British newcomer Computer Audio Design (CAD), is a specialist high-end audio company that aims to achieve the “finest sound quality from computer audio sources”. Designed and hand-built in the UK, CAD’s debut offering, the CAD 1543 DAC, has been built as a “no-compromise” asynchronous USB DAC.
The CAD 1543 DAC has been built on a design principle that seeks to minimise components in the signal path. The DAC is also unashamedly computer-orientated in recognition of today’s high-resolution digital music files and yet “has been designed to deliver the same natural, effortless sound that’s inherent in the best analogue source components.”
The CAD 1543 DAC is built around a dedicated, non-magnetic acrylic chassis, has been optimised to work with a computer and painstakingly designed to minimise disruption to the incoming signal. To this end, the DAC has a single high-quality USB input, plus one set of RCA outputs which the company says “enables the signal to pass through the DAC without encountering the highly degrading effects of unnecessary switching. It also allows a super-short signal path (of just 1cm) from the USB board to the DAC.”
Designed by Scott Berry, a British-based US-born electrical engineer, the 1543 DAC has been conceived over several years.
The CAD 1543 DAC also boasts “highly advanced” power supplies which have their own mains conditioning. The DAC also has a captive mains lead and eschews a mains power switch in keeping with the company’s fewer-components-means-better-
Over 90% of the DAC’s components come from UK manufacturers, including the acrylic case, power transformers, PCB boards (and assembly), PCB supports, the LED backlight and mains power plug. The DAC is modular in design, allowing upgrades and updates to be added over the unit’s lifetime. The special acrylic casework also enables rear panel changes to be introduced cost-effectively if required, in the future.
The CAD 1543 is available now priced at £6,900 (standard finish) with custom finishes and colours available on request.
- DAC chips: 16 x TDA1543/N2
- Input: single asynchronous USB, with full galvanic isolation from computer
- Output: unbalanced RCA (extremely high-quality, low-mass Tellurium copper)
- Sampling frequencies: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz and 176.4kHz operation
- Bit depth: 16 bit (will play any bit-depth)
- Maximum output voltage: ~1.65Vrms
- Output impedance: 135 ohms at 1kHz
- Can drive most power amplifiers directly using digital volume control