Home Amps/DACS CEntrance DACport HD Review

CEntrance DACport HD Review

The DACport was a solid product in 2019, is it worth a purchase today?

by Stuart Charles Black
CEntrance DACport HD Review

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Shoutout to the friendly neighborhood reviewer In To It Reviews for lending me this demo unit!

Updates.

  • 12/11/19.
  • 12/13/19. Article cleanup.
  • 2/14/20. Added Shootout video with DragonFly Red, Cobalt, and Mojo.
  • 3/11/22. Article refresh/link updates.

Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the CEntrance DACport HD Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax cuzzo…

I’m Here to Help!!


Table of Contents

Specifications
Build & Features
Ergonomics & Power
Sound
Video Shootout with DragonFly Red/Cobalt
Photo Gallery
Final Grade

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!

CEntrance DACport HD

Specifications

Digital

  • Max sample rate: 384kHz (Also: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352kHz), DSD128
  • Max resolution: 32-bit (Also supports 16-bit and 24-bit)
  • Connection: USB 2.0, asynchronous
  • Local clock: Mil-spec clock, 10 ppm precision, 1 ps jitter
  • Compatibility: Any computer running Mac, PC, Linux; driver available for Windows

Analog

  • Frequency response: 20Hz–40kHz +/-0.2dB
  • Dynamic range: 112 dB, re +14.5dBu, max gain
  • THD + N: 0.002% (FS, 1kHz)
  • Noise floor: 7 µV RMS (A-weight), max gain
  • Audio output: Stereo 3.5mm (1/8″) jack, headphone, or line output

Headphone Amplifier

  • Output impedance: 1 ohm
  • Amplifier type: Direct Class-A, no caps in the signal path
  • Max level: 4.1 V rms / +14.5 dBu
  • Output power: 775mW (total), drives 600-ohm headphones

General

  • Input power: USB bus (no external power supply needed)
  • Gain switch: 20dB range
  • Internal power supplies: ±9V, dual, super-clean analog rails
  • Dimensions: 3 x 1.1 x 0.4 in (7.6 x 2.9 x 1.1 cm)
  • Weight: 2.5 oz (72 g)

How’s the build?

Build

CEntrance DACport HD Review

What’s for breakfast?

 

The build of the CEntrance DACport HD is fairly simple – it’s a bit larger than a USB stick (think DragonFly Red), but is still plenty small enough to fit in your pocket. It’s about the size of a pack of gum or a Bic Lighter.

The front of the unit rounds off nicely, containing a super convenient volume dial that I can easily adjust while it’s sitting next to my laptop. I can reach down and adjust, or put the unit in my hand and adjust. In that sense, it does kind of function the same way that a lighter does.

“CEntrance DACport HD” is plastered over the top of the unit in big bold italicized letters, indicating that this is indeed a product not to be f’d with. Kind of like the Wu-Tang Clan.

On the front end where the volume is, there’s a micro USB slot for use with your PC/Laptop, etc. and on the back is the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The left side facing away contains a gain switch, but it’s very hard to tick on or off without a toothpick or something similar. A bit disappointing in that regard, but I’m sure they did it to minimize damage to the switch while it’s in your pocket on the go, and to ensure that you don’t accidentally switch it to high gain and damage your hearing if it happens to be on low.

Still, perhaps a button would have been the more logical choice here, but I digress.

Weight wise it comes in at 1.2 Oz. (35g) on my scale, but feels pretty substantial in your hand all things considered. It doesn’t feel cheap at all!

CEntrance DACport HD Review

Adjusting volume in hand.

Adjusting volume on desk.

Do be aware that because it’s a class A amp, it does run fairly warm, which is especially noticeable the more albums back to back that you listen to.

Still, it’s not as bad as the Chord Mojo, which gets flat-out hot after a spell.

Class A amps run warmer because 100% of their energy, while on and drawing current, is converted to heat (when idle).

When playing a track, the wattage travels to your dome piece (via the drivers) and is then converted to the analog sound that you hear.

Ergonomics/Power Output

CEntrance DACport HD Review

Facing life’s challenges head on.

This little puppy boasts 775mW of total power, making it one of the best tiny portable options with a wide variety of headphones and Impedance ranges.

I’ve been having a blast with this thing inside Tidal; in fact, out of all of the gear I’ve been demoing lately, I’ve listened to the most albums through the DACport. Part of that is surely the convenience of it: I can get it fired up within seconds, and it’s a total breeze.

Plug it in and it’s always ready for action, doesn’t need a battery charge, and runs off of bus power exclusively.

CEntrance claims it can power 600 Ohm headphones and I wouldn’t doubt it. I have plenty of headroom on high gain with my 300 Ohm HD600s but would feel comfortable driving a K240M 600 Ohm with it.

With some tracks, you will end up maxing out on gain, but that has more to do with how the song was recorded than the DAC itself.

Speaking of songs, how the heck does it sound?

Sound

CEntrance DACport HD Review

Small Wonder.

In a word, excellent.

Because the CEntrance utilizes Asynchronous USB, what’s known as jitter (basically timing errors in the conversion that lead to distortion) is less likely given that the DAC is controlling the flow of data rather than your PC. Instead of it being pushed through by your PC, it’s pulled by the DAC in a more fluid manner.

