Denon DA-10 USB-DAC Portable Headphone Amplifier
I’m starting to be a headphone connoisseur. When that happens you start to really hate the cheap Digital to Analog Converters that come with most laptops and portable devices. The Denon DA-10 portable headphone amplifier seems to address that problem—and I like what I see so far. The Denon DA-10 includes a USB-DAC and this is their first ever product like this. The DA-10 features high quality D/A conversion that is designed to really bring out the quality in high resolution audio files. The Denon DA-10 supports up to 24 bit/192 kHz PCM as well as both 2.8 and 5.6 MHz DSD audio files. It retails for $399 and targets the audiophile community that wants better quality feeding into their cans. I’d never used a portable headphone amplifier, but you know what? I think they’re onto something. With a high capacity (3200 mAh) rechargeable lithium-ion battery, you get up to 7 hours of run time with the USB port in use and up to 24 hours if you’re just using the analogue 3.5mm input. The battery level on the DA-10 uses the charge LED to display different colors to indicate its status.
The DA-10 is small, and the entire device features an elegant aluminum finished case and solid aluminum alloy volume knob. It comes with a carry pouch that can fit the DA-10 as well as a smartphone—provided it’s not the iPhone 6 Plus. Denon designed the DA-10 portable headphone amp to power difficult loads, like high impedance headphones. Because of this, users of high-impedance headphones are going to notice a huge difference in the quality of audio coming from their portable players or laptop. When used with a laptop or desktop system, the The DA-10 functions like an external DAC and can send audio to any speaker system (in addition to headphones).
The DA-10 using a 32 bit/192 kHz Burr-Brown PCM-1795 and Advanced AL32 Processing—technologies typically only found in higher-end CD and SACD players and digital amplifiers. The DAC is able to decode linear PCM files all the way up to 24-bit/192 kHz, but also handles those 2.8 MHz and 5.6MHz one bit DSD files (the format used on SACD). Denon also used separate circuit boards for both the main audio block and the power supply block in order to reduce interference. Dual master clocks (22.6 and 24.6 MHz) are also used, a new trend in optimizing the playback of 44.1, 88.2, 176.4 MHz as well as 32, 48, 96, 192 kHz files. Low phase clock crystals are also positioned right next to the DAC chip to reduce jitter.
Denon DA-10 Portable Headphone Amplifier Inputs
USB is included, allowing connectivity to iPod, iPhone and iPad, and a micro-USB port gives you direct connection to a computer’s USB audio output (for use as an external DAC). The micro-USB port also functions in asynchronous mode, supporting both 192 kHz/24bit audio as well as DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz. Of course, a standard 3.5mm-3.5mm stereo analog cable is included for connectivity to all other analogue devices.
A dual position gain switch on the DA-10 gives you an option for both low and high impedance headphones, and a variable/fixed output switch means you can run the output of the Denon DA-10 directly into your stereo or home theater system. The Denon DA-10 portable USB-DAC and headphone amplifier looks like a great solution for anyone who loves music. It will ship in November and retail for $399.
DA-10 Portable USB-DAC / Headphone Amplifier Features
- Advanced AL32 Processing
- DAC master clock design
- 192kHz/32bit D/A Converter used in Denon High-class SACD Player
- Dual Clock for 44.1kHz and 48kHz
- Discrete Current Buffer for Headphone Output
- USB-A input (for iPod/iPhone/iPad)
- USB Micro-B input (for Computer)
- USB Micro-B input supports 192kHz/24bit and DSD (2.8MHz/5.6MHz) files
- 3.5 mm analog input
- Fixed analog output to connect to your Hi-Fi system as external DAC
- Portability design and functionality for outdoor use
- Up to 7 hour run time rechargeable battery
- Carrying pouch
- Micro USB cable (Micro B), Lightning USB cable, 30pin USB cable, Stereo mini plug cable are supplied
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