Denon unveils DA-10 headphone amplifier

The DA-10 headphone amplifier marks new territory for Denon and, with it, the manufacturer is aiming to improve the analogue audio output of portable music players, smartphones and tablets, letting them be used with higher impedance headphones.

A reference class 32-bit/192kHz Burr-Brown PCM-1795 DAC, more commonly found in premium audiophile disc players and digital amplifiers, is one of the features that can be found inside the DA-10. This DAC is able to decode linear PCM files from 32kHz up to 192kHz as well as bit samples up to 24-bit. It can also support one bit DSD files.

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Separate circuit boards for the main audio and power supply blocks are used to help eliminate inter-stage interference, while the dual master clocks (22.6 and 24.6 MHz) are said to optimise performance with specific sampling frequencies: 44.1; 88.2; 176.4 MHz and 32, 48, 96, 192 KHz.

Master clocks are used when digitising a continuous analogue audio signal. For a signal to be digitised, it needs to be sampled at regular, repeating intervals and a clock is used to identify when each sample should be replayed.

Denon's proprietary Advanced AL32 Processing can also be found on board the DA-10, taking 16-bit digital audio and upsampling it to 32-bit. It also features dynamic digital filtering, which the company claims optimises the digital filter algorithm according to the specific sampling frequency of the track being played.

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The DA-10 comes complete with a range of inputs, including standard USB and micro-USB. The micro-USB input works in asynchronous mode to support 24-bit/192kHz files, as well as DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz. Meanwhile, outputs include a dual position gain switch for use with low and high impedance headphones, along with a variable/fixed output switch for connection to other components - such as a stereo amplifier.

In terms of its exterior design, the DA-10 is housed in an aluminium casing and it's supplied with a carry pouch that can hold the DA-10 and a smartphone. The phone can still be operated through the pouch's see-through window. Elsewhere, a 3200mAh rechargeable battery is said to provide up to seven hours of run time with an iDevice or up to 24 hours when connected to another portable player via 3.5mm input.

The Denon DA-10 portable USB-DAC and headphone amplifier will be available from November for £279.

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Max is a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?'s sister site, TechRadar, in Australia. But being the wonderful English guy he is, he helps out with content across a number of Future sites, including What Hi-Fi?. It wouldn't be his first exposure to the world of all things hi-fi and home cinema, as his first role in technology journalism was with What Hi-Fi? in the UK. Clearly he pined to return after making the move to Australia and the team have welcomed him back with arms wide open.