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PS Audio Digital Link III

Stereo digital-to-analog converter

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  • PS Audio Digital Link III

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  • PS Audio Digital Link III

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  • PS Audio Digital Link III

  • PS Audio Digital Link III

    Toroidal transformer

Item #: 681DLIII
 

Review Summary

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Original price $799.99
 
 
 
 

Our take on the PS Audio Digital Link III

by Dave Bar

Digital music sources make it easy for us to hear more music in more places, but they can also rob music of its realism. One culprit is the cheap digital-to-analog converter, or DAC, hidden away inside our CD players, DVD players and computers. It's the DAC's job to convert digital bits back into music, and how well it performs can mean the difference between thin, threadbare sound and a richly detailed musical presentation. This is where PS Audio's amazing Digital Link III DAC comes in.

You've never heard CDs sound this good
The Digital Link III connects to your disc player's digital output — and it will re-connect you with your favorite CDs. Even long-familiar tracks may surprise you, opening up to reveal a spacious, three-dimensional soundstage alive with warmth and rhythmic energy. The sound is built on a rock-solid foundation of taut, tuneful bass. This DAC has impressed many of Crutchfield's veteran audiophiles.

Turn your computer into a high-end music source
You can hook up your computer to the Digital Link III's USB input and enjoy the same sonic benefits with the music stored on your PC. This DAC works wonders with uncompressed WAV and AIFF files, as well as lossless files. And even low-res files sound more fleshed out — not just listenable but actually enjoyable. The Digital Link III performs much better than even high-quality sound cards, which are handicapped by having to operate in the noisy environment inside your PC.

More ways to enjoy more music
Want to enjoy unbelievable sound quality from your iPod®? Just combine the Digital Link III with the Wadia 170iTransport iPod dock, which allows you to bypass the iPod's built-in DAC. Think about the hundreds or thousands of songs on your iPod. Now think about hearing them anew. The Digital Link III also opens the door to dramatically better sound from music streaming devices like Sonos®, Squeezebox™, and Apple TV.

See more info on this item

Highlights:

  • 3 digital audio inputs — optical, coaxial, and USB (Type B)
  • RCA outputs and balanced XLR outputs
  • built-in driver for USB connection
  • Texas Instruments (formerly Burr Brown) PCM1798DB DAC
  • 192kHz/24-bit processor with 8X oversampling filter
  • user-selectable 96kHz or 192kHz sample rate
  • FET-based discrete output stage
  • built-in high-end power supply with oversized toroidal transformer
  • THD: 0.0005%
  • dynamic range: 123 dB
  • detachable power cord
  • weight: 10 lbs.
  • 8-9/16"W x 2-13/16"H x 15-15/16"D
  • warranty: 3 years (with product registration)
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Digital to analog converter
  • 75" AC power cord
  • Owner's manual

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Specifications

Features

Inputs: There are three digital inputs; coaxial, optical, and USB (type-B). Any or all of them can be connected simultaneously. A button on the front panel is used to select a source. When powered up the Autoscan feature selects the first input with an active signal. The PS Audio DLIII will improve the two-channel performance of your CD player, DVD player (stereo output only), computer, or just about any source with a digital output.

Main Power Switch: There is a main power switch on the rear-panel of this unit. Though, it's designed to be left on all the time.

Illumination: There are six blue LEDs on the front panel; one of three lights to indicate the input (coax, optical, or USB), one of two others lights to indicate the sampling frequency (96 kHz or 192 kHz), and the sixth light to indicate an input is locked in.

Line Output: The DLIII has two pair of line outputs; balanced XLR and RCAs. The outputs are both live simultaneously but PS Audio doesn't recommend using them at the same time.

Warranty Note: Out of the box the warranty is 90 days. If you register your purchase on PS Audio's web site, the warranty is extended to 3 years.

Specifications

Specifications:

  • Single-ended Outputs: 1 pair RCA
  • Balanced Outputs: 1 pair XLR
  • Output Impedance:
    • RCA: 50 Ω
    • XLR: 100 Ω
  • Output Voltage:
    • RCA: 2.75 volts
    • XLR: 5.5 volts
  • THD: 0.0005%
  • Resolution: 24 bit
  • Sampling Rate: 96 kHz or 192 kHz
  • Oversampling: 8x
 
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PS Audio Digital Link III Reviews

Average Customer Review:

6 people say:

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5 out of 5

A close second to 180g vinyl.

