CEntrance DACport HD Review [Most Revealing Portable?]

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.

1,615 word post, approx. 3 min. read

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!!

CEntrance DACport HD Review
Small Wonder.

Table of Contents

Specifications
Build & Features
Ergonomics & Power
Sound
Comparison to DragonFly Red (Coming Soon!)
Video Review (Coming Soon!)
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

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 top of the unit in big bold italicized letters, indicating that this is indeed a product not to be f’d with. Lol. 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.

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

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. Literally 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 HD600’s, 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

In a word, excellent.

I’m loving it like McDonald’s (and I hate McDonald’s). 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 is 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 (in 2000 I was in 8th grade).

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 CEntrace, it becomes fairly revealing. It sounds exactly like what you’d expect out of an audiophile type of experience. When people talk about 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 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 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 HD600’s, I’m able to with relative ease.

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 600’s 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.

Here’s what I listened to:

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)

Comparison to DF Red..

Comparison to the DragonFly Red (Coming Soon!)

Video Review..

Video Review (Coming Soon!)

Photos..

Photo Gallery

Click to see the DACport in action!

So what’s my final grade?

Final Grade

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.

 

Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve gotten some valuable information out of this CEntrance DACport HD Review.

Does this Amp/DAC combo sound like something that would be of use to you? Be sure to let me know!!

If you have any other questions, or feel I’ve missed the mark on something, leave a comment down below or Contact me!

I very much look forward to speaking with you..

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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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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