Small yet mighty
The latest addition to Audiolab’s multi-award-winning M-DAC range is the M-DAC Nano – a powerful, pocketable mobile DAC/headphone amp with advanced technology to boost sound on the go
Ever since the original M-DAC rocketed Audiolab to the front of the DAC pack in 2011, the Cambridgeshirebased company has been renowned for its ability to give a huge sonic boost to all manner of digital devices – smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs and more. The latest addition to the M-DAC range continues this tradition, but does so in the smallest, most affordable and most conveniently mobile form yet. Enter, the M-DAC Nano.
Similar in size to a small matchbox, the M-DAC Nano is a brilliantly simple way to transform headphone sound quality when you’re on the go. It connects wirelessly to Android phones, iPhones, tablets and more via Bluetooth, untethering the listener’s headphones from the playback device – much more convenient for mobile use than DAC/headphone amps that require cables to connect.
And that’s not the only thing that’s wireless. The M-DAC Nano’s built-in battery supports Qi wireless charging – simply pop it on the supplied charging pad to deliver up to eight hours of playing time.
Of course, all this convenience would mean nothing if the M-DAC Nano’s sound quality was sub-par. But no - Audiolab has squeezed in plenty of tech to ensure it sounds great!
Tiny amp with terrific tech
For such a small device, the M-DAC Nano’s circuitry packs a mighty punch. Hi-res 32-bit/384kHz-capable DAC technology lies at its heart, with upsampling of data received over Bluetooth to enhance sound quality. The integrated Bluetooth v4.2 receiver supports the sonically superior aptX and AAC codecs, in addition to Bluetooth’s standard SBC format. All this advanced digital processing is coupled to powerful Class H analogue amplification, with auto-sensing to adapt the output to suit the load.
A choice of ‘standard’ and ‘enhanced’ audio modes is available – the former offers extended battery life while the latter optimises sound quality. A press of the ‘function’ button (labelled ‘f’) engages enhanced mode, using sophisticated digital filtering with upscaling to give an impressive sonic boost to whatever you’re listening to – it might be music stored on your device or streamed from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal; it could be a podcast or internet radio; or you might be watching a movie or playing a game. All forms of digital audio benefit from elevated definition, delivering a more dynamic and engaging performance through your preferred headphones or earphones. Bluetooth has rarely sounded so good!
Volume is adjusted using a side-mounted, 64-step rotary control; this also has a ‘press’ function, which can be used to pause content and skip forward or back. A built-in MEMS microphone enables hands-free calls when paired with a smartphone and may also be used to engage Siri or Google Assistant on iOS or Android devices respectively. Other useful features include auto-pause when headphones are disconnected and auto-power-off to conserve battery charge after 10 minutes of inactivity.
Measuring 44x44x14mm and weighing just 28g, the M-DAC Nano is easy to slip into a pocket, while the playback device it’s paired with may be stashed up to 10m away. It also comes with a protective faux leather pouch, with a clip to attach to a shirt, belt or bag, whilst keeping the controls accessible.
*Battery life: around eight hours playing time in ‘standard’ audio mode; around six hours playing time in ‘enhanced’ audio mode.
M-DAC Nano – usage and benefits
- Turn your favourite corded headphones or earphones into Bluetooth ones – convenient for audio on the go.
- Digital upsampling tech, hi-res digital-to-analogue conversion and powerful amplification deliver enhanced sound quality compared to plugging headphones/earphones directly into phones, tablets, laptops etc.
- Bluetooth reception (with support for aptX, aptX Low Latency and AAC) means no more messing with USB OTG cables for Android devices and all the necessary cables/adapters for iOS devices, in contrast to portable DAC/headphone amps that require USB connection. Just pair and go.
- Advanced audio technology delivers superior sound quality compared to headphones/earphones with integrated Bluetooth.
- Great way to use corded phones with an iPhone without a headphone output – untethered from the iPhone and no Lightning adapter required.
- Can also be used to add high-quality Bluetooth reception to a home-based audio system – simply connect the M-DAC Nano’s 3.5mm headphone output to a 3.5mm ‘aux’ input or RCA-phono inputs (cable not supplied).
Delivery and Returns
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