The Technology

The CAD DAC is optimized to work with a computer. There is one USB input and there is one set of unbalanced RCA outputs.

CAD has used as few components as possible in the signal path. For that reason we do not offer additional inputs or outputs. The digital signals travel less than 1 cm from the USB board to the DAC chips. Due to there being only one input the digital signals do not pass through any switches. Digital signals run at extremely high frequency (Mhz) and sound quality can be significantly reduced when switches are used in the digital domain.

1) Upgradeability

When you purchase a CAD DAC you will be buying a product that is using cutting-edge technology and top quality components, but we recognize computer audio is in its infancy.  Computer audio technology is progressing quickly and many of you may ask – should I wait?

Our DAC has been built in a modular fashion precisely so that it can be upgraded.  All of the main functions of the DAC are on separate PCBs.  We aim to offer full upgrades to our customers as technology progresses.  Due to the acrylic construction of our case we can even change the back panel at a reasonable cost.

In this way we aim to “future proof” the CAD DAC so that our customers can enjoy it for years to come.  CAD intends to make available upgrades to our customers as new technologies emerge that we feel improve sound quality.

2) DAC chips are isolated from the USB input

Computers do not have very good power supplies for audio equipment. But many of the DACs on the market use this power within the DAC. The CAD DAC has full galvanic isolation from the connected computer. Galvanic Isolation means that no current from the computer flows into the DAC chips.

3) Asynchronous USB input

With a normal USB (either synchronous or adaptive) input the data is sent by the computer using the computers clock. The DAC must extract the data when the computer sends it. A serious issue with this process relates to a type of digital distortion called jitter. Computers have high amounts of jitter and we believe jitter is a major cause of poor sound quality.
With Asynchronous USB input the DAC receives the data from the computer and then using its own clocks the data is sent on to the next stage in the DAC .
We use custom fixed frequency oscillators in our DAC. We supply these oscillators with power supplies that we have developed to achieve the best sound quality possible.

4) Power Supplies

One of the first questions we usually get about our DAC is “what chip do you use?” We agree that the DAC chip is very important, but most people do not realise is that the power supplies are at least as important! We have spent a huge part of our research on developing the power supplies for our DAC. Our power supplies are our own design and unlike anything else on the market.

5) Non Over Sampling DAC

We are trying to reproduce a more natural “analog” sound that is typical of well designed turntables.
We are convinced that Non Over Sampling DACs achieve a more realistic natural musical experience.

6) R-2R resistor ladder DAC chip technology

CAD believes that sigma delta technology used in current DAC chips does not sound as natural as resistor ladder technolgy.

7) We use only the highest quality parts available

Our parts come from the finest manufacturers in the world. We work closely with small manufacturers in the UK, USA, Australia and Europe and have sourced the highest quality components available.

Computer Audio Design White papers

Download and read the Ground Control White paper:  

CAD Ground Control White Paper