Audioengine D1 Premium 24-Bit DAC/Headphone Amp Review

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Audioengine D1 1

If you love music and are less than satisfied with the quality of what you’re hearing, you might consider adding a digital audio converter (DAC) to your system or computer. DACs are slowly becoming popular among serious music listeners with many companies are now making them for every budget. Let’s look at a new entry from an established speaker company, Audioengine. They are known for their excellent, but affordable speakers (If you haven’t heard their monster-sounding A5 speakers, you are missing something). Will the new D1 Premium 24-Bit DAC/Headphone amp help you rediscover your music? In a word: Yes.

Audioengine D1 3

For almost 2 years, I have been using various DACs when reviewing headphones or earphones. I consider DACs essential and I tell everyone who will listen why I think so. But it’s not lost on me that most people will never buy a DAC because their music sounds just fine and hey, they don’t really need one. I feel sorry for these people.

Before we get into the review, let’s look at why you might want a DAC at all. When you listen to music that comes from a digital source, eventually it will be converted to an analog signal (soundwaves). You can’t hear digital. A DAC is what performs this conversion. So your iPod, computer soundcard, iPhone or whatever you plug your earbuds into has a DAC. OK, then why would you want to spend extra money on a DAC if you already have one in your digital device? That’s easy: Quality.

Music sounds better using an external DAC, period. The DACs used in iPods, sound cards, etc., are relatively cheap. They get the job done and if your music collection consists of lower resolution – 128kb or less – MP3s, save your money. If you have higher resolution files in other formats, such as FLAC, AAC or WAV, then a good DAC can bring out more information. Cymbals can shimmer, bass notes will be crisp instead of muddy, emotion from vocals will sound intimate and involving. DACs take what’s there and make it “more.”

With so many companies making DACs, what makes Audioengine’s special? Not a whole lot, except that the build quality is really good, it sounds great and the price is affordable. It’s unusual to have all that in one product. That’s what makes the D1 special.

Audioengine D1 4

Setting up the D1 couldn’t be much easier. There is no external power supply. USB does it all. Connect the USB cord, change your sound output setting (if necessary) and you are good to go. There are 3 input options: Standard RCA (red/white) for external speakers, Optical (toslink) and the already mentioned USB. It can be paired with a TV, Apple TV, DVD/BluRay player or CD player. To be honest, I only use the D1 as a desktop device connected to my MacPro using headphones. The front of the D1 has a lighted on/off button, headphone jack and volume knob. It’s all very simple and efficient.

The deck-of-cards sized D1 is solid with its rounded aluminum housing capped by hard, rubberized front and back panels. The aluminum keeps the weight down. It also comes with a 2ft USB cable and a microfiber draw-string bag which comes in handy for commuting.

Audioengine D1 2

Even though I’m concentrating on the DAC, the D1 also houses a powerful and loud headphone amp. The volume button has never been set beyond the 10 o’clock position. I want to note that I used Grado GR10 and Atomic Floyd SuperDarts earphones along with Decibel, a high resolution audio player for Mac while using the D1.

What’s interesting about the D1 is that when you hear it, you won’t be jumping up and down with excitement about dramatic audio improvements. The D1 excels in subtleness, meaning that you begin to notice things you may have missed before. Instruments sound more distinct from one another and take on more character. It’s like the music comes alive. It’s only when you disconnect the D1 that you notice how lifeless everything suddenly sounds. The D1 has an effortless quality that sounds relaxed and smooth. You can easily be spoiled by it.

The D1 will process digital audio at any bit depth up to 24 bits and any sample rate to 192KHz. What this means in English is that the D1 can handle anything a human ear can actually hear.

I spent some time listening to an Apple Lossless rip of This Mortal Coil’s 80s gothic classic album,”Filigree and Shadow.” This recording is full of aural light and shadow. Listening with headphones is a completely different experience than with speakers. With headphones, the D1 reveals all kinds of lost detail. There’s so more much going on that it sounded re-recorded. I just heard things I had never heard before. Again, it’s the subtle aspects that are highlighted by the D1.

The piano in Simon and Garfunkel’s remastered “Bridge Over Troubles Waters” sounds as if it’s being played live in your head. Each sounded note from a struck key has a reverb that doesn’t intrude into the next note. For the first time, I enjoyed the piano even more than Garfunkel’s angelic vocals.

