Audio Alchemy Pre/Dac/headphone DDP-1. Editor Choice Winner TAS 2016.

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Audio Alchemy 32/216 - DAC /Preamp/Headphone component. Rave review and Editors Choice Winner from The Absolute Sound 2016 by Robert Harley. Made in U.S.A.

Now at True Audiophile


We have literally been searching the world for an amazing DAC/Preamp/headphone component that fits this price range. Some had loads of features and sounded like a toy. Others sounded just ok and lacked key features we know our customers demand. Then we heard about the return of a legend. Then we read Robert Harley's incredible review in TAS April 2016 where he states, "The return of Audio Alchemy is welcome news for those seeking the highest possible price-to-performance ration in electronics." After talking with legendary Peter Meadnick we were sold! -- TA

As a linestage, the DDP-1 is amazingly clean and transparent. Unlike mostelectronics of this price, the DDP-1 doesn't add a patina of electronic harness over instrumental timbers. Nor does it add opacity to the soundstage or compress dynamics. The DDP-1's DAC section is simply sensational; this level of sound quality would be outstanding in a $4000.00 stand-alone DAC, Clarity, openess, detail, and exceptional dynamics define the DAC's performance.The DDP-1 and DPA-1 bring terrific sound and stunning value to the category." Robert Harley. The Absolute Sound, April 2016

We are going to get in-depth about it. If all you need to know is Editors Choice and an incredible value you can stop and hit 'add to cart'.

If you want to fully understand what a wonder it is please read on.

The Audio Alchemy DDP-1 is a surprising. There are many supulatives we can toss around. TAS also called it "Value City" and "A new Price/Performace Standard". The reason for these comments is grounded in audio truth. Its the return of a legend. Audio Alchemy built a solid brand a while back then the designers went off and created a cost-no-object line. After many years, customers and distributors kept telling them to figure out a way to get all those new advances into component regular audiophiles could easily afford. Hence, the return of Audio Alchemy to a price range that makes sense to anyone wanting a budget component that performs like an expensive one.

Pre-amp difference

The DDP-1’s preamp section uses fully discrete JFET circuitry with MOSFET outputs. For wider frequency response and flat phase response, the circuit is DC coupled with no coupling capacitors that would reduce bass or affect imaging.

DAC differences

The DDP-1 uses a pair of professional-grade AKM DACs, one per channel. The DACs are set up in a special filterless configuration because we have our own DSP filters. These are Audio Alchemy's proprietary DSP filters.

Headphone differences

Audio Alchemy uses the very best head headphones to test the circuitry for clarity, dynamics and soundfloor. The amp is based on an integrated circuit that's used in some very highly regarded audio products. After finding the performance outstanding, Audio Alchemy realized it was actually better than some fully discrete circuits. The output of this amp is 1 watt at 32 ohms, enough to drive even the most insensitive headphones to high levels. 

Volume control differences

A high-quality pot delivers the best ratio of performance and cost. Getting a digital volume control to sound good is very costly, and would have added a lot to the DDP-1’s price.

The pot is four-gang because one section is devoted to each phase of each channel. Less-expensive designs use a double-gang pot and control the volume single-ended. Audio Alchemy created a balanced output straight from the DAC and keep it balanced all the way to the output jacks.

The motor on the four-gang pot allows the unit to work with a remote control, but without sacrificing audio quality in any way. The pot has a great feel -- smooth, with just the right about of physical resistance required for precise adjustment. 

Display differences

The display shows the basic information needed for day-to-day operation, plus additional information needed for less-frequent adjustments and for updates to the operating software. It has basic and advanced functions that allow you to dial in the sound to your exclusive listening.

 Upgrade firmware like you do your computer

Normally audio units have to be sent back to the manufacturer to be software updated. Not with the DDP-1. Connect your computer (PC or MAC) to the DDP-1 through USB (the DDP-1 has a dedicated USB jack for firmware updates). The app walks you through the simple process: Just confirm the software version you want to upload, then activate the uploading process. When improvements are discovered you get them and install them yourself for free.

Yes, DSD!

The DDP-1 accepts DSD digital audio signals, in standard and fairly available DSD 64 format. They are considering an upgrade that will let it do DSD 128 (double resolution), when the need arises and sufficient media exists. 

There is so much much more about this amazing device including its machined aluminum chassis. If you want to know even more please contact us.

As you can see in our store we are very cautious about where products are made and their reliability before we even sit down to listen. So it was another wonder after everything to find out that the new Audio Alchemy products are made right here in the U.S.A.


Frequency response

±0.05 dB, 20 Hz to 20 kHz

±0.1 dB, 10 Hz to 80 kHz 

Nominal THD+N (1 volt)

<0.001% at 10 volts output from analog input

0.009% at 7 volts from XLR output, 3.5 volts from RCA output 

Signal-to-noise ratio (1 kHz)103 dB unweighted 

Headphone amp output

1 watt at 32 Ω 

Maximum digital input sampling rate/bit depth

32-bit/216-kilohertz on PCM

Key Features

  • All-analog preamplifier
  • 32-bit/216-kHz DAC (with DSP the equivalent of 384)
  • Audiophile headphone amp Designed by a team led by the legendary Peter Madnick
  • Seven digital inputs: USB, AES/EBU, two RCA coaxial, two Toslink optical and an I2S connection for use with the Audio Alchemy DMP-1 digital music player
  • Analog inputs: 1 pair XLR balanced and 2 pair RCA unbalanced analog inputs with input trim and balance controls output jack
  • Analog outputs: 1 pair XLR balanced, 1 pair RCA unbalanced, 1/4" front-panel headphone
  • Multiple output filter profiles
  • Selectable output resolution
  • Multistage phase-locked loop (PLL) circuit reduces jitter to the picosecond level (designed primarily by Cedric Meza)
  • Professional-grade AKM DACs, one per channel, in a special filterless configuration
  • Preamp section uses fully discrete JFET circuitry with MOSFET outputs, DC coupled with no coupling capacitors
  • High-precision, four-gang ALPS potentiometer with optical sensor works with the DDP-1’s advanced, multiprocessor-driven control system.
  • Headphone stage provides one-watt at 32 ohms
  • Output filter options: minimum group delay, minimum phase, maximally flat and transient perfect
  • Special "loop" design isolates circuits
  • IR remote control
  • Illuminated front LCD screen
  • Sleek machined aluminum chassis
  • Optional PS-5 balanced power supply (sold separately)
  • Dimensions: 3.0" x 10.5" x 11.6"
  • Weight: 8 lbs.
Audio Alchemy Pre/Dac DDP-1. Now at True Audiophile.

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