SET UP AND USE
The Audioengine is essentially a plug-and-play device. With its built-in driver, both my Mac and PC recognized the D1 almost instantly and it could be selected from my control panel’s list of audio output devices. For most of the review the D1 was tethered to my Apple Mac Pro tower via its supplied USB cable. The D1 has a standard USB connector so I was able to use it with premium USB cables from AudioQuest, Wire World, Locus Designs and Synergistic Research without any issues.
ITunes, Pure Music, Amarra, Audirvana, AudioGate, and Audirvana Plus all worked with the D1 without any ergonomic or compatibility issues. Most critical listening was done through Pure Music for standard resolution and MP3 files while Audirvana Plus was employed for higher resolution files. Pure Music and Audirvana Plus were used because both have provisions for changing output devices that only require about fifteen seconds for the changeover, making them most convenient for matched-level A/B listening tests.
Fortunately for audiophiles who already own some premium analog single-ended RCA interconnect cables, the D1 not only accepts standard RCA connections, but has its connectors far enough apart that even interconnects with larger diameter barrels, such as Cardas Clear, fit without any problems.
The Audioengine’s rotary volume knob controls both the headphone and line-level outputs. When you attach a pair of earphones to the front mini-jack the line-level output is muted. While this option makes perfect sense for a standard set-up where most users would like to use either headphones or speakers, it does limit some possible uses, such as driving one set of speakers (or subwoofer) from the headphone jack while a second set gets a signal from the standard RCA outputs.