Digital Audio Review looks at NADs Wireless USB DAC 1
February 10, 2012
Product Review: NAD Wireless USB DAC 1 (PCM1781)
By John Darko
An entry level DAC from NAD that pulls both price-commensurate sound and price-defying flexibility from the digital audio hat
My day usually begins with emails and social network catch-ups. I sit at the dining room table with coffee and my hands work a MacBook Air, during which time I nudge album after album from my main rig that sits five or so metres in front of me: a MacMini pushes the audio binary out to an Audiophilleo2, which is hooked into any number of DACs. A Rega Brio-R and Epos ELS-8 take care of the rest. The MacMini is controlled via Squeezebox Server interface from either Macbook Air or iPad. I sit, I listen, I type.
…almost. But I have a dirty secret: I'm not a 24/7 audiophile. In discovering new music, I fire up YouTube links, dig Soundcloud mixes and play emusic.com previews on the Air itself. The Air has no formal audio connection to the myriad gear that sits at the other end of the room so - with heavy heart - I confess to playing web-browser-constrained music via the Macbook's painfully puny in-built speakers. For shame. I am not alone. Many, many of my younger pals sit on the couch and listen to tunes - they listen via their laptop speakers too. They do so because of convenience. Fair enough. They hate wires because wires maketh life messy. Also fair enough. However - at the risk of echoing Neil Young - convenience is massively denting the quality of the music listening experiencing.
"The sound of the NAD unit as a standalone DAC is more than price commensurate. That it sounds as good whilst packing wifi functionality means NAD have a winner on their hands."
NAD's functionality coup with the Wireless USB DAC 1 (AU$349) is - as its name makes plain - wireless transmission of digital audio. Inside the box there's a USB-powered transmitter dongle and a switch-mode powered receiver unit (which runs on 5V). DIYers will likely already see this device's hackability: no direct connection between source computer and DAC. Tidying up the power supply on the receiver with linear brick or battery pack could bring significant gains.
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