Digital-Analog Converter in Headphone Cable.

Sound enthusiasts know they’ve made the right choice with high-end headphones like the T 1 or T 5 p from beyerdynamic – given the player does its part too. However, the playback quality is often restricted with portable devices such as notebooks or smartphones. To solve this problem, the audio specialist from Heilbronn, Germany, has developed the Impacto essential.

The mobile USB DAC inserts itself into the audio transmission chain between the player and headphone. Its elegant casing is barely larger than a cable remote control. The digital-analog converter with built-in headphone amplifier assumes this very role as well: with buttons for volume, play/pause and skipping tracks, the music playback can conveniently be controlled.

Perhaps the smallest high-end music system in the world

The technology inside would do credit even to exclusive hi-fi systems. The Sabre32 Mobile Reference DACTM decrypts high-resolution audio signals up to a resolution of 32 bits and 384 kilohertz. This device class typically achieves maximum values of 24 bit/192 kHz.

The compact USB DAC even supports DSD signals (Direct Stream Digital) of up to 5.6 megahertz, a format that is normally the preserve of stationary transducers. For users, this means that there is no need for bulky hi-fi devices or extra high-resolution players anymore. All that’s needed to enjoy music on the smartphone or notebook in uncompromising quality are high-end headphones from beyerdynamic and the Impacto essential.

Thanks to its integrated and practically noise-free amplifier, the little sound enhancer is ideal for use with low- and high-impedance headphones. Three icons from beyerdynamic’s current portfolio are suitable playing partners: the present T 1 (2nd generation) reference headphone, its portable variant the T 5 p (2nd generation) and the new Amiron home.

All three have jack plugs on the earcups on both sides – a requirement for connecting the Impacto essential directly.

Suitable for PC, Mac and Android devices

For playback, computers and players with USB ports can be used. For this purpose, three connection cables are included in the scope of delivery: the version with the larger plug (USB-A) is primarily intended for notebooks and PCs. The USB type C variant is more and more used with smartphones and tablets. The customary Micro-USB standard is available for classic Android devices. Apple users will have to be patient a little longer: a separate solution for the Lightning connector is under way.

The Impacto essential works on all devices that have a USB host function. This is generally the case with notebooks but most of the latest Android smartphones and tablets are also appropriately equipped – in their case, the function is called „USB On-The-Go”.

Once connected, the digital-analog converter handles the player’s full audio signal processing. This means that the sound quality no longer depends on the components of the playback device. Instead, the DAC converts the high-resolution music data back to analog format and amplifies it – with a precision that takes full advantage of the acoustic potential of the beyerdynamic headphones.

Furthermore, the DAC uses a hi-res LED as a control function. When it lights up, the player is indeed sending high-resolution audio information to the digital-analog converter. As a playback program, users can select a hi-res player app of their choice.

Recommended retail price EUR 329

Technical data

Maximum sample rate 384 kHz / 32 bit, DSD 5.6 MHz
Frequency response 4 – 52,000 Hz
S/N 121 dB(A)
THD 0.002 %
Channel separation 97 dB
Output power 50 mW an 32 Ω
7 mW an 600 Ω
Output impedance 4.7 Ω
Power supply 5 V, 195 mA (USB power)
Dimensions 63 x 32 x 7 mm
Weight (without cable) 12 g
Scope of delivery Impacto essential
Attached headphone cable with 2 x 3.5 mm jack plugs, 0.4 m
Micro-USB cable (on-the-go), 0.8 m
USB-C cable, 0.8 m
USB-A cable, 1.4 m
Quick Start Guide