Audioengine D1 DAC/ Headphone Amp (Playback 54)

Digital-to-analog converters,
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
Audioengine D1
Audioengine D1 DAC/ Headphone Amp (Playback 54)

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

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