Audio Engine D2 Wireless DAC: Better Than SONOS

Most of you don’t know that I owned a loudspeaker design business in a previous life. Shawn Levin and I started Poseidon’s Voice after we graduated from college and we built high-end audiophile loudspeakers together for several years. Recently I uncovered a pair of our original Poseidon’s Voice bookshelf speakers and began to set up a system that would continue to be high-end that would allow me to use my old equipment with some newer gear so I could stream the music from my computer to the bookshelf speakers.

Poseidon’s Voice Bookshelf Speakers

Poseidon's Voice Bookshelf SpeakersPoseidon's Voice Bookshelf Speakers

 

The Old Equipment – Amplifier & Pre-amplifier

I have a pair of Llano Designs monoblock amplifiers and one of the earliest versions of Steve Deckert’s ZTPRE tube pre-amplifier.

Llano Designs Monoblock AmplifiersDecware_ZTPRE

The New Equipment – Audioengine D2 Wireless DAC

The audioengine D2 is a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) transmitter and receiver pair. It allows you to transmit and control a digital audio signal from one place, and receive it as either a digital or DAC-converted analog signal elsewhere.

While I have used an Apple AirPort Express and also several Sonos systems to play into a stereo system from laptops, ipads and ipods, not everything on my computer plays through iTunes and AirPlay. The reason for this wireless device is if you want to play everything from your computer through it, or play from a dedicated TOSLINK audio source.

With this pair, you can send digital (not analog) audio from your computer, CD player, iPhone, stereo receiver, or any type of digital device and have it received remotely at your power amplifier or active monitors. You control the volume at the transmitter, so all you need to do is plug the receiver into your powered monitors, power amplifier or pre amplifier, and you’ve got an instant remote-volume-controlled 24-bit playback system. Sit in your favorite chair next to your source, and control the volume and run great analog into your amps on the other side of the room for critical listening. You can play out of your computer via USB, and you can use the TOSLINK output at the other end.

One transmitter will talk to up to three receivers at the same time. The performance is absolutely fantastic.

The Audioengine D2 used to cost $599 but it’s currently available for $399.

How does it sound?

In a word, it sounds glorious. I forgot just how good music – particularly compressed digital music – can sound. The fact that the Audioengine D2 is both a DAC and a unique wireless music streaming device makes it even more worthwhile.

Why the Audioengine D2 is Better than Sonos

If you’re looking for a way to stream music from your computer to an existing stereo, you want to spend less than $500, and you want it to sound good, there is no better option. The fact that you can add additional receivers to the setup allows you to stream music from one single source to multiple locations in your house, much like Sonos without having to use Sonos speakers which just don’t sound particularly good.

Final Recommendations

I would also recommend ditching iTunes and using JRiver Media Center instead. JRiver sounds better, runs faster, and uses less memory. There’s a 30 day free trial and then after that it costs $49.98 for Windows only or $69.98 if you’d like to run it on both Windows and Mac devices.

And if you’re in the market for a subwoofer, check out Hsu Research. I bought their least expensive subwoofer – the STF2 – at $359 you would be hard-pressed to find a better subwoofer for less than $1,000.

 

 

 

3 replies
  1. C. Wells
    C. Wells says:

    My current setup consists of a pair of AudioEngine A5+ connected to my iMac music library via a Sonos Connect. I also have a Sonos Play:5. Had the Sonos 1st then added the A5+. The Connect seemed to be the best way to go so that when playing the P5 and the A5+ the sound would be in sync.

    My question is, does a DAC like the D2 offer any improvement to my current setup? I love Sonos for the versatility and ease of use. And the interface is wonderful too. But am wondering if I am losing any sound quality. I don’t notice any issues but I’ve never compared the 2 and I’m neither an engineer nor an audiophile. 🙂

    Thanks!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.