Alright Dave? Against the ultra-conservative backdrop of the audiophile world, Chord Electronics’ latest statement DAC will seem like a far out proposition for some. The successor to the DAC64 and the QBD76 is called Dave. Yes, really.
“It’s the Pompidou Centre of audio,” says Chord CEO John Franks. Franks says the design was influenced by three movie-related tropes: HAL9000 from 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Chronicles of Riddick and the one-eyed Minions from Despicable Me. The latter might explain Dave’s monocle-like display.
Like Hugo, Hugo TT and 2Qute, this is another FPGA-code fest from Rob Watts. Four FPGAs sit at the centre of the Dave. Providing financial context at the 2015 Munich High-End Show launch, Watts contrasts the ~US$300 price of a single Xilinx Spartan FPGA chip with that of an off-the-shelf decoder from the likes or Texas Instruments or AKM, the typical cost of which cost is US$4.
Dave = Digital Audio Veritas in Extremis. For those not well versed in Latin, that means ‘extreme truth’. Before he could drag any more truth from Dave, Watts had to first unearth the previously hidden secrets of Hugo’s sonic performance.
The ear-brain is extremely sensitive to time domain performance. Knowing this, Watts dropped more taps than ever before in Dave: 164000 in total. He also upped the number of WTA filters from Hugo’s 16 to 256 in Dave, the benefits of which can apparently be heard in rapid firing instruments.
In presenting Dave to a packed house, Watts then explained how he spent a considerable amount of time improving the noise shaper. With daily listening test conducted over a period of many months, Watts discovered how to increase Dave’s presentation of depth perception. (350db/48 bits).
Oh – Dave isn’t only a D/A converter. It’s a remote controllable digital pre-amplifier with headphone outputs on the rear and it will be available from October with an RPP of GBP7950.
“It’s not a low cost product,” concedes Franks “but it is the pinnacle of known DAC technology”. Rob Watts predictably agrees but they may well be right.
Further information: Chord Electronics
Munich High-End 2015 coverage sponsored by LH Labs: