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Apogee Groove

USB DAC/headphone amplifier

6 Reviews | 1 question - 1 answer

Item # 903GROOVE

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Overview

Our take on the Apogee Groove

No matter what music sources you listen to on your computer — iTunes®, Spotify®, YouTube®, or downloaded high-res audio files — the Apogee Groove can make them all sound their best. Simply plug it into an open USB port and the Groove takes the place of the sound processor inside your PC, reproducing your tunes with greater precision and accuracy. You'll hear rich, involving sound with taut, tuneful bass and silky, extended highs. The Groove's built-in headphone amp will power your 'phones to satisfying levels without distortion. Its Constant Current Drive™ output stage ensures smooth, linear frequency response whether you're listening through earbuds or your best high-end cans.

Apogee Groove DAC

Give your music and your headphones a huge sonic boost with the Apogee Groove.

A portable DAC with a big sonic punch

No matter what music sources you listen to on your computer — iTunes®, Spotify®, YouTube®, or downloaded high-res audio files — the Apogee Groove can make them all sound their best. Simply plug it into an open USB port and the Groove takes the place of the sound processor inside your PC, reproducing your tunes with greater precision and accuracy. You'll hear rich, involving sound with taut, tuneful bass and silky, extended highs. The Groove's built-in headphone amp will power your 'phones to satisfying levels without distortion. Its Constant Current Drive™ output stage ensures smooth, linear frequency response whether you're listening through earbuds or your best high-end cans.

Crafted with care for better sound

Renowned as an innovator and industry leader in digital audio recording, Apogee carefully builds each Groove right here in the USA to the same exacting standards as their studio gear, so you can count on your music sounding its best. The Groove's durable aluminum case comes packed with the highest-quality components, including an audiophile-grade ESS Sabre™ DAC with jitter-eliminating circuitry to extract clearer, low-distortion sound from your computer music sources. Apogee also employs a Quad Sum DAC™ design that combines the Sabre's eight internal DACs into a two-channel mode with four digital-to-analog converters per channel to give your music the highest possible dynamic range. 


High-res audio

Enjoy high-resolution audio

Along with all the sonic benefits the Groove provides for your compressed and CD-quality music files, it also has another trick up its sleeve — it decodes high-resolution audio streams of up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, so you can enjoy better-than-CD sound. (There's a free USB driver download you'll need for Windows® PCs.) If you download high-res music files from HDtracks and other audiophile sources, this DAC ensures that you'll hear them in all their glory.

Product Highlights:

  • ESS Sabre32 32-bit Hyperstream digital-to-analog converter with Time Domain Jitter Eliminator
  • supports sample rates up to 24-bit/192kHz for listening to high-resolution digital music sources
  • asynchronous USB technology for reduced timing jitter and better sound with computer audio sources
  • Quad Sum DAC design uses four digital-to-analog converters per channel for high dynamic range and low distortion
  • Constant Current Drive output stage provides smooth, linear frequency response with any headphones
  • micro USB input for connection to a computer (USB adapter cable included)
  • powered by USB connection no need for external power supply
  • built-in top-panel volume control
  • 3.5mm stereo minijack provides variable-level headphone and line-level output
  • compatible with headphones up to 600 ohms
  • premium aluminum construction for added durability
  • compatible with Mac® and PC
  • USB Audio 2.0 Windows driver required for playback on a PC (free download available from Apogee website)
  • soft carrying pouch and micro USB (type-B) to USB (type-A) cable included
  • 1-3/16"W x 11/16"H x 3-3/4"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Headphone Amp/DAC
  • 13" microUSB-to-USB cable
  • Drawstring pouch
  • Product booklet

GOOD PRODUCT/DRIVES ANY HEADPHONES/I HAVE T1 FROM BEYERDYNAMIC 600OHMAND THEY PLAY BEAUTIFULLY WITH GROOVE/ONLY THING IS GROOVE HAS A DOUBLE QUAD COMPLEMENT OF ESS SABRE DAC SO IF YOU WANT A GOOD SOUND FROM YOUR CANS YOU HAVE TO FEED GOOD QUALITY SOUND TO IT

ADRIAN, Peekskill, NY

Reviews

Apogee Groove Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(6 Reviews)

BIG SOUND from little gizmo

Anonymous from Buffalo Grove, IL on 3/26/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Fantastic product, but the download for sound driver onto PC is un-necessarily complicated; emails containing web links were never sent out, as indicated on Apogee's registration webpage - if you are not the system administrator for your work-laptop, expect a bumpy ride getting the files through firewall, and site verifications.

Pros: Sleek, compact DAC - beautifully crafted, works well with high-end headphones

Cons: Sound Driver download process from Apogee needs major overhauling.

