2018/19 EISA Awards for Best DACs Aug 15 by Floor van der Holst in Hardware Updates, News

EISA Announces the Best DAC and Best Portable DAC for 2018-19

Both available at the NativeDSD Gear Store

The Expert Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) is a group of 53 magazines in 25 countries that cover the best in imaging and sound. Each year they give awards to the best products in a host of categories. The EISA Awards for 2018-19 have been announced. The winners in the Best DAC and Best Portable DAC categories have been announced – and both are DACs at the NativeDSD Gear Store!


The WINNER Of “Best DAC”:
Hugo 2 from Chord Electronics

The winner of the EISA Award for Best DAC is the Hugo 2 from Chord Electronics. Hugo 2 is the successor Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) to the popular Hugo that was introduced in 2014.

Hugo 2 has four digital inputs (optical, coaxial and HD USB) plus extended-range Bluetooth, with high-resolution file playback up to Stereo DSD 256 plus Stereo DSD 512 (Octa DSD) for use with upsampling music software like HQ Player via its HD USB input.

A four-function switch filter offers a useful degree of user-selectable frequency-shaping, bringing warm and soft or transparent and incisive presentations, giving additional flexibility and user control.

EISA’s judges said:

“Chord’s original battery-powered DAC/headphone amplifier was a hard act to follow, but the new Hugo 2 is a giant leap forward. Inside its ultra-modern aluminum case is a custom-coded digital converter and filter that sounds like nothing else around. Comfortably able to see off any conventional DAC at its price, it’s astounding for a compact music machine, with a vibrant and rhythmic sound. Whether with standard CD or hi-res DSD or PCM, music comes packed with energy and emotion. The Hugo 2 runs for 14 hours from its rechargeable battery, plays practically every format around, includes switchable filters and a uniquely colorful control interface that makes using it fun.”


Hugo 2 is available at the NativeDSD Gear Store for $2,052.26 ex VAT. It comes with 4 Free DSD Album Downloads of your choice from the NativeDSD Music store.


The WINNER Of “Best Portable DAC/Headphone Amp”
xDSD from iFi Audio

The winner of the EISA Award for Best Portable DAC and Headphone Amp is the xDSD Portable DAC from iFi Audio. The xDSD is a new portable DAC that fits between iFi’s iDSD Nano BL and the iDSD Micro BL DACs. It has won wide praise for providing high quality Stereo DSD playback up to DSD 256 in a light case and a long-life battery for mobile use with smartphones and laptops.

The xDSD DAC is the latest iFi statement in advanced, affordable, portable audio. Its dark titanium vacuum ion plated metal enclosure is pleasingly tactile and compact. It delivers for music lovers and audiophiles alike.

To deliver a truly musical performance every technical aspect must be present and correct. The xDSD uses the Burr-Brown multibit DSD1793 DAC Chipset to deliver a realistic, musical sound to the femto precision GMT Clock and intelligent memory buffer system derived from parent company AMR Audio’s $5,500 flagship DAC to eliminate jitter. The xDSD is packed with the technology it takes.

The xDSD uses a separate power input (micro USB) for unlimited compatibility with smartphones and no extra power draw from the smartphone’s battery reducing your phone’s up-time. And it packs a battery to keep your music playing. The new 3.8V/2,200mAh Lithium Polymer battery offers playback times of up to 6 hours for USB.

EISA’s judges noted:

“With so many mobile audio products on the market, the pressure was on for iFi’s Audio’s new xDSD to sparkle – and so it does. This battery/USB-powered DAC/headphone amplifier turns your smartphone, laptop or portable player into a great-sounding music center. The secret of its success lies in its combination of super-light magnesium alloy casework, useful S/PDIF and USB-A inputs, DSD 256/PCM compatible DAC and punchy analog output stage – the latter being far more powerful than before. Switchable digital filtering lets you choose between the smoothest frequency balance and the fastest transients. iFi Audio’s xDSD exudes quality and is perfect for indulging in music on the move.”

xDSD is available at the NativeDSD Gear Store for $420.95 ex VAT. It comes with 2 Free DSD Album Downloads of your choice from the NativeDSD Music store.

Floor van der Holst

Floor van der Holst

Floor is Marketing & Label Manager at NativeDSD Music

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