The CAD 1543 MKII DAC is optimized to work with a computer or audio server. There is one USB input and there is one set of unbalanced RCA outputs.

Along with working with our own CAD Audio Transport (CAT) the 1543 MKII DAC is “Plug & Play” and will work with almost any audio server on the market, including:  Innuos, Auralic, Melco, Aurender and Fidata.

The CAD 1543 MKII DAC 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.

DAC chips are isolated from the USB input

Computers do not have very good power supplies for audio equipment. But many DACs on the market make use of this power to drive the DAC. The 1543 MKII DAC has proprietary galvanic isolation from the connected computer. Galvanic Isolation means that no current from the computer flows into the DAC chips.  The +5V connection inisde the USB cable is not used and is not necessary with the CAD 1543 MKII DAC.

Asynchronous USB input

With a normal USB (either synchronous or adaptive) input the data is sent by the computer using the computer’s 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.

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 the 1534 MKII DAC. Our power supplies are our own design and unlike anything else on the market.

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.

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 technology. The CAD 1543 MKII DAC is so-called because it uses sixteen vintage Philips TDA1543 chips, which undoubtedly contribute to its signature sound quality.


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.

Acrylic Case

The 1543 MKII DAC case is made from laser cut 10mm thick acrylic. CAD does not use acrylic just to be different, it is actually vastly more complex and expensive to manufacture than aluminium or other metals. However acrylic has mechanical and electrical advantages that work extremely well with our design

Custom colours and finishes are available please contact us for more information.

“This DAC is the most transparent, natural, and well timed I have heard”

Jason Kennedy, HiFi+

Computer Audio Design 1543 MKII DAC key features:

  • Five independent transformers feeding five fully discrete linear voltage regulators for the cleanest power to each modular section of the unit.
  • Custom 10 mm acrylic case selected for superior acoustic properties.
  • NEW: additional internal EMI/RFI materials to lower electromagnetic interference noise floor.
  • NEW: redesigned mains power conditioning to reduce ingress and egress of mains-borne noise.
  • Sixteen Philips TDA1543/N2 resistor-ladder chips.
  • Filterless NOS design for unparalleled time-domain replay accuracy.
  • NEW: custom four-layer PCB to support DAC chips.
  • Passive output stage with Duelund Coherent Audio capacitors and selected US-made audio resistors all made to CAD specifications.
  • NEW: internal signal wiring upgraded to custom UP-OCC copper.
  • The 1543 MKII DAC is made in a modular fashion to make future upgrades possible ensuring your investment will last a lifetime.