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Audioengine D3

Plug-in USB digital-to-analog converter/headphone amplifier

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  • Audioengine D3

    Front

  • Audioengine D3

    A Sound & Vision magazine Top Pick (July/August, 2014)

  • Audioengine D3

    Shown plugged into a laptop computer's USB port

  • Audioengine D3

    Shown with included full-size headphone adapter and carry case

 

Our take on the Audioengine D3

by Dave Bar
Audioengine

Turn 1s and 0s into sweet sounding music

Why buy a separate DAC? These devices are all about getting true high-fidelity sound from digital sources like computers, streaming music players, smartphones, and more. While these kinds of sources usually have their own digital-to-analog converters built in, you can expect a separate DAC to give you much better accuracy and finer detail.

Audioengine D3 USB DAC

The tiny plug-and-play D3 delivers sparkling clear sound from your computer to your headphones, stereo system, or powered speakers.

Get fantastic sound from your computer


High-res audio

If you're still listening to music files on your computer the old fashioned way — by plugging into its headphone jack — you should know about the Audioengine D3. This tiny, outboard digital-to-analog converter simply connects to one of your PC's USB ports like a thumb drive, bypassing your computer's built-in audio circuitry. By processing your digital music files outside the noisy environment of your computer, you'll hear more dynamic and detailed sound that you can really savor on your headphones, powered speakers, or stereo system. The D3's small size makes it an unobtrusive addition to your desktop, as well as a welcome traveling companion for high-quality listening on the go.

Make your headphones sing

A pair of good headphones can give you a real taste of high-end audio without breaking the bank. But you're unlikely to find high-end sound coming out of your headphones if you plug them straight into your laptop. That's because most computer manufacturers use low-cost, low-performance circuitry to power their headphone jacks. The headphone amp inside the D3 will quickly spoil you. It delivers richer, deeper bass and clearer highs while revealing layers of musical detail that ordinary headphone jacks obscure.

Easy plug-and-play operation

Adding the D3 to a system is simple — just plug it into any USB port on your PC or Mac®, where it will install itself and be ready for use in a matter of seconds. From there, just plug in your 'phones and you're done. Or, connect the D3 to your powered speakers or stereo using an optional stereo mini-to-mini cable or mini-to-RCA adapter for room-filling sound. The DAC's analog volume control is digitally operated right from your computer screen.


Sound and Vision top pick logo

Read more

Praise for the Audioengine D3 from Sound & Vision

"Audioengine's D3 is the best stick-type USB DAC and headphone amp I've heard yet. It sports a nearly nothing form factor and blissful independence from cumbersome USB-driver installation and wall warts. Its five-star performance rating—relative to similarly priced products—is well earned. If you're looking for the easiest, cheapest way to make computer audio sound great through headphones, this is it."

— From Mark Fleishcmann's review in Sound & Vision, July/August, 2014
Read the full review


"Seriously, what did we do before these tiny USB DACs came around?"

" I'm saying that for $189, you'll have something with the power to inspire that fits in your pocket. Maybe Audioengine should employ that as a campaign: Go around to coffee shops where lots of college students and young people hang out and let them plug in the D3 for a quick test drive. I guarantee their rinky-dink MP3s will come to life with the D3 plugged in, not to mention if you let them play some real hi-res music through it."

— From Spencer Holbert's review in The Absolute Sound, February, 2014

Read the full review


Highlights:

  • AKM AK4396 digital-to-analog converter for low-noise, high-fidelity stereo sound
  • ultra-compact "USB flash drive" type design plugs directly into a computer's USB port
  • powered by USB connection — no need for external power supply
  • built-in driver for USB connection, no downloads required
  • asynchronous USB for reduced timing jitter and better sound
  • 3.5mm stereo minijack provides:
    • headphone output (minimum 12 ohm headphone impedance recommended)
    • variable line-level output for driving powered speakers or audio system
  • analog volume control (digitally controlled using your computer)
  • incoming sample rate LED indicator for sampling rates above 48kHz
  • supported sample rates: up to 96kHz native (sample rates above 96kHz are supported but down-converted)
  • input bit depth: 16 bits, 24 bits
  • frequency response: 10 to 25kHz (±0.5 dB)
  • THD: less than 0.002%
  • signal-to-noise ratio (DC to 20kHz): 110 dB
  • dual master clocks used to minimize jitter
  • low-noise, low-ripple power supply with two-stage power regulation and thermal management to prevent USB bus power variations from affecting audio quality
  • durable injection-molded aluminum construction
  • 10" mini-to-full-size headphone adapter cable and soft carry case included
  • compatible with Mac® and PC
  • 13/16"W x 7/16"H x 2-5/8"D
  • warranty: 3 years
  • 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

  • USB DAC/Headphone Amp
  • 10" Minijack-to-1/4" adapter
  • Cloth pouch
  • Quick Start Guide

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

USB DAC/Headphone Amp: The Audioengine D3 combines a USB DAC and headphone amplifier for incredible audio performance in a portable design. Simply connect the D3 to a free USB port on your Windows PC or Mac computer and send high-quality music to your headphones or audio system. Setup is easy and no special software is needed, making the D3 a true plug-and-play solution for great audio sound from your laptop or computer.

