Dense Launches Adapt Reference High Performance Portable USB Audio DAC

November 6 2019, 00:20
Dense, a San Jose-based audio startup, created the Adapt Reference audio DAC as a portable audio performance boost device for smartphones and personal computers. Dense successfully raised the funds for the production on Kickstarter and delivered the unique product to early backers. Now, the company launched its homepage and the Adapt Reference DAC ($209.99) is now officially available and ready to be distributed worldwide.

The Adapt Reference High Performance Portable USB Audio DAC enhances the listening experience by reviving the details of the music that were hindered by the power limitation of smartphones or personal laptops normally used as sources. And Dense didn’t forget any of the details that have diminished other attempts in the portable DAC space, including in models that cost substantially more. 

Designed with high-quality audio components and deep experience in engineering, the Adapt Reference DAC delivers an output up to 2.0Vrms, which is nearly triple that of a normal smartphone output. And the DAC uses the latest ESS 32-bit SABRE Hi-Fi ES9218P converter chip, combined with premier passive components for the best possible audio experience. 

Unique to the Adapt Reference and any portable device at such an affordable price, is the extended support of a wide range of audio formats, including DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DoP, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, or WAV PCM with sampling rates extending from 44.1kHz to 384kHz, and support for 16, 24 and 32-bit resolution.

With those specifications, the Dense Adapt Reference is clearly aimed at music enthusiasts who are looking for a take-anywhere solution without compromises. Also, just what musicians and producers intended. And with a triple noise filter in Adapt’s power supply, the converter is able to block even subtle noises to maximize the dynamic range. 

The two Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillators (TCXO) in the Adapt Reference model is another way to differentiate it from other portable audio DACs. Ultra high precision oscillators provide more accurate timing and low jitter, just like in any high-end audio system. And the Adapt Reference has two TCXOs dedicated to 44.1kHz and 48kHz native sampling rates to minimize even the tiniest conversion error. This combination of high-quality components and consideration for details is able to convert the sound of average smartphones and computers to a superior experience.

Also - very important - there’s no inconvenience in using an external DAC with the Adapt DAC, which is basically like a small additional dongle weighing just 0.53oz (15g) -  equivalent to the weight of a single AAA battery. “The Adapt product design represents the identity of Dense,” the company states. Effectively, the anodized aluminum housing adds a premium look to the device, while the fins on the side provide a comfortable grip and simultaneously maintain an optimum system operating temperature for the best performance.

And while many audio companies seem to ignore that portable devices need to connect with modern smartphones and computers, Dense designed the project early on to support the future of all interfaces: USB Type C. The versatile (and reversible) USB-C connector is the ideal solution today and adds the value of replacing adapters to 3.5mm analog audio jack with a high-quality solution that can be plugged-in to any wired headphones or earbuds. The device is naturally compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, macOS and Linux devices.

Each set includes Adapt DAC, USB-C cable, and user manual. For iOS devices with a Lightning port, an adaptor is still required, but this should not worry anyone, since Apple, like all other mobile and computer companies, has already started the migration to universal USB-C - as the iPad Pro and all current MacBooks already show. There’s no charging, no buttons, just a lightweight device connected to the cables that would normally be required.

For those users that are looking for a more affordable alternative, Dense also has the Adapt DAC version available for just $109.99. The difference with the Adapt Reference is that it uses a different ESS converter chip, where the sampling rate for PCM files is limited at 192kHz and 24-bit (instead of 384kHz/32-bit), only DS64 is supported and analog output is limited to 1.2Vrms.

This is a company that successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2018, successfully raised production funds and is now delivering the final product for the global market. Well done.
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