StyleAudio Carat TOPAZ USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
Computer sound card - bad. Outboard USB DAC - good. For happy wallets, to South Korea go. That neatly sums up Styleaudio's proposition for their TOPAZ notebook sized audio extrusion.
It is a StyleAudio contention, however, that the premium components populating their board make this a bona fide audiophile proposition. Ever since Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio strapped a Macbook to a tube-powered USB DAC at a long gone CES, the concept has gained legitimacy. Imminent is the day when sources or preamps without universal serial bus will be considered hopelessly passé.
Styleaudio is a Korean creative design group developing hifi and PC audio products where personal computers are viewed as digital music sources. Founder and Hi-Fi enthusiast Ted Lee explained:
"Our mission is to provide the best bridge solution between fine audio and the personal computer. We introduced our first model exclusively in the Korean market. After the launch, the market reaction was very high on our product and thousands of users talked about Styleaudio to where we're now No. 1 in Korea for USB DACs. We are planning that all our products will maintain the current design concept and identity."
StyleAudio Carat TOPAZ USB DAC and Headphone Amp
The Styleaudio TOPAZ is StyleAudio's highest model in its affordable ultra high quality USB DAC and headphone amplifier JEWEL series.. A custom designed and very dense PCB is stuffed with the highest quality parts, including: OSCON and WIMA caps, 1.0ppm TCXO clock and Vishay-Dale resistors. In addition to using top shelf parts, the designers also segregated each section of the unit, isolating the input, digital conversion, main power and analog sections from each other to ensure a very low noise floor.
The headphone driver portion of the Topaz is quite special, utilizing two of the high performance TI/Burr Brown OPA2134 OPAMP's, allowing the Topaz to comfortably drive any headphone from 32ohm to 300ohm. The line ouput section gets the same attention to detail as the rest of the unit and employs two of the Analog Device AD817 OPAMP's, allowing the Topaz to be at home in a high end two channel audio system. Impressively, the Topaz also use four of the TI NE5534 OPAMP's for the I/V section, a testament to their dedication to quality and good sound.
The impressive engineering pedigree and use of top notch parts continues into the DAC section. Utilizing the TI PCM1792 24bit/192Khz DA converter, this DAC is capable of an astounding dynamic range of 123dB with a negligible THD+N of 0.0005%. The USB input is controlled by the proven TI PCM2707 USB controller, allowing use of up to 48Khz files via USB. And, finally, the digital controller is the Crystal CS8416 with low jitter clock recovery.
The Topaz is truly "plug and play" with any modern Mac OS or modern version of Windows OS. Plug it in, let the divers load, select the device (if necessary) and listen to the great sound now emanating from your computer!
1. The best of the best, PCM 1792 by Burr-Brown
When we look the digital specification, PCM 1792 is one of the best chipsets. And for a hight end device, the combination of PCM 1792 & CIRRUS Logic's CS8416 has a good reputation in Hi Fi Audio industry. TOPAZ has also this combination. However it is an audio device, not an IT computer device, so the unit should need other factors which should have high end components. Styleaudio tried to add other qualified parts, enough & stable power supply, efficient circuit design and analog parts. Because we belive that audio components must by combined by all these factors, not only by digital specification.
2. Optical input
TOPAZ has digital(Optical) input as well as USB input. You can connect DVD player or low end CD player to TOPAZ. You can enjoy Hi Fi auido quality with these devices also.
3. Like a planning new city:
Our philosophy in designing the printed circuit boards for our products is very similar to the process good city planners take when planning a new city. For example, a good city planner will not put factories, industrial areas and city infrastructure close to residential areas. Similarly, we isolate each circuit of our products from one other, with four discrete and isolated sections: Input, digital conversion, main power and analog. By keeping these sections separate via dedicated DC to DC converters and ensuring that the grounds are isolated, this minimizes the possibility of interference between sections.
