By Lam Seng Fatt
I just had to post this after reading about it. A new British audio company called Computer Audio Design (CAD) will be releasing its first product – a USB DAC – that will be priced at 6,900 pounds (RM34,500), which places it near the dCS segment of the market. I’m not sure if anyone in Singapore or Malaysia will be distributing it in this part of the world, but it makes for a good read.
Its website (www.computeraudiodesign.com) states:
Computer Audio Design is a new company located in the UK. We manufacture high quality Digital to Analogue Converters (DACs) for use with computers.
Our goal was to produce a computer based DAC that gives a musical experience beyond the finest CD players on the market. The CAD 1543 DAC is designed for one thing: To achieve a more natural, realistic flow to music similar to the best turntables along with the clarity, focus and detail that is possible with digital.
The engineer responsible for the design of the 1543 DAC is Scott Berry. Scott is an electrical engineer who worked for many years in R&D and manufacturing for Tektronix and Xerox on the West Coast of the USA. Scott’s experience was in electrical engineering R&D work in high technology industries, but not in the audio sector. However, Scott has always made his own audio equipment and concentrated on DACs because “I have always been a vinyl junkie and I just did not like the sound from digital sources“
Scott believes the future of audio will be computer based, and that is how Computer Audio Design started. “Not really having a history in audio development meant that the 1543 DAC took an original approach – different materials and ideas which I feel give different results.”
The 1543 DAC has been Scott’s passion for many years, and each unit is handmade using only the highest quality parts custom built to Scott’s specifications. Ninety percent of the parts in the 1543 DAC are manufactured in the UK by UK companies.
As its name suggests, it uses a NOS (Non Oversampling) Philips TDA1543 chip (designed in the 1980s) – in fact, it uses 16 of them. It is a 16-bit DAC that can handle up to 192kHz.
CAD uses NOS chips because the designer is “trying to reproduce a more natural “analog” sound that is typical of well designed turntables:.
The website adds: “We are convinced that Non Over Sampling DACs achieve a more realistic natural musical experience. CAD believes that sigma delta technology used in current DAC chips does not sound as natural as resistor ladder technology.”
The CAD 1543 DAC is built in a modular way and is upgradeable – it is future proof.
It certainly looks very,very interesting on paper. But how does it sound?