If you didn’t know, all laptops, iPods and phones have built in DAC’s which stands for digital-to-analogue converter. The reason your device needs one of these is because us as humans cannot understand a digital signal and neither can your headphones, therefore there becomes a need to convert the signal to analogue. More often than not the built-in DAC’s found inside your devices are of poor quality which lead to poor audio. Today we’ve got our hands on a standalone DAC from Arcam called the rPAC.
This simple looking aluminium box measures 100mm x 62mm x 25mm with a 3.5mm headphone jack located at the front. Just above the headphone jack you’ll find an LED which is red when the unit has power, green when it detects audio and will flicker when changing the volume. On the top you’ll find these two separate volume buttons, while at the rear you’ll find the USB power port and RCA sockets. That’s right, the rPAC is USB powered and therefore doesn’t need an external power source.
Frequency Response – 10Hz – 20kHz, +-0.1dB
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise – 0.002%
Signal-to-noise ratio – 106dB (24-bit)
Line output level – 2.15Vrms
Supported sample rates – 44.1kHz, 48kHz,
Bit depth – 16-bit, 24-bit
Headphone output power – 138mW
Headphone signal-to-noise ratio – 98dB
Power requirements – 2.5W max
Dimensions (w x d x h, mm) 11x 62 x 25
The build quality of the device is solid and weighs in around 300g, which is pretty hefty for such a small device. This being said the rubber base and the weight combined means that when placed on a table or shelf you can be sure the rPAC will remain in place and not be pulled by any wires.
The results of this DAC highly depend on the audio file you are using. For best results you should use high quality lossless audio formats such as MP3 320, WAV, FLAC and ALAC. The improvement in the audio quality when using the rPAC with these formats is simply stunning. All instruments instantly become more detailed as if you were in the same room listening to them live. Of course your audio will only sound as good as the equipment you have and therefore this accessory won’t be for everyone.
Most people won’t want to be spending this amount of money on an audio accessory especially if you’re not aware of your current audio missing anything. However for those that feel their current set-up just isn’t doing the job correctly, the Arcam rPac is definitely worth a look.
Despite being a great DAC if you haven’t got the matching high-quality equipment to go with it then its use will be limited. But if however you are serious about your music, as some would say an audiophile, then the Arcam rPAC is brilliant and definitely belongs sat on your desk or next to your speakers. For £100 the rPAC is considerably cheaper than a lot of its competition while offering asynchronous USB functionality on a portable device.
You can read more about the rPAC by clicking the link below.