DAC Reviews

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 18, 2011
I can remember the first time I saw a picture of the Bel Canto SET 40 power amplifier which employed a pair of 845 triode output tubes surrounded by some cool-ass Metropolis/Tesla/Frankenstein-looking tube cages and thinking—these guys are different. Fast forward to today which is a far cry from any of the futures envisioned by anyone even in 1990 when Bel Canto Design first opened its lab for business and we find a bevy of products housed in the same clothes regardless of function; switching power amplifiers, preamplifiers, DACs, a CD player, a CD transport, and an integrated amplifier. While the tubes have disappeared, the feeling that these guys are different remains.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 14, 2011
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.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 07, 2011
A true Asynchronous USB DAC using Wavelength's Streamlength software capable of handling 24 bit/96kHz for $550? Including cables?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 02, 2011
This list has been replaced by this list.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 27, 2011
J. Gordon Rankin is the Owner and Chief Scientist at Wavelength Audio. If you’re new to Wavelength Audio and you came to them through the usbdacs.com website, you may be surprised to learn that J. Gordon Rankin has been at this from way back before NOS stood for non-oversampling. Gordon has been designing and building Single-Ended Tube Amplifiers using NOS (new old stock) tubes since the early 1980s.
jon iverson  |  Feb 23, 2011
Art Dudley and others have covered the first products released by HRT, and now the company has added to its product line a Pro version of its Music Streamer, which sports balanced circuit design from tip to tail.

Housed in the same simple, functional, six-sided case of extruded aluminum as HRT's other products, the Pro is painted a bright blue to distinguish it from the Music Streamer II (red) and Music Streamer II+ (gray). At 5.6" it is also a tad longer than the others, and includes a single B-type USB 1.1 jack centered on one end, and two small, fully balanced TiniQ output jacks on the other. More about these special mini sockets later.

John Atkinson  |  Jun 14, 2010
I have built up a large collection of CDs since the medium's launch more than a quarter century ago, along with a modest number of SACDs and a small number of DVD-As. But I find these days that, unless I'm getting down to some serious listening and can give the music my uninterrupted attention, I use iTunes to feed computer files to my high-end rig (footnote 1). I've mostly been using the superb-sounding combination of dCS Puccini U-Clock and Puccini player/DAC that I reviewed last December to take a USB feed from a Mac mini, but I've also been using the Bel Canto USB Link 24/96 and Stello U2 USB-S/PDIF converters, particularly for headphone listening, when I use one of those two format converters with a Benchmark DAC1 D/A headphone amplifier.
Wes Phillips  |  Oct 16, 2009
These days, it seems you can't shake a stick without hitting a USB DAC, but Ayre's QB-9 ($2500) is something a little different. Ayre's marketing manager, Steve Silberman, was adamant: "The QB-9 isn't a computer peripheral. It makes computers real high-end music sources."
Art Dudley  |  Jun 23, 2009
While my enthusiasm for the long-discontinued Sony PlayStation 1 remains high (see the July 2008 Stereophile), I freely acknowledge that not every high-end audio enthusiast wants a CD player with an injection-molded chassis, a Robot Commando handset, and a remarkable lack of long-term reliability: Yes, the Sony sounds wonderful, but sound isn't everything.

Nor is an expensive high-end CD player the answer to everyone's needs. With world-class LP players available for a few thousand dollars and up, some hobbyists are, if anything, increasingly reluctant to spend that much or more on a medium they consider to be inherently inferior.