audio research
DAC8

Description
Digital-to-analog converter.

From the ARC website

We are pleased to introduce the new DAC8 digital to analog converter. Although physically similar to its predecessor, the DAC8 represents new engineering that advances the state of the art in high resolution USB audio and S/PDIF audio.

Audio Research has maximized the USB capability of the DAC8 by incorporating USB 2.0 HS (High Speed) which runs at 480Mbps. USB 2.0 HS has a lower jitter specification than USB 2.0 FS (Full Speed 12mbps), consequently the DAC8 is capable of reproducing music at higher definition/resolution (up to 24/192) than products communicating at USB 2.0 FS speeds (24/96).

In addition, the DAC8 employs a low jitter Dual Master Oscillator design that will provide superior digital to analog conversion via its USB 2.0 HS input as well as via the more traditional S/PDIF (RCA, BNC, Toslink and AES/EBU) inputs that are also included on the DAC8. Our USB 2.0 HS audio interface is optimized for all six sample- rates currently in popular use; 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz.

In the past, S/PDIF was the default interface mode for High Resolution music files at 176.4 and 192kHz. Now, with Audio Research’s Dual Master Oscillator, USB 2.0 HS interface, and our Quad D/A converter design, USB audio is finally elevated to the status once dominated by S/PDIF.

Consequently, regardless of whichever digital input you select, the Audio Research DAC8 promises to provide a superior listening experience.

In addition to the High Performance USB design, the DAC8 features:

  • "DAC8 HD Audio Device" software drivers, which allow listening to your music in its native sample rate as well as assuring BIT PERFECT, low jitter, data transfer from the computer to your DAC8. Because PC and Mac operating systems do not adequately support sample rates over 96kHz, Audio Research has developed ASIO drivers to make the USB audio experience sonically transparent at all sample rates.
  • Sample Rate measuring function: Measures and displays the correct digital sample rate being sent to the DAC8. This works in USB as well as S/PDIF mode. Consequently, at a glance, you always know exactly which sample rate is being decoded.
  • The DAC8 employs four 24-bit D/A converters. Each channel uses dual 24-bit D/A converters running in mono mode to lower the noise floor and increase the dynamic range.
  • Dual Master Oscillators: When the time base of any DAC is not an integer multiple of the digital music sample rate, decoding and quantization errors occur. Consequently, the DAC8 uses two low jitter Master Oscillators; one for 44.1, 88.2 & 176.4kHz sample rates and the other for 48, 96 & 192 kHz sample rates. The DAC8 automatically selects the correct Master Oscillator the instant digital music is detected at the selected input.
  • All inputs are galvanically isolated from the source to reduce or eliminate noise and/or jitter from entering the DAC8.
  • The Analog amplifiers in the DAC8 have received the same attention to detail as the digital section. Each channel of the DAC8 uses a true direct-coupled differential amplifier with a bandwidth in excess of 90kHz.
  • The DAC8’s USB and S/PDIF inputs are designed to accept signals from an HRx, 176.4kHz, 24-bit, High-Resolution music server system playing HRx’s DVD-R recordings. See www.referencerecordings.com/HRxSETUPS.asp for recommended music server setups.
  • By virtue of all of the above points and our proprietary software drivers, intrinsic jitter has been reduced to less than 10ps.

DAC8 HD AUDIO DEVICE SOFTWARE DRIVERS:

The DAC8’s USB driver software provides your computer with special high-speed audio drivers not supplied by MS Windows or Mac OS. The Audio Research USB drivers are specially designed to assure low jitter BIT PERFECT data transfer between the server/computer and the DAC8 at all sample rates. Our drivers setup the USB interface to guarantee bandwidth, independent of active bulk transfers from the hard drive.

From the ARC icon in your computer’s input tray you can set the DAC8 to any sample rate from 44.1 to 192kHz and allow the music server/management software to up or down convert your music to the selected sample rate.

Music lovers can use custom sample rate conversion algorithms or other file formats provided by third party suppliers such as Windows Media Player, iTunes, J Rivers Media Center, Media Monkey, FooBar, and many others to optimize your music experience.

The DAC8 is a fully balanced, zero-feedback, solid-state design utilizing a direct-coupled FET output stage with generous regulated power supplies and seven stages of regulation. There are separate new digital and audio power transformers, and the board material is the same as what we use in our Reference products. Dynamic, forceful, immediate, and possessing remarkable resolution and transparency, the DAC8 is a sonic knockout that is worthy of the finest music systems.

With a choice of high-resolution 24/192 S/PDIF inputs (RCA, BNC, AES/EBU and Toslink) in addition to the highest resolution 24/192 USB available, the ability to adjust sample rates, the DAC8 provides the new standard in high performance digital music playback.

Introduced
2010

Discontinued
Current

Revisions
-

Options
-

MSRP (US new retail)
$4,995

Specifications

Frequency response 0.5Hz – 90kHz, +0 -3dB
20Hz – 20kHz, +0 -.15dB
Distortion Total harmonic distortion: 0.015%
IMD + noise: 0.013%
S/N ratio >114dB
Phase linearity  
Channel separation 105dB
Resolution 24 bits each (quad DAC)
Output impedance 500 Ohms Bal, 250 Ohms SE
Analog outputs Balanced XLR 6.6V RMS (16.4dBV) max.
Single-Ended RCA 3.3V RMS (10.4dBV) max.
Digital outputs  
Digital inputs USB 2.0 HS (480Mbps) 44.1 to 192kHz
RCA 75Ohms SPDIF, 44.1 to 192kHz
BNC 75Ohms SPDIF, 44.1 to 192kHz
XLR 110Ohms SPDIF, AES/EBU 44.1 to 192kHz
OPT 660nM Toslink Fiber 44.1 to 96kHz
Power requirements 100-125VAC 60Hz (200-250VAC 50/60Hz) 18W max, Sleep Mode 4W
Other Master oscillator: 22.579mHz ±20Hz, for 44.1, 88.2 & 176.4kHz 24.576mHz±20Hz, for 48, 96 & 192kHz
Intrinsic jitter: <10pS
Power supply: 2 Transformers, 7 Regulators
Dimensions 19” (48cm) W x 5.25” (13.4cm) H x 10” (25.4cm) D. Handles extend 1.5” (3.8cm) forward of the front panel. Rear connectors extend .75” (1.9cm)
Weight 11.5lbs. (5.2kg) Net; 18lbs. (8.2kg) Shipping

Reviews

Issue 225
3/2011

Pictures