Chord DAVE DAC, Preamplifier & Headphone Amplifier

DAVE is Chord’s flagship DAC, a true reference-level product, loaded with our latest-generation FPGA technology. Put simply, it is the most advanced DAC in the world.

DAVE is the most advanced DAC Chord has ever made.

It features the very best conversion technology available, using proprietary techniques never seen before, making DAVE the most advanced DAC/preamp / headphone amplifier in the world. DAVE stands for ‘Digital to Analogue Veritas in Extremis’, a moniker that best reflects the product’s capability; a device so advanced and with so few compromises, that it is truthful in the extreme—a standard that no other DAC on the market can hope to match.

The DAC, which is also a reference-level headphone amplifier and ‘digital preamp’, distills twenty years of Chord research, development and advanced engineering into one device. At its heart lies a new version of the advanced Spartan 6 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) with 1,000x the processing power of the traditional mass-produced chip DAC. DAVE’s FPGA is loaded with over a million lines of code to confront complex timing issues head-on, with speed and precision.

The FPGA’s extraordinary capability enables a number of key sonic benefits, including significantly improved timing and the best noise-shaper performance of any known DAC. DAVE’s technology delivers music with unmatched reality and musicality, with an unrivalled timing response. The device’s lossless digital volume control outputs the signal direct to your power amplifier for the purest experience.

DAVE has a full-sized LCD display, showing input, sample frequency, volume and set-up configurations options, within Chord’s famous porthole design. On its fascia, DAVE also features a rotary encoder with a large stainless steel controller and ball buttons, enabling direct interactivity in addition to the supplied remote control.


Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz flat within +/-0.1dB (HF filter off)
Tap Length Filter: 164,000
THD + N: 127.5dB (AWT)
Channel Separation: >125dB @ 1KHz
Dynamic Range: 127.5dB (AWT)
Sample Frequencies: 44.1Khz – 768Khz (16 – 32bit) and DSD64 to DSD512 native DSD + DoP (input dependant)
Digital Inputs:

  • 4x 75Ω S/PDIF BNC Coax44.1kHz to 384kHz
  • 1x AES XLR – 44.1kHz to 96kHz
  • 2x Fibre Optic TOSLINK – 44.1kHz to 96kHz
  • 1x USB Type B – 44.1kHz to 768kHz (16 – 32bit) – PCM and DSD

Analog Outputs:

  • 1x Stereo Pair of Unbalanced RCA
  • 1x Stereo Pair of Balanced XLR
  • 1x ¼” TRS Jack Headphone Output



Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz +/- 0.1dB
THD + N: -127.5dB (AWT)
Channel Separation: >125dB @ 1kHz
Dynamic Range: 127.5dB (AWT)
Headphone Output:

  • 1% THD 6.8v RMS with 300Ω (154mW)
  • 1% THD 6.8v RMS with 33Ω (1.4w)

Output Impedance: 0.055Ω (short circuit protected)
Operating voltage: 90v AC – 250v AV auto switching 50Hz – 60Hz
Dimensions (including connectors): 7.8cm (H) 33.5cm (W) 15.2cm (D)
Weight: 5kg

“Conclusions… I very much enjoyed the time I spent with Chord Electronics’ DAVE. Its superb re-creation of soundstage depth, its sense of musical drive, and the clarity with which it presented recorded detail were addictive, though that clarity did demand that ancillary components be equally high performing. And the DAVE’s price is considerably lower than that of the high-achieving DACs from Meridian and dCS that I have reviewed.” 

Stereophile, John Atkinson, May 2017, Class A+ Recommended Component


Perhaps beyond all other aspects of performance, what is so important about the Chord DAVE is that it represents a raising of the bar of what can be had from a digital device. It’s one of those rare products that throws down the gauntlet, both sonically and technologically. Yes, you can do a lot with an off-the-shelf variation on a theme of the application board that is supplied to digital engineers by the chip companies, but that only goes so far. Chord Electronics’ DAVE is one of the few devices that challenges that concept head on. And for that, I can put up with the electromorphising name. The DAVE gets the strongest recommendation we can muster!

HiFiPlus, Alan Sircom, January 2017


Our verdict: If you’re looking for the best DAC money can buy, the DAVE is a superb place to start. We haven’t heard anything that sounds so natural or insightful

What Hi-Fi, June 2016, 5 Stars, Product of the Year

Download the Chord Chord DAVE’s Manual to Learn More

Chord Dave User’s Manual