May issue on sale 25 April

Welcome to the May issue

Vinyl may be the format grabbing the headlines and encouraging music fans to embrace all things analogue following this year's Record Store Day which took place on Saturday April 13, but there are also plenty of remarkable things happening in the world of digital audio. The digital music landscape has changed significantly in recent years and instead of downloads dominating the way we listen to music, streaming has become the go-to way to access millions of tracks via pay-for services from the likes of Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal, to name a few.

Digital is the way many of us listen to music at home and if you want to experience it at its best in whatever format, then you need a serious DAC, such as the ones in this month's Group Test.

A USB DAC is an essential part of today’s hi-fi setup and the job sheet for these six ambitious designs is long and all-embracing, with a minimum requirement to cater for 24/192 PCM music files and some that also incorporate DSD and the MQA codec. It's not just hi-res digital files that benefit though, and adding a dedicated DAC can be an effective upgrade to a CD player and every bit of audio that comes out of a computer's USB port. With an ability to act as a digital hub and, increasingly, with a volume control, a DAC can streamline a setup so that it can be connected directly to a power amp or active speakers, removing the need for a traditional preamp.

Lee Dunkley, Editor