Audioengine D1 5

The Audioengine D1 DAC/Amp is relatively inexpensive as DACs go. Even so, at $169, it’s not an impulse buy. You have to decide if the improvement the D1 offers is worth it to you. Audioengine does offer a 30-day audition with full refund if you aren’t satisfied. But I have to say that I can’t imagine anyone who loves music taking Audioengine’s return offer. The D1 is an addictive audio upgrade.


Product Information

Price:$169 US
  • USB, optical or RCA
  • Headphones, earphones or speaker
  • Well built
  • Improves audio
  • Strong amp
  • Affordable (for a DAC)
  • Nice drawstring bag for commuting
  • Pricey if you consider a DAC not necessary

81 thoughts on “Audioengine D1 Premium 24-Bit DAC/Headphone Amp Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. So my music player’s DAC is already outputting analog. These external amps that contain a DAC, what do they do? Take the analog, make it better digital and output analog again? What am I missing? If the earbuds of my music player is where the DAC is at, yes this make sense to me. As an amp, I understand the rationale for these devices, but am simply not getting the DAC part.

  3. Bill Henderson

    Let me try to clear DACs up for you.
    All DACs (digital audio convertor) take in digital and output analog. Digital is just numbers, which you cannot hear, so it must be converted to analog which you can hear. All MP3 players and the soundcard on your computer contains a DAC. That’s what your headphone jack is connected to.
    An amp is just that… it amplifies your analog signal. So if you have a DAC, the digital data is fed into the DAC which converts it into analog, which is then fed into the amp onto the headphone jack.
    The reason you may want a DAC is that a good one will do a better job at converting the digital data into analog audio than the cheap one on your soundcard or MP3 player.
    A DAC is not in your earbuds. Those are just speakers.

    I hope this helps.
    Bill Henderson

  4. You refer to low quality digital recordings as not benifiting the DAC. Is it worth the money to add a DAC if my library is entirely 320kbs? Thanks in advance.

  5. Bill Henderson

    Bob Y,
    While there are many higher resolution settings for audio files, I wouldn’t call 320kbs low res at all.


  6. Bill Henderson

    Bob Y,
    I neglected to say that my favorite setting is Apple Lossless. I use Macs exclusively, so I don’t know if that s available for Windows.


  7. There are _many_DACs at all (believe me !) price points, and many reviews of them on the web. I strongly recommend that people do their homework before choosing (or not choosing) a particular DAC.

  8. @Bill Hnderson:

    So your music player (ipod, iphone, mp3 players) must have a digital line out for external DACs to work. DACs will not work with headphone out jacks, correct?

    Thanks for replying.

  9. Bill Henderson

    You are correct. On an iPod/iPhone, the docking port IS the digital out. So if you want to strap a DAC to you iPod, you would need a very short cord connecting the Dock port to the DAC. If you even could connect through the headphone port, that would defeat the whole purpose of a DAC. The goal is to keep the signal digital until the vary end; in this case, the headphone jack.
    In my opinion, carrying a DAC strapped to an iPod is hard core. I only use DACs when I am sitting down at a desk or in a chair.
    Good discussion.

  10. Bill, did you compare the USB input to the optical input? Most DAC’s do not handle reclocking via USB properly and so the non-USB digital inputs tend to sound less cluttered and/or distorted. I have personally heard shocking differences in quality between USB inputs and non-USB digital inputs. Listening via earphone as you did would be a good way to discern the differences, provided you use fairly high quality earphones.

  11. Bill Henderson

    Good comment. I did not compare the USB to the optical for a couple of reasons. I have an ongoing internal debate about how far or technical a review should go. I’ve read countless comments about the advantages and disadvantages of optical vs USB and I chose to keep it simple. I reasoned that since the vast majority of people reading The Gadgeteer would use the USB connection, I stuck with that. My goal is not to compete with the excellent audiophile (but very technical) sites such as, or

    Also, with my setup, I heard none of the distortion you mentioned via USB. As stated in the review, I used the Grado GR10 and the newer Atomic Floyd SuperDarts hybrid earphones. I also used – though not mentioned in the review – the Grado 325is headphones. The D1 performed very well for me.


  12. Any information on the Dac used? Is it a Burr Brown chip. Also what is the amplification, class b? Can the preamp power decent headphones such as the Sennheiser HD650?

  13. Not remotely having Bill’s experience in audio, I can still say this is a great DAC. In my Total Bithead review ( I was surprised at how much of a difference the little guy made. Moving from that, to a home made Amb M3 (hours of soldering fun!) made a massive difference yet again. I then soldered up my own DAC. Now, I’ll be honest. The $170 you pay here will get you 90% of the way to where I am, and you’ll save about $800 and a hundred hours of picking aluminum shavings off your floor because you don’t have a workshop and you had to mill out a front panel for your damn DIY amp. Facepalm.

  14. Bill Henderson

    Very impressive review, Andrew. I totally agree with you about the 90% comment. That law of diminishing returns rears its ugly head!


  15. Great article. Have a question though. I have a Harman Kardon AVR354 amp that I hook my Macbook Pro up to via the factory Toslink connector. Am I really going to notice a whole lot of difference between an external DAC doing the converting than the HK doing the converting? Seems like no one talks about this setup either…

    Also, does any sort of “processing occur” to get audio out of a computer via Toslink? Since it’s digital, I feel like it’s more or less a pass through. Does that sound about right?


  16. Bill Henderson

    As I said in a previous comment, I did not use the Toslink (optical) connection for fear of getting too technical for this site. I also did not try the DAC with a stereo amp – or receiver, for that matter. I wanted to keep the review more on a desktop use, since that’s where a lot of stereo setups are heading.
    Regarding your question, since you are using an amp, I would consider a DAC only as opposed to a DAC/amp combo, which is what the D1 is. An excellent DAC specifically made for the setup you mention is the Rein Audio X-DAC It is not cheap, but there are many choices in many price ranges.

  17. Hi,

    Thanks for the review. I noticed you focused exclusively on headphone use, did the DAC improve the sound coming out of a pair of desktop speakers, such as the AudioEngine A2 or A5 ?

    Both the A2 and A5’s lack a headphone jack, so this could be a way to get one in the setup, providing there is a real improvement in speaker sound (not just headphones).

  18. Igor,
    Although I did not test the D1 on external speakers, it is made to drive them very well. Interestingly, I now have the D1 connected to a pair of Audioengine A5+ speakers which I will be reviewing in the coming weeks. It’s too early to tell what the improvement will (or will not) be.

    As amazing as the A5 and A5+ speakers sound, the lack of headphone ports bothers me, also.

    If you need a powerful speaker with an included headphone port, then check out the Bowers and Wilkins MM1 desktop speakers. These speakers also have an excellent built-in DAC. Here’s the review:

    Bill H.

  19. Bill,
    How would the Audioengine D1 do as an upgrade for connecting an older CD player to a high quality analog stereo system? Thanks!

  20. Bill Henderson

    Mike M,
    That’s a good question. All CD players have DACs built in, so you would need to do some research on the quality of the DAC in your older CD player. It might be pretty good. Also, it comes down to connections. Sometimes – but not always – hooking older components to newer ones can be problematic.

  21. Is there a way to use this with the Apple AirPort Express’s TosLink? More specifically, how would I plug this device into an electrical socket?

  22. Edward,
    Can you be specific about the chain of components, so I have a better idea of what you are trying to achieve?

  23. Jordan Williams

    Hey Edward, you sure can! I have my D1 set up to my airport express via mini_toslink — toslink cable. Using Airtunes works like a charm, +1 for ALAC.

    Awesome review Bill btw! This review was very helpful in picking out the best DAC for me. I chose the D1 over the HRT streamerII because of the toslink && usb connections. My MBP, xbox 360, airport express, and cable box can all be used with the D1.

  24. Thanks for your help! I have a preamp and an amplifier. Right now, I have my AirPort Express hooked up to my preamp via a 3.5mm to RCA stereo cable. As a typical audiophile, I’m not completely satisfied with the sound 😉 I’d like to use the D2’s optical in and the AirPort’s optical out, but I don’t know how to electrically power the D2. Is there an optional 110V to USB port power source?

  25. Also, I’m new to digital….I love my turntable 🙂 Do my files have to be in any specific format? Right now they are either AAC or a lossless form of AIFF, I believe…

  26. Btw, I’m only assuming that to use the optical input and RCA outputs requires an external power source because, as an electrical engineer, it seems quite unlikely to me that it could be powered solely by the optics…

  27. Edward,
    I don’t know about the optical in/RCA out or your engineering concerns, but I would think you can power the D1 with a square USB to standard USB Connected to a 110plug. Just like powering any other USB device. Let me know if that works for you.

