"Chime" USB DAC (discontinued)

The Chime USB DAC was designed to provide the ultimate in CD redbook replay. The topology employs the best available PCM (non-sigmadelta) 24-bit converters matched with a novel linear-phase passive output filter and I-V translator (no feedback opamps). A special flywheel type VCXO-based PLL performs reclocking duty right at the converter, eliminating all audible jitter from the previous interface and processing sections. Redbook 16-bit data is synchronously upsampled to 24-bit data at a 352.8k word rate. Special care has been taken to insure premium quality transmission of digital signal routing for lowest noise and minimal current spike injection into the power and ground planes. All analog amplification is accomplished using zero-feedback linear vacuum tube gain stages. Even a tube rectifier provides the high voltage. Components are of the highest quality, no corners were cut in this design. The chassis has a very professional appearance and is made from solid aluminum extrusions. The Chime is very accommodating to tube rolling so you can tune sonics to your taste.

The Chime has selectable input sources; two S/PDIF and one USB. Yes, use your computer to play CDs or files from the hard drive! Works great with Foobar2000 and iTunes. The Chime even comes with a volume control and phase switch, removing the need for a linestage. This makes for a superb minimalist system: laptop, Chime, amplifier, speakers.

Expert DIYers can build this lovely machine themselves. The half-kit version will cost you approximