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SilverStone Ensemble EB01-E USB DAC Review

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EB01-E USB DAC Final Thoughts

There are a number of scenarios where having a dedicated USB DAC with the capability to output a very high sampling rate and bit depth would be advantageous. If your computer is connected to an AV receiver for use with a home theater, then having the highest possible audio quality is a justified expense. Similarly, if you dock your laptop to a system which includes access to a larger audio system, then using a dedicated outboard audio DAC will definitely improve the audio quality from the laptop.

However, it’s really not essential to use the highest audio settings on the EB01–E in order to take advantage of its features. High sampling rates take up a considerable amount of USB bandwidth, which may be needed for other USB peripherals, and there is the question of whether all that extra sampling and bit depth can actually be heard.

To use the old car analogy, the EB01–E has more horsepower than you probably need, but just knowing it’s there might be worth the purchase price.

SilverStone EB01-E_Ortho

SilverStone EB01-E

SilverStone EB01-E Conclusion

The Silverstone EB01–E has all the features that would be expected of an external audio DAC, and includes a few bonus extras. The ability to switch between digital audio sources directly on the unit, and the inclusion of a headphone adapter add to the overall value of the EB01–E package.

The EB01–E enclosure is part of the SilverStone Ensemble series of audio peripheral designs with a attractive and sleek brushed metal finish. It is obviously designed to be placed comfortably underneath the companion EB03 headphone amplifier.

As of April 14th the SilverStone EB01-E sells online for $189.99 (Amazon). I feel that the EB01-E delivers good value for the price. Most other outboard DACs do not include the standalone D/A conversion offered by the EB01-E.

The intelligent choice of high quality audio ICs in the EB01-E design is clearly highlighted in the documentation, and these design choices result in exceptionally good output audio performance.

Pros: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award Logo (Small)

+ Very good audio performance
+ Attractive design
+ Multiple digital source selection
+ Included headphone adapter
+ Low output impedance for headphone use

Cons:

- Switching inputs is awkward
– Potential for unexpected loud audio when switching inputs
-No analog audio input

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.00
  • Appearance: 8.50
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Functionality: 9.5
  • Value: 8.50

Final Score: 8.9 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.


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2 comments

  1. Johnniedoo

    Very good and interesting points with lots of examples and details for this device.
    It seems that the ‘audiophiles’ are looking for the 2 channel or stereo for the perfect sound at 24/192,000
    yet, I am happy with the surround sound 5.1 or 7.1 which is usually at 24/48,000 or 24/96,000
    I get absolutely no significant differences though between the 16/41.1k and 24/48k. I liked the reference to the test or study done as well. I cant seem to notice much difference,but shop for the high numbers, still, for some reasons
    My motherboard digiital/analogue output is supposed to support 24/192k output through the standard hdmi, spdif /toslink cables. I have a number of headphones from my older AKG240s which were the benchmark studio tools at one time and sennheiser 180 wireless as well as some good bud type with tiny little speakers. I hear the smaller in the ear ones best, most detail-less ambient noise intrusion, i guess.
    Good review, though. thanks
    John

  2. Aidan Moore

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Some people record live audio at a very high sample rate and bit depth because they are multi-tracking many different live instruments in a digital audio workstation like Cubase or Pro Tools. Having a high sample rate reduces latency, which affects the musicians performance.

    But for most folks 16 or 24 bits at 41.1 or 48kHz will sound great if the DAC is well designed.

    Aidan

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