ADL X1 USB DAC/headphone amp works with iOS and PCs


Another day, another portable USB DAC/headphone amp. Yesterday it was the arrival of the £299 Resonessence Herus, today we get the £395 Alpha Design Labs (ADL) X1.

It seems the world can't get enough of these diminutive DACs (digital-to-analogue converters). The ADL X1 supports a digital input fom Apple iOS devices up to 16-bit/48kHz, as well as 24-bit/192kHz high-resolution audio files from a PC via USB.

In addition, a 3.5mm line-level input allows use with analogue source devices and there's a 3.5mm output for connecting headphones. For digital connections, there's also an optical digital output that can handle signals up to 24-bit/192kHz.

The unit has a built-in rechargeable battery that can be recharged from a computer connected via USB, or from an external power supply. A full charge gives around 7.5 hours of playback, it is claimed.

Handily, the X1 does not draw power from a connected iOS device so will not reduce playback time from your Apple portable.

You'll can buy the ADL X1 now in all-black, black with red, blue or silver anodised aluminium finishes. It weighs 147g and measures 1.65 x 6.8 x 11.8cm (hwd).

By Andy Clough

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.