Audiolab Q-DAC DAC

Efficiently a DAC preamp, the Q-DAC is well defined, being assembled around the latest 32-bit ESS Sabre 9016 DAC processor, which runs at up to 24/192 resolution and sports seven adjustable filter settings, that are digital

It's an excellent range of connections, including one, one optical and one coaxial asynchronous USB input signal, plus digital coaxial and optical outputs.

The fascia has an outstanding and insightful OLED display, along with a bank of fiddly buttons that cover input signal selection and volume control, in case you prefer to use it as a preamplifier. There is also a front panel-mounted 6.3mm headphone socket, with the accompanying built in amplifier, naturally. Inside, the manufacturer claims, much attention has been paid to reducing jitter, and there are triple cascaded jitter attenuation stages to ensure it is kept to a minimum, together with a high-current Class A an analogue output period. The Q-DAC also offers a really gigantic different off-board power supply, however, this does not prevent it from being an incredibly adaptable DAC with a wide range of features that are executed very well.

Sound quality

The Q-DAC delivers a sound that is in many ways quite deep and three dimensional, along with an impressive awareness of the spaces between the notes where the Arcam opposite will slur them more into one. Nevertheless, tonally the Audiolab isn't quite as good - it just doesn't have the richness and textural insight of the former. This means on that

Beth Rowley's Nobody's Fault But Mine, for example, the steel that is plucked guitar strings sound needly and somewhat slimmer than they actually should.

One listener says: "It does beat pretty well, but there is a deficiency of sophistication to the timbre of everything". Another adds: "It's like you're having the chief picture, but not much behind it... there's nothing to go and explore".

Maybe lots of praise and this overstates matters a touch does go to the bass guitar. It is well expanded, although it is not the richest and integrates nicely with all the remainder of the frequency spectrum. The DAC puts up a really broad soundstage that is stereo, and also pictures well.

Exceptional total, our panel is in agreeing that it is lots of merchandise for the cash, worldwide.

Audiolab Q-DAC DAC photo