Category Archives: DAC

Chord QBD76 DAC

QBD76 I mentioned the Chordette Gem earlier. Now this little diamond has spawned a big brother in the Chord QBD76 DAC. The QBD76 is a truly high end DAC as you would expect from Chord Electronics. The major addition to DACs in general and its predecessor alike, is a the very same thing that makes the Chordette Gem so original – Bluetooth reception. An abundance of digital inputs, including USB, makes it a versatile hub in your audio system even so; but Bluetooth A2DP support now adds your mobile phone to the equation.

Incidentally. If you remember the old Flash Gordon comics, do you not hear Dr. Zarkov exclaim while straightening his back and pointing: “Duck Flash! That rocket ship is armed with a QBD76!”?

Peachtree Audio Decco

Decco This is not your everyday device! Period. Well, exclamation mark, really. It is not a streamer but a DAC with an integrated 50W amplifier with a tube driven preamp. It has an USB to connect to a computer and an assortment of digital inputs for other digital devices. Add to that 2 analogue inputs and you have a centrepiece for your audio system.

Slotted Sonos Now to the digital inputs. The Decco supports the Sonos system in a queer way. Not by interfacing to the proprietary Sonos network, nor by responding specifically to the Sonos remote. No, no. It has a cavity in the back where you can slide in the unpowered Sonos ZP80 and connect it by coax. Out of sight – out of mind, they seem to have been thinking. That’s a new one.

Chordette Gem

Chordette Gem British audiophile magazine What Hi-Fi? just released a quick news article on their web about an interesting device from Chord Electronics [otherwise known for their insanely exquisite high end audio components] – the Chordette Gem. The device is something as ingenious and yet so simple as a Bluetooth DAC. The idea is that you stream music from your mobile phone via Bluetooth. For more orthodox purposes it offers a USB socket as well.

What Hi-Fi? What Hi-Fi?

Bel Canto e.One Dac3

belcfront One of my favourite Shakespeare one liners [the better part of a verse, more like] is Juliet’s immortal outburst at Romeo; that had he been the nephew of Sid Vicious himself, he would have still been her one and only fancy… or as she put it: “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. It is obvious that John Stronczer, the chief at Bel Canto, had the core of this quote in mind when naming this DAC. Fortunately they omitted the name from the front – it looks extraordinarily slick in its purist attire.


Like the [near half priced] Benchmark DAC1 it sports a serious back panel with balanced XLR outputs. Specs tout a a 130dB dynamic range and an optimised and unbroken signal path without capacitors. The actual conversion is done with Burr-Brown PCM1792. The 5 inputs include USB next to the mandatory SPDIF and Toslink.

For an actual review, I strongly suggest you take a look at Stereophile’s article from last November.

Benchmark DAC1 USB

dac1usb The Benchmark DAC1 is not a streamer; it is a digital to analogue converter – a DAC. All digital sources have a DAC. Some of those mentioned in this blog have Burr-Brown converters or other high-end DACs. But if that is not enough and you really crave a clear signal path from your digital media to your amplifier, you want a DAC that is built with a bit more love and caring. The Benchmark DAC1 is one such external DAC.

Some 5 years ago Benchmark Media Systems made [more of] a name for themselves by releasing the DAC1 with a list price of less than $1,000. It boasted a 24 bit / 96KHz resolution, balanced outputs and generally rave reviews for perfect sound. Half a year ago they went on to release this new model in a line of successors, which as the name implies, offers a USB input port [supporting 24 bit / 96KHz] in addition to the SPDIF and Toslink ports [supporting 24 bit / 192KHz] already there. With the added USB port the DAC1 can now serve as a sound board for your computer as well as replace the built-in DAC in your media streamer; provided, of course, that your streamer has a digital output.

At a little over $1,200 the DAC1 USB is still an affordable option like its predecessor was before, even if it is a lot of money.

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