AudioTrak DR. DAC3 – A Kludgy Steal

Dislcaimer: AudioTrak supplied the AudioTrak DR. DAC3 for the purposes of this review. It goes for about 350$ USD. You can find out more about it here.

Spec:

24-bit / 192kHz
AC3 / DTS PassThrough
DAC: PCM1794
USB: 1,1 /2,0

input: RCA / SPDIF (coax / toslink)
output: RCA  / SPDIF (coax / toslink); headphone x2 (~0Ω z-out)

… etcetera

AudioTrak’s first DR. DAC tore it up; and the series has been tearing it up since then. Mike thought well of DR. DAC2 DX. And while I’ve not spent enough time with either DR. DAC1 or 2, I can say with perfect assurance that DR. DAC3 is about as stable a budget DAC/headphone amp as you’ll find for your computer or your HiFi. If only it worked with iOS.

2005 aesthetic 2005 interface

And if only it wasn’t a bit prettier. DR. DAC3 is as pretty as my old Edirol FA-66, which once was mistaken for a brick. It’s actually kludgier to use while lacking the FA-66’s ADC functionality.

DR. DAC3’s headphone outputs and its line outputs are independent. Unfortunately, they don’t work concurrently. You have to flip the switch to use one or the other. Digital sources, too, have to be manually selected; and DR. DAC3 won’t automatically filter in analogue input from its RCA terminals.

It’s is kludgy. But it works.

At least when compared to rivals in its price range, it’s decently enough put together. Its center mass is reinforced by an internal skeleton; if you want to stack stuff on it, go ahead. Its coaxial input flexes under the medium pressure of a finger and thumb, while its RCA ins and outs stubbornly refuse to budge unless you really go at them. It is held together by Phillips bolts, which, on my unit, are nicked and scarred and do not sit flush with the case.

Its feet are metal ripples. They are not perfectly balanced. DR. DAC3 wobbles.

Kludgy. But it works.

Both its face and ass are crowded, and at a glance, it is hard to decipher one function from another. But everything works. The volume pot on my unit came loose enough to fall off after its first listen. But it went back with a simple twist of the Allen key.

DR. DAC3: kludgy, but it works.

Finally, it’s a bugger that the D3 must be plugged into the mains in order to run. You can’t take just it and your lappy, on the road.

Performance and sound on the next page:

AudioTrak DR. DAC3 – A Kludgy Steal
4.2 (84.29%) 14 vote[s]

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

2 Comments

  • Reply December 11, 2015

    Peter Pan

    Very well said! I own dr dac 3 and i agree pretty much with your review!
    Very odjective and unbiased.
    By the way i have been comparing dr dacs headphone out with a burson soloist sl i have on loan and i dare to say that dr dac is on par and better on some points.Amazing little devil!

  • Reply December 16, 2016

    Ale

    Thank you for this review, can You tell the differences between the 3 and the DR DAC 2 Muse edition.
    Thanks again

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.