Outboard DACs

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Ed Selley  |  Nov 12, 2010  |  0 comments
DAC to the future Arcam, one of the pioneers of off-board DACs re-enters the market. Ed Selley finds out if the wait was worth it Over 20 years ago Arcam produced the Back Box standalone digital-to- analogue convertor. This was one of the first (for obvious reasons, the claim to exactly who was first is hotly contested) devices that could bypass the output of an existing CD player via an S/PDIF digital output and convert it to an analogue signal via a higher-quality output stage than the CD player had internally. Consequently, the Black Box was highly regarded and sold well.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 26, 2010  |  0 comments
Digital demon A high-end DAC, the Stello DA100 Signature is intended for the audiophile who thought he had everything. Richard Black investigates Stello is a brand of April Music, a Korean manufacturer of distinctive audio electronics. The distinctiveness is felt not just in the looks, but also in the features: this is just about the only DAC we can think of with an I2S input. Matched – surprise, surprise – by a Stello CD transport, this is in fact an industry-standard interface, but is normally used within equipment (on circuit boards rather than between boxes).
Ed Selley  |  Oct 22, 2010  |  0 comments
The great transformer The valve-equipped Matrix DAC from Synthesis transforms ordinary CD players into extraordinary ones, says Jason Kennedy Sometimes a product comes along that manages to create a buzz without any fanfare whatsoever and the Synthesis DAC, from a relatively unknown Italian company, has done just that. In fact, Synthesis doesn’t even feature the Matrix DAC on its website, so full credit must go to UK distributor Audio Images, for this cunning bit of stealth marketing. Synthesis, not to be confused with Audio Synthesis of passive preamp fame, makes a system’s worth of electronics and speakers and finishes it in some very Italian colours. It’s clearly into the sound of valves, so it’s no surprise to see two pairs lying horizontally under a vent in the top of the unit, but how they fit the transformers into such a slim box is something of a mystery.