    As far as converting analog from a turntable, My preference would be Apple Lossless (if possible) or AIFF, like you are currently doing. With hard drive space being so cheap now, there is no excuse for low resolution files.


  28. Thank you, Bill! My whole question could be summarized as follows: you mention a USB to 110 volt power cord. The D1 doesn’t come with one. Where can I find one? We’re making mountains out of mole hills on this one 🙂 Thanks in advance. And one for Jordan, who is actually doing this: do my music files have to be a specific type (e.g. Mp3, m4p, AAC, etc…) or will the D1 convert anything the AirPort can throw at it?

  29. Btw, I won’t be able to get it right away, as I’m saving up, but when info get it I’ll let you know how it works. Worst case scenario, I’ll just connect it to a USB port on my computer and enjoy my music with my Sennheisers 🙂

  30. Alexis Sklarevski

    I plan a setup with:

    – A hard disk drive filled with music files (mostly mp3 and flac) connected (via router) to:

    – Western Digital TV live, via toshlink connected to:

    – Audioengine D1, connected to Sennheiser HD 595 headphone or via RCA out to a Cambridge Audio amp.

    I realize that I will have to power the D1 via USB power adapter.

    My question is: Will this setup work? And if it’s working, will the sound quality benefit from the D1?

  31. I am not sure that I get it, but why is a DAC/this DAC not suitable to be used with an amplifier with passive speakers?

  32. I connected my headphones, which have an in line volume control, directly to the analogue output of my external DAC, which, was connected to my CD Player. The sound was wonderful. The output of the DAC is about 2.5V.
    Could my headphones be damaged connected this way, without an intermediate dedicated Headphone Amp? Does the Output Impedance of the DAC (whatever it is) matter?

  33. Hi Bill
    Actually I have two-both Cambridge Audio. One is an Isomagic, the other is a DAC3, but it’s the later model, which is the renamed DacMagic 2 Mk2, not the original DAC3, with the volume knob.
    Your advice is much appreciated. Output voltages are 1.8, and 2.8V, respectively.

  34. Well, I finally did it…..I bought the Audioengine D1! I knew there would be an improvement in the sound of both my computer AND my AirPort (not at the same time of course) but I wasn’t expecting THIS level of improvement! Wow…….just WOW! To hook it up to my AirPort (and this was the answer to my original question) I bought a USB phone charger for the power supply. (I also got a 1/8th inch to regular Toslink optical cable, naturally) I can easily move it from one place to another because of its tiny size and included pouch. I think everyone who listens to music from his computer should at least consider this DAC.

  35. Hello i have a cuestion! i wanted to buy this D1 and an Dayton amplyfier for my pc or ipod but then i found that Fiio e17 is both in one, i travel a lot and i like to hear the best quality in music while im traveling, i have my BOSE CS3, what wold you recomend me to buy? wich one will give me better sound quality?

    Thanks for replying, and sorry about my english

  36. Hey Bill,
    Im thinking of buying the D1. Just a quick question. I have Audioengine A2 speakers hooked up to my MBP. How would I connect the speakers to the D1 ?
    Sorry for the noob question.

  37. Aaron,
    I have a noob answer… 🙂
    Just connect the MacBook to the D1 using a USB cable (supplied) and then connect the D1 (headphone port) to the A2 speakers (audio mini plug input “B” on back of speaker) using a mini plug to mini plug cable.
    That’s how I connect the D1 to the Audioengine A5+ speakers – which I will be reviewing soon.

  38. I’m very interested in this product and am wondering if it will help the situation I am about to be in. I currently run a set of Bryston 7B ST mono block amps, through a Bryston BP-25 pre amp. I have NHT 3.3 speakers and a Cal Audio Labs CD.

    I used to have an LCD TV hooked up through analog audio out on the TV into the pre amp and was able to listed to HDTV and Blue Ray over my system. That TV has been moved into another room and an upgraded TV is soon to grace the old spot.

    The TV does not have analog outputs. But does have the digital outs. Will I be able to use a DAC and be able to unite the TV with the audio system?

    Thanks for any help.

