The Dr. DAC2 DX is a very external DAC that features 24/96 over USB, and 24/192 over S/PDIF with a built-in headphone amplifier, everything in a very attractive looking package. It’s quite compact in dimension, and would make a great external DAC and Amplifier for a great sounding computer set up. Parts selection seems to be tuned for audiophile listening, featuring Wima and Sanyo Oscon SP capacitors. There is an abundance of connectivity features, with analog line in and outs, digital in and outs via coax, toslink, and USB, 5.1 support, two headphone jacks with different gain settings, volume controllable line out for connectivity to power amps and active speakers, everything packed into a small and good looking black box. All of these for $375 from Gyrocom’s eBay store, or if you’re in Singapore, from AudioBasic. Steven at AudioBasic also showed me the Japanese magazine “Audio Accessory” Issue 135 that awarded Visual Grand-Prix 2010 for the Dr. DAC2 DX. Apparently it’s a very good product indeed.
The Dr. DAC2 DX also supports opamp rolling for those of you who like to tinker and tweak. The OPA2134 opamp at the line out is socketed and can be replaced with another opamp for better sonic performance. I personally won’t be talking about opamp rolling in this article, since I have to move on to the next DAC that’s waiting to be reviewed.
The headphone out uses OPA2604, with two different gain settings depending on the output jack being used. Output 1 has a +8dB gain, and is recommended for low impedance headphones in the range of 16 to 300 Ohms. Output 2 has a +20dB and is recommended for 300-600 Ohms headphones. I don’t think gain is a problem with the headphone out, as either connection can drive the HD800 to fairly loud levels. When you connect two headphones to both output jacks, both of them automatically get the +20dB gain. The caption on the front panel and the top panel that says “Digital Headphone Amplifier” is actually quite misleading, as the amplifier is not based on a digital technology. Rather, I think what they’re trying to say is that the amplifier is combined with a digital interface that is the DAC.
The Dr. DAC2DX is fully supported in Windows (XP, 2000, 2003, Vista 32, Vista 64), and in Mac OSX, hence no installation of the driver is required. 5.1 channel digital output (AC3 Dolby Digital or DTS Pass through) is supported in Windows Vista and Mac OSX. The Dr. DAC2DX also takes an analog signal if you wish to connect your Ipod, or other sources, and only use the amplifier section of the DX. Since the line out level is controllable through the volume pot, active powered speakers or power amplifiers can be connected to the line out of the DAC2. On the front panel, there is a series of LEDs indicating the current sample rate being received by the DAC. It’s quite a nifty feature that’s not available in many other DACs in the same price range.
On the backside you’ll find quite a lot of connections available on the Dr. DAC2 DX. Analog line out and line in, an external DC power connector (the Dr. DAC2 DX won’t function without an external DC power supply, but Audiotrak supplied a nice, compact universal voltage DC wallwart), an optical out, a USB interface, and a coaxial and toslink digital input. Keep in mind that the optical out will only function when the digital signal is coming from USB.
Overall, the Dr. DAC2 DX is a very good product with a solid sound quality (as you will read later in some comparisons to other DACs). Well packaged, competitive price, and simple and easy to operate.