Dr. DAC2 DX

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.

Dual headphone out on the Dr. DAC2 DX works simultaneously together.

 

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.

Solid built toggle switches provide controls. Sample rate indicators on the top row is handy for confirming data transfer.

 

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.

Dr. DAC2 DX Back Panel.

 

Dr. DAC2 DX Back Panel.

 

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.


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53 Comments

  • Reply May 11, 2010

    Earfonia

    Pretty good comparison Mike!

    Would be interesting to include some Op-Amp rolling in your review, it might provide some improvement for a little money 🙂

    • Reply May 11, 2010

      Mike

      Yes, I'm really sorry I couldn't write anything on opamp rolling. 🙁

  • Reply May 12, 2010

    dw1narso

    No wonder that this DR. DAC2 DX sounds differ than the other DR. DAC… because I believe they are OEM'd from different companies.

    The other Dr. DAC seems OEMed from Jineung Elecom (JAVS) http://www.jineung.co.kr/

    This site has list their products long before Dr. DAC (prime and nano) come to the surface.

    All the JAVS products have similarity (except for small Nano streams)… they all use Tenor chip for the USB receiver, PCM179x DAC chip and TPA6120 amp chips.

    • Reply May 13, 2010

      Mike

      I talked to David about this issue, basically trying to find the answer to: "Who OEM for who?". According to him, the JAVS started to appear earlier than the Dr. DAC, which is around end of 2008 or early 2009. Based on that, it would be logical that JAVS is the OEM.

  • Reply May 14, 2010

    jendol

    hos is this compared to matrix since the price range is the same?

    • Reply May 14, 2010

      Mike

      I've been comparing the two and found the DAC2 DX to be more detailed than the Matrix. But that's not the full story. I'll compare the two when I write the Matrix Mini review.

      • Reply May 15, 2010

        wwenze

        Eagerly waiting for your review of the Matrix.

        Waiting to see if my guess of the Matrix's sound signature is correct.

        • Reply May 15, 2010

          Mike

          Ah, that's no fun! You should try to guess first. 🙂

  • Reply May 22, 2010

    Scrivs

    I've been looking for a DAC/Amp for quite some time now to use with my KRK RP5 speakers + RP10s woofer and to power my Ultrasone HFi-780 headphone, and I recently stumbled across this review…

    Very good and helpfull!

    I'm defenitely considering this one atm.

    But I would like to know how you think that it would perform with the above listed equipment?

    Do you think it would serve the 780 well? I've seen that you've done some other tests on the 780 aswell so I was wondering if you perhaps had a listen to it used on the Dr DAC2 DX…

    Could you give me some impressions?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply May 22, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Kevin, I really have no experience with the speakers you mentioned. They should work, but how good is the sinergy, I can't say. The Dr.DAC2 DX has a wonderful detail level and so if you want more detail out of your speakers, you can try it out.
      I didn't use the HFI-780 for this review. I personally would go with something like the Matrix Mini-i for the HFI-780 as I think it can use some boost in the midrange area.

      • Reply May 22, 2010

        Scrivs

        Hmm alright, thanks for your advice!

        Though, considering the fact that I'm quite a basshead and I listen to bass-heavy electronical music only (which is one of the reasons why I bought the 780 in the first place), what could you tell me about how both amps will change the 780's soundstage?

        I do agree with you that the 780 could use a boost in the midrange area, but I wouldnt want that to cause a decrease of its bass performance…

        So how would both differ from eachother if it comes to changing the sound signature of my 780?

        I know you didnt try the 780 out on the Dr DAC2 DX, but could you make a guess?

        Thanks! 😉

        • Reply May 22, 2010

          Mike

          If that's the case I think you would be happier with the Matrix. The Dr. DAC DX2 is quite neutral, but the Matrix has a little low end boost. The soundstage depth should be better with the Matrix as well.

  • Reply October 7, 2010

    Francisco García

    I recently discovered this site which has wonderful reviews. Based on one of them and some other information gathered on the net, I have purchased the Dr. DAC2 DX a few days ago, but I feel strangely disappointed about its sound quality. I have a contact that feels the same, a great disappointment with his Dr. DAC2. We found the bass to be the weakest point, not much punch and a “plastic” ring to it. I connect my iPod iTouch 2G via LOD and silver (and expensive) cables, and the iPod bass are sadly and strangely much more convincing that Dr. Dac’s ones (this is of course my subjective opinion, shared with my contact).
    Any suggestions as to how improve the sound, maybe via some well chosen op-amps? Of note, I am now in Tokyo, so I have Akihabara within arm’s reach, a nice place to get amps.
    Thanks a lot for reading this and congratulations for this great site!
    Francisco

    • Reply October 8, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Francisco, thanks for the compliments.
      I'm sorry to hear that you were not impressed with the bass (punch, I assume?) I am more surprised that you said the Ipod Touch's Bass to be more convincing. Good DACs doesn't necessarily have better bass punch, or quantity, but the quality and control of the bass should be much better on the Dr. DAC than through the Ipod Touch. What we look for in a good DAC, ultimately is a better technicalities that includes frequency extension, detail, separation, bass control, layering, etc, and it has nothing to do with bass quantity or punch. Although some good DACs do come with an "extra bass", the majority just isn't so. I advise you to understand the audiophile terms better, so you can make the most out of reading reviews, including ours.