  39. Yes Sir,

    I think I got the whole setup back in 1999. I see Bryston makes a DAC but at $2100, I’m not going that route. I unfortunately have a very expensive, yet dated system for certain situations. I have several concert videos that I listen too, or used too, off of DVD. I even will watch football and other stuff over the system at times. I’m not looking for sonic perfection when watching TV, but movies and certain programs were much more enjoyable even though it was not surround sound. But yes, its analog all the way through on the Bryston end of things. BTW Thanks for the reply!!

  40. John,
    I know how you feel. I have a great ’97 Lexus SC300 with a killer sound system that cannot connect to a newer iPod. Oh well.

    Your CD player has a DAC (they all do), so if you can run the TV audio through the CD player, then you can save your money. If not, the Audioengine D1 has analog out (see photos in the review), so it should work just fine. Audioengine is customer oriented, so if the D1 doesn’t quite do it for you, you can return it.
    Hope that helps.

  41. Thank you Sir. I imagine there could be a great market for this with new HDTV owners I see a lot about the subject when researching TV’s. A lot of people are no longer able to use current audio because of the lack of analog outs on the TVs. Unfortunately the Cal Audio Labs CD does not have an input just analog outs. Funny, the more audiophile it is, the less other stuff it tends to have. Which is OK. I just simply want to convert the HDTVs signal to analog so I can run it through the system. If this gadget works, I’ll be thrilled. The TV is going a wall mount so the pre buy research needs to be up to snuff because I don’t want issues after hookup. My wife is already giving me “the look”.

  42. Im thinking of getting the Audioengine D1. I have audioengine a2 speakers and also Harmon Kardon Soundsticks 2.
    I also have Bose QC 15 Headphones(for travel) and will soon get the Vmoda M80’s.
    I have a mid 2010 macbook pro. My question is “will the D1 improve the sound quality of my music and movies through the speakers? and also for the m80’s and Bose headphones?”

    Thinking of getting better cans in the future, but for now will the D1 show enough increase in the quality of sound to justify
    a purchase?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  43. Frank,
    The D1 should do two things with the equipment you already have:
    1. Volume. You will get more volume but also cleaner volume with less distortion.
    2. Improved audio across the board. Everything will just sound better. The higher resolution your sound file is, the better your audio will be (obviously).
    Keep in mind that you may think that the improvement is subtle at best. Give it a few days. Than disconnect the DAC. You might be shocked how much weaker everything sounds.
    Hope this helps.

  44. Hello. I just ran across your review of the audio engine DAC and have a couple follow-up questions.

    I currently have Senns PX100s – so nothing terribly high level. I use them to listen to music on iPhone/ipod and also my macbook, but my primary headphone listening is while I’m watching movies on the computer via netflix, etc. When I listen to music at home, it’s usually from an old CD player or through and iPod/iphone on my audio engine 5’s.

    I’ve been thinking of upgrading my headphones, but wonder if I’d get more bang for my $150 or so, from a good DAC like audio engine’s than from new headphones of the same price (Audio-technica ATH-M50’s, for instance)? Also, as I’m not 100% happy with the sound/feel of the audio engine speakers (tough room to fill), I’m wondering if the DAC might also help those (Most of what I’ve read suggests not).

    So – basically, you have $150-ish to spend and you own the PX100 headphones. Do you buy new headphones or a DAC?


  45. Wow Bryan, that’s a tough one. I have not heard the PX100 headphones, so I am at a loss there. Also, the improvements in a DAC are not mind-blowing. But after using a DAC awhile and then disconnect it, the difference is much more noticeable.
    Older CD players usually have pretty good DACs built in. Plus sound quality from anything streaming (like Netflix) is not going to be top notch anyway.

    I don’t use a DAC from my iPod or iPhone as those are not bad – not great, but not bad.

    It’s the Mac sound card that is really awful. The Audioengine DAC makes all the difference with my mac., especially headphones.

    Based on your needs, I would opt for a better headphone (or earphone) over a DAC. But once you start using a music player from your PC, then you should seriously consider a DAC. I hope this helps.

    Bill H.

