Seems like everyone is keen to make your digital music files sound better via a USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC) these days. We’re in the process of reviewing Meridian’s Explorer, and Audioquest’s Dragonfly is rumored to make computer music sound amazing. Denon is joining the fray, as well, announcing today its DA-300USB High-Definition USB Digital Audio Converter and Headphone Amplifier ($499) for “audiophile-quality playback of digital music files.”
What we like about this little guy is that you can use it with headphones or in a stereo system, meaning you won’t necessarily be tethered to your computer. Thanks to coaxial and optical digital inputs, you can not only connect it directly to your stereo system, but to other devices without USB ports, like media players, CD/DVD players, televisions, Apple TV, and game consoles. You can even position this little guy horizontally or vertically for flexible installation in your home entertainment or desktop system.
This is Denon’s first stand-alone USB DAC, which should make your computer music libraries and streaming audio (from any PC or Mac) sound better using Denon’s AL32 processing and 32-bit, 192-kHz digital-to-analog conversion technologies. Noise-isolating circuit design prevents distortion via USB connection from computer-generated digital noise, according to Denon. Here’s how it works:
The computer recognizes the DA-300USB as an external soundcard, and bypasses its own lower-quality audio electronics. Any digital audio format that can be played from the computer’s own media player can be processed by the DA-300USB—including MP3/MP4, AAC, ALAC, WAV and FLAC HD (up to 24 bit, 192 kHz) and DSD (the native file format for SACD; in 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz resolution). The digital audio stream from the computer to the DA-300USB is transferred in bit-transparent, asynchronous mode to ensure a bit-perfect data stream for high-definition advanced AL32 processing and high-precision digital-to-analog conversion.
If you want better performance from all your audio files, the DA-300USB is worth a gander. Expect it to be at select electronics dealers in March.