With so much music listening being done through computers these days, the ability to integrate your PC or Mac into your home stereo system is becoming more important, especially with the advent of higher-resolution audio files.
To simplify the connection and ensure you’re delivering the full data information especially with files up to 24-bit/192kHz, A/V distribution manufacturer Gefen has introduced a $129 USB to Audio Decoder; well, that’s the easy way to call its new High-Resolution USB to Analog and Digital Audio Decoder.
As its name suggests, the unit allows you to go out from your computer via USB and then send the audio files to your hi-fi either through RCA analog left/right cables or digitally via Toslink outputs, however you prefer. You can also plug right into headphones through that port and the included 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch (3.5mm) headphone plug adapter.
According to Gefen, the USB to Audio decoder accepts up to 24 bits of uncompressed 2-channel LPCM digital audio at 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, or 192 kHz sampling rate; a blue LED status indicator highlights which frequency sampling rate is being employed.
If you’re plugging it into a Windows PC, you’ll have to download and install the Gefen driver; no additional drivers are necessary for playback through a Mac (similar to the setup of Meridian’s Explorer USB digital-to-analog converter). And then configure your computer source to output in 24-bit, 192kHz two-channel sound (Dolby Digital and DTS are not supported).
The compact device measures just 3.4″ x 1.3″ x 3.4″ (W x H x D), so it will be relatively unobtrusive in your setup, and you’ll be able to enjoy streaming music and your digitally stored tunes, in all their full fidelity glory, on your higher-quality audio system using the same cables you’d use for other audio components. All in all, it’s an easy way to get more from your music without worrying about wireless issues, or, with long cables, having to keep your computer too close to your A/V receiver.