Written By Geoff, GA on Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
The write up for this product sounds like hype, but it's spot on. the bass is phenomenal, the dynamics are better, the soundstage is wider/deeper (vocals are now FRONT AND CENTER), the mids/highs are more detailed. I am streaming from mac->appletv->dl III->av receiver. My review is based on back and fourth switching/comparison between digital and analog inputs on the receiver. The difference was night and day. Whether lossless or lossy sources, there was always an improvement over my receiver's dac. I did not perceive a 'warmth' as stated (more neutral). Although that may come after the 'break in' period.

Now the negatives. The DL III did have a little trouble handling a few of my .mp3 files which my receiver's dac could handle. I'm guessing there were some errors in the encoding process. It's to bulky to stick in the back of a stereo rack, and the 3 blue LED's on the front can be a little annoying/distracting.

But I still give it 5 stars based on sound alone. If you're trying to achieve some level of audio fidelity from your digital sources, and you don't have 20 grand to spend, the dl iii is a good place to start.
5 out of 5 people found this helpful
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1 out of 5

PS Audio Digital Link III with Sonos 90 Zone player

Written By Jeff E, Inverness, IL on Friday, October 07, 2011
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I am using a laptop with a Sonos Zone Player 90 to send uncompressed Itunes music files recorded from CDs to my Bose V30 audio system. The Sonos 90 connects to my latop with a network cable and then connects to the Bose with RCA jacks. When the PS Audio Digital Link III is inserted in the system you connect the Sonos to the Link II with an optical cable and then connect the RCA jacks to the Link II and the Bose system. I left the Link III on for several hours before running tests. I like high quality music at fairly loud volumns. After playing Herb Alpert and Tchaikovsky's "March from the Nutcaracker Suite", I can not hear any discenable difference between having the Link III or just using the Sonos 90 without the Link III. I repeatedly played whole songs and switched back and forth on specific sections of the songs and could not tell any difference. This may be because the Sonos 90 does not use the computers sound cards DAC. The Sonos 90 muast have a very good DAC. I was expecting a substantial improvement in soud quality and didn't get it. In addition the unit is 8.5" wide and 15" deap which makes it very hard to fit in a stero cabinet if there is a back on the cabinet. I then compared the Sonos 90 to my hi end Marantz cd player and could tell no difference between an origninal CD adn the Sonos 90 playback. If you have a Sonos system, don't waist you time and money on a separate DAC if you are using uncompressed music files.
3 out of 23 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

There is a power switch

Written By EricA, Fresno CA on Tuesday, August 23, 2011
 
I love this unit. Just a quick note: The "Hands-on Research" section for this DAC states that it does not have a power switch. However, there is a power switch on the back of the unit. I leave mine on all the time, as the manufacturer suggests. I believe this switch is meant for only occasional use, such as when you leave the house for an extended period and want to save power.

[Editor's Note: Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We have corrected our database.]
5 out of 6 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Great DAC

Written By Federico, Hoboken, NJ on Wednesday, July 01, 2009
 
Great product. I use it with my PC to stream music from iTunes via USB. A much better solution than a PC sound card.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

1011010011010 --> Analog

Written By Rick, NW Arkansas on Friday, February 06, 2009
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Works great, no problems at all. I use a Mac to stream aiff files into it through either USB or a fiber optic cable. Both methods work immediately and without any hiccups. The computer and the DAC recognize each other right away when connected by either method. What's fun is you can pull the fiber optic cable out of the port and hold it up to a couple of inches away and, if you're careful to stay aligned, you still get a perfect signal.

The sound is great. I can't tell any difference in quality between the two sample rates. I'm very happy with this purchase.
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

PS Audio DAC III: A Solid Value

Written By Houckster, Clarkston, GA on Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Getting a DAC (digital to analog converter) has been something I've wanted to do for a long time and the PS Audio DAC III was my wallet's undoing.

If one is really serious about listening to all the music that's on a CD, a DAC is a critical step, even in systems where the components are already good. The quality of CDs these days is good but not perfect. Most CD players have no memory so if they can't read the disc fast enough, they simply guess at the what's missing. For casual listening, that's good enough but anyone who would even consider a DAC is much more serious and they will want to get rid of the jitter that's created so they can come closer to the pure sound. And the PS Audio DAC III does a great job. It is easy to install and has input ports for three sources: coax, Toslnk and USB. When the unit is powered up it will automatically switch to the live source but if there's more than one live source you can manually choose which one it will listen to.

The unit will require about an hour to reach full capability if you turn off the unit as I do.

You can buy the best cables and you can buy the best amp and speakers but there is one incontestable fact that one can't ignore. The sound will only be as good as the weakest link in the system. A good DAC will make sure the output from your CD player is in pristine condition when it begins its journey through the rest of your system.
72 out of 78 people found this helpful
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