GLOW DAC: USB Powered Digital to Analog Converter

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The GLOW DAC 1.3 is USB powered, and about the size of a deck of cards.

Now offered in your choice of silver or black finish.


" ... a piece of true hi-fi gear that sounded several times it's paltry asking price. Everything for the audiophile music lover is there: lovely detailed 3D soundstage, liquid "non digital" sound with authority and surprising bass weight. Also, no wall wart is needed as it is USB buss powered. It also has a headphone output." -Rob Martin, the Desktop Audioboutique



Our DAC Story.

Why do you need a DAC? GLOW Audio offers a DAC (digital to analog converter) for the simplest of reasons. You will need a DAC to get high quality sound from your computer.


Anyone who has hooked a computer to a stereo using the computer's headphone OUT jack (1/8' headphone to RCA splitter cable), can tell you the result will likely be disappointing sound quality, no matter how good your stereo may be. Some folks conclude it is because digitally compressed songs (mp3s) just don't sound as good. But the culprit is actually the computer itself, not the digital files. Most computers include very basic sound cards that do not offer high fidelity conversion of the digital signal. A high quality DAC bypasses the computer's internal sound card, allowing for a standard computer to deliver a true high fidelity signal to your stereo system.


Which DAC should you choose? Now that you know why you need a DAC, you will need to decide which one is right for you. DAC options have greatly expanded since 2007, when we first offered an internal DAC built into our original Amp One. We now are offering the option of a more robust and better performing external DAC for a much better overall sound.


There is much competition in the DAC world. We tested many outboard DAC units in various price ranges. Just as an example, one can choose from: HRT (various models from $180-$350); AudioQuest Dragonfly ($250); Peachtree DAC-it ($450); Cambridge Audio DacMagic ($600); Music Hall DAC 25.3 ($600); Lindemann (various models from $400 to $1100); ADL Esprit ($1000); Rega DAC ($1000); HeadRoom Ultra ($1200); Chord Electronics Chordette ($1800) ... there are dozens more DAC options to choose from, some costing over $3500 or more (and by the way, all of the above mentioned DAC units represent good choices in their respective price ranges).


Why so many DAC options? There are only a handful of chip manufacturers, but a plethora of DAC designs that utilize these chips. The reason for so many offerings is because, while the chip is critical, the circuit design, and the associated components that deliver the chip's output to your analog equipment, are just as important as the chip itself.


The GLOW Audio DAC 1.3. We strive to offer affordable audio to our customers. In deciding to offer our own DAC, our goal was to provide an affordable DAC that could compete with any DAC in the $250 to $500 price range. While admittedly against the grain, our DAC utilizes the latest version of the tried-and-true 16 bit Burr-Brown 2704 chip, a staple of many hifi components for some time now. Use of the Burr-Brown unit allows us to keep our price under $150, while using higher quality peripheral electronics. Meanwhile, some DACs in this price range use a 24 bit chip, but then scrimp on the associated components ... our ears tell us this is NOT the right approach.


16 bit versus 24 bit. Chips with 24/192 sample rates have become cheaper to produce. But do they sound better? The fact remains that most of today's digital music is encoded using 16 bits per sample at a rate of 44.1kHz, including most audio CDs, MP3s, and the AAC files used by iTunes. Frankly, several of the 24 bit DAC units at the $250 and up price point that we tested provided disappointing performance (we did not include the names of these poor performing DACs in the list of DACs provided above). Our survey of various 16 and 24 bit DAC offerings suggests that the sound quality is determined not so much by the bit rate of the chip, but rather the quality of the other components used in the overall circuit design.

We use high quality components in our GLOW DAC 1.3.


Our GLOW DAC 1.3 utilizes KOA precision resistors, ELNA Electrolytic capacitors, and a Simons MKT Non-polar capacitor. Good stuff, especially for a DAC that retails for under $150.


The use of the Burr-Brown chip also allows us to use the USB as a power source for the DAC unit. Hence with the GLOW DAC 1.3 there is only one simple USB cable that connects the DAC to your computer. There is no need to connect a separate cable to an AC outlet, or recharge batteries. This is a boon to folks who want great sound from their laptops while traveling.... on a cross continental flight you can take the GLOW DAC 1.3 along for the ride; with it's separate headphone output it will provide outstanding hifi music during your journey.  DACs that require a separate power source are useless for globetrotters. 


The sound of the GLOW Audio DAC 1.3. We like the sound of our new DAC so much that we are offering it as a stand alone purchase for anyone looking to upgrade their computer's sound quality. The GLOW Audio DAC 1.3 sounds buttery smooth, with good acoustic sustain and air, and without the brittleness that many designs can exhibit in this price range.


So if you are shopping for a quality DAC in the $200 and up price range, you might consider giving the GLOW DAC 1.3 a try. If you do not agree that the GLOW DAC 1.3 sounds as good as any DAC at twice the price, we will gladly refund your purchase within 30 days.





(Comes with everything you need: DAC + RCA cable + USB cable)


The GLOW Audio DAC 1.3 provides for one (1) USB powered input and four (4) outputs: RCA Analog OUT; 1/8" headphone OUT; Optical OUT; Coaxial OUT). This means just one cable in from your computer, and no separate transformer or "wall wart."



  • Sampling Rate: 32, 44.1, 48 kHz
  • On-Chip Clock Generator With Single 12-MHz Clock Source 
  • Single Power Supply:
  • Bus-Powered: 5 V, Typical (VBUS)
  • Self-Powered: 3.3 V 
  • 16-Bit Delta-Sigma Stereo DAC controller and S/PDIF.


Analog Performance

  • THD+N: 0.006% RL > 10 k,
  • THD+N: 0.025% RL = 32
  • SNR = 98 dB
  • Dynamic Range: 98 dB
  • PO = 12 mW, RL = 32
  • Oversampling Digital Filter
  • Pass-Band Ripple = ±10.04 dB
  • Stop-Band Attenuation = 50 dB
  • Single-Ended Voltage Output Analog LPF Included


Specifications are subject to improvement without notice or obligation.


The GLOW Audio DAC 1.3 is CE certified and meets all the essential requirements

of the relevant European Directive(s) for sale throughout the European Economic Area (EEA).