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Lindy Digital To Analogue Converter review

Kat Orphanides
21 May 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
50
inc VAT

Handy if you need to feed a range of digital inputs into headphones or a speaker system but too niche for your average laptop user

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Lindy makes some incredibly useful products, but their names rarely roll off the tongue. The USB Digital to Analogue Audio Converter & Headphone Amp (DAC) is certainly a mouthful, but it's also a fairly comprehensive list of this sound card's features.

Lindy Digital To Analogue Converter

The sound card's headphone port has a dedicated pre-amp and volume control. It's worth noting, however, that the high impedance of the pre-amp will produce a hissing sound if you connect most earphones designed for use with MP3 players. Disregarding this issue, audio quality proved to be excellent, both through our 150 ohm impedance headphones and when we connected our powered speakers to the phono outputs, which don't go through a pre-amp stage.

The USB sound card has a maximum 24-bit bitrate and 96KHz sample rate. Its audio quality is clean and balanced. No unwanted characteristics are added to the sound by the audio processor, which means that you hear the music exactly as it's recorded, with the only modifications being made by whatever EQ settings you're using in your media player software. This is exactly what we want from a standard sound card.

Lindy Digital To Analogue Converter

It works using the generic USB audio drivers built into Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, so compatibility isn't a problem. However, its output is stereo only and it lacks advanced features such as virtual surround sound or environmental audio for games. There's no mic input, either, so you can't use it to connect a gaming headset.

Lindy Digital To Analogue Converter

That covers the DAC's capabilities as a USB sound card, but you can also use it as a standalone device to convert a compressed digital audio stream from an optical or coaxial S/PDIF input to analogue sound (neither a coaxial cable nor an optical TOSlink cable are provided, though). A switch on the back allows you to choose which of the three inputs' signals are sent to the headphone and phono outputs. To convert audio from the S/PDIF inputs you don't need to have the DAC connected to a PC - all that's needed in this mode is a USB power source. It's worth noting that the DAC is only designed to work with 2-channel audio, so it can't handle Dolby or DTS encoded 5.1 audio streams, but can take any plain PCM stream and output stereo sound.

The DAC works well on any computer or - if you're only using it to output audio from an S/PDIF source - without one. However, its capabilities are limited and it's a rather niche product. It's great if you need to connect one or more digital audio sources to a pair of powered stereo speakers and could be a valuable link in some hi-fi systems. However, if you're primarily in need of a USB sound card, the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 is similarly priced and has a wider range of features in terms of connectivity, gaming audio and surround sound.

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Price£50
Rating***

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