Apogee Groove

ADRIAN from Peekskill, NY on 9/14/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

GOOD PRODUCT/DRIVES ANY HEADPHONES/I HAVE T1 FROM BEYERDYNAMIC 600OHMAND THEY PLAY BEAUTIFULLY WITH GROOVE/ONLY THING IS GROOVE HAS A DOUBLE QUAD COMPLEMENT OF ESS SABRE DAC SO IF YOU WANT A GOOD SOUND FROM YOUR CANS YOU HAVE TO FEED GOOD QUALITY SOUND TO IT

Pros:

Cons:

Absolutely Amazing!

David from Alameda, CA on 8/1/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Read the reviews here on various DAC's, tried the new portable Dragonfly Red (of which I love by the way), however, the Apogee Groove hooked up to my computer and the enhanced sound quality is absolutely amazing from computer's Bose computer sound system and the living room sound system's clarity is superb now. Thank you to everyone whom reviewed this product and helped me make a great choice! Thanks again!

Pros: Enhanced sound clarity is superb!

Cons: Make a portable one for phones and tablets! Other than that. No cons.

Like night and day

Kerwin from Brooklyn, NY on 3/20/2016

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This is my first USB DAC/Amp and I didn't really know what to expect. I recently bought a pair of Audeze LCD-XCs and while they sounded good and revealed greater clarity in my music collection, they definitely sounded underpowered using my computer's integrated audio. When listening to songs I know very well, the headphones sounded a tad bright. The bass was tight, but obviously underrepresented. I plugged the Apogee Groove into my computer, registered (a bit annoying to jump through hoops just to download a driver) and downloaded the driver. It installed perfectly on my Win10x64 machine without any issues. Then I plugged the XCs in and played some songs and everything was different! It was better. All of it. There was an added clarity I didn't notice before. Before the Groove, I didn't know what a wide soundstage meant, but now I do. My music sounded more expansive. There were details in some songs that I never heard before that were now tickling my ears. The Groove could definitely drive the XCs without issue. The bass was finally back to what I was expecting it to be. It passed the all-important wife test. I queued up the Interstellar sountrack (Cornfield Chase track) and her mouth dropped. She fell in love with the sound. Another nice thing to note is that while you can use the volume buttons on the unit itself, the driver couples Windows volume control to the Groove directly.

Pros: Can play 192kHz/24 bit files unlike some other USB DAC/Amps; Ability to control via Windows volume control; Solid metal body feels good in the hand; Can drive a pair of Audeze LCD-XCs without issue;

Cons: Price is a little on the high side, but well worth it; Must register on Apogee website in order to download driver for Windows; Doesn't play DSD files which may be a deal breaker for some; LEDs on the unit are bright which might bother some; Unit does get a bit warm after extended use;

Apogee Groove

nhnerd from Mason, NH on 12/12/2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Works well. I didn't know how much it would improve the sound. It did improve it but just slightly particularly with respect to bass and the sound was fuller. I had one PC with a failing sound device, but couldn't install on it due to conflicts with Symantec AV. So installed on a W10 PC that had better sound, so the improvement wasn't as dramatic as it could have been.

Pros: Good sound, easy to install (once overcoming the roadblocks).

Cons: You have to register on the Apogee web site to download a Windows driver. Don't like having to jump through hoops to get a driver, when there is no good reason. Maybe Apogee wants to collect email addresses, I don't know. The driver should be available through Microsoft windows update. Also, the exe driver file matched a Symantec trojan virus signature (apparently false). On the Windows 10 system with just Microsoft AV, there was no issue.

Best USB Dac

Chuck P from Delaware on 8/12/2015

I have tried both versions of the Audioquest Dragonfly, AudioEngine D3, NuForce Udac 2 and 3, and Meridian Explorer. This dac beats them all hands down. Superlative audio quality and powerful. I don't think you can do better at this time and price. Exceptional!

Pros: Powerful - Unbeatable sound quality - can't be beat.

Cons: None

Details

Hands-on research

Product Research

Features

USB-DAC & Headphone Amp: The Apogee Groove is a portable USB-DAC and headphone amp for listening to music on your Windows PC or Mac computer. The Apogee Groove takes the same high quality audio technology found in the world's most prestigious recording studios and delivers it to your laptop or desktop computer. You'll be amazed by the difference in sound quality; the precise stereo image, punchy bass, and stunningly clear highs.

Note: Your computer has a DAC and headphone jack built-in, however without a high-quality external DAC and headphone amp like the Groove, you will miss out on much of the subtlety, detail and dimension of music you listen to - regardless of what headphones or speakers you use.

Quad Sum ESS Sabre DAC Technology: The Apogee Groove features a Quad Sum DAC design which employs four ESS DACs per channel to achieve the highest dynamic range and lowest distortion (THD+N) of any device in its class. The Groove employs ESS Sabre32 32-bit Hyperstream DAC technology with Time Domain Jitter Eliminator to offer unequaled dynamic range, ultra-low distortion, and unmatched audio clarity free from input jitter. The Apogee Grove supports up to 24-bit/192kHz high resolution music files.

