in ,

Audioengine introduce D3: a thumb-sized 24/96 DAC for US$189

  • It’s getting cheaper and cheaper to hi-fi your computer. Audioengine join the super-portable DAC race with their new D3 – a thumb-sized USB DAC that direct connects to your PC or Mac, no USB cable required. Just like the Audioquest Dragonfly (US$249). The Audioengine D3 measures 19mm x 12mm x 6mm (including USB connector).

    However, $50 is everything in the budget sector and Audioengine have set the RRP of the D3 at US$189, well below its Audioquest rival, which plants it firmly in HRT microStreamer territory.


    Highlights of the Audioengine D3 include an injection-moulded metal chassis (that toes the line with Macbook aesthetics), asynchronous USB data handling from a TI1020B chip and up to 24bit/96kHz bitperfect decoding from the AKM4369 DAC chip.  The 1/8″ output jack is fed by an LME49726 op-amp: 2.0 V and 10 Ohms. Audioengine recommends using the D3 with headphones rated between 12 Ohms and 10 kOhms.

    The D3 doesn’t require the installation of custom drivers. Volume attenuation is exacted using software controls on the host computer. (No word yet on whether it behaves like the aforementioned Audioquest or the Resonessence Labs Herus: each digital marker in the operating system’s volume control corresponds to an analogue level inside the DAC itself.)

    Current draw is rated at 200mA which is probably too high for successful mating with an iPad + CCK.

    Here’s what you get in the box…


    Further information: Audioengine USA

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. The Dragonfly is all over the web for 199 USD. It’s a $10 gap. The D3 will have to bring a LOT to the table to compete. Will you please tell us if it does?

        • Audioquest’s own advertising now declares $199 as the official new price for the Dragonfly. (Stereophile. December 2013, p. 29) The Audioengine D3 is the challenger in this important match-up, I’d say. Which is victorious?

    2. Bout ready to get a good dac for my Nait5i, but something tells me to wait a few more months everytine I get ready to buy lol

    3. Hi John, curious to know if you’ve looked into Nuforce products. Their new uDAC-3 is very inexpensive and apparently decodes DSD.

      • With only so many hours in the day it’s tricky to cover all brands that might be of interest to readers.

    4. According to the Audioengine site the D3 only goes up to 24/96, so that it doesn’t require a driver for windows. Has there been an update that bumped it to 24/192? Thanks and keep up the great work!

      • And the new V1.2 is $149, regular price, with improved sound. Audioengine and HRT must have indigestion right now knowing that they will likely have to drop their prices. Like it or not, AQ is the lead dog.

    Light Harmonic crowdfund another DAC: the Geek Pulse

    PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter (Part 1 – No pre-amplifier?)