On my own, far more conventionally done, live concert recordings, the Audioengine D1 delivered enough information to keep me fully involved, yet confident enough to make critical judgments about mic placement. Listening to my recordings of The Deadly Gentlemen through the same Ultimate Ears Reference In-ear Monitors I used when I made the recordings got me almost as close to the original event as the far more expensive Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 4/Stello Eximus DP1 DAC/Pre combo. Almost. Considering the price differential—$169 verses around $4500, that’s scary-good performance from a piddly little box…
As I wrote at the beginning of the review, I fully expected the Audioengine to be good, but I never thought it would be as much of a sonic overachiever as it turned out to be. With a useful feature set that includes a very serviceable headphone amp, a variable output line level so it can be used without a preamp, 96/24 capabilities, and a price-tag under $170, the Audioengine D1 is a fabulous first step towards great sound.
Consider this DAC if:
• Optimal sound quality on a budget is your primary criteria for purchase.
• Size and easy portability matter.
• You need a DAC that includes a headphone amp and variable outputs.
Look further if:
• You need a USB DAC that also has a Coaxial S/PDIF input or a digital output.
• You require a DAC capable of 192/24.
• You want a DAC with multiple analog outputs.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced DACs):
• Design & Features: 9
• Tonal Balance: 9
• Timbral Purity: 9
• Detail & Resolution: 9
• Imaging/Soundstaging: 8
• Dynamics: 8
• Value: 9
For less than what you’ll probably pay for the cables to connect it to your power amp or powered speakers the Audioengine D1 delivers strikingly articulate and musical sound over a standard USB connection. As a first computer audio upgrade the D1 makes a savvy choice, especially for anyone who wants to assemble a far better than stock computer audio system on a limited budget.
Audioengine D1 DAC
Inputs: USB (type 1.1 or above)/Optical (SPDIF)
Outputs: One stereo analog (via RCA jacks) /one headphone output via 3.5mm mini-jack
D/A converter: AKM4396
Optical receiver: CS8416
USB controller: TI1020B
Full-scale output: 2.0V RMS (RCA and Headphone)
Output impedance: 47 ohms RCA, 10 ohms headphone
Power source: USB 5V, optional AC power supply
Power requirements: 200mA
USB power filtering: 2-stage redundant regulation
Frequency response: 10Hz - 25KHz +/- 0.5db
Input bit depth: up to 24 bits
Input data rate: up to 192KS/s (optical), 96KS/s (USB)
Dimensions (H x W x D): 1” x 3.5” x 4”
Shipping weight: 1.0lbs (0.5kg)
Included accessories: USB cable, 2ft; Setup Guide; Microfiber bag
Warranty: three years—also 30-day money back guarantee