  • Reply November 11, 2010

    Justin

    Hi,

    Any thoughts on using this for analog to digital recording? I want something external that will serve both to connect my computer but also to record vinyl with.

    • Reply November 11, 2010

      Mike

      Ah, will it work for that purpose? I don’t think the Dr. DAC is designed for analog to digital conversion purposes. You’ll need an ADC device for that.

      • Reply November 12, 2010

        Justin

        Was afraid you would say that. Since it has the analog line-in inputs I figured it must be able to convert both directions. After researching for a very long time yesterday, this seemed like the closest I could find for what I am looking for, but obviously it needs to also be able to do ADC.

        Ugh, maybe what I want doesn't exist in one device…

        • Reply November 12, 2010

          Mike

          Justin, if what you're looking for is to rip your Vinyl collections, I think they make USB turntables that is designed for that purpose.

  • Reply November 14, 2010

    J

    Hello Justin,

    maybe this link helps:

    Lake People 2-ch A/D + 2-ch D/A CONVERTER ADDAC F446
    http://www.lake-people.de/index.php?id=2&lang

    by the way pro-audio equipment maker Lake People is making also very high level stuff for High-End and Hi-Fi under the VIOLECTRIC trademark which product line is specially intended to supply the Hi-Fi and High-End market with its specific requirements…

  • Reply December 1, 2010

    Alex

    Mike,
    can you compare the sound quality of dr.dac2 dx vs. audinst mx-1+imAmp, modded with HD Opamp (you told in other thread, that Burson makes imAmp sound more "mature")? They are the same price around 400$, but audinst+imAmp are USB and battery powered, so can be used far from sockets…

    • Reply December 1, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Alex,
      I think the sound would roughly be about equal, with the Dr. DAC 2 Dx system having better DAC resolution, but the Audinst MX1 and ImAmp having a better amplifier section. If you value portability (i.e not having tied down to a wall socket), I'd just go with the MX1 + ImAmp and not worry about it. Or just skip the ImAmp and just get the Audinst, it should be good enough except for the most power hungry headphones. 🙂

      Sorry I no longer have the gear to do the comparison. 🙂

  • Reply December 1, 2010

    Earfonia

    Hi Alex, just fyi, I have Dr. DAC2 DX, and I changed the FDO op-amps, the 3x NE5532, with 3x OPA2107. The improvement is quite significant, it just sounds better, better detail, depth, the sounds has more air and body. I tried to change the OPA2604 with AD8066, but I hear hissing noise, maybe the AD8066 is not stable in the OPA2604 position. I will try to change the OPA2604 with other op-amp when I have time.

  • Reply January 4, 2011

    Bernard

    Hi Mike

    I am interested in the Dr Dac2. I have iems: Brainwavz M1, Westone um3x, Audeo pfe 012 PB and the V-Jays.
    Would these phones sound ok with the dac2?
    Is it advisable to use an adaptor to reduce the 6.5mm to 3.5mm?

    • Reply January 5, 2011

      Mike

      I think those headphones should be okay, Bernard. For the IEMs, you'd probably need to use the 6.3mm to 3.5mm converter. 🙂

  • Reply March 30, 2011

    Eric C

    Hi, this is a very informative review. I would like to know how does the dac of Dr. Dac2 compare to the dac of Icon HDP, Matrix Mini i and DacMagic.

    • Reply March 30, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Eric,
      I compared the Dr. DAC2 DX to the DacMagic and to the Matrix Mini-i on these articles:

      Matrix Mini-i review (read page 2 and 3)
      http://headfonia.com/matrix-mini-i-balanced-dac/2/

      Cambridge DacMagic (read page 2)
      http://headfonia.com/cambridge-dacmagic-review/2/

      I haven’t heard the Icon HDP, so I can’t comment on that.

      • Reply March 30, 2011

        Eric C

        Thank you very much for the reply. I took some time and read your articles. Currently I’m looking for a dac and an amp within 600 dollars to pair up either denon d5000 or beyerdynamic dt880. It’s also my first time purchasing a dac. Since there are so many options out there, I would like to seek some advices and directions . I do feel that either Dr. Dac2 or MusicStremer II is a good choice to me. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for my new setup? Thanks a lot for the time 🙂

        • Reply March 30, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi Eric,
          I think they are all good DACs. My personal favorite is the HRT MSII+ as
          it gives the most pleasing, analog sound to my ears. But it doesn’t come
          with an amp, and so you have to add in an amp to the budget.

          The Dr. DAC2 and the Matrix Mini, on the other hand, comes with a built
          in amp and that’s a nice convenience — and probably good for the wallet
          too. The Dr. DAC2 can be opamp rolled, so that’s another plus, while the
          Mini-i has none but comes with balanced outputs.

          I think the Dr. DAC2 is a good buy, and afterwards you can try rolling
          some opamps to make the sound even better. My friend Bram, who is a long
          time op-amp veteran, has used different opamps with his Dr. DAC2 — and
          he settled with:
          3x OPA2107 for the FDO (Full Differential Output) Op-Amp from the stock
          NE5532
          2x OPA1642 for the Line Output and the Headphone amplifier, originally
          from the OPA2134 and the OPA2604.

          Here is the internal shot:
          http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v294/bpribadi/DAC%20and%20Headphone%20Amp/P1070835w.jpg

          And here are the opamps on a socket:
          http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v294/bpribadi/DAC%20and%20Headphone%20Amp/P1070841w.jpg

          • Reply March 31, 2011

            Eric C

            Thank you so much for the comment!! Much appreciated.

          • Reply March 31, 2011

            Eric C

            Thank you so much for the comment!! Much appreciated.

      • Reply September 24, 2011

        SoulSyde

        I’d love for you to demo the HDP.  I loved mine when I owned it.  I regret selling it, and may decide to buy one again.

        • Reply September 24, 2011

          Anonymous

          Thanks, Soul. Yes I’ll definitely listen to it when I have the chance to audition one.

  • Reply June 24, 2011

    Eyal

    For a Beyerdynamic DT880, do i need an external headphone amp. , or just plug the headphones to the dr.dac2 , and the headphone will “shine” ?
    Eyal.

    • Reply June 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Eyal,
      Don’t have the Dr. DAC2 DX with me anymore but I think the headphone amp
      is decent enough for the DT880, though it may not be the best.

      • Reply June 25, 2011

        Eyal

        ok, thanks!

        • Reply June 25, 2011

          Eyal

          ok, i just tried the dt880 with my audiotrak dr.dac2.. man, it sounds bad!
          what headphones in that level, will suit my dr.dac ?

          -Eyal

          • Reply June 28, 2011

            Anonymous

            What part of the DT880 was bad? What do you feel was lacking? Mids?
            Bass? What music?

          • Reply June 28, 2011

            Eyal

            I had a friend came over, with his 2005 dt880 250-ohm.

            When i plugged it to the port, no matter which one; it’s like the entire headphone just choked… everything was laid back.. it’s like the Dr.Dac2 has a (-) effect , and the beyer’s also have the (-) effect.

            Let’s say the grado’s (sr80i) are a (+) , they are very forward (?) .. so, a plus balances with the minus.. that’s why i hear the combo. good i guess (?)
            (should have been to school when they went over the “written expression” material) 😛

            • Reply June 28, 2011

              Anonymous

              Well you can try another headphone. I don’t think the DR.DAC is a minus effect, but the DT880 is. People normally refer to them as having recessed mids.

          • Reply September 24, 2011

            SoulSyde

            I call BS on Eyal’s whole story.  There should be plenty of power from the Dr. DAC2 to support all of the headphones he mentioned.  My (now since sold) Icon HDP would work wonders with anything I threw at it: HD600/650, Pro 750, DT880, several Grados (although they are very efficient).  The footprint and power supplies of the HDP and DAC2 are very similar.

  • Reply September 8, 2011

    Barun432

    What are possible OP AMP upgrades for the DR DAC2 DX, for the high impedance headphones ?Thanks

    • Reply September 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Let me email Earfonia who had done some testing with opamp rollings on the Dr. DAC2 DX and I’ll get back to you.

    • Reply September 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Let me email Earfonia who had done some testing with opamp rollings on the Dr. DAC2 DX and I’ll get back to you.

    • Reply September 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Barun,
      This is what Earfonia uses on his Dr. DAC2 DX:

      For the FDO (Full Differential Output) op-amp, change the original 3x NE5532 to 3x OPA2107
      For the line out opamp (OPA2134) and the headphone amplifier opamp (OPA2604) is replaced with OPA1642 for both.

      Here is the thread, though you probably can’t understand the language, but the pictures should help: http://www.audiophile-id.com/index.php/topic,9825.msg310203.html#msg310203

      • Reply September 9, 2011

        Barun432

        Thanks…Will try them on..

        • Reply September 12, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes, that’s quite a few opamp change.

  • Reply April 25, 2012

    Barun Chanda

    Hello Mike
    I am using a toslink optical cable with the DR DAC DX2 which is connected to my PC but up-sampling does not happen over 96KHZ as when I opt for the 192KHZ option the yellow unlock light turns on. 

    Am I doing anything wrong here?

    • Reply April 25, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry I don’t understand the question there. What are you trying to do? Up-sampling does not happen over 96?

      • Reply April 26, 2012

        Barun Chanda

        Yes, through toslink optical in, upsampling is limited upto 96Khz on my setup, just  read on headfi in a review done by project86 that up sampling over 96 @176.4 and  @192:disqus happens through coaxial only.

        • Reply April 26, 2012

          Mike

          I think the common toslink/optical has always been limited to 96, though it’s been extended to support higher data rates but such applications are quite uncommon.
          I don’t think it’s a big deal though. 88.2 and 96 are good for most of us.

  • Reply December 24, 2013

    STARSTERN

    Dr. DAC2 DX and Emm Labs Dac2X are in any way related ?

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