T.H.E. Show Los Angeles – Budget DAC Round Up

In addition to the usual DAC sightings from Bel Canto, Emotiva, and Benchmark (DAC1) I did run across a few new DACs that caught my eye.  It seems lately that quite a few smaller utilitarian DACs have been making a splash within the audiophile and headphone enthusiast communities and I am always on the lookout for something portable that will impress.

Wyred 4 Sound has a new micro DAC line up coming out that I found quite interesting.  In addition to their higher-end DAC1 and 2 units, Wyred 4 Sound is already selling a new micro DAC with USB (24/96), TOSLINK (24/192), and COAX (24/192) inputs with a single RCA analog output in a smaller unit. Two cool features of this unit: 1. It allows for input switching. 2. It allows for power supply switching, so you can juice it with either your standard wall wart OR USB power, which is a very nice option to have.The new editions to the lineup include a Micro Link USB (24/192) to S/PDIF (Coax, Toslink and BNC) and a unit that was still just a prototype for the show called the micro DAC-HD.  It boasts a higher resolution USB input (24/192) than the micro DAC AND wait for it, wait for it…a headphone output.  The unit accepts only USB input however, it still allows for wall wart or USB power supply.While AudioEngine is know more for their bookshelf speaker line, they did have their D1 and D2 products on display.  The D1 is a $169-ish priced DAC with optical and USB inputs.  This unit can also be powered via USB.  The D2 DAC/wireless streamer did an excellent job (from what I could discern in the noisy listening area) of retaining the sound quality of the music to the receiving unit placed across the room.The Italian company M2Tech was showcasing their EVO (not the phone) line of DACs with a few bonus options.  The EVO product line includes an external clock generator that syncs sources with the EVO DAC (or other compatible devices) and claims to reduce jitter and further improve sound quality.Ascending into higher price points, Lavry also made a showing with its DA11 DAC with balanced outputs.  This DAC offers a unique adjustable crossfeed feature that could come in handy for reducing the fatigue generated with some of your favorite Beatles stereo recordings.

Mike Mercer from CEntrance was also on the scene letting people know about the well-received DACport, DACMini CX and the DACMini all-in-one desktop speaker system.The Analog to Digital/DAC called Hilo by Lynx by kept popping up in different rigs that implemented vinyl music.  I heard some outstanding and unique playback through this DAC and Channels D’s Pure Vinyl/Pure Music software.

While not exactly a “budget” amp, Antelope took the crown for fancy design with their new prototype the Atomic AD/DA preamp.  It was displayed within a protective case so no one would touch it.