  • Frequency response: 10Hz - 20K +/- 0.2dB
  • Dynamic Range: 117dB a-weighted
  • THD+N (16 dBu): -107 dB with 600 load
  • THD+N (10.5 dBu): -100dB with 30 load

Constant Current Drive: Groove's Constant Current Drive output stage dynamically compensates for the nonlinearities (acoustic, mechanical, or electrical) of any connected headphones, resulting in lower distortion and a more linear frequency response. Whether listening through earbuds or "HiFi" headphones, you'll discover a new level of fidelity, clarity, and detail.

Input & Output: The Apogee Groove USB-DAC and headphone amp is fitted with a microUSB 2.0 port and 1/8" headphone jack.

  • microUSB 2.0 Port: The Apogee Groove features an asynchronous microUSB 2.0 port for connection to your computer. Simply connect the Groove to your Windows or Mac computer's USB (type-A) port, using the 13" microUSB-to-USB cable.
  • 1/8" Headphone Jack: The Groove features an 1/8" headphone jack to connect your headphones or powered speakers. The Apogee Groove has a max output level of 225mW into 30 and 40mW into 6000.

System Requirements: Your Windows PC or Mac computer/laptop will need to meet the following system requirements in order to connect with the Apogee Groove.

  • Windows OS: PC or laptop manufactured after January 2006
    • Intel Core 2 @ 1.6 GHz or AMD equivalent
    • 1 GB RAM minimum
    • Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit) or greater
    • Available USB port
    • Apogee registered USB driver *To download the Windows driver, register the Groove on the Apogee website
  • Mac OS:
    • Intel Mac 1.5GHz or faster
    • 2 GB RAM minimum, 4 GB recommended
    • Mac OS X 10.8 or greater
    • Available USB port
    • Mac Core Audio USB Driver (no additional USB driver necessary)

Aluminum Body: The Apogee Groove USB-DAC and headphone amp features a premium aluminum build quality.

Volume Control & Multi-Color LEDs: The Apogee Groove has two volume control buttons (up/down) and three multi-color LEDs.

  • A single blue LED indicates Groove is connected and ready but not streaming audio from an application.
  • Purple LEDs display the listening level you've set with the up/down volume controls.
  • Green LEDs display the level of the audio file you're playing back, regardless of the listening level.

Applications: The Apogee Groove portable USB-DAC and headphone amp can be used for your music listening enjoyment or when you are working in the studio mixing music tracks

  • Music Listening: Whether you're building your FLAC file collection or subscribing to a premium music streaming service, you are investing in a higher quality listening experience. Groove unlocks the full potential of that experience, revealing definition, clarity and details like you have never heard before.
  • Studio Mixing: With professional headphones, your laptop and Groove, you can mix or make music anywhere. Groove's reference quality sound insures you will hear every detail of your project as it would sound in the studio.

Drawstring Pouch: The Apogee Groove comes with a drawstring pouch for storage. It is also fitted with a leash loop to add a wrist-strap or lanyard (sold separately).

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 verify what’s in the box, 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.

Accessories
Staff Reviews

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs

Serious portable headphone power

Written by Dave Bar, Contributing Writer, on 9/27/2015 3:14:00 PM

Having had the good fortune to audition the full range of Crutchfield's USB headphone amp/DACs, I can happily testify that every one of them helped improve the sound of my music. But they're not all created equal. While all do a fine job of powering sensitive in-ear and portable headphones, some struggle to deliver enough juice to do justice to more serious audiophile and studio headphones. That's not a problem with the Apogee Groove! As expected, this potent little powerhouse easily pushed my lightweight Grado SR80s and Sennheiser HD 598s. But more impressively, it cleanly drove my Sennheiser HD 600s and even a pair of Audeze LCD-XC magnetic planar headphones to levels far beyond safe for long-term listening.

But sheer power isn't the only thing the Groove has going for it. Its detailed, insightful sound and vanishingly low noise floor seemed to make my music to leap out from an inky, jet-black background, especially high-res audio tracks. The Groove is also refreshingly neutral sounding; neither overly bright and analytical, nor sweet and euphonically colored. It feels rugged and well built, as befits Apogee's pro audio background. And I appreciated the Groove's non-slip rubber-covered base, as well as the fine degree of listening level adjustments available with its external volume control (crucial for highly sensitive in-ear monitors).

What else can I say except that portable DAC/headphone amps just seem to be getting better and better, and this is one of the best yet!

What are the Labs?
Q & A

Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

Need a portable DAC for better sound quality while traveling and the unit is highly rated. [ John  Jul 21, 2016 ]
Reviews from Crutchfield customers. [ DAVID  Jun 04, 2016 ]
Excellent Stereophile review. [ sean  Feb 27, 2016 ]

1 question already asked

The Apogee Groove is a portable USB-DAC and headphone amp for listening to music on your Windows PC or Mac laptop/computer. It wouldn't be able to connect to an iPhone/iPod/iPad though. I hope that helps. My Bio: http://www.crutchfield.com/Support/Bio.aspx?bio=159 [ Larry  May 04, 2016 ]  Staff
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