Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The new headphone amps keep on coming

 Moving into slightly more expensive territory than the small USB headphone amp/dac market, but adding significantly more capability. Underwood Audio is at it again. For $799 you get headphone amp, DAC and choice of solid state or tube output. First part of a series of matching products that will add a phono stage, streamer, and power amp designs.  Here's the official PR, edited only slightly to take the breathless edge off:

Walter Liederman and Underwood Hifi announces an Incredible Full-Featured High Res DAC with remote controlled Preamp and Headphone Amp that has both Vacuum Tube Outputs as well as Solid State - you choose Your Voice and Musical Style.

Liederman went on to explain –  The Discovery Series is all about introducing audiophiles to quality at down to earth prices. This DAC/Control Center is now shipping and will be followed up shortly with a Peter Madnick Designed MM/MC Phono Stage and a then a Volumio-Powered Music Streamer. These products will tip the scales in Budget Reference for these product groups. Please do not think for a moment that we forgot a Power Amp to complete the Discovery Series. In the same package you will soon see a NEW Class D, Wide-Bandwidth 150 watt per channel Stereo Power Amp (350 watts in mono)

We are really excited about these products. It is these lower priced items that require a special discipline that our teams have. These are many of the Designers and Product Planners from the original Audio Alchemy from the early 90’s. These guys knew how to set the market on fire with Budget Reference products that have stood the test of time. 

A bit more about the DPH-1

The DPH-1 has an array of four Digital Inputs using the Dream Team Chip Set of the AKM AK4118 Digital Input Receiver and the AK 4495 DAC. It decodes PCM to 24/192k as well as DSD. This  Preamp Control Center is complete with a Rotary Encoder Volume Control and has both tube and solid state single ended outputs. The tube buffer stage is based on a GE NOS tube. Both outputs can even be run simultaneously into an amplifier or line-in enabled integrated amp to give you both solid state and tube sonics. 

With Internet Direct Pricing we were able to include an R-core based Power Supply, audiophile grade caps from WIMA of Germany and Solen from France as well as Dale resistors from the USA.  In addition to USB, coax and optical inputs we even included a BNC input.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Another USB DAC/Headhpone amp - this time from Clarus

Just received this from Clarus -- might be of interest to headphone aficionados and those sold on MQA (which would not include me).  $300, not cheap but the specs look impressive,  it has vol control and choice of filters. Better still, it promises software upgradability into the (unspecified) future. Coming in December. 

November 12th, 2020 — Clarus® announces the CODA, a new USB DAC with Headphone Amplifier that includes an MQA renderer. The CODA features the latest in USB-DAC technology that provides ultra-low distortion, more detail, greater dynamics, and a bigger sound stage. Designed to be used with a smartphone, tablet or computer, the CODA has a 2-button volume control and a choice of three roll-off filters.

The heart of the Clarus CODA is a New Legendary ESS Professional Series SABRE® DAC audio converter with Hyperstream® II modulation that provides previously unheard-of improved sound stage and clarity. QUAD DACTM Technology delivers superb 124dB DNR and -112dB THD+N for the ultimate in sound quality with a stable sound field. The low-power USB controller supports USB 1.1 and 2.0 and can natively handle 32-bit 384 kHz PCM and DSD up to 5.6MHz. The CODA’s class G headphone amplifier provides class AB performance with ultra-low power consumption optimized for mobile use. The 2.0Vrms output voltage will provide plenty of power for the most demanding headphones and class G ensures it won’t drain your battery.

Jay Victor designed the CODA with the new SABRE® DAC and these Audiophile features;

  • A High Precision Audio Grade Clock to reduce jitter
  • Audio Grade film capacitors 
  • 1% tolerance metal film resistors and Tight Power Supply Regulation using Multi-Stage, Low Noise, High Ripple Rejection CMOS Based Regulators 

Jay commented… “With any DAC, the printed circuit board layout is critical for low noise and best performance. Because of the small enclosed space, we used a high grade, high temperature PCB material to eliminate any overheating problems. It’s that level of attention to detail that enables CODA to provide a very enjoyable listening experience.”