Hifi News - DACs
PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC
PS Audio launch the Stellar Gain Cell DAC
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.
iFi Audio nano iOne
iFi Audio launch the nano iOne
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.
Audiolab M-DAC Mini
Audiolab launch the M-DAC Mini - A portable DAC and headphone amp
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.
Oppo Sonica DAC
Oppo launch the Sonica DAC
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.
iFi Audio iGalvanic
iFi Audio reveal the iGalvanic
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.
Chord Hugo 2
Chord launch Hugo 2 - A successor to the award winning Hugo - portable USB DAC and headphone amp
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.
Chord launch Poly - A plug in streamer for the Chord Mojo portable USB DAC and headphone amp
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.
iFi Audio nano iDSD Light Edition
iFi Audio launch the nano iDSD Light Edition DAC and headphone amp
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 :-
McIntosh D1100 Digital Preamplifier
McIntosh Launch The D1100 Digital Preamplifier
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 !
iFi Audio Micro iDSD Black
iFi Audio Launch The Micro iDSD Black
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 :-
Chord Electronics Offers Free Mojo Carry Case With All New MOJO Purchases This Holiday Season
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.
Benchmark DAC3 HGC
Benchmark Launch the DAC3 HGC - USB DAC And Headphone Amp
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.
Chord Electronics Have Launched The Mojo Cable Accessory Pack Complete With Add-On USB Module
hord Electronics has launched a comprehensive Cable Accessory Pack for the Mojo DAC/headphone amp, to include cables, adaptors and a USB adaptor block
Sony launch the TA-ZH1ES - DAC, Pre-amp and Headphone amp
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.
NAD Announce MQA Is Now Available on NAD BluOS-enabled Systems
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.
Cyrus Reveal soundKey A Tiny USB DAC
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.
Chord Electronics Launch The Chord Mojo Case
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.
Cyrus will soon launch an inline DAC called the Sound Key
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.
Auralic Altair - Streaming DAC
Auralic Launch The Altair - A Streaming DAC
uralic have continued their winter (here in the UK that is) star and constellation theme with the Altair streaming DAC. The Altair is a USB DAC that's going to retail in June at between $1,899 that includes Wi-Fi, and Ethernet digital connections in addition to the usual trio of USB, optical and Coax plus in the Altair's case AES/EBU. Streaming to Altair is also possible via TIDAL and Qobuz, Internet Radio, AirPlay, Bluetooth, Songcast and RoonReady. Altair can also have internal digital storage added as an optional extra.
Audio Research Foundation Series
Audio Research Reveal The Foundation Series - DAC9 LS28 And PH9
he new Audio Research Foundation Series currently comprises three models the LS28 a Preamp the PH9 a Phono Stage and the DAC9 a USB DAC. These Foundation models were first seen at the Munich High End HiFi Show 2016. Foundation sits below the G series , which in turn sits below the Reference series.
Optoma NuForce uDAC5
Optoma NuForce Launch The uDAC5 - A USB Powered DAC And Headphone Amp
he Optoma NuForce uDAC5 is a small enough to fit in your pocket USB powered Hi-Res Audio capable DAC and headphone amp (yours for £199). The uDAC5 has analogue outputs so the DAC output can be fed into an integrated amp or a power amp to act as a source for a conventional HiFi system. The Hi-Res Audio decoding capabilities of the uDAC5 extend to 24 bit 192 kHz PCM and DSD256 or quadruple DSD.
PS Audio NuWave DAC
PS Audio Launch The NuWave DSD DAC
he NuWave DSD DAC (yours for £949) uses trickle down technology from PS Audio’s top of the range DirectStream DAC , and applies these in a smaller-scale, lower-cost DAC. The NuWave DSD is fully asynchronous and can decode PCM up to 192 kHz 24 bit from any digital source, including I2S, coax, TOSLINK and USB. DSD computer audio files (both single and double rate) can be decoded via both USB and I2S.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black
Audioquest Dragonfly Black and Red - More Info From Audioquest
udioQuest describe the launch of Dragonfly Black and Dragonfly Red as one of our worst kept secrets in recent history so much so that HiFi Enthusiast has already run a piece on these two USB DAC and headphone amps (link below) ! Now both DragonFlys are officially launched and are available to buy. £89 in the UK or Euros €99 gets you a Dragonfly Black – the lower output Dragonfly that replaces the Dragonfly 1.2. Paying £169 or €199 gets you the higher output Dragonfly Red.
Arcam Launch The Arcam irDAC-II - USB DAC / Headphone Amp
he Arcam irDAC-II was first seen at CES 2016 and later at the Bristol HiFi Show 2016 and is an upgraded version of the Arcam irDAC technically an Asynchronous USB DAC - Digital Pre-Amp - Headphone Amp –and Advanced Bluetooth Streamer. In the Arcam irDAC-II both performance and functionality have seen a major upgrade but not the price (£495 vs £399).
Audio-Technica Launch The AT-HA5050H USB DAC And Headphone Amp
he Audio-Technica AT-HA5050H (yours for £4,500 or US $5,999.00), first seen at CES2016, is both a USB DAC And a Headphone Amp. Audio-Technica describe the AT-HA5050H as a hybrid headphone amp, as the AT-HA5050H uses E88CC tubes in the preamp stage to enhance warmth of the sound quality and bipolar transistors in the power amp section driving the headphones. There's also multiple headphone outputs (arranged in Headphone A four sensitivities and Headphone B four sensitivities) so you can find the ideal match between a headphone output on the AT-HA5050H and the sensitivity of your headphones. Oh and also drive two pairs of headphones at once. To go with the retro aspect of valve amplification there's also two glowing VU meters on the front of the AT-HA5050H.
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