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Denon Adds First Portable Headphone Amp/USB DAC

Mahwah – Denon launched its first portable headphone amplifier/USB DAC following the launch earlier this year of its first home USB DAC.

The portable model is the $399-suggested DA-10 with native playback of high-resolution audio files up to 24 bit/192kHz PCM, native playback of 2.8 and 5.6MHz DSD files, and DSD playback via DoP (DSD audio over PCM frames).

The device, which is available, delivers better D/A conversion than what’s offered by laptops and mobile devices, and it drives audiophile-quality high-impedance headphones, the company said. The DAC/amp doubles as an external DAC for home hi-fi systems via its analog output.

The DA-10 comes with a USB Micro-B input to connect to a PC’s USB audio output and works in asynchronous mode to support 192 kHz/24bit audio and 2.8MHz/5.6MHz DSD. A USB-A input connects to Apple’s mobile devices. Although Apple has no certified way to send DSD and192/24 PCM through its devices’ pin connectors, enthusiast s use an Apple camera adapter to coax high-resolution DSD and PCM out of the devices.

For other portable devices and players, the DA-10 connects via 3.5mm analog input.

The device’s 3200mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery delivers up to 7 hours of playback time with USB-connected Apple mobile devices and 24 hours of playback time with portable devices connected via analog 3.5mm input. It gets power from USB-connected PCs and laptops.

The DA-10 features aluminum-finished chassis and solid-aluminum-alloy volume knob.

The portable device is bundled with Micro USB cable, Lightning-to-USB cable, 30-pin Apple-to-USB cable, and stereo mini plug cables. A carry pouch protects both the device and a smartphone phone, hiding all cables. While in the pouch, the phone can be operated through a pliable window.
A dual-position gain switch allows for low- and high-impedance headphones, and fixed and variable outputs enable connections to home audio components.

Other key performance features include 32-bit/192 kHz Burr-Brown PCM-1795 DAC usually found in premium audiophile disc players, separate circuit boards for the main audio block and the power supply block to eliminate inter-stage interference, and dual master clocks (22.6 and 24.6 MHz), which optimize performance for specific sampling frequencies. The low-phase clock crystals are positioned directly next to the DAC chip on the audio board to maximize jitter reduction.
The headphone DAC/amp also uses Denon’s digital-filtering and noise-shaping algorithm, found on Denon’s premium disc players and digital audio separates. Called Advanced AL32 Processing, the technology upsamples standard 16-bit digital audio to 32 bits to improve low-level resolution and high-frequency detail, the company said.

Early this year, Denon shipped its first USB DAC for the home. The DA-300USB, retailing at a universal advertised price (UAP) of $499, is a 32-bit/192kHz asynchronous DAC that connects computers to hi-fi systems via USB-B port. The DAC also incorporates a headphone amp and features one coaxial and two optical digital S/PDIF inputs. Those inputs can be used to connect other digital music sources such as game consoles and media streamers, to improve sound quality.

It decodes MP3/MP4, AAC, ALAC, WAV, and FLAC HD in up to 24 bit/192kHz resolution. The DAC also supports the DSD format with 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz resolution delivered natively or via DoP (DSD audio over PCM frames).