Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
Since this review covers two products, let me start off with taking a look at the EB01-E first, and we will move on to the EB03 in just a short moment. Being a part of SilverStone's Ensemble series, the digital to analog converter is built into quite a good looking enclosure. Its all aluminum construction is perfectly finished along every edge; feeling perfectly solid from corner to corner. Panel gaps are minimal, and it is even cool to touch. Its surface comes finished with a brushed texture to accentuate its looks. SilverStone's logo can be found top center of the DAC. To give it a little more visual excitement, SilverStone elected to give the entire box rounded corners, finished off with a wavy front. Recessed behind a ledge of the wave design in front are two blue LEDs, each labeled according to its function. The first one lights up when there is power, while the second one lights up if sound is playing. Four shiny legs with rubber padding at the bottom ensure the device will not slide around on your desk, yet looking classy at all times. If there is anything that looks high end at its core, this will have to be it. All in all, I found the EB01-E to be an exemplary clean looking device that simply screams quality, from the first look to the first touch.
Interestingly, when I first looked at the photos of this product on the company's website, I thought it was about three quarters its actual size. SilverStone does not specify the dimensions of the EB01-E. I measured it myself, which turned out to be 152mm in width, 156mm in depth at its greatest point, and 49mm in height with legs. It would have been nice if the EB01-E -- and EB03, for that matter -- to be occupy a smaller footprint, because it is quite chunky.
At the back, the SilverStone EB01-E offers a generous array of digital input sources to convert to an analog output. This includes coaxial, optical, and USB, as shown in our photo above. This covers pretty much everything that needs to be covered, so I am not complaining. As far as the analog output is concerned, there are two RCA jacks for the job. SilverStone includes a 3.5mm female to RCA cable for those who need to connect their EB01-E to traditional output sources such as speakers. In order to switch between coaxial, optical, or USB, simply hit the 'SW' button on the very right. A corresponding blue LED will be lit for the active input source.
Internally, the SilverStone EB01-E features an XMOS XS1 TQ128 USB decoder, which provides asynchronous throughput. The DAC chip is Texas Instruments' PCM1798, which is a 24-bit/192 kHz monolithic CMOS integrated circuit. It features a 123dB dynamic range, THD+N of 0.0005%, and provides balanced current outputs. On the front end of things, the operational amplifier is a NE5532 also by Texas Instruments. It features a common mode rejection ratio of 100 dB, and voltage gain of 100V/mV.
Up next is the SilverStone EB03. This is the headphone amplifier, which can drive up headphones from as low as 16 ohms to units with impedance as high as 600 ohms. Its enclosure design is virtually identical to the EB01-E external digital to analog converter, and like its partner, it is, in every way, an exemplary clean looking device that simply screams quality from the first look to the first touch. Recessed behind a ledge of the wave design in front is one blue LED to indicate power status. Your headphones are designed to connect to the 6.3mm stereo jack in front, but if your headphones have a 3.5mm connector, you will need to supply your own adapter. Four shiny legs with rubber padding at the bottom ensures the device will not slide around on your desk, but chances are if you own the EB03, you will probably have the EB01-E too -- and one could simply stack it on top of the latter. A classy volume knob is placed at the top of the EB03 to adjust the amplifier's gain.
The dimension of the EB03, according to SilverStone’s website, is 152mm width, 82mm height, and 176mm depth. I have no idea where the 176mm depth figure came from, because when I measured it, it was only 156mm deep at the longest dimensions. Either way, it will fit perfectly on top of the EB01-E. It is quite a bit thicker than the DAC, simply because the 82mm number includes both the increased height of the device, as well as the volume knob on top.
At the back, you will find two sets of RCA jacks; one for input, and one for output. DC power is supplied by an external adapter, with an on/off switch next to it. The SilverStone EB01-E includes a RCA male to male cable to connect to the EB03 already, so you do not need to buy additional accessories to hook the two boxes up. The RCA output seen here is a non-amplified bypass connection for you to connect additional devices. Internally, the SilverStone EB03 features a THAT Corporation 1646W 16-U monolithic audio differential line driver. Its design is based on a fully differential operational amplifier, which promises low noise and distortion, high slew rate, and wide output swing. SilverStone uses THAT Corporation's 1512S14-U preamplifier. It is capable of reaching 0 dB gain with a 10K resistor based on the manufacturer's data sheet.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis