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Why I'm excited about the Wavelength Proton DAC (USB)

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I currently have the USB Monica DAC and I love it. It sounds amazing and it's very small so I can take it with me when I travel. It cost about $450 including the SMPS power.


However, I'm really excited about the Wavelength Proton DAC (USB) coming out this month and here's why:


1. 24/96 capable

It is capable of high-resolution audio such as that ripped from DVD-A discs or needledrops.


2. extreme portability

It's even smaller than the Monica and (if I understand correctly) doesn't even have a power cord.


3. Kensington lock capable

It will probably be released with the capability to be locked with a Kensington lock to keep it safe while traveling with it.


4. volume control

Check this out. The Monica DAC doesn't allow for scaling of the volume on the computer via the hardware mixer to ensure the digital signal path is untouched. The Proton does have volume control so I thought this must be a compromise between sound quality and convenience. I emailed Gordon Rankin (the Proton's designer and a very accessible guy) about this and here's what I got back:


"As I said in several of the posts I made this is NOT a digital volume control. This is done totally after the dac section in the analog domain. Basically what happens is we enumerate (tell the computer) what we can do. We will in this case tell the computer we have a variable output signal. At that time the computer will make the main volume control (not the one in the application which changes the digital output signal) and link it too the Proton. When you change that I get a signal to change the volume up or down to the new setting. I then adjust the analog output voltage accordingly."


This is definitely the best of both worlds.


5. headphone amp

The Monica has no headphone output. I've attached a y-adapter and plugged headphones into it, but the volume was much too low. The Proton has a headphone output and a built-in headphone amp.


6. standard USB socket

The Monica uses a different USB socket than most (all?) other DACs, which means no experimentation with audiophile USB cables. The Proton has a standard USB socket.


The only question left on my mind is will the Proton sound as good with Redbook audio as the Monica. I really hope so. The Monica is a non-oversampling DAC and the Proton is an oversampling DAC as most are. The non-OS factor means the music passes through the Monica in a relatively untouched manner, and it really sounds amazing. However, Gordon has a truly stellar reputation as "the only guy doing USB DACs the right way". I contacted my local Wavelength dealer and he was more than happy to offer me a demo unit to try out in my own setup.


The Proton begins shipping this month at $900. Here's the site:




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  • 9 months later...

I wish there were spec/manual up on the site; I feel bad emailing Gordon with all my questions (just emailed to find out the output voltage of Proton).




DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub


ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub


ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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