Getting High (definition) Without Wires
The Audioengine D2 DAC is one of a new and few breed of wireless DACs capable of sending, receiving, and playing high definition music up to 24-bit/96kHz. As a matter of fact, I know of no other wireless DAC that'll do the same, today. Of course there are loads of UPnP streamers out there that include wireless capabilities but I'm talking about just-a-DAC with 24/96 wireless capabilities built-in (i.e. no dongle needed). One basic difference is wireless DACs are file format agnostic whereas streamers are not. They're more picky. And most streamers piggyback on your existing wi-fi network whereas the D2 provides its own.
Green Means Go
The playGo USB is to my way of seeing a fine industrial design. It’s clearly not your typical black stamped-metal box with a slightly fancier façade kinda deal. Rather these things, the transmitter and receiver, have character. Made from DuPont’s Corian of kitchen counter fame, there’s one that’s round (the transmitter) and another that’s square with rounded edges (the receiver). Both sandwich an opening so you can see their LCDs glow to signify various operating modes; solid red (power is on but the devices do not see each other), solid green (power is on the devices see each other), pulsing green (music is playing) and pulsing red, green and blue (power is on and the units are in connecting mode). While you can defeat the LCD display, why would you want to especially this time of year. I actually like their cool warm glow and the amount of light they emit is not too much for me. Om.
Let's get the not so good technical news out of the way up front–the DAC 1 Wireless USB Digital-to-Analogue Converter transmits and receives at 16 bit/ 44kHz max. We're talking CD quality sound (actually potentially better since we're also talking about computer-based audio). The good news is the DAC 1 creates its own point-to-point 2.4 GHz wireless network meaning you don't need to have an existing wireless network to plug and play.
Usually, a Stereophile "Follow-Up" follows up (duh!) a full review of the component in question. This review, however, is intended to flesh out a cryptic comment made by Wes Phillips in April's "As We See It": "When Apple introduced its AirPort Express wireless multimedia link," Wes wrote, "it even included a digital port so that an audiophile—such as Stereophile's editor—could network his system, using the AE to feed his Mark Levinson No.30.6 outboard D/A converter. 'Sounds okay,' deadpans JA."