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Arcam irDAC

Digital-to-analog converter with dual USB inputs for computer and iPod®/iPhone®

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Item #: 776IRDAC
 

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Our take on the Arcam irDAC

by Dave Bar
Arcam

Help your digital music sound more alive

Arcam's versatile irDAC digital-to-analog converter offers a simple yet elegant solution to the problem of subpar sound from digital sources. This compact DAC comes packed with technology that can bring out the best in all your digital audio sources — from computer-based music, Internet radio, or game consoles to iPods, iPhones, iPads, and more. Simply connect the irDAC in between your audio source's digital output and your receiver, amp, or powered speakers to instantly hear your music with new-found detail and clarity.

Arcam irDAC back panel

The irDAC sports multiple inputs to handle your digital sources.

Enhanced performance from your computer, Apple® portable, and more

The irDAC can accept digital music files from your PC via USB — bypassing your computer's built-in sound card for a far more exciting listening experience. You'll enjoy subtle, nuanced sound previously obscured by the noisy electronic environment inside your PC. Plus, this DAC includes a second USB input designed just for your Apple iPod, iPhone, or iPad. When connected, the Arcam extracts the pure, unprocessed digital data from your player and feeds it to its own built-in high-performance DAC, which provides greater punch and musical accuracy.

You also get two coaxial and two optical inputs for hooking up additional digital audio sources such as CD or DVD players, network music streamers, HDTVs, or set-top boxes. The included wireless remote makes for easy switching between all of your sources, and you can even control basic playback functions such as Play/Pause and Previous/Next Track on your Apple devices.


High-res audio

Ready for high-res music

Versatile digital music handling comes courtesy of a built-in, high-end Burr-Brown DAC that supports audio signals up to 192kHz/24-bit resolution. You can enjoy your music library in all its glory, including increasingly popular high-res music downloads. (Free USB driver download required for Windows® PCs.) The Arcam's asynchronous USB input allows the DAC to control the timing clock signal instead of your computer, reducing jitter to the lowest levels possible for smoother, more detailed sound. The irDAC also boasts eight separately regulated power supplies, digital and analog stage isolation, and direct-coupled signal paths to deliver outstanding sonic performance.

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Highlights:

  • Burr-Brown PCM1796 digital-to-analog converter for high-fidelity stereo sound
  • asynchronous USB technology for reduced timing jitter and better sound from a computer
  • iPod/iPhone/iPad USB input accepts direct digital signal from player, bypassing its built-in DAC and analog audio output circuitry for superior sound
  • eight separately regulated power supplies for dynamic, low-distortion performance
  • digital audio inputs: 2 optical, 2 coaxial, 1 USB (Type B) for computers, and 1 USB (Type A) for Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad
  • coaxial digital audio output
  • RCA analog audio output
  • remote control
  • supported sample rates:
    • USB: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, and 192kHz (192kHz supported with free USB driver download required for Windows® operating systems)
    • optical: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, and 96kHz
    • coaxial: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, and 192kHz
  • bit depth: 16-bit to 24-bit
  • frequency response: 10-20,000 Hz (+0, -0.2 dB)
  • THD + Noise: 0.002%
  • signal-to-noise ratio (A-weighted): 112 dB
  • external power supply included
  • 7-11/16"W x 1-3/4"H x 5-7/16"D
  • weight: 2.2 lbs.
  • warranty: 2 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • If connecting to a TV, please make sure you can select "PCM" output in its audio menu. This DAC is not compatible with Dolby® Digital signals.

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

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • External DAC
  • AC power adapter (w/ attached 58" DC cord)
  • 3 AC plugs (US/UK/EU)
  • Remote control
  • 2 "AAA" batteries
  • 42" Stereo RCA cable
  • 39" Optical digital cable
  • 43" Digital coax cable
  • 43" USB (type-B) to USB (type-A) cable
  • Connections/Quickstart Guide
  • Thank You/Online Product Registration Card

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

Overview: The Arcam irDac is an external audiophile-grade DAC with state-of-the-art digital-to-analog conversion technology. The irDac offers supreme audio quality for your digital music collection. The irDac offers coaxial, optical, and USB digital inputs; making it an ideal upgrade for your digital audio and network audio sources; like your laptop/computer, Blu-ray player, CD player, or Apple device.

