The heart of the Copland DAC-215 is an excellent digital-to-analog converter with multiple S/PDIF inputs and support for PCM/DSD signals, built on ES9018 Reference 32-bit DAC chips in a quad-mono configuration, i.e. 8 mono channels turn into 2 stereo. By combining four in-phase and four anti-phase converters per channel, the statistical properties of the signals are improved; the correlated signal powers of the phases are subsequently added together, while the noise powers are uncorrelated in the phases—thus improving the signal-to-noise ratio of the resulting analog waveform.
The Copland DAC-215’s USB input implementation is one of the most advanced at present; it includes USB 2.0 PCM 24/32 Bit standards up to 384 kHz, DSD64, higher sampling DSD128, and for Windows also DSD256, DSD512. Analog circuits and filters are built on discrete elements. Class-A circuit technology has been borrowed from Copland’s proven CD players and delivers stunning sound quality with effortless agility and dynamics.
Due to an increase in the sampling frequency, the influence of sampling noise on the outputs of DACs is reduced. This allows the design of analog output stages with wide bandwidth and low-order analog filters.
The Copland DAC-215 has an asynchronous USB input, three S/PDIF digital inputs, an analog input, two class-A analog outputs (line and variable), a front-panel headphone output that drives class-A tube output stages, and Built-in preamplifier with analog volume control. In pure DAC mode, the preamp and volume control functionality can be disabled.
The device is based on an advanced converter Saber Reference ES9018. It is an 8-channel, 32-bit high-resolution chip capable of decoding PCM and DSD audio. The output cells of the chip are connected four in parallel in each of the stereo channels, thanks to which it was possible to obtain a linear phase response, reduce distortion to 0.004%, and the noise threshold to -120 dB.
The Copland DAC-215 accepts files with maximum resolution via an asynchronous USB interface. It is implemented on an advanced Amanero Technologies module, improved by Copland specialists. The receiver board has two of its own clock generators with low phase noise, and it is powered by a stabilized voltage from a separate winding of the network transformer. The interface supports PCM formats with sampling rates of 44.1 – 384 kHz and bit depth up to 32 bits, as well as DSD 2.8 – 5.6 MHz (64 – 128x) and DSD256, DSD512 for Windows. When working with a computer running Windows (Vista, 7, 8, 10), you will need to download the free driver from the Amanero website; for operating systems Mac OSX 10.6+ and Linux with UAC2 it is not needed. Installation of additional software is presented in detail and clearly in the user manual. The digital signal can also be supplied via coaxial and two optical inputs, with a maximum resolution of 32 bits/192 kHz.
At a high conversion frequency, the spectrum of noise and interference at the DAC output also shifts upward, which makes it possible to cut them off with relatively simple low-order broadband filters. And this, in turn, has a beneficial effect on the sound. Copland DAC-215 analog stages are built on discrete elements and operate in class “A”. The circuitry is borrowed from Copland CD players, in which it has proven itself to be excellent.
The analog signal from the converter output can be fed either directly to the linear output or to the input of the built-in pre-amplifier. In the first case, the amplitude will be fixed (2 V at a digital signal level of 0 DBFS), and in the second, it will be adjustable using a conventional, non-motorized, but high-quality potentiometer. It also changes the volume when listening to music on headphones.
For them, the Copland DAC-215 has a separate tube (!) amplifier based on dual triodes ECC88 (also known as 6DJ8 and 6922), loved by audiophiles for their low noise level, high gain and good load capacity. Since they operate in a gentle mode (20% of the maximum power dissipation), a service life of 6000 hours is guaranteed. The reproduced frequency range of the telephone amplifier is 20 – 100,000 Hz, signal-to-noise ratio: -90 dB, distortion level less than 0.02%. The output jack is for the correct 6.3 mm plug.
The design of the Copland DAC-215 is laconic and at the same time instantly recognizable in Scandinavian style. The matte black body has non-standard proportions for Hi-Fi; the front panel has horizontal ventilation slots through which the lamps are visible. They are additionally illuminated with red LEDs, due to which they create the effect of warmth and comfort. If desired, the backlight can be turned off with a switch installed on the printed circuit board. To do this, you do not have to completely disassemble the device – just remove the grille on the top cover. This will give you access to the lamps themselves.
Symmetrically to the volume control there is an input switch for five positions LINE, USB, COAX, OPT1, OPT2, and in the center there is a vertical line of LED dots corresponding to the sampling frequencies of the input signal. The glowing spot that can be mistaken for a power indicator is actually a transparent toggle switch. In the upper position (OFF), it is illuminated in red, and the signal from the DAC output bypasses the preamplifier and volume control directly to the OUT jacks, and you won’t hear anything in the headphones. The lower position (ON) is indicated in green, and the DAC215 turns into that very “three in one” device: the signal converted from digital or coming from an analog source through the LINE input is sent to the volume control, and then to the pre-amplifier and telephone amplifier. With rather modest dimensions, the Copland DAC-215 looks quite solid and weighs not so little.
Specifications Copland DAC-215
DAC: SABRE³² Reference ES9018
Signal on USB inputs
SPDIF: PCM 44.1 – 384 kHz, 24/32 bits, DSD 2.8 – 5.6 MHz (64~128X)
PCM 44.1 – 192 kHz (32 bits)
Operating system support: Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10 (32/64bit); Mac-OS X and Linux with UAC2
Digital inputs: coaxial, optical (2), USB-A)
Analog outputs: RCA (2), 6.3mm headphone
Frequency range: 20 – 20000 Hz
Signal-to-noise ratio: -120 dB
Distortion Level: <0.004%
Output Voltage (at 0 DBFS): 2 V
Tubes: 2 x ECC88/6DJ8/6922
Headphone Output Voltage: 8.5 V (RMS)
Output Impedance on Headphone/Line Outs : 5/100 Ohm
Gain: 10 dB
Frequency range: 20 – 100000 Hz
Signal-to-noise ratio: -90 dB
Distortion level: <0.02%
Dimensions: 280 x 200 x 115 mm
Weight: 3.8 kg
Power consumption: 25 W