  46. plzzz solve my problem…

    in an accedent iI lost my hearing in left ear about 85%..
    iI can lestion perfectly from my right hear and 15% hearing in dmaged ear…

    iI am a gamer n play counter strike 1.6…
    in game iI cant listen what is happning in my left side….

    iI m looking for a hardware which can amplify the left chanel so lond that iI can listen left sound from15% hearing hear…

    n remain the right chanel sound unchanged..

    can this hardware solve my problem…

    plz help me…

    iI can hear very very loud sound from my damaged year..

    so plz tell me a solution so iI can enjoy my gaming life…

    1. Nirvana Das,
      I’m afraid this will not solve your problem. You can’t adjust individual left/right channels on the D1.
      I think an Audiologist can help you the most for this issue.

      Bill H.

  47. can i adjust left n right chanel volume indivisble of a headphone by using this..?
    i want very loud sound from left chanel and normal sound from right chanel…
    can it is possible…?
    i tried window eqalizer for balancing sound…but loudness of window sound is not enough…

  48. I’m afraid not. There is only a master volume control, no left and right. Have you tried moving the left/right slider in your sound prefs panel on your PC/Mac to the left so the left sound is more dominate? Then you can adjust the master volume after that.

  49. do u know about any hardware that can indivisble control the left and right chanel sound….
    if there is no such hardware available than plz tell me a device which can amplifiy the sound very loud…and than i can adjust the right n left chanel sound by window sound balance…

  50. there is a option available in window for indivisble chanel sound conrol….
    but window sound output is not enough loud as my hearing loss in poor ear…
    so i need a device that can make a very lound in my headphone…
    if i get very loud sound output than my problem can be solved…

  51. but this device will not give amplified sound…
    i also need sound amplification..
    because my hearing loss is in very high degree…
    on full window sound i can here very thin sound in my left ear..
    so i need heavy sound amplification also…

  52. But you should be able to connect it to an amp. So the chain would be:
    PC > amp > Sennheiser unit > headphones.

    I would think that would work.

  53. yea thanks man…i m very excited to try this chain….
    tell me a cheap amp. which has high amplification level…
    i am from india and there no availavility of such divce..:(
    i have to order it from amazon n they charges very high for shiping..

  54. only FIIO E6 Headphone Amplifier is available in india…
    will FIIO E6 will give sufficient amplificaion..?
    in my bad ear i can listen music when i placed mobile speaker upon my ear…
    so u can ditermine how amplification level is need for me…
    E6 will work for me..?

  55. I’m afraid I can’t answer that for you. I do know it can make things much louder. I just can’t say if it will be loud enough for you. Only you can decide that.

    I hope this has helped you. Good Luck!

  56. Here’s a dumb question, that i couldn’t find in the manual; and audioengine Tech support is closed for the weekend. just got the D1 today. I have a 3 year old IMAC 20 inch computer, plus a pair of cheap insignia computer speakers and a matching subwoofer. The speakers only have the mini-plug that goes into the headphone jack of the IMAC. Do I continue to plug the speakers into the computer or into the headphone jack of the D1? I would think the latter.

    1. Jeffrey,
      Go ahead and plug the speakers into the D1 (miniplug) and use thr USB cord to connect the D1 to your iMeac. Then the D1 should show up in your output choices and you’re in business. It’s USB powered, so there is no power cord.

  57. Just wanted to say this is a great review, and the comment chain is even better. Moreso than most threads on dedicated forums. I’ll be keeping the site bookmarked.

    My D1 is out for delivery as I type. Have a set of A2s waiting for it at home. I cannot believe how good those sound as is.

    1. Pippers,
      I think you are going to enjoy the D1. You may not appreciate the difference in audio right away, but stick with it. After a week or two, unplug it and then listen … you will definitely notice the difference then.
      It even works better with headphones/earphones.
      Bill H.

  58. Just got one today and am very impressed. It seems to work well with my sennheiser 380s (closed back – for the office). No trace of clipping on loud passages.

    One other reason why this is better than just hooking to a laptop: there is very likely much better power supply rejection. The inside of a laptop is an electrically noisy environment, with minimal filtering on the supply to the DAC. This much, much quieter. With nothing playing, my headphones are completely silent.

    Bottom line: pretty good deal for the money.

  59. I have a d1 and klipsch x10. But I couldn’t hear a difference right out of box, even with my m50 headphone. My main resource are 320 mp3 and 256 AAC. I heard people claim, if your spearker and headphone are not high end(at least above 200 bucks), there is no need for dac. Should I burn d1 in for more time? My a2 is also on the way. I hope there is a difference.