High-Quality Construction: The Arcam irDac is housed in a slender, precision-cast case. It features isolated digital and analog stages, direct-coupled signal paths, and ultra-low noise/regulated power supplies to ensure high-end performance and stunning accuracy.

High Resolution 24-bit/192kHz DAC: The Arcam irDac is equipped with a Burr Brown 1796 DAC which supports up to 24-bit/192kHz high-resolution audio signals. The irDac will get the best sound out of your digital audio sources (such as your Blu-ray/DVD player, CD/SACD player, laptop/computer, or iPod/iPhone/iPad) which don't have an internal DAC of this reference quality.

Asynchronous USB Technology: The Arcam irDac is equipped with a rear-panel, asynchronous USB (type-B) port to connect your Windows or Mac laptop/computer. The irDac supports Windows PCs (XP/Vista/7) and Mac (OS X) computers running music programs, such as iTunes or Windows Media Player. The irDac employs Asynchronous USB technology which allows its precision clock to drastically reduce the level of jitter and noise from USB music sources and delivers a massive improvement in sound quality over the standard USB "adaptive" system. The result is audiophile-grade sound, regardless of the digital audio signal. You can switch between USB Class I and Class II modes, based on your computer.

  • Class I Mode: Supported sample rates include 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz. Windows device driver is not required.
  • Class II Mode: Supported sample rates include 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, and 192 kHz. Windows device driver is required.

Apple Device Connection: The Arcam irDac is fitted with a rear-panel USB (type-A) port which allows you to connect your Apple iPod, iPhone, or iPad; using the dock-connector or lightning-connector cable that came with your Apple device. You can now listen to music files stored on your Apple device through your home stereo with high-quality sound. The irDac supports the iPod nano (2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th/7th gen), iPad classic (80/120/160GB), iPod touch (1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th gen), iPhone (2/3G/3GS/4/4S/5), iPad (1/2/3/4), and iPad mini. You can even control basic playback functions (such as Play/Pause and Previous/Next Track) from the included IR remote. In addition, your Apple device's battery will charge while connected the irDac's USB port.

Digital Inputs: The Arcam irDac is equipped with two coaxial and two optical digital inputs on its rear-panel. CD players, DVD players, Blu-ray players, and Game systems can be connected via coaxial or optical cable to receive a dramatic increase in sound quality.

  • Dual Optical Inputs: Supported sample rates include 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz.
  • Dual Coaxial Inputs: Supported sample rates included 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, and 192 kHz.
Note: If connecting to a television set's optical output, please make sure that you are able to select PCM as the default optical out audio format from your television's Audio menu. This DAC is not compatible with multi-channel audio signals (such as Dolby Digital/DTs) and will not work with televisions that do not output PCM.

Analog + Digital Outputs: The Arcam irDac is equipped with a rear-panel stereo RCA output to connect your to your stereo amplifier or HiFi receiver. It also features a digital output which bypasses the IrDac's internal DAC in order to send the digital audio signal straight to your high-end digital AV receiver.

Remote Control: The Arcam irDac includes an IR remote for wireless operation of the digital-to-analog converter. You can switch between digital input sources (Coax 1/2, Optical 1/2, iPod/iPhone/iPad, or USB) from the remote control. You can also control the volume of a connected Arcam amplifier or receiver from the remote. In addition, the remote can be used to control basic playback functions of your connected Apple device or the media software of your Windows/Mac computer (must be compatible with USB HID protocol). Playback controls included Play/Pause, Stop, and Skip forward/reverse.