24-Bit DAC: The Audioengine D3's premium AK4396 24-bit DAC (digital-to-analog converter) allows you to bypass your computer's soundcard/headphone output and send music directly through a USB digital connection for noticeably improved fidelity and a higher output. The AK4396 DAC is well regarded for its low noise and high fidelity. With it's high signal-to-noise ratio and low distortion, the D3 delivers sound quality generally heard only in more expensive DACs.

Asynchronous USB Port: The D3 features a integrated male USB (type-A) connector which plugs directly into a free USB port on you computer or laptop. The D3's asynchronous data transfer carefully controls USB streaming audio from any computer which greatly improves audio performance. The D3 is powered directly from the USB port and power is passed through two stages of regulation to ensure no USB power variations affect the audio quality. This low-noise, low-ripple power supply is located on a separate circuit board for extra isolation and thermal management.

Compatible Computers: The Audioengine D3 USB DAC/Headphone Amp is compatible with Windows PC and Mac computers.

Supported Sampling Rates: D3 will process digital audio at any bit depth up to 24 bits and any native sample rate to 96KHz. The D3 also has a sample rate indicator that shows sample rates above 48kHz so you'll know you're getting the most out of your HD music.

Headphone Amp: The D3's high-performance headphone amplifier (LME49726) was designed for a wide range of headphones (10Ω-10,000Ω) and will satisfy even the most demanding headphone enthusiast with its high output and revealing sound. The 3.5mm output of the D3 connects to headphones, Audioengine powered speakers, or most audio systems. The D3 also includes a 3.5mm-to-1/4" adapter for headphones which only have a standard headphone jack.

Volume Control: Volume is controlled from your computer's OS and is implemented in the D3 as a digitally-controlled analog volume control.

Compact Aluminum Design: The aluminum case of the D3 provides a rigid chassis that prevents any unwanted interference. Thanks to its compact design, the D3 can easily be taken where ever you go with your laptop.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 10 to 25,000 Hz (+/-0.5dB)
  • SNR: 110 dB (DC to 20kHz)
  • THD+N: <0.002% (1kHz FS 96 kS/s)
  • Crosstalk: -110 dB
  • Output Voltage: 2.0V RMS
 

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Audioengine D3 USB DAC review

Audioengine D3 USB DAC review

by Dave Bar
 
Audioengine D3 USB DAC review

A review of Audioengine's pocket-sized D3 digital-to-analog converter.

 
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Audioengine D3 Reviews

Average Customer Review:

3 people say:

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5 out of 5

Huge sound improvement in unbelievably tiny package

Written By SethR, Charlottesville, VA on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
 
This is an amazing product! The quality improvement in digital music is awesome, and is evident on both computer speakers and headphones. My Bose Quietcomfort 15 headphones made a huge leap in clarity and depth when plugged into the D3. The best part is the size/price. Small enough to slip into any pocket, I routinely carry this between home and work in my bag to plug in when I feel like listening to hugely improved sound. Compared to other DACs I tried out like the Dragon fly and even the much more expensive NAD D1050, this DAC is a gem. While it can't beat the D1050, when you take into account its size and cost there really is no contest. Great solid build quality and heft for its size.
Pros:
TINY, affordable, amazing improvement in sound quality.
Cons:
Gets moderately hot after extended usage. Not enough to burn, but pretty hot.
Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
 
1 out of 5

Defective

Written By MarkS, PacNW on Friday, February 07, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
High hopes, I could immediately tell the sound was richer and a stronger bass. However I had a hum and a loud crackling sound. I sent it back, and received a new on in a few days, no hum but still a crackling and popping sound. I am using a 3 week old iMac and it isn't the computer. I have ordered the AudioQuest Dragonfly to replace this one, it has not arrived yet.
Pros:
Great sound.
Cons:
Doesn't work, cracking and popping sounds. I have tried 2 of them.
Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
 
5 out of 5

All I Want for Christmas

Written By TubaMan, Laurel, MD on Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This little unit was easily installed on my MacBook Pro (running 10.6.8). The MacBook already had pretty good sound when coupled with my Bose Companion II speakers, but the AudioEngine D3 added clarity and depth to my system. The Bose speakers never sounded better. The folks at Crutchfield were courteous and able to share their knowledge...the D3 was delivered the next day and shipping was FREE. Merry Christmas and Thanks, Crutchfield.
Pros:
Clarity throughout the range of my speakers. Better dynamics. Installation could not have been easier.
Cons:
No complaints
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
 

1 question already asked

Will this work on a hub? [ james  Jul 24, 2014 ]
2 answers

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For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the Audioengine D3, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_772D3DAC/Audioengine-D3.html ).

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