By: Jonathan Kwan
September 5, 2014
What do teenage girls do together when they hang out? While I am neither teenage (anymore) nor a girl (born this way), chances are they like to gossip about their friends, talk about what shampoo they use, go shopping, and most importantly of all, take selfies. Up until two months ago, I have had a hard time understanding the point of the last item on the list. It was absolutely mind blowing how, with everything against tradition, the photographer is also the subject of the photo. Earlier last month, I began to understand the merits of this practice. I mean, when you hang out with friends, you want to take a picture together, right? And you want to be in the photo too, right? The easiest way to do it is to take a selfie. Now, being a complete noob at this stuff, whenever I wanted a selfie, I just passed my phone along to some girl to do the job. My plan worked pretty well for about a week, until I kept asking the same person to do every time, who became quite annoyed and told me to learn to take selfies on my own instead. After receiving a few tips and tricks from my fellow experts, and about ten minutes of awkwardly practicing when no one was looking, I finally got the whole deal sorted. Since then, I was hooked. I took selfies with my friends, parents, coworkers, and even my former supervisor... in his office. As you can see here, as ridiculous as something sounds, sometimes, you just got to try something new to know why it is so awesome. Today, we will take a look at the SilverStone EB01-E DAC and EB03 headphone amp. If it sounds ridiculous why anyone would cough up $400 of cash and pass their sound through two big metal boxes instead of plugging their headphone directly into the back of their PC for free, you will have to read this review to see why true audiophiles have been rocking equipment like these for years.
Our review unit of the SilverStone EB01-E and EB03 came in a large, brown corrugated cardboard box from SilverStone's American headquarters in Chino, California, USA. The same box carried the SilverStone Strider Gold S ST85F-GS 850W power supply I reviewed back in July, so you can kind of tell how long this dedicated DAC and headphone amp has been sitting around here at APH Networks. With tons of testing under my belt, I can confidently say I have quite a bit of experience with this duo by the time I am writing this review. Using FedEx International Ground, everything arrived in excellent condition for our review today here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We would like to give some credits to the army of packing peanuts inside, too.
As always, both the SilverStone EB01-E and EB03 came in its respective retail packaging. It seems to me SilverStone occasionally does not have a whole lot of family resemblance with regards to product package design even within the same range of products -- such as their power supplies -- but if you look carefully, you can see they all come from the same basic template. Of course, the EB01-E and EB03 is so closely related, it makes perfect sense to have almost identical designs. This time, the boxes came in a predominantly black and purple. Flared musical symbols take center stage on both boxes. At the top, we can see SilverStone's logo and slogan, while model numbers and its corresponding slogans occupy a prominent region in the center. A photo of the product inside can be seen adjacent to the list of feature highlights. Specifications, feature highlights, and more photos can be found on remaining sides of the box.
Before we move on, let us take a look at the specifications of the EB01-E and EB03, respectively, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Material: Aluminum & steel chassis
Input: Asynchronous USB, optical, coaxial
Sampling resolution: 16~24 Bit
SAMPLING RATE(FS): 32~ 192 kHz
USB Decoder: XMOS XS1 TQ128
D/A Converter: TI PCM1798
OP Amp: TI NE5532
Operating system support: Windows XP, 7, 8, MAC OS
Material: Aluminum & steel chassis
Overall dimension: 152mm (W) x 82mm (H) x 176mm (D)
Dimension without knob, connectors, and feet: 152mm (W) x 55mm (H) x 156mm (D)
Output: φ6.3mm stereo jack, RCA connector (bypass)
IC: THAT 1646W 16-U & 1512S14-U
Headphone resistance: 16-600 ohm
Out of the box, you will find all the hardware is neatly packaged into their respective custom shaped foam trays. Rest be assured these are not squeaky foam, so your ears will still be sane after digging through your new toys. In the SilverStone EB01-E box, you will receive the EB01-E itself, 3.5mm female to RCA cable, USB cable, manual, and mini driver CD. In the EB03 box, you will receive the EB03 itself, RCA to RCA cable (For connection to the EB01-E), 3.5mm male to RCA cable, AC adapter, and a manual. Since the headphone amplifier provides a 6.3mm audio output only, personally, I think it would have been nice if SilverStone included a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter out of the box. Well, at least I have some extra kicking around the lab here at APH Networks, haha.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis