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Back in January, I needed to buy a headphone amplifier for the excellent headphones I got as a birthday present. I ended up getting the Objective 2 (O2) amplifier, which is an open source design that you can build yourself if you want. It had great reviews and the design goals appealed to me. It was basically designed to prove a point: that you could make a transparent amplifier that measured well (hence the “objective”) with fairly inexpensive parts.

The same guy who designed the O2 also designed a USB DAC (digital-to-analog converter) called the Objective DAC (ODAC) following the same principles. I wasn’t really in the market for a DAC, but since I was ordering from the US, I bought both. I got the stand-alone ODAC (it’s the tiny box on the top in the picture) so that I could connect it to what I wanted via the line-out. At first the DAC felt like overkill and I didn’t use it much. When I eventually started using it, I was impressed with the improved sound quality.

The other day I read somewhere that the ODAC might work with Android devices, so I thought I’d give it a shot and bought a USB OTG (on-the-go) cable and hooked up my Galaxy Note 8 to the ODAC. And it worked right away! :D Now I can get “raw” digital audio from my Note and let the ODAC take it from there.

This makes me appreciate both the fact that the ODAC designer opted for a chip that doesn’t require proprietary drivers, but uses standard protocols instead, and that Android follows these standards.

If you’re curious about the headphones, they’re Beyerdynamic DT880’s (premium, 250 ohm). Love them.