Nagra has created a more affordable alternative to its HD DAC which will fit in its CLASSIC range. The Nagra CLASSIC DAC comes in the same chassis as the HD, so it looks very similar. In terms of features it is almost identical though it does not include volume control or a headphone amplifier. The digital input and conversion boards are exactly the same as those found in the HD DAC, only the analogue stage differs.
For the digital section, the CLASSIC DAC features the same digital input board and conversion module as the HD DAC. The converter comes from a joint-venture with Andreas Koch, AKDesign, pioneer engineer in the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) format, used in professional music studios. The circuits of the Nagra CLASSIC DAC use the DSD 2x version of the format or DSD128 as it’s known. The sampling frequency reaches 5.6 MHz and the internal calculations use 72-bit precision. This method produces a signal with such quality that the steep-slope input filters on the analogue section can be eliminated. The USB input is a Nagra proprietary design and can handle signals up to DXD (384 kHz 32-bits) and DSD128. It is compatible with PC and MAC computers.
The Nagra engineering team worked extensively on a more affordable solution for the analogue stage, yet offering “striking performance” both in terms of measurement and sound perception. As an example, the signal-to-noise ratio of the output stage boasts an impressive 145 dB (not weighted)! A number rarely reached by DACs at any price level. The output section is based on class A discrete transistor topology. It includes no less than 9 matched transistors, of military and high-end origins, per channel.
The Nagra CLASSIC DAC features a built-in mains power supply that offers excellent performance, but this can be further improved by the use of the Nagra MPS full-chassis power supply, though a 12 V DC Lemo connector. The power supply has also been carefully designed and includes no less than 25 dedicated internal power supplies. In typical Nagra way, each stage is carefully decoupled to ensure the best performance. The Nagra CLASSIC DAC will be available in April 2016.