Power Requirements: The Arcam irDac includes an external 12V switching power supply (100-240V). The irDac also includes three interchangeable AC plugs (US/UK/EU).

 
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Arcam irDAC Reviews

Average Customer Review:

6 people say:

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Filter by rating:
5 out of 5

DAC worth the Price!

Written By Ed S, Chandler,AZ on Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I am very satisfied with the Arcam irDAC. It is one of the few high end DAC's which allows a simple connection with my iPod classic via USB 2. The sound quality of the iPod is very good as it goes through my stereo system.
Pros:
Sound quality and ease of hookup with my iPod classic.
Cons:
The remote which came with it does not turn the DAC on or off.
Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
 
5 out of 5

Great DAC!

Written By Bubba, NC on Saturday, May 17, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Great DAC! I am running FLAC files off my Mac to the irDAC to Pioneer Elite (Pure Direct amp mode) and B&W CM5's.... superb sound quality from the Burr Brown DAC's. Brings new life to collection of CD's. Plus it is cool streaming internet radio from Mac to the DAC.....does a superior job converting to analog even with MP3 streams.
Pros:
Superb sound and jitter control b/t the DAC and Mac. Brings new life to older receivers / processors that do not stream or have USB connections.
Cons:
Remote doesn't let you do much other than change sources
Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
 
5 out of 5

Arcam ir DAC

Written By Henry, Pawtucket, RI on Friday, May 09, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Very nice unit. Compact, but feels very solid. My wife purchased it for me directly from Crutchfield and had the opportunity to listen to it for about a month. I used it for stereo music listening only and sounded very nice, clean, transparent with exceptional coherency. But, after rigorous test and comparison with my Marantz home theater receiver, I did not find that much of a difference. In my personal opinion, the Marantz built in DAC sounded probably less coherent, but seems to have a more full body, open sound. And of course, they were both very transparent and detail. I usually do all my tests playing the same songs, maintaining the same volume, using the same cables, speakers, etc. And, even though the Arcam had a very nice clean precise sound; I end up using my receiver's built in DAC. I can't say one is better than the other, but I think the Arcam would be a great choice and a nice combination for those systems where you just have dedicated preamplifier connected to a power amplifier. I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoy music or want to connect their digital devices. In my particular situation, I did not need it and decided to return it. Thanks.
Pros:
Very clean natural sound with great transparency. 100% coherent.
Cons:
None, except that if you already have one of the latest home theater receivers, you may not need it.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Arcam irDAC

Written By RPops444, Franklin Wis on Sunday, March 30, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Made a huge difference in sound quality running my music through IPod
Pros:
Music is much more crisper
Cons:
On off switch is in the back but not to big of a big issue
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Excellent DAC

Written By Yury, Hoboken on Saturday, March 29, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Reasonably priced DAC with great performance and connectivity options. I compared the sound to the Peachtree Nova Pre DAC, which is good in its own right, but this unit is much better. The bass was more potent and the rhythm of the music well portrayed. The only odd thing I noted is when switching sources I did not always get a lock and had to reset the unit. Otherwise very happy.
Pros:
Excellent sound Great connectivity options Remote Good build quality Sleek
Cons:
Did not always lock on switching sources. The manual is a little light.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Arcam IRDAC

Written By TG, Livingston, NJ on Friday, January 10, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Listening to the sonos through my Arcam AVR 600 lacked the ability to move me. I found the music lacking depth and warmth. I listened less. As soon as I plugged the sonos into the Arcam IRDAC, the music came to life as if I was listening to a CD. I am listening more and couldn't be happier with my purchase.
Pros:
Ease of Use and setup. Makes a huge difference over the sonos alone.
Cons:
The on off switch is in the back of the unit and the remote control does not turn the unit on or off.
4 out of 7 people found this helpful
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1 question already asked

