Ayre QB-9 USB DAC
Based in Boulder, Colorado, Ayre Acoustics is a small outfit that has been designing and hand assembling high quality audio and video equipment since 1993. According to Ayre “The Ayre QB-9 USB Digital-to-Analog converter vanquishes the stereotypes of computer audio and ushers us into a new world of musical access”
Although they are not the only manufacturer to make similar claims, the QB-9 certainly allow users to play computer music with remarkable fidelity that would not have been possible a few years ago. For $2500 it is not cheap but you cannot fault it in anyway. It is possible to find a great sounding DAC that cost less but if you can afford this, you will not be disappointed.
All things being equal, the biggest problem with USB DACs is jitter. This is the timing error generated when data is passed through a system with non-precise timing intervals. The greater the jitter, the more audible the results. This can include changes in the pitch and speed of music, dropouts and cause other spin-off effects in the playback quality. The QB-9 uses the “asynchronous” USB data transmission mode with customized software from Wavelength Audio to produce a very low jitter DAC.
During extensive listening tests with various types of music, I could not fault the QB-9 in any way. Ayre’s workmanship and sound quality is excellent and I would not hesitate to recommend the QB-9 as a great addition to any audiophile rack.
Maximum Output Level 2.05 V rms – unbalanced outputs 4.10 V rms – balanced outputs
Frequency Response DC - 20 kHz (44.1 kHz sample rate) DC - 22 kHz (48 kHz sample rate) DC - 40 kHz (88.2 kHz sample rate) DC - 44 kHz (96 kHz sample rate)
Signal/Noise 110 dB (unweighted)
Input 1 USB, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz (up to 24 bits)
Dimensions 8.5" W x 11.5" D x 3" H 21.6 cm x 29 cm x 7.6 cm
Weight 5 pounds 2.25 kg
The default warranty is only 90 days but if you return the warranty card it is extended to 5 years at no additional cost.