So, you’re in a meeting where you are discussing the name of an all singing, all dancing new product that you plan to announce to the world’s press… at the world’s most prestigious audio event (High End Munich) and someone pipes up “Hey, I know what…let’s call it DAVE”.

Now it’s a very brave person that has the courage to do that in my book and an even braver company that goes along with this suggestion, but that’s exactly what British manufacturer Chord have gone and done. Hifi Pig were at this year’s Munich High End to witness the birth of DAVE. It was a crowded event and the liquid refreshments came in the form of a VERY excitable fizz named Hugo, in honour of the company’s HUGO DAC and headphone amp. As soon as they announced the name of this new DAC I couldn’t get the famous “DAVE’s not here” sketch from Cheech and Chong out of my head.

But Why DAVE I hear you ask!

DAVE is a DAC, digital preamp and headphone amplifier. that is being hand-made in Kent, UK. Chord say that DAVE is based around their proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) offering more than ten times the program capacity of its predecessor. 

At DAVE’s heart lies a new LX75 version of the Spartan 6 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). The FPGA’s capability enables a number of key sonic benefits say Chord, including significantly improved timing and the best noise-shaper performance of any known DAC.

Within DAVE Chord has implemented a brand new WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) filter with 164,000 taps. WTA filtering is now up to 256 FS (that’s 256-times the sample frequency) and the good people from Chord (John Franks MD and Rob Watts, a digital design consultant who’s been working alongside Chord for 20 years) say that no other DAC has ever FIR filtered at such a high rate.  DAVE has massive parallel-processing capacity with 166 separate DSP cores just for the WTA filtering alone. CHORD_DAVE_1

The output stage has been advanced with a new 20-element Pulse Array DAC and a unique second-order analogue noise-shaper. Its output feeds both balanced XLR and single-ended RCA outputs, as well as an advanced headphone output.

DAVE has a full-sized LCD display, showing input, sample frequency and volume, plus set-up and configuration options. On its fascia, DAVE also features a rotary encoder with a large stainless steel controller and ball buttons, enabling direct interactivity in addition to the supplied remote control. The new DAC certainly feels like a quality item and looks fab to boot!! Chord_DAVE_2

Specs

Inputs:

USB B-style 44 kHz to 768 kHz

DXD and Quad DSD

2x optical   44kHz to 192kHz

1 x AES        44kHz  to  192kHz

4 x Coax       44kHz  to  384kHz

Dual-data mode available

Outputs digital:

2x coax 768kHz dual-data mode (for use with future-unannounced Chord Electronics products)

Maximum output voltage: 6 volts RMS

THD and noise at 2.5 volts: RMS 0.000015 %

THD and noise at 2.5 volts: 127dBA  Awt (124dBA into 33 ohms)

Dynamic range at -60 dBFS 1kHz -127 dBA A wt

(No measurable noise floor modulation, no a harmonic distortion)

(Analogue distortion characteristic: no distortion for small signals)

Power requirements: mains power 80 volts to 260 volts; AC 20 watts DAVE_3

Chord are saying that DAVE is the pinnacle of DAC technology and it will be available in the autumn priced at £7,995.

Stu

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