    1. Shen,
      What is your music source? If it’s a good source, then the existing DAC may already be good.
      If the source is an iMac or laptop, then you should hear a difference. Find a challenging song that you know has issues and do a comparison. I have a couple of songs that distort straight out of the iMac, but sound much better using a DAC. I also have the Klipsch X10 earphones. i love how they sound and the comfort is the best.
      Bill H.

  60. I am planing to buy a C D player like Marantz CD6004. How do yo you compare sound quality of Marantz CD player and AE D1. I usually listen a lot of Mp3 songs on my DVD player or A C Rayan media player through My marantz PM 6003 amplifier and Monite audio B2 speaker.

  61. Bill Henderson

    I haven’t heard the Marantz CD player or compared it to the D1. However, the Marantz is rated one of the best CD players in its price range. I would imagine that the internal DAC will be pretty good on its own. I would be hesitant to put a USB external DAC in between a good CD player and speakers or headphones. If you wanted a DAC for true audiophile sound and the Marantz wasn’t doing the job, then You will probably need a much better dedicated DAC added to your components.

    My review was geared more to desktop use to have an alternative to those awful computer DACs.

    I hope this helps.
    Bill H.

  62. Hi Bill,
    Interesting thread to say the least. Am I right in thinking the D1 incorporates a DAC as well as a headphone amp. If that is the case, it would be hard to distinguish what is actually making the sound quality better. As this test was conducted using headphones only, it sounds more like the headphone amp is making the difference. A DAC (correct me if I’m wrong) can not take a source and improve it, i.e. you can’t get more digital info or resolution than already exists can you? That said, can’t all DAC’s perform that function just as well, and would it not be more useful to test the rca outputs into an amp when assessing whether the DAC itself is actually an improvement or not.
    That being said, I still find the product interesting for it’s functionality and have purchased one to try it out and use in conjunction with an airport express streaming setup. I have always wanted a headphone amp also, so I feel that there is nothing to lose by trying this out.
    For those that are looking for a power source (i.e. using optical outs), Audioengine sells one for 18 dollars. I’m not suggesting you pay that much, but theirs is 5V 1A if anyone is interested. It’s a pretty common spec for a USB charger, and you may already own one if you have an old phone charger lying around.

  63. I had a query regarding the D1 amp. I am finally able to find it online in India,where I live. I just have cheapish logitech z443 desktop connected to my tv.I am not satisfied with the quality or mainly the volume output. I have been browsing away and have come up with two amps that could help drive then to higher volumes, The D1 and Fiio e09k. I have a soundmagic a10 driving them now. While they are better than the default TV output, they are still nowhere close to what I need.
    Which one of the two would you suggest ? Or are there any cheaper alternatives? Am I doing something wrong?

    Note: I have a FIIO d03k convertor that used to convert my TV’s optical out in to analog for the speaker.

  64. Avinash,
    I assume you are using the TV for your audio speakers? If that is correct, than I would consider buying powered speakers before spending money on a DAC/amp.
    I think you would appreciate the audio improvement more.


  65. Hey Bill,
    Thanks for the supremely quick response.

    The Logitech Speakers are powered. It’s a 2.1 system with apparently 55W rms and 110W peak.

    The link to the speakers,

    If the TV output goes to the FIIO D03k convertor, in to my logitech speakers directly
    , the volume is really low. Hence I am using a sound magic a10 portable amp to drive them to reasonable volume. Still not satisfied though 🙁 .Not powerful enough.

    I have a Xonar DX + Corsair Sp2500 in my main system. Unfortunately can’t use the same for my TV
    because they are on different floors altogether.

    What would you recommend to improve this? I am open to buying a better set of speakers if need be or a cheap amp to get the volume level and quality up.

    Your help is much appreciated.

  66. Avinash,
    I’m confused. The speakers already have a built-in amp.
    That should be all you need.
    Have you tried removing the Fiio and connecting the TV directly into the speakers?

  67. Thanks again for your time. So here’s what i did. My TV only has an optical output for the audio out.These speakers only have analog inputs(this one just has a 3.5mm aux-in).

    The FIIO is just a DAC, it has no amp in it(I think). Her’s the link to it

    Hence I used the above converter to better utilise these speakers ,which I got as a present. The FIIO does the conversion for me. I can’t connect these directly to my TV. The output signal doesn’t seem to have the volume I want. Help 🙂

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