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Computer Audio Design


CAD 1543 DAC

CAD 1543

Scott Berry's company, Computer Audio Design, based in the UK, isn't the best known name in top end digital audio. Like a lot of small homegrown brands which go on to eventual fame, as CAD surely will, they are supported by a very small number of dedicated dealers who recognise the true worth and innovation of the product. All of which is our way of saying "Don't worry if you haven't heard of them yet. You can be an early adopter without fear as this product has our full unconditional support"!

The 1543 DAC is a no compromise product. It comes in a neat perspex case with lit logo on the front and, round the back, an array of digital inputs one lonely USB input. "What!" I hear you say. "Only USB?" Yep, Scott doesn't believe any other type of digital source is worthy of inclusion. USB, of the asynchronous variety is where it's at, and is clearly better than coax or optical digital link of any type. Wanna use your CD transport? Tough. DAB radio? Tough. Anyway, Internet Radio is far better. Sure we're used to USB-only DACs in the low end, but not in the rarified state-of-the-art sector.CAD 1543 rear view

So having got that out of the way, exactly how do you extract the audio goodness from the CAD 1543? As, er, the name would suggest, by using a computer. Actually, this isn't news to a growing band of enthusiasts on the internet who similarly recognise this as the only means of extracting the ultimate level of detail from your music. You don't need an expensive computer either. Any relatively recent piece of machinery, desktop or laptop, could be suitable if configured correctly (which is where we step in to help you). Most people have a redundant laptop lying around which could easily do the job.

It's a rip-off!

Exactly. You "rip" your CD collection to the drive of said computer, or to an external drive, in order to play them through the 1543 DAC. It's a lot of work, but it is a one-of operation which has the benefit of backing up your valuable discs at the same time. Not that you'll care much about the original discs once you've heard them reproduced from your computer through the 1543 DAC. The difference isn't small. Don't worry about the technical details of "ripping" CDs, by the way. If you're a novice we're here to help you with this, and the all important choice of music organising and playing software, which plays a key part in the quality of the end result

The digitally knowledgeable will immediately recognise "1543" as coming from the TDA1543, an old (but revered amongst enthusiasts) 16bit Philips DAC chip. Computer Audio Design incorporate quite a few of these in each DAC for linearity purposes. This much, again, isn't unique to CAD as there are lots of enthusiasts out there doing the same thing. The secret is in the exact implementation, the purity of the signal path, the selection and matching of support components - even including a small number of unique hand made components. The internal power supplies (yes, there are quite a few) are also key to the overall sheer quality of this DAC. Everything has been very carefully optimised over a long development period.

As has been hinted at, the 1543 is very much a 16 bit product, by its very use of the TDA1543. It will get absolutely everything out of your CDs and reveal details you never knew were there. Yes, it's that impressive. And, for those who already have higher spec digital files on their computer, it will do 96k very nicely too, at 16 bits bit-depth rather than 24, a very small price to pay for the overwhelming superiority of this DAC in other areas.

We have the CAD 1543 available for demonstration at relatively short notice, but please, please, 'phone or email first to make an appointment, or you might have to wait a disappointingly long time. Bring a small selection of your favourite CDs and, by all means, your CD player for comparison, and we will temporarily rip your discs and play them from our laptop through the CAD 1543. Prepare to be shocked, by the way, especially if you spent a lot of money on your player!

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