4. Separate power adapter
USB power supply maybe easy to use. However TOPAZ did not take this "easy to use". TOPAZ is designed to work with 6V DC with external power adapter. Why? We think higher model should give better things. As TOPAZ is an audio device, "better things" must be sould quality. USB power-in is easy, but we know some times its power supply is not very stable. Everybody know the stable power supply is very important to produce very good sould. We expect TOPAZ produce very good sound qualtity with very stable stable power supply.
5. 1.0ppm TCXO
TOPAZ also has 1.0ppm TCXO. A TCXO (Temperature Controlled Crystal Oscillator) is normally used in much more expensive audio products, many costing thousands of dollars. We believe that our use of this key part contributes to the overall sound quality.
6. 24 ~ 300 ohm headphone compatible
TOPAZ has a circuit which filters spurious noise from the input of the headphone AMP and was designed to the same standards an independent/stand alone headphone AMP. TOPAZ is compatible with any headphone that has an impedance of 24ohm ~ 300ohm. For the OP AMP's, TOPAZ utilizes TI OPA2134 and TI OPA2604 for the output. The output level is a very healthy 2Vrms, which is the same level of many separate high end Hi-Fi level CD players or Hi-Fi DAC's, so this unit can drive virtually any preamplifier stage on the market.
7. Aluminum volume knob
TOPAZ has a custom aluminum volume knob in place of the plastic used in most components at this price range. The unit is fitted with a orange LED which reminds one that they are listening to a "precious jewel", the TOPAZ.
1) Main DAC : BURR-BROWN PCM1792
- 24 Bit 192 KHz Highest Performance Stereo DAC
- Dynamic Range : 127 dB / THD+N : 0.0004%
- 8x Oversampling Digital Filter
2) Digital Controller : Cirrus Logic CS8416
- 32KHz to 192Khz Sample frequency range
- Low Jitter Clock Recovery
3) USB Controller : BURR-BROWN PCM2707
- USB2.0 FS DAC / Fully Compliant with USB 1.1 Specification
- 32Khz ~ 48Khz / 16bit delta-sigma stereo
4) OPAMP : TOTAL 8 pcs (DIP type)
- Output : Analog Device AD817 x 2 pcs
- I/V : Texas Instruments NE5534 x 4 pcs
- Headphone : Burr-Brown OPA2134 x 2 pcs
5) TCXO : 1.0ppm
6) Output level : 2Vrms
7) 1 x 5.5mm Gold-coated Stereo Headphone Jack
8) 2 x selector (Power & Output selection)
9) 1 x Volume controller & 1 x orange color power LED
10) Gold-coated RCA jack (Left / Right)
11) working with DC 6V power adapter
12) USB In
13) Optical In
1) Best chip : Hi Fi Audio DAC & Headphone AMP
2) USB input & OPTICAL input
3) HEXAD type OPAMP : Dual mono design
- Right 3 OPAMP / LEFT 3 OPAMP
4) Sanyo OS-CON / Wima / Vishay Dale, Silver Mica
- all electric condenser : OS-CON
- all film condenser : WIMA
5) 24bit, 192KHz support
2) Out sound level is 2Vrms (same level as Hi Fi CD players), so it can accept upto 300 ohm Hi Fi headphone.
4) ‘TCXO’ 1.0ppm which is specially using by the very high-end audio product and DAC.
6) 4 different block design points (Input, Digital convert, Main Power, Analog)
7) Power level filtering function
8) DC6V power adapter.
9) Plug & Play without installing drivers or software.
10) Full Aluminum anodizing case to reduce external noise and resonance
11) Aluminum volume knob.
The Style Audio Carat Range Size comparison
CARAT-UD1 : 75 mm (W) x 30 mm (H) x 109 mm (D)
CARAT-HD1V : 75 mm (W) x 30 mm (H) x 109 mm (D)
CARAT-PERIDOT : 75 mm (W) x 30 mm (H) x 126 mm (D)
CARAT-TOPAZ : 75 mm (W) x 30 mm (H) x 126 mm (D)
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