Designed with the computer audiophile in mind.
A few years ago, I was given a gaming chair that came complete with a built-in audio system. I ran into a problem though when I had realized that the audio inputs on the chair were analog and the audio output from my gaming system was digital. In that case, I wasn’t sure how to get it to work until I did a little research and found that there were digital-to-analog audio converters. These handy little devices make it possible for you to use older devices with newer ones. At the time, I had to track this little box down at Radio Shack, but now, there are much better and easier to use options for converting an analog signal to digital. One such option is the Audioengine D1 DAC Headphone AMP.
Audioengine makes some truly remarkable products and they are a company I’ve been impressed with for quite some time. We had the opportunity to review the HD3 Wireless Speakers from Audioengine and they have become a permanent installation on one of our workstations. I recently got my hands on a set of studio monitors from a different company and realized that I would need a digital-to-analog converter that would work with my computer if I wanted to use them. So, I turned to Audioengine for a solution and got the Audioengine D1 DAC Headphone AMP (“DAC” stands for digital-to-analog converter).
I really wanted something that was “plug-and-play” with my Mac and had read many good things about the D1 DAC. It’s an impressive little box and it brings new meaning to good things come in small packages. The device allows you to bypass your computer’s sound card or headphone output and send audio directly through USB or optical. It is a 24-bit DAC so it’s ideal for being a go-between for your computer and music system. The D1 DAC will not only pull audio from computers, but it will also work with your TV, Apple TV, and DVD/BluRay player. It’s powered by USB so it can also act as a high-quality portable computer headphone amplifier.
The D1 DAC is super easy to use. When you take it out of the box, you will notice that it only ships with a USB cable. You will use this to connect to your computer. I have a 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar so I had to connect through a Thunderbolt 3 dock since I only have USB-C ports on my computer. I am happy to report that this type of connection did not alter the sound quality or functionality of the DAC. Once you have established your computer connection, you can connect your output method (speakers). For my purposes, I had to acquire stereo RCA cables for the studio monitors and then the connection to the DAC. I picked up a set at Best Buy for around $10. I made sure that the red cable was going to one monitor while the white was going to the other. Each of the studio monitors is powered so I had to make sure the power switches were flipped on before playing any music.
The D1 DAC has a power indicator LED and its own volume control on the front of the box. There is also a headphone jack should you want to plug into it. Before playing any sound through your output speakers, I would recommend turning the volume down on the DAC, your input device, and speakers (if applicable). When I played music through the studio monitors, it ended up causing Robyn to have a headache the rest of the night because of the power behind the sound.
The Audioengine D1 DAC Headphone AMP is a really great investment if you are faced with a digital-to-analog audio roadblock like I was. It’s small so it doesn’t take up much space, it’s powered so you shouldn’t need an external amp, and it has a less than 5 minute set-up time.
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