Size do matters, I always have this kind of mindset, or maybe I should called it superstitious in the audiophile’s world? I always believe size of the equipment play important role in term of audio quality and features, but when I read about the Centrance DACport HD’s feature page, I was impressed and wonder if it is as good as it is advertised. You know, you can hardly find any negative review on the Centrance DACport HD in the internet, and it is also when I really badly needed a good performance DAC to use with my Android OS smartphone, which obviously it need to be very compact and at least play up to 24 bit 192kHz.
Centrance DACport HD (199.99 USD)
Centrance DACport HD (Will be addressed as HD in entire review) is so small, it is very small and not much bigger than a regular sized cigarette lighter, just as big as my previous portable amplifier the Govibe Box (which don’t even have a volume control and no built in DAC), not only HD has a good volume control knob, it also allowed you to select it operate in low gain and high gain, built in a DSD capable DAC with a class A headphone amplifier, all you need to do is plug it in computer (of course you will need a driver) and plug in your headphone/IEM into the 3.5mm female plug and you are good to go. The feature is really rich all together in such a tiny little box which you can easily carry to everywhere, call this revolution I will, it is just 72 grams/2.5 ounces and yeah, it is made in USA too! At this price, even without judging the audio quality, I can already tell you it is a great buy.
Looking and touching it didn’t make you think it is your kids’ toys too, it is solid in hand and is very well built, also quite tough and reliable as far as I can tell. No, don’t you think this small thing can’t drive serious headphones, in fact it can easily drive all of my headphone to hazard level volume, they are all not easy to drive too, the 250mm Beyerdynamic T90, 150 ohm Sennheiser HD700 and the 300 ohm German Maestro GMP450. Complain? For me the only complain is the volume level should have indicated clearer (Adjusting direction) and also I want a true line out option although the built in amp is a solid one, don’t miss the bass boost feature too, it will create a lot more fun. It is a class A amp inside so it is getting little hot when operating but don’t worry, it won’t cook an egg to even half boiled.
I have paired Centrance DACport HD with Beyerdynamic T90, Sennheiser HD700 with Surfcables aftermarket cable, German Maestro GMP450, GMP400, ZMF V1 Upgraded Braided 3.5mm CAT.6 Network cable (DIY) and Vsonic GRD07, playing lossless files up to DSD format with Bughead in PC, and streaming with spotify and KKbox HD (Both premium version) through Meizu MX4
How do I like this small thing performed? First of all I will have to affirm its driving power first, it can fully drive my full size open headphones, when I say fully drive it is fully drive, with good sense of body (not thin sounding at all), open soundstage and good lower frequency performance. As longas we are talking about driving power, HD is no slouch here and it is definitely a beast, in fact with high gain setting, I hardly surpassed ½ of the volume knob to get decently loud volume output, really impressive here, the power is still clean and adequate.
Don’t worry regarding the audio quality, it is a neutral, clean and balanced (slightly towards warm) sounding little device, some might said it is bright but I won’t say that, maybe I am a treble happy guy but honestly if you are looking for a very rich sounding and warm device you better looks elsewhere, that wasn’t what I want too, I really would love a balance and neutral (true sounding) DAC and headphone amplifier to bring my jazz and classical music on the go, there is no hint of harshness in pop music, so no worries here, it will surpass any smartphone in term of sound quality goes, features too, I am sure.
The sound is detailed and engaging, bass respond is good and impactful without any sense of sluggishness. Mid is good and proven when I play Amanda Mcroom’s songs, it is a balanced presentation and definitely has good nuance in the vocal too. The thing that surprised me a lot is the soundstage performance which is really excellent, even if I judging it by desktop standard (not portable) it is still very good, it is an open, wide and shaped soundstage, amazed me really. As far as audio quality goes, I can’t complain anything, the goodness of HD’s sound quality has actually made me less visit my more serious, way more expensive desktop DAC and amplifier too, what a shame, I am getting older and portability (with excellent audio quality) is what I am looking for now.
I will be a fool if I missed out any products from Centrance in the future. HD has actually outperformed my expectation and I am satisfied with the audio performance throughout the review period and I actually use it for few weeks long already, every session I am with the HD is session of pleasure, what else should I say? Go buy one, oh yeah, I heard Centrance is making a version with built in battery too now, it might be the one you need for true portability concern.