Chord Electronics launch Dave DAC at Munich High-End 2015


munich_high_end_2015_logoAlright Dave? Against the ultra-conservative backdrop of the audiophile world, Chord Electronics’ latest statement DAC will seem like a far out proposition for some. The successor to the DAC64 and the QBD76 is called Dave. Yes, really.

“It’s the Pompidou Centre of audio,” says Chord CEO John Franks. Franks says the design was influenced by three movie-related tropes: HAL9000 from 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Chronicles of Riddick and the one-eyed Minions from Dispicable Me. The latter might explain Dave’s monocle-like display.

Like Hugo, Hugo TT and 2Qute, this is another FPGA-code fest from Rob Watts. Four FPGAs sit at the centre of the Dave. Providing financial context at the 2015 Munich High-End Show launch, Watts contrasts the ~US$300 price of a single Xilinx Spartan FPGA chip with that of an off-the-shelf decoder from the likes or Texas Instruments or AKM, the typical cost of which cost is US$4.


Dave = Digital Audio Veritas in Extremis. For those not well versed in Latin, that means ‘extreme truth’. Before he could drag any more truth from Dave, Watts had to first unearth the previously hidden secrets of Hugo’s sonic performance.

The ear-brain is extremely sensitive to time domain performance. Knowing this, Watts dropped more taps than ever before in Dave: 164000 in total. He also upped the number of WTA filters from Hugo’s 16 to 256 in Dave, the benefits of which can apparently be heard in rapid firing instruments.


In presenting Dave to a packed house, Watts then explained how he spent a considerable amount of time improving the noise shaper. With daily listening test conducted over a period of many months, Watts discovered how to increase Dave’s presentation of depth perception. (350db/48 bits).

Oh – Dave isn’t only a D/A converter. It’s a remote controllable digital pre-amplifier with headphone outputs on the rear and it will be available from October with an RPP of GBP7950.

“It’s not a low cost product,” concedes Franks “but it is the pinnacle of known DAC technology”. Rob Watts predictably agrees but they may well be right.

Further information: Chord Electronics

Munich High-End 2015 coverage sponsored by LH Labs:


Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. Another DAC by Chord which appears to be inspired by Ouija. Interestingly, Some manufacturers use inexpensive parts and tell you how important implementation is while others tout the high cost of the parts inside their products. I guess I’d be disappointed if they used off the shelf DAC chips at that price.

  2. Good on chord for attention to styling detail as it’s often what appears to be an afterthought for other makes. who wants a dull looking box having spend $1000,s on it! Though I will say I would put up with a grey box if it’s the best sound for your money but here you may be able to have your cake and eat it!

  3. well I just replace my amps only one thing left to complete my chain : the best dac under 7000$ , I have hugo and I use it for my headphones , I didn’t try it with my speakers .
    any recommendation mr : John cause I respect your ears .

    • Best? Hmmm. That’s a loaded word. However, my personal favourites at that price point include the PS Audio DirectStream and the Aqua La Scala MKII. However, if you dig the Hugo, the Chord Hugo TT could be the one to audition next.

  4. At £9800 +! With additional made support bottom, DAVE is at a very expensive price bracket no dough, whom on a normal to medium wage, would ever consider such a price? With adding say Salem supper cables at £2500 + simular price for power, whopping price may total upper, £15000! Loads a money, but remember one thing, a product of this quality, will never come cheap, so I for one am willing to pay, as I know it is money, well spent, for buying I think, the best there is, for what it can perform doing!
    Playing music to unbelievably high standards!