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Review: Lindy USB Digital to Analog Converter

Pint size audio conversion box

Lindy are well known mostly for making decent quality AV cables and adapters, so it’s nice to see them taking a crack at some more complicated bits of kit, such as the digital to analog converter they’ve churned out.

In a nutshell, the USB DAC is designed to allow you to connect a variety of digital audio sources to older generation sound systems with only analogue inputs.

It’s easy to see why people would want this; more and more digital devices now feature digital audio outputs rather than the traditional RCA analog outputs.  But you might not be ready to spend hundreds of pounds replacing your HiFi system with one that can accept these digital inputs.  For these people, a DAC is the only way to fix the problem cheaply.

Lindy’s box of tricks has three separate digital inputs; a TOSlink optical connector, a digital coaxial input and a USB port which allows the Lindy DAC to operate as a USB soundcard for a desktop or laptop PC.

In terms of outputs, you can either connect the Lindy box to your HiFi via RCA Line-out connectors, or connect a set of headphones directly via the 3.5mm connector.

The front of the box also features a volume switch allowing you to turn the output to a level which gives you the best sound quality.

A USB lead is supplied, but you’ll need to supply any connecting leads yourself.  That being said, digital leads aren’t that expensive and decent quality analogue leads won’t cost the earth either.

If you’re using the DAC as a USB sound card then it’s powered from the host computer, but if you want to use it to convert an optical or coaxial signal then you’ll need a USB power supply that can supply at leas 500mA.  We found one online for less than a fiver, and it seems to work well in powering Lindy’s DAC.

In use.

We tested this box pretty extensively, both as a USB sound card and as a converter for other digital inputs.

Connected up to a decent HiFi there’s next to no difference between the original digital source and the analogue sound churned out by the DAC.  It can take a little bit of work to get the output level right using the volume adjustment, but once you’ve gotten this set up the sound quality is pretty good.

When using headphones you’ll get about as good a sound as you can get (depending on your phones, of course).  Most people will tell you that MP3′s sound pretty rubbish compared to Vinyl or CD’s, and while this is true the Lindy DAC does a good job of making the best of your MP3 library.

In fact, most uses would probably be surprised at how good their MP3 collection can sound if they use this box to connect a laptop or PC to their HiFi.

Conclusions

Lindy have hit the mark with this box, it’s a one-stop-shop for connecting modern digital devices to older (but still high-performing) HiFi systems.  In fact, one of our number has just ordered one to use with a new TV which only has an optical output for sound.

Sound quality will be perfectly fine for anyone with mid-range HiFi systems, whereas true audiophiles will undoubtedly want to shell out on an AV amp with dedicated digital inputs.

For those of us who don’t have the money to upgrade our AV setups, the Lindy Digital to Analog Converter is a great way to keep their amplifiers useful with newer TV’s, media players and PC’s.

It won’t even break the bank, at a penny under £50 it’s an entirely economic way to ensure your newer home media devices will still work with your older HiFi, or a good quality set of headphones.

Author

Matt

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