DAC3 Portable Headphone Amplifier & DAC
ESS ES9281A PRO
USB transfer mode
Asynchronous dual clock
USB device class
Type 1.1 or above
Input bit depth
Input sample rate
44.1kHz-96kHz native playback
188.2kHz & 192kHz re-sampled to 96kHz
Analog 3.5mm mini-jack stereo
Full-scale output level
Recommended headphone impedance range
12 ohms to 10K ohms
10Hz-25KHz (+/- 0.5dB)
(1kHz FS 96kS/s) <0.002%
USB 5V DC, 200mA
USB power filtering
2-stage redundant regulation
1.9” (48mm) ×0.6” (15mm) ×0.375" (10MM)
Operating Temperature: 32 to 95 degrees F
Non-operating Temp: -4 to 113 degrees F
Relative Humidity: 5% to 95% non-condensing
Lightning to USB-C and USB-C cables
DAC3 Internal Converter
The heart of the DAC3 is the ES9281A PRO DAC, which is well-regarded for its low noise and high fidelity. Due to the high signal-to-noise specs of the ES9281A PRO and the added benefit of double redundancy power source conversion and filtering, the DAC3 presents impressive low noise and low distortion characteristics. The DAC3 can process digital audio at any bit depth up to 32 bits and any sample rate up to 192kHz. DAC3 pads (upsampled) all bit depths internally to 32-bits, thus achieving a higher signal-to-noise ratio.
DAC3 Headphone Amplifier
The DAC3 contains a high-performance headphone amplifier based on the LME49726 low-noise opamp. This amp is able to provide low-impedance, high-fidelity audio and a 2-volt output which easily drives a wide range of headphones, satisfying even the most demanding headphone enthusiasts. The DAC3’s relay-controlled stereo output can also be connected to any system with an analog audio input, such as Audioengine powered speakers.
The DAC3 is powered directly from the USB bus and power is passed through two stages of regulation to ensure no USB bus power variations affect the audio quality. This low-noise, low-ripple power supply is located on a separate circuit board for extra isolation and thermal management.
DAC3 Volume Control
Volume for headphones and line-out is controlled directly from the DAC3 side panel. Smoothly adjust volume levels at fine increments without any undesirable noise or channel imbalance at lower volumes.
Quickstart GuideDAC3 Quick Setup
The following diagrams show the most common configurations for connecting your DAC3 from a computer' USB port to wired headphones or any music system.
Step 1: Connect the DAC3 to your phone, tablet or computer's USB-C port using the included cables. (Lightning to USB-C for iOS devices and USB-C for MacOS, Android and Windows).
For PC, the DAC3 should be recognized automatically.
For Mac, under System Preferences/Sound, select "Audioengine DAC3" as the sound output.
Step 2: Connect the mini-jack output of your DAC3 to wired headphones, or any audio input of your powered speakers, stereo system, etc.
Note that the audio cables to connect your DAC3 to a stereo system are not included with the DAC3.
Step 3: Adjust the volume on your device and DAC3 via the side panel control to a medium level and start playing music.
For the full setup guide, download the attached PDF:
DAC3 Quickstart Guide
TroubleshootingDAC3 Troubleshooting Tips
The following troubleshooting tips can help diagnose and correct most concerns with the DAC3. We have attempted to make this list as comprehensive as possible. So, even though some of these may not apply to your issue, please still go through each one.
- Restart your phone, tablet or computer and make sure your computer’s OS and all related apps are up-to-date.
- Verify that the audio cable (or headphone) connection out of the DAC3 is complete and in working order. You can do this by unplugging the cable and then reconnecting.
- If using a computer, disconnect all other USB devices temporarily to see how this affects DAC3 playback. Audio over USB and bus powering a device can both be somewhat demanding. USB ports can share a bus internally and can also share their bus with devices internally as well. Because of this, some ports may not perform as well as others; so be sure to try each USB port one at a time.
- If using Windows, uninstall the USB driver from your computer. Then disconnect D3 from your computer and plug it back in to allow the driver to re-install automatically. You can find complete instructions from Microsoft on how to reinstall a plug-and-play device under Windows here.
- If you are using a Mac, try a NVRAM/PRAM reset. This resets the system configurations for some audio and video related items and can many times help clear up problems related to audio. See Apple’s support page for information on how to do this. Also, be sure to check the App store to see if there's a newer version of Mac OS you could be running.
- Try music with different bit depths and sample rates. On a Mac these settings are under Applications --> Utilities --> Audio MIDI Setup. Try using both 16-bit and 24-bit, as well as 32-bit settings.
- Experiment with using a different media player (iTunes, Songbird, WinAmp, Cog, etc) and different audio file types (MP3, ALAC, FLAC, etc). And if your media library is located on an external drive or network attached storage (NAS), try playing audio files on your internal local hard-drive.
- If possible, try your DAC3 with a different device to see if something is causing an issue in the current setup.
If you do not have headphones connected to the DAC3, the LED light will turn off after cycling through 'Blue/Green/Red'. This is an intended feature to help save device power when headphones are unplugged.
The DAC3 uses the ES9281A PRO DAC chipset
The DAC3 only needs 200mA USB power to work, which most all modern source devices are capable of.
Check the cables between DAC3 and your headphones or sound system. Also check your audio player and OS audio controls to ensure that the audio balance is centered as well.
Please check that the volume control on your phone/tablet/computer is up and at a good level; 75% should be a good level. Also try adjusting the volume on the DAC3 as well.
- Verify that one of the included cables is completely plugged into the DAC3 and your source device.
- Also verify that a 3.5mm mini-jack is firmly plugged in.
- Try disconnecting and reconnecting both the USB and 3.5mm cable.
- You will see an LED light confirming the DAC3 is getting power and is connected to an output.
- Check the volume level on your source.
- If connected to a computer, verify that the DAC3 is recognized and the active output device.
- Try restarting your computer.
If none of the above helps resolve your issue, please contact our Support Team for additional assistance.
Yes! DAC3 offers broad support for standard hi-res audio formats including MQA, PCM and DSD.
DAC3 can easily drive wired headphones with impedances of 12 ohms or higher.
Yes! All you would need to do is connect your iOS device to the DAC3 using the included Lightning to USB-C cable.
To get things up and running only takes 3 simple steps. You would just need to first connect the included USB-C cable from your device's USB port to the DAC3; then you'll need to connect the mini-jack output of your DAC3 to headphones, or any audio input of your powered speakers, stereo system, etc.
Next, if using a Mac, you will need to go to System Preferences/Sound, and select "Audioengine DAC3"; if you're using a PC, no setting changes are needed as the computer will automatically find the USB driver. Finally, you'll just need to adjust the volume on your device and DAC3 to medium and you’re ready to play music from iTunes or your favorite media player and that's it! Setup really is that easy!
The DAC3 will work with Android or any device that can operate as a USB-C host, can provide enough power via USB, and includes generic drivers for standard USB audio playback. A device with Android 5.0 or later should have both USB host mode and native plug-and-play functionality for USB audio, so you could connect the two together using the included USB-C cable.
The DAC3 is essentially a very high-end external sound card. Its components and implementation of those components make it more capable than what might be built into a computer, not to mention the benefit of moving those sensitive components outside and away from the potentially noisy interior of your computer. All of this means the signal your speakers or wired headphones receive will be clearer, with a lower noise-floor, and with a more pronounced dynamic range over your internal sound card.
The DAC3 includes a headphone amplifier based on the ES9281A PRO Ultra DAC delivers 32-bit precision, high dynamic range and ultra low distortion. This headphone amp is able to provide low-impedance, high-fidelity audio to a wide range of wired headphones.
No, there are no firmware updates or special drivers needed unless you own our A1-MR multi-room speakers or our B-Fi multi-room wireless streaming device.
If a firmware update is released for the A1-MR or the B-Fi, you will be notified of the update the next time you open the Audioengine Control App. If an update is needed, simply click "update" on the DEVICES page next to the product that needs to have the firmware update applied. The app will handle the rest of the process from there!
Standard plug-n-play drivers that are provided by your computer's OS are utilized when using the USB input on our A2+, HD3, and HD4 speaker models.
And all of our Bluetooth speakers/products are compatible with any device that supports Bluetooth, and the A2DP profile for streaming stereo audio. This includes most smartphones, tablets, and computers. For computers that don't include Bluetooth support out of the box, you can simply add a USB Bluetooth adapter.