I’m sure quite a number of you have bought a brand new flat screen recently, and plenty of you would be bemoaning the fact your brand new state-of-the-art TV does not have a simple Left Right Audio Output. Instead, you have an Optical Output which your speakers or receivers have no use of. The work around would be a decent receiver with the appropriate amount of AV inputs. For those who can’t afford the cost or space of a receiver, your options are rather limited. You need a Digital to Analog Converter, also known as a DAC.
The only brand I knew that had a good amount of reviews was the Gefen DAC at $53.32 off Amazon. That was until I noticed a company well known in the Audio community as an emerging quality brand, it is of course the Fiio. It is a company based in China, that started out producing extremely cheap portable amplifiers, and now progressed to much higher quality portable amplifiers (AMPs) and digital audio players (DAPs). At almost half the price of the Gefen offering, I waited no further!
This is the Fiio D3 DAC.
Included in the box:
- 1 Year Warranty
- Male mini USB Power Adapter
- Coaxial/Optical to Left/Right Audio Converter
- Power Supply DC 5V
- Output Amplitude 1.6V
- Frequency Response 20Hz-20KHz
- Signal to Noise Ratio >90Db
- Crosstalk 75dB
- Total Harmonic Distortion <0.01% (10mW)
- Size 61.6mm x 49.1mm x 21mm
- Weight 50g
The front has your Left Right Analog ports and the female USB socket for the power adapter. It will not function without the power adapter.
The back has the Optical in and Coaxial in, and a simple up and down switch to change inputs.
When the input device is off only a red light is visible.
When your source is turned on, in my case the TV, a blue light would come on indicating the device is working.
There isn’t any worry about turning the device off when unused, since it turns itself off when the source turns off.
Now I’d like to talk about how it sounds.
With cable TV, it sounds the way it should be and runs without a fuss. Its clean and the audio is coherent with the video image displayed. That for me is as much as I expected from this little device, to work without fuss and in-sync with what I’m watching. I tried playing some 320kpbs music (since the LG TV doesn’t read Lossless) off a thumb drive plugged into my LG TV, just to amuse myself. It seems that the built-in playback on the TV is quite horrible. To an average person, it would be perfectly bearable. To me, off my AudioEngine A5 speakers, this was completely unacceptable. Next, I tried playing movies off the same thumbdrive, the sound could have been clearer, but it was very watchable indeed.
My suggestion then, would be to purchase another device with good audio playback if you plan on using digital media through your TV. This would bypass the cheap playback quality built into the TV. The degradation in sound quality was by no means attributed to the Fiio DAC, it is clearly the shortcoming of my LG TV.
The Fiio D3 DAC has my highest recommendation at $28 off Amazon.