Related: Beginners Guide: What is a USB DAC?

Because of this, and because of the fact that it is indeed a class A amp (Class A = less distortion), do I perceive the sound to be a bit cleaner, a bit smoother, and a bit more fluid than a DAC that does not utilize Asynchronous USB?

Meh. I mean, it’s really hard to tell and you may not even notice a difference to be honest. Does it sound ultra-clean like Windex? Absolutely, but so do other amps that don’t utilize Asynchronous USB.

With that said, clarity and detail here are nice and pristine. This thing pulls out detail with relative ease, so sit back and chill the f out homie!

It ain’t no big thang.

On Common’s “The Light” (a track I’ve heard hundreds of times), I hear the faint singing in the background, more so than in years past. I’ve always been able to hear it somewhat, even in my early middle school days during the year it came out.

CEntrance DACport HD Review

Paired with the venerable HD600.

I’ve never heard it more prominent than now, but it’s still extremely subtle. It’s hard to explain.

With good headphones and a good DAC like the CEntrance, it becomes fairly revealing. It sounds exactly like what you’d expect out of an audiophile type of experience.

When people talk about the music they’ve heard all their life sounding somehow “different” this is what they’re talking about. “The Light” sounded slightly different than I’m used to, which was a really neat experience!

“Nag Champa (Afrodisiac for the World)” off of the same album, Like Water For Chocolate, sounded incredibly revealing as well. You can make out a lot more of what Common says in the intro before he starts rapping. At 25 seconds in you can clearly hear his ad-lib “Ya’ll n***as come toward the stage”, as it pans from left to right.

I used to bump this song frequently, and I could never really make out any of what was said during this intro, nor did I even attempt to try. Here and now with the DACport and a pair of HD600s, I’m able to with relative ease.

Take that for what it’s worth.

Steely Dan’s “Peg” off of their 1977 album Aja, displays an effortless, near-perfect soundscape paired with my HD600. It’s just a match made in heaven. High hats sound incredibly natural, and the track is rendered with a speed that surprises even me.

The 600s are generally not that fast in terms of transients, but the attack here sounds marvelous.

The decay and instrument clarity on the opening “Black Cow” sounds equally as stunning and revealing.

Overall, the CEntrance provides a picture-perfect, clean backdrop to all of your music. This is a big reason why I have demoed 10+ albums with it. It just sounds right.

It’s the type of sound that makes you want to kick back and put your feet up with a glass of scotch.

Comparison to DF Red..

Shootout with DragonFly Red/Cobalt/Mojo

Don’t forget to leave me some love! <3

Photos..

Photo Gallery

Click to see the DACport in action!

CEntrance DACport HD Review
Adjusting in hand.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
Adjusting on desk.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
Minimalist.
Hanging out.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
Small Wonder.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
Overhead.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
3.5mm jack.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
Micro dreams.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
HD.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
What's for breakfast?
CEntrance DACport HD Review
Ya gotta have a breakfast.
CEntrance DACport HD Review
Facing life's challenges head on.

So what’s my final grade?

Final Word

 

The CEntrance DACport gets an A from me. I’m docking a few points for the inconvenience of the gain switch’s location, but other than that this Amp/DAC combo is nearly perfect.

Easy to hook up, sounds great. Not much more to say.

Should you actually buy it? My top recommendation in the portable category is the BTR5 as it does Bluetooth and to me is a better overall value.

Check out my article comparing it to the BTR3K:

 

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Centrance DACport HD Review.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

Just want to make a one-time donation? Click here. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps keep this site running!

Is the DACport worth a purchase? What do you think about the BTR5? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Album List

The Roots – Things Fall Apart (1999)

Gift of Gab – 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up (2004)

Chon – Self Titled (2019)

Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs (2008)

John Coltrane – Coltrane (1957)

Cunninlynguists – A Piece Of Strange (2006)

Common – Like Water for Chocolate (2000)

Mac Ayres – Drive Slow (2017)

Steely Dan – Aja (1977)

Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill (1972)

Bonobo – Migration (2017)

CEntrance DACport HD

4.75

Build

5.0/5

Sound

5.0/5

Ease of Use

4.8/5

Features

4.5/5

Ergonomics/Power

4.5/5

Pros

  • Great Build
  • Phenomenal Sound
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Good amount of power

Cons

  • Gain switch could have been implemented better
  • Sometimes max out on high gain

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2 comments

Jonás Campos March 23, 2021 - 4:17 pm

Im new in this stuff and thanks to you I am loving it!!!

I have a quick question, what product would you recommend me between dacport hd vs. dragonfly red vs. FiiO E10K?? I dont have the money to start buying a combo but definitely Im going to save money to buy a very decent amp.

Thanks!!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black March 27, 2021 - 4:01 pm

Hey man! Definitely DragonFly Red. 🙂 Perfect product and has never let me down. In fact, I’m listening to it now with the K712! Let me know if that helps. Also check my shootout for an in-depth look at 4 dacs including Cobalt, Red, DACport, and mojo. [Definitive Guide] AudioQuest DragonFly Red vs. Cobalt vs. Chord Mojo

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