Boldly Go Where No DAC Has Gone Before

For 20 years England’s Chord Electronics has produced landmark DACs. Thanks to the company’s unrivalled grasp of digital audio and its commitment to FPGA (field programmable) technology over off-the-shelf DAC chips, Chord’s DACs have consistently set the benchmark for performance. Chord’s new DAVE raises the bar once again.

With DAVE, Chord has achieved stellar performance: an astonishing noise floor level of -180dB – a new standard that may never be matched. That’s an astounding 50dB better resolution than any other DAC on the market today, or in the foreseeable future for that matter. In a world where just 3dB represents a noticeable sonic improvement, DAVE offers performance light-years ahead of the competition.

In digital audio reproduction, noise is one of the primary sources of distortion.  Distortion which compromises performance and musicality.  By bringing the noise floor down to a previously unimaginable low of -180dB, musical flow, staging and definition are greatly enhanced.  With DAVE, you’ll experience real music, not just sound. With -180dB performance, only DAVE has the resolving power to uncover the intricacies that lie hidden and unheard in your recordings. Hear DAVE for yourself and discover what you’re missing.

DAVE is highly flexible, too. It includes a world-class headphone amp, remote control and a fully balanced preamplifier. Connect DAVE to your headphones, preamp, or directly to a high quality power amplifier for a revolutionary performance unlike anything else.

Formats supported: PCM 44.1 to 768kHz - DSD64 to 512 Native, Dynamic Range = 127.5dB (AWT) THD+N = 127.5dB. No measurable Noise Floor Modulation, Jitter Artifacts, or Harmonic Distortion. Made in England.

Even if I hadn’t auditioned Chord’s DAVE, I would have been impressed by this DAC. Its measured performance is beyond reproach. It’s superb re-creation of soundstage depth, its sense of musical drive, and the clarity with which it presented recorded detail were addictive. You must listen to the DAVE for yourself.
John Atkinson, Stereophile, June 2017, Stereophile A+ Recommended Component
 

Flawless and near perfect, with musicality and resolution like no other digital product I have experienced.
Frank Iacone, Headphone Guru, April 2016

...it's got the most advanced DAC technology in the world and redefines what is capable for a digital performance.
THD + noise @ 2.5v is 127dB, that is state-of-the-art performance. There is no other DAC on the planet that gives you that level of distortion.
I've got here an FFT of the 2.5v RMS output and you can see the noise floor is actually -180dB. There is also a red trace which is when the signal is switched off, and you can see the noise floor is exactly identical with no signal and with the 2.5 volts @ 1kHz output. This level of performance has never been achieved before in any product at any price. It's about 30 times more accurate and more capable than the best of the other DACs.
Robert Watts, Chord DAC Designer, Munich High-End, May 2015

An impressive 117.3dB A-wtd S/N ratio, linearity better than +/- 0.05dB over a 100dB range and distortion that’s lower than from any other DAC we’ve tested. I was able to resolve a vanishingly low 0.000007% THD at 1 kHz and 0.00008 at 20kHz. This is an astonishing technical achievement by Chord. Chord claims its DAVE DAC ‘redefines DAC measured performance’ and I would be inclined to agree.
Paul Miller, Lab Report, HiFi News, April 2016

Revelatory’ is a pretty strong term to describe a piece of hi-fi equipment, but that’s just what Chord’s DAVE is. This is a standard-setting product and the price is more than justified by a scintillating performance. Is it the best DAC you can buy right now? On this showing, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Andrew Everard, Hi-Fi News April 2016, Winner Outstanding Product Award

If you're looking for the best DAC money can buy, the DAVE is a good place to start. It paints music with class leading naturalness that makes most rivals sound mechanical and restrained in comparison.
What Hi-Fi? Five Star Award, June 2016

Why DAVE?

Chord has given its most advanced DAC to date a moniker that best reflects the product’s capability; a device so advanced and with so few compromises, that it is absolutely truthful in the extreme; a standard that all other DACs on the market simply cannot hope to match. Chord initially looked at using Latinised versions of the term ‘Extreme Truth’ or ‘Veritas’ in a move away from model names with simple numbers and letters. Chord eventually chose the acronym DAVE which joins Hugo and stands for Digital to Analogue Veritas in Extremis.

Specifications:

Inputs:

- USB B-style 44 kHz to 768 kHz
- DXD and Quad DSD
- 2x optical, 44kHz to 192kHz
- 1 x AES, 44kHz  to  192kHz
- 4 x Coax, 44kHz  to  384kHz
- Dual-data mode available

Outputs:

- 2x ultra-high-speed coax 768kHz dual-data mode (for use with future-unannounced Chord Electronics products)

General:

- Maximum output voltage: 6 volts RMS
- THD and noise at 2.5 volts: RMS 0.000015 %
- THD and noise at 2.5 volts: 127dBA  Awt (124dBA into 33 ohms)
- Dynamic range at -60 dBFS 1kHz -127 dBA A wt
  (No measurable noise floor modulation, no a harmonic distortion)
  (Analogue distortion characteristic: no distortion for small signals)
-Power requirements: mains power 80 volts to 260 volts; AC 20 watts

Watch the video: What makes DAVE so special?

 

 

More about DAVE

At its heart lies a new (and in electronics terms, huge) LX75 version of the Spartan 6 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). The FPGA’s extraordinary capability enables a number of key sonic benefits including significantly improved timing and the best noise-shaper performance of any known DAC. DAVE’s technology delivers music with unmatched reality and musicality, with an unrivalled timing response.

Technology in depth: new WTA filter

Chord Electronics has implemented a brand new WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) filter with 164,000 taps. WTA filtering is now up to 256 FS (that's 256-times the sample frequency) — no other DAC has ever FIR filtered at such a high rate!  In order to process signals at this unprecedented rate, DAVE has massive parallel-processing capacity with 166 separate DSP cores just for the WTA filtering alone. This enables DAVE to reproduce the original unsampled analogue signal more accurately than any other DAC.

The output stage has been advanced with a new 20-element Pulse Array DAC and a unique second-order analogue noise-shaper, which gives ultra-high-frequency linearity. Its output feeds both balanced XLR and single-ended RCA outputs, as well as an advanced headphone output with more than enough capability for the most impedance-challenging headphones.

Display

A key benefit over its predecessor is a full-sized LCD display, showing input, sample frequency and volume, plus set-up and configuration options. The display, which sits behind the famous Chord porthole, is clearly visible from a variety of angles and retains the signature colour display for volume and sample rate as introduced by the landmark Hugo DAC/headphone amp. On its fascia, DAVE also features a rotary encoder with a large stainless steel controller and ball buttons, enabling direct control in addition to the supplied remote.

DAVE’s advanced technology is enshrined in Chord Electronics’ trademark casework which has been precision-milled from solid aircraft-grade aluminium to deliver functional strength and rigidity, as well as great beauty. Simply stated, DAVE is the most advanced DAC in the world, something Chord Electronics is immensely proud of.

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