S3DAC Headphone Amplifier & Preamplifier
The Keces Audio S3 DAC/Headphone Amp and preamplifier, at 300 x 220 x 66mm, is compact as far as preamplifier goes but is fairly large for a headphone amp/DAC. Weighing 4kg it is nevertheless a fair size compromise between portability and high- end ‘stay-in-the-shelf’ type component. Retailing at RM4,899 the S3 features a set of unbalanced as well as balanced analogue input and output. Digital inputs options are a coaxial and optical as well as a USB socket. Headphone connectors include both balanced as well as unbalanced options and are located at the front panel. In a nutshell, Keces Audio has designed the S3 to excel in all three functions of headphone amplification, digital to analogue single conversion and pre-amplification to power amp stage.
It’s this fragment of the market where the Keces S3 DAC and Headphone amp fits right in. The S3, a small footprint unit is designed to deliver maximum performance to your headphones while keeping the demand for space at a minimum. This is because the S3 merges both a high-performance DAC and high-powered headphone amplifier into one single sub compact chassis. At 300mm x 220 mm the Keces S3 isn’t exactly a tiny piece of kit but considering the amount of engineering crammed into that little space, as compare to say a typical full-sized piece of Hi-Fi, it is something to take note off.
Even at this size, the Keces S3 is built with the audiophile in mind utilising solid 4mm thick aluminium panels all around, leading to casework that looks and feels concrete. The choice is also a sound one as its properties helps with the management of EMI and RFI interference. Keeping up with the needs of the audiophile we find an exhaustive list of available connections. For inputs the S3 comes with 3 digital and 2 analogue options (coaxial, optical and USB for digital while for the analogue we have a pair of balanced and XLR inputs). Switching to outputs, the S3 supports a pair of unbalanced and XLR outputs which enables the unit to function as a pre-amp as well.
Moving on to the front of the Keces S3 we find both balanced and unbalanced outputs for headphones. A welcome feature as many audiophiles have different types of headphones and being able to handle both increases the usability of this piece of equipment. The Keces S3 also has a toggle switch which enables a quick flip to switch between low gain and high gain, meaning high impedance headphone are no problem for the S3. There is a large volume knob on the right which also doubles as the input selector. It works by simply pressing the knob down to cycle through all the inputs.
It sounds great, compares extremely well to my reference units, has all the features I could use and it does this all in one unit. I can be a slob, and my desk tends to become cluttered really fast. That I can cut down on the cables and components without sacrificing sound quality in the least, is really exciting for me. Headfonia.com
Keces Audio S3 DAC/Amp
It sounds great, compares extremely well to my reference units, has all the features I could use and it does this all in one unit. I can be a slob, and my desk tends to become cluttered really fast. That I can cut down on the cables and components without sacrificing sound quality in the least, is really exciting for me.
Holding the knob down turns the unit both on and off, effectively reducing the number of buttons on the front panel.On the inside of the Keces S3, sits the highly acclaimed ESS ES 9026Pro DAC, that is renowned for its exquisite detail and clinical approach to sound. This chipset along with a host of other high-quality components give the S3 the chops needed to handle even DSD files making its roster of manageable digital files rather comprehensive.
Also noteworthy is the high-quality toroidal transformer which takes up a large space within that tight chassis. Throughout, its obvious that tough choices were made on what needs to be put in and these choices were made with much consideration on how the end product would be affected.
- High Quality Toroidal Power Transformer
- High-performance DAC-ESS ES9026PRO.
- USB DAC: PCM 32 bit/384kHz and DSD DSD64(DoP)/DSD128 (DoP) DSD64/DSD128/DSD256 (ASIO Native).
- COAXIAL/OPTICAL DAC: PCM 24 bit/192kHz and DSD DSD64(DoP).
- Placed Balanced/Unbalanced Headphone output: Max Output Power 2000mW + 2000mW@32ohms.
- Placed RCA/XLR Input/Output interface: Could be a Preamplifier.
- Volume Control System: 128 step attenuator. Accurate control volume to achieve left/right channel balanced.
- Isolation circuit: Completely separates the grounding of the digital and analog sections.
- Volume/Source/Sampling display using OLED has excellent visibility.
- The 4mm thickness of the aluminum chassis to effective to blocks EMI/RFI interference.
- The full-metal body realizes both vibration control and elegant style in an A4-size body that enables placement on a desktop to be a PC HIFI system or to be a small stereo system.
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