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1mii Lavaudio DS400 Review (DAC & HP Amp)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 3.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 39 26.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 91 61.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 12 8.2%

  • Total voters
    147

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the portable 1mii Lavaudio DS400 DAC, headphone amplifier and Bluetooth. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $145 but it is on Amazon for $91 including Prime shipping.
1mii Lavaudio DS400 Review DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.jpg

The DS400 looks really elegant and reminds me of professional field recorders. There is a nice switch for low and high gain as well as a bass boost. Importantly "balanced" output is provided which provides double the voltage/four times the power through 4.4mm connector.

I must confess, I did not see that it has Coax and Toslink *output* until I took this picture after the review!

1mii Lavaudio DS400 Review back panel coax toslink DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.jpg

I also assumed the included 5 volt USB adapter was required and ran all of my testing that way. It was not until I connected to my computer for listening tests that I found out it was optional and only needed for portable devices (that don't provide power?).

I had a small issue on power up in that one channel would be quite faint. Plugging and unplugging remedied it and I no longer could replicate this. It could have some kind of input sensing or going into protection (see review later).

Note that unlike some of its competitors, there is no battery inside DS400.

1mee Lavaudio DS400 Measurements
Let's start with our dashboards:



1mii Lavaudio DS400 Unbalanced Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png

1mii Lavaudio DS400 balanced Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


In both cases I had to go slightly below the nominal 2 volt/4 volt as otherwise, distortion would rise. At this slightly reduced level, performance is very good for a portable device:

best portable dac headphone review.png

best portable dac headphone zoom review.png


From here on, I stuck with balanced output. Here is our dynamic range:
1mii Lavaudio DS400 DNR Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


I was very impressed with full output on the left. At much reduced output level, not so much. Very sensitive IEMs may demonstrate some noise.

To see the effect of the bass boost, I ran a frequency response test:
1mii Lavaudio DS400 Frequency Response Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


Didn't expect to see bass roll off without boost active. With it on, we see the typical overboosting much beyond pure bass area.

Multitone again shows low distortion for a portable device:
1mii Lavaudio DS400 Multitone Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png

Linearity is nailed:

1mii Lavaudio DS400 Linearity Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


IMD test also shows very good performance until output starts to saturate:
1mii Lavaudio DS400 IMD Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


Only one filter is provided but it is a good one:
1mii Lavaudio DS400 Filter Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


Attenuation could be better though as it impacts this wide-band response:
1mii Lavaudio DS400 THD+N vs frequency Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


Jitter performance was once again surprisingly good:
1mii Lavaudio DS400 Jitter Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


Let's see how well it does in power department:

1mii Lavaudio DS400 Power 300 Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


1mii Lavaudio DS400 Power 32 Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


As you can tell by the line going horizontal (in red), at max volume some kind of protection circuit kicks in. This requires power cycle as otherwise you only get very faint and distorted sound.

Lavaudio DS400 Listening Tests
With my Sennheiser HD650 high impedance headphone, I had plenty of volume for enjoyment. Unless you maxed out the volume -- in which case the high frequencies became annoying -- performance was excellent. Good bit of bass and overall fidelity was had.

Switching to Drop Ether CX low impedance headphone, there was a bit more volume but deep bass notes distorted more. Turning on the bass boost made this problem massively worse. When pushed to the limit, the unit shut down requiring power cycle. Mind you, at good/typical volume, fidelity was very good.

Conclusions
In portable category, you have dongles which are small but tend to have less power. Then there is this class of small headphone amp/DAC which greatly improve on that at the cost of another (small) box to carry. The next class up has battery which enables it to produce even more power but you sacrifice weight and size. DS400 falls in the middle category. While not perfect, there is good engineering inside this little box to deliver a good stand-alone DAC together with good headphone amplification.

Overall, I am going to recommend the 1mii Lavaudio DS400 especially at the sale price on Amazon as of this writing.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

jasonhanjk

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I don't recommend for IEM due to failure to reach -100dB THD+N at 1mW (32 ohm), thus I rate Fine :).

Rise in distortion for low frequency is due to it's high pass filter.
index.php
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Rise in distortion for low frequency is due to it's high pass filter.
I note that on the slide but can't think that a 1 dB drop in level is fully responsible for that rise. Something else is causing distortion to rise.
 

AudioSceptic

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the portable 1mii Lavaudio DS400 DAC, headphone amplifier and Bluetooth. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $145 but it is on Amazon for $91 including Prime shipping.
View attachment 223425
The DS400 looks really elegant and reminds me of professional field recorders. There is a nice switch for low and high gain as well as a bass boost. Importantly "balanced" output is provided which provides double the voltage/four times the power through 4.4mm connector.

I must confess, I did not see that it has Coax and Toslink *output* until I took this picture after the review!

View attachment 223426
I also assumed the included 5 volt USB adapter was required and ran all of my testing that way. It was not until I connected to my computer for listening tests that I found out it was optional and only needed for portable devices (that don't provide power?).

I had a small issue on power up in that one channel would be quite faint. Plugging and unplugging remedied it and I no longer could replicate this. It could have some kind of input sensing or going into protection (see review later).

Note that unlike some of its competitors, there is no battery inside DS400.

1mee Lavaudio DS400 Measurements
Let's start with our dashboards:



View attachment 223427
View attachment 223428

In both cases I had to go slightly below the nominal 2 volt/4 volt as otherwise, distortion would rise. At this slightly reduced level, performance is very good for a portable device:

View attachment 223429
View attachment 223430

From here on, I stuck with balanced output. Here is our dynamic range:
View attachment 223431

I was very impressed with full output on the left. At much reduced output level, not so much. Very sensitive IEMs may demonstrate some noise.

To see the effect of the bass boost, I ran a frequency response test:
View attachment 223432

Didn't expect to see bass roll off without boost active. With it on, we see the typical overboosting much beyond pure bass area.

Multitone again shows low distortion for a portable device:
View attachment 223433
Linearity is nailed:

View attachment 223434

IMD test also shows very good performance until output starts to saturate:
View attachment 223435

Only one filter is provided but it is a good one:
View attachment 223436

Attenuation could be better though as it impacts this wide-band response:
View attachment 223437

Jitter performance was once again surprisingly good:
View attachment 223439

Let's see how well it does in power department:

View attachment 223440

View attachment 223441

As you can tell by the line going horizontal (in red), at max volume some kind of protection circuit kicks in. This requires power cycle as otherwise you only get very faint and distorted sound.

Lavaudio DS400 Listening Tests
With my Sennheiser HD650 high impedance headphone, I had plenty of volume for enjoyment. Unless you maxed out the volume -- in which case the high frequencies became annoying -- performance was excellent. Good bit of bass and overall fidelity was had.

Switching to Drop Ether CX low impedance headphone, there was a bit more volume but deep bass notes distorted more. Turning on the bass boost made this problem massively worse. When pushed to the limit, the unit shut down requiring power cycle. Mind you, at good/typical volume, fidelity was very good.

Conclusions
In portable category, you have dongles which are small but tend to have less power. Then there is this class of small headphone amp/DAC which greatly improve on that at the cost of another (small) box to carry. The next class up has battery which enables it to produce even more power but you sacrifice weight and size. DS400 falls in the middle category. While not perfect, there is good engineering inside this little box to deliver a good stand-alone DAC together with good headphone amplification.

Overall, I am going to recommend the 1mii Lavaudio DS400 especially at the sale price on Amazon as of this writing.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Decent results, but if you are meant to use this as a portable, why the knobbly, sharp-cornered design? Guaranteed to make holes in your pockets!
 

restorer-john

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I think we may have a capacitively coupled output or between the D/A and the HPA section.

Fix that low end issue (probably easy) and it looks like a sweet little product. It looks solid, purposeful and decent. I like it. Great review @amirm Can it really take DSD?
 

fordiebianco

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Stupid question: if you want to use this on the road/train/plane, would you have to carry an extra power source (i.e. battery brick)?
 

Lambda

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Stupid question: if you want to use this on the road/train/plane, would you have to carry an extra power source (i.e. battery brick)?
it depends on if your data source can suppy power.
(Every phone with USB-C i head can.)

The question is can you charge your phone troug the DAC if you connect a external power source.
 

jasonhanjk

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I note that on the slide but can't think that a 1 dB drop in level is fully responsible for that rise. Something else is causing distortion to rise.
Unless someone can open the unit, add another cap in parallel and redo the measurement.:D

As restorer-john mentioned, likely a cap (or 2) between the DAC output and HPA input.


Stupid question: if you want to use this on the road/train/plane, would you have to carry an extra power source (i.e. battery brick)?
Nope.
4_742626d4-61df-4584-8f24-c1850509cf18_1024x1024.jpg
 

Walter

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@amirm, did you forget to post the 50mV SNR measurement? That is the most important spec for us IEM userEdit: Sorry. Hard to read the graph legends on my phone. I see you ran the test, uou just didn't include the graph showing it's relative performance.
 
Last edited:

Lambda

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To see the effect of the bass boost, I ran a frequency response test:
1mii Lavaudio DS400 Frequency Response Measurements DAC Headphone Amplifier Balanced.png


Didn't expect to see bass roll off without boost active. With it on, we see the typical overboosting much beyond pure bass area.
With What load impedance was this measured is the drop Load dependent?
 

Tks

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Btw, nice work with the new SINAD chart @amirm, simple and gets the job done without resorting to all those obscure suggestions some folks had.

Someone call these other DAC makers.. A rarely seen brand has the wherewithal to provide a proper 22.05kHz brickwalling filter.

Also, balanced, for under a hundred bucks, in this form factor, with bus power as an option.

Likewise this thing has no business having the jitter performance it does.

It falters here and there, but does pretty well in some metrics randomly for whatever reason. Only problem I assume might be IEM's that are ultra sensitive, otherwise this thing is pretty cool. Also a shame about that bass toggle.
 

abdo123

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I like that 'bass' thing but i wish it was actually based off Harman's 100Hz shelf filter rather than whatever this is. It's better than nothing though.
 

Owl

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It looks like USB-B connectors are a thing of the past. To large?
 

DonR

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Seems a little pointless to me. Other devices have better features/performance. Price is low enough I guess.
 
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