If I connect my ipod to the usb1 input will it extract the digital signal from the ipod and then convert to analogue? I thought the signal came from the ipod already converted (badly) by the ipod's internal dac into analogue. [ Toby Clowes  Jan 23, 2014 ]
8 answers
  • i connect my iPod classic 120gb using the front panel digital usb port of denon x4000.. thinking about irdac but its manual only show listed apple devices where classic is not included(although showed classic picture)..emailed arcam didn't get a reply.. so please help me - irdac gonna support classic??can irdac beat the on board dac of denon x4000?? [ Bishal   Mar 17, 2014 ]
  • I do not connect the arcam irdac to ipod. I connect it to laptop, apple tv and ps3. But i think it's the same principle where the internal dac of laptop, ps3 and apple tv is bypass and instead using the dac from irdac to convert the digital file (song) to analog signal. The sound is much more spacious when all 3 devices is connected to the arcam irdac. Hope this help. [ RICKY   Jan 29, 2014 ]
  • OK HERE"S THE ANSWER!! page one of the "highlights section" iPod/iPhone/iPad USB input accepts direct digital signal from player, bypassing its built-in DAC and analog audio output circuitry for superior sound. Digital straight out of the iPod!!! Congrats! [ Kristian   Jan 24, 2014 ]
  • Apple Device Connection: The Arcam irDac is fitted with a rear-panel USB (type-A) port which allows you to connect your Apple iPod, iPhone, or iPad; using the dock-connector or lightning-connector cable that came with your Apple device. You can now listen to music files stored on your Apple device through your home stereo with high-quality sound. The irDac supports the iPod nano (2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th/7th gen), iPad classic (80/120/160GB), iPod touch (1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th gen), iPhone (2/3G/3GS/4/4S/5), iPad (1/2/3/4), and iPad mini. You can even control basic playback functions (such as Play/Pause and Previous/Next Track) from the included IR remote. In addition, your Apple device's battery will charge while connected the irDac's USB port. [ Kristian   Jan 24, 2014 ]
  • GREAT QUESTION. I get what you are after, using the better DAC for the digi music on the iPod. Maybe this will shed some light. The USB1 input on the Arcam is the "square type" of connection. I've seen this usually on a printer. Meaning that a standard USB cable would have 2 types of ends. The rectangular connection for the laptop and then the square type for the accessory. In this case the Arcam. There may be a special pin configuration to extract digi music out of the iPod via USB but I'm not aware of it. [ Kristian   Jan 24, 2014 ]
  • I'm no expert on Ipod's, but I think the usb output is digital. If you connected through the headphone jack it would be analog. Either way, the Arcam irdac will accept the signal and send it back out through analog RCA output. [ mark   Jan 23, 2014 ]
  • Toby, I think the technical support group at Crutchfield are better qualified to respond to your question. I don't believe that you can connect an iPod to the DAC as I don't think there is a usb chord for the IPOD. You can connect your computer to the IRDAC. If you want a device that you can plug your IPOD into and utilize a dac other than the dac supplied by the IPOD, I suggest looking at Peachtree stuff. They are actually having a sale on refurbished integrated amps that have a direct connection to an iPod. The INOVA is one such a device, on sale for $799. I bought my son a nova and daughter an inova. My son used a device by wadia, the 171i to connect his iPod to his peachtree nova. They are no longer available. Someone suggested the PURE dock for the iPod. Let me know if I am incorrect on connecting the IPOD direct to the IRDAC. [ Troy   Jan 23, 2014 ]
  • Unless your ipod is outputting a digital signal, the Arcam will not convert it. Some players do have a digital output, but I don't believe that any Apple players do that. To get better sound from an ipod, most people start by replacing the stock earbuds with quality in-ear monitors or headphones. If you've already done that, and/or even added an external amp to drive the new headphones, then I suggest you probably need to replace the ipod with a different player, perhaps a high-resolution player. You might also try playing higher resolution files, if your ipod supports them, i.e., ALAC files. If your ipod doesn't decode ALAC or any other loss-less code, I again suggest you look into a new player. [ Gary   Jan 23, 2014 ]

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