Audiolab Announce New Portable Bluetooth DAC

Are wireless DACs the future for audiophile phone users?

by Aaron Macarthy Beards Oct 19, 2018 at 2:09 PM

  • The new Nano joins the brand’s M-DAC family. However, it is by far, the smallest as well as the most affordable.
    While there are many portable DACs at the sub £200 price point, the Nano is slightly different from its competitors. This is because instead of being wired to a source device, the M-DAC Nano connects wirelessly. It does this over Bluetooth and aptX support is included. This negates the need for a cable between the user’s device and headphones. However, the tiny DAC still has a 3.5mm output, for a user to connect their headphones.

    In effect, this makes the Nano a Bluetooth adapter but unlike those you can buy on Amazon for £20, the Nano is packing some serious audio grade specs. The DAC is 32-bit/384kHz-capable, which upsamples data received over Bluetooth. The amp has two audio modes: ‘standard’ and ‘enhanced’.

    The enhanced mode, Audiolab claims, is designed to optimise sound quality using digital filtering and upscaling. However, this mode reduces the battery life from 8 hours, down to 6. Whilst the 8 hours battery life isn't the longest for portable DACs, the Nano does have support for Qi wireless charging.

    In addition to the charging capabilities, the device has an auto turn off feature. This turns the device off after 10 minutes of inactivity. Since Bluetooth can be a big drain on battery life, such a feature can be very useful.

    All this and the DAC only weighs 28g. The volume is adjusted using a side-mounted, 64-step rotary control. This can be used to skip and pause music, though a number of presses. The M-DAC Nano comes with a pouch and is available later this October for £149.

    The market for DACs, especially portable ones, is getting more and more competitive. Every month more devices are released, offering smaller, better quality options. However, Audiolabs Nano with its tiny size and wireless charging is very interesting.

    As more and more phones drop 3.5mm headphone jacks as an audio output, a high quality alternative that can use Bluetooth, such as the Nano, is a good option for those who want to keep using their wired headphones.

    Does this £149 DAC do enough to stand out? Is the wireless charging with Bluetooth functionality a winner for consumers? Or should they just buy a dedicated pair of Bluetooth headphones instead?

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