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USB-C DAC promises high-fidelity audio for phones

 USB-C DAC promises high-fidelity audio for phones

Astell & Kern - the manufacturer of high-end portable digital audio players - make a USB-C DAC (digital to analog converter) designed to help get better sound from modern smartphones and computers that may lack a 3.5mm headphone jack.

USB-C DAC promises high-fidelity audio for phones

And if you want to use any digital device with a 3.5mm headphone jack, you need a DAC.

Older devices with a 3.5mm headphone port feature a built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC) (some are better than others, such as the LG Quad DAC system popularized by its previous flagship).

But the end of the 3.5mm headphone jack across modern smartphones in favor of USB-C exclusively (or Lightning ports in Apple's case) left a gap for audio enthusiasts.

And if you want to use old headphones, now you need a dongle for the USB-C to 3.5mm headphone port, which, by default, is technically a DAC.

But the new digital-to-analog converter (DAC) promises a high-fidelity experience, offering two CS43198 DACs paired with an analog amplifier to deliver a better audio experience, with support for 32-bit resolution playback and sampling rates up to 384kHz.

Given its price tag of $ 150, it should provide a better experience than an Apple device or Google dongle under $ 10.

Astell & Kern says it is building on its experience building portable media players to build the new USB-C DAC.

And while the DAC itself doesn't have an external power supply (it draws power from a phone or computer), the company says: It can still power a pair of high-impedance headphones with a 2Vrms output level (no-load condition).

The new digital-to-analog converter (DAC) should be compatible with most Android smartphones, tablets, and Windows and Mac computers.

But Astell & Kern says iOS devices - even those with a USB-C port like Apple's recent iPad Pro lineup - will not be compatible.

The new USB-C Dual DAC is available for initial order now from the company's website, ahead of the planned release date in May.