NO questioning this, there’s a monstrously massive market for headphones these days. Even audiophiles see the benefit of total acoustic isolation from their environment while listening to their favourite tracks – it can be an immediate and immersive experience with the right sort of gear.
Thus, the growing demand for accessories that help one attain such sonic raptures – something, say, like a good quality headphone amplifier with an onboard digital-to-analogue converter to help you get better results from that crummy computer …
California-based NuForce Inc, already well entrenched in the digital realm with its Class D amplifier designs, now steps boldly into this territory with the DAC-100, a USB-equipped DAC with a headphone amp that promises to fill the auditory canals with audiophile-grade sound.
The DAC-100, which incorporates several of the company’s innovations, has four digital inputs (USB and S/PIDF), digital volume control, a high-power headphone amp with extremely low distortion, a high-resolution analogue RCA output stage and wireless remote.
The digital input stage operates in asynchronous mode, thus avoiding timing errors associated with the incoming digital audio stream. The headphone amp, delivering 550mW, is powerful enough to drive most headphones without running short of breath. The amp section is single-ended Class A, which audiophiles will love.
The analogue preamp stage is a “minimalist design that offers a signal path that approaches a straight wire with gain level of performance” says NuForce; it delivers a full 2.0Vrms at the RCA outputs.
The 24-bit/192kHz DAC stage converts digital audio data to analogue signals at native sampling rate – that’s right, no up-sampling or digital manipulation here, NuForce opts for the purist path. Silver (with a two-tone fascia) or black are the cosmetic options.
The DAC-100, which is now available worldwide, retails for US$1,095 and can be ordered via the NuForce Online Store, NuForce Amazon Online Store and NuForce resellers.