvanic 3.0
U SB connectivity has become a crucial part of high-performance audio, as computers replace traditional hi-fi devices as the main source component in many systems. However, there’s a problem: computers and their USB interfaces are designed to support many functions and are not optimised for audio; USB connections are inherently ‘noisy’ and can introduce distortion to the audio signal, which affects sound quality.

Review - PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC

PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC

PS Audio launch the Stellar Gain Cell DAC
T he PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC retails for £1,700 so is PS Audio’s new entry level DAC. It is a Hi-Res Audio DAC, headphone amp and analogue preamp with both balanced and RCA analogue inputs. PS Audio describe the Stellar Gain Cell DAC as a redefined and improved NuWave DSD DAC, offering Pure DSD, asynchronous USB, Digital Lens technology, I²S and a Gain Cell analogue preamplifier, offering balanced throughout, analogue volume control, all in one chassis. I²S can be used to input an SACD digital stream from a transport with an I²S output.

Review - iFi Audio nano iOne

iFi Audio nano iOne

iFi Audio launch the nano iOne
T he iFi Audio nano iOne, at £199, is designed to be a convenient, high-quality digital audio ‘hub’ –a DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter) that is miniature in size yet big on features and performance. It can be used to boost sound from all manner of digital devices: smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs, TVs, games consoles, media streamers and more. It offers wireless connectivity over Bluetooth, as well as USB and S/PDIF digital inputs.

Review - Audiolab M-DAC Mini

Audiolab M-DAC Mini

Audiolab launch the M-DAC Mini - A portable DAC and headphone amp
T he Audiolab M-DAC mini is the fourth model in the Audiolab M-DAC range and at just £295.95 is a portable, re-chargeable battery powered, Hi-Res Audio capable DAC and headphone amp that offers wireless connectivity. The M-DAC Mini is the smallest of the four hi-res DAC/headphone amps in the range, but still contains the same core technologies that have earned the M-DAC family reviewer acclaim, for instance the M-DAC Mini’s decoding is based around the ES9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC used by the other DACs in the range.

Review - Oppo Sonica DAC

Oppo Sonica DAC

Oppo launch the Sonica DAC
T he Oppo Sonica DAC at £799 is Oppo’s best DAC to date just measured by the fact that the Sonica DAC employs the highest quality DAC chip that Oppo have ever used the ESS ES9038PRO SABRE DAC 32-bit HyperStream DAC. The Sonica DAC can be summed up as an Audiophile DAC & Network Streamer that offers Hi-Res Audio decoding, wireless connectivity via both Airplay and Bluetooth and is App Controllable via Smartphones and Tablets. It should be noted that the Oppo Sonica DAC is a pure DAC in that it doesn’t have a headphone socket. It does have one pair of RCA analogue inputs so could function as a pre-amp in a turntable, digital sources system.

Review - iFi Audio iGalvanic

iFi Audio iGalvanic

iFi Audio reveal the iGalvanic
T he iFi Audio iGalvanic, a lot smaller than the picture suggests, has just one digital input a USB type B and one USB type A output. What the iGalvanic offers (as the name suggests) is a means of doing Galvanic isolation for non Galvanically isolated USB DACs. Why does Galvanic isolation matter ? Well it offers complete separation between an electrically noisy source such as a computer and a sensitive (non Galvanically isolated) USB DAC. Without Galvanic isolation such a setup is prone to sounding noisy - examples being hissing sounds and ground loop hums. All of these degrade sound quality.

Review - Chord Hugo 2

Chord Hugo 2

Chord launch Hugo 2 - A successor to the award winning Hugo - portable USB DAC and headphone amp
C hord Electronics have launched the Chord Hugo 2 a redesigned version of the original award winning Hugo, portable headphone amp and DAC. Much of the original functionality of Hugo has been retained in Hugo 2 but there are now sound quality and usability improvements, due to the redesign, and a number of new features have been added. Certain features in Hugo 2 have been “trickled up” from the Chord Mojo, the second micro USB is now just for fast battery charging and Mojo style control spheres are used to much improve the usability of Hugo 2. Hugo 2 is still (no surprises here) based on proprietary Chord Electronics FPGA technology and the Watts Transient Aligned or WTA digital filter. The FPGA chip in Hugo 2 now has double the number of taps which has allowed gains in timing accuracy, noise reduction, headphone amp power and dynamic range.

Review - Chord Mojo

Chord Mojo

Chord launch Poly - A plug in streamer for the Chord Mojo portable USB DAC and headphone amp
T he Chord Electronics Poly, is a new network plug in module for the Chord Mojo portable USB DAC and headphone amp. Poly acts as a source offering hi-res wireless streaming and SD card music playback to Mojo, and is controlled by a smartphone app.

Review - iFi Audio nano iDSD Light Edition

iFi Audio nano iDSD Light Edition

iFi Audio launch the nano iDSD Light Edition DAC and headphone amp
T he iFi audio nano iDSD LE or Light Edition is a cut down version of the original nano iDSD, a Hi-Res Audio capable portable DAC/headphone amp, with a reduced price from $200 or £195 to $129 or £129. To enable a price reduction iFi have removed some of the features but sensibly stuck to the strengths of the original nano iDSD. The features removed are - no SPDIF out, no filter switch and no decoding of DSD128 computer audio files. The strong features retained are :-

Review - McIntosh D1100 Digital Preamplifier

McIntosh D1100 Digital Preamplifier

McIntosh Launch The D1100 Digital Preamplifier
T he McIntosh D1100 Digital Preamplifier at £8,995 (available December 2016 in the US) is a reference level digital preamplifier and has a DAC section which is McIntosh’s most advanced DAC to date, offering no fewer than 9 digital inputs !

Review - iFi Audio Micro iDSD Black

iFi Audio Micro iDSD Black

iFi Audio Launch The Micro iDSD Black
T he iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label is a special edition version of the micro iDSD – USB DAC and headphone amp and retails for US$549 (ex-tax) or Euro599/£455 (incl VAT). iFi describe the micro iDSD Black as the world's most powerful DSD/PCM/DXD battery-powered DAC. The improvements made in the iDSD Black are :-

Review - Chord Mojo

Chord Mojo

Chord Electronics Offers Free Mojo Carry Case With All New MOJO Purchases This Holiday Season
C hord Electronics is offering a free protective Mojo case* worth £65 with every new Mojo purchased in-store at participating retailers internationally until the 14th of January 2017. The award-winning Mojo DAC/headphone amp from Chord Electronics is being supplied with a free protective case* throughout the holiday season in store at participating retailers, internationally. The promotion offers the high-quality protective case (worth £65) with all new Mojo purchases bought in retail stores up until 14th January 2017.

Review - Benchmark DAC3 HGC

Benchmark DAC3 HGC

Benchmark Launch the DAC3 HGC - USB DAC And Headphone Amp
B enchmark's new DAC3 HGC looks very similar to the DAC2 HGC but offers better specifications, such as lower Total Harmonic Distortion and THD+N noise, resulting in better sound quality. The DAC3 also uses the new ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip.

Review - Chord Mojo

Chord Mojo

Chord Electronics Have Launched The Mojo Cable Accessory Pack Complete With Add-On USB Module
C hord Electronics has launched a comprehensive Cable Accessory Pack for the Mojo DAC/headphone amp, to include cables, adaptors and a USB adaptor block

Review - Sony TA-ZH1ES


Sony launch the TA-ZH1ES - DAC, Pre-amp and Headphone amp
T he Sony TA-ZH1ES is primarily a desktop Hi-Res Audio USB DAC and headphone amp based around an FPGA chip (as used by Chord Electronics and PS Audio). The TA-ZH1ES does have an analogue input and a pre-amp out analogue output so can also be used as a pre-amp into a conventional HiFi system.

Review - NAD M12


NAD Announce MQA Is Now Available on NAD BluOS-enabled Systems
T he following NAD digital decoders will be capable of decoding Meridian's MQA computer audio format - NAD M12, M50, M32 and C 390DD, via a free firmware upgrade. MQA stands for Master Quality Authenticated and is a revolutionary end-to-end technology that delivers master quality audio in a fully-authenticated file that’s small enough to stream to any NAD BluOS-enabled music systems in your home.

Review - Cyrus soundkey

Cyrus soundkey

Cyrus Reveal soundKey A Tiny USB DAC
C yrus are developing soundKey which is a micro-sized DAC and headphone amp built into a small robust aluminium casing that bypasses the low quality internal circuits of your phone. Cyrus soundKey is expected to retail at £99. The Cyrus soundKey will take the digital music signal directly to its own high quality DACs and amps to dramatically improve your music experience on the go. All this is in a device so small, you will hardly know it’s there.

Review - Chord Mojo

Chord Mojo

Chord Electronics Launch The Chord Mojo Case
C hord Electronics has launched a high-quality protective £65 case for their Mojo portable USB DAC and headphone amp. The new case clips over the outside of the Mojo and has been meticulously designed by Chord Electronics’ owner John Franks to protect the device while allowing full access to its innovative spherical controls and its generous connectivity options.

Review - SoundKey


Cyrus will soon launch an inline DAC called the Sound Key
H ifi House Cyrus is launching a Kickstarter Campaign to get it into the USB DAC business. They hope to raise £50k to allow them to tool up and build a small USB DAC to challenge Audioquest's mighty Dragonfly. We here at Hifi Enthusiast will keep you posted as to how the project turns out.


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