What is it?
A battery powered (re-chargeable) USB to Analogue output DAC/Sound card for a PCor MAC. It comes with a USB cable to charge the internal batteries, so can be left powered up, or run purely from its battery power supply.
What’s the Technical Blurb?
The lithium batteries will give around 12 hours of play back time. The modified hiface handles 32bit 192khz sampling and uses a minimum phase, low latency digital interpolation IIR filter which eliminates pre-echo of the signal endemic to other digital filters.
What does it look and feel like?
The box is a standard hobbyist aluminum chassis, with two buttons/lamps on the front. To indicate running, charging and running from battery in combinations. The styling, such as there is any, is purely utilitarian, but the device is none the worse for it. I think in most systems it would be hidden away, as a small portable, functional unit, rather than pride of place on the top shelf.
Why would I want one?
Sound quality. Nothing more, nothing less. If, like me, you now have a growing library of carefully ripped music, in loss-less formats (mine’s mostly FLAC) and you want to run a USB DAC directly into your amp, then this is as good as I’ve heard.
It has a very high end sound to it, the music is clean in sound, the word I kept coming back to was clean. I’ll keep saying clean so I can avoid the inky blackness cliché.. Doh! Oh well, when you hear one, you’ll realise why that was unavoidable. It truly does leave space between the notes, it presents the music, with warmth and detail. Never dry sounding, even with lower bit rate MP3, and never bloated. It’s just “right” somehow.
John does a whole range of DACs to suit all practical solutions, from SPDIF to USB and back again, and the prices are sensible (this unit is 500 Euro), the sound quality is excellent. Maybe it came as a surprise due to the humble looks and packaging. Well worth a listen, try one. But be warned, you’ll end up buying one if you do!
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