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Chord Electronics has launched what it calls its most advanced converter to date. DAVE is a reference-grade DAC, digital preamp and headphone amplifier. It is based around a proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) offering more than ten times the program capacity of its predecessor (QBD76 HDSD). At its heart lies a new LX75 version of the Spartan 6 FPGA. This enables a number of key sonic benefits including “significantly improved timing and the best noise-shaper performance of any known DAC”. Designer Rob Watts is of the opinion that the better the performance of the noise shaper the greater the image depth.

Chord Electronics has implemented a brand new WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) filter with 164,000 taps. WTA filtering is now up to 256 FS (256-times the sample frequency). In order to process signals at this unprecedented rate, DAVE has parallel-processing capacity with 166 separate DSP cores just for the WTA filtering. The output stage has been advanced with a new 20-element Pulse Array DAC and a unique second-order analogue noise-shaper, which gives ultra-high-frequency linearity. Its output feeds both balanced XLR and single-ended RCA outputs, as well as a headphone output “capable of driving the most challenging headphone impedances”.

A full-sized LCD display, shows input, sample frequency and volume, plus set-up and configuration options. DAVE also features a rotary encoder and ball buttons, enabling direct interactivity in addition to the supplied remote control. DAVE’s is enshrined in Chord Electronics’ trademark casework which has been precision-milled from solid aircraft-grade aluminium. The acronym DAVE stands for Digital to Analogue Veritas in Extremis and the DAC will be available in the autumn priced at £7,995.

CHORD DAVE REAR

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