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.
24-bit / 192kHz
AC3 / DTS PassThrough
USB: 1,1 /2,0
input: RCA / SPDIF (coax / toslink)
output: RCA / SPDIF (coax / toslink); headphone x2 (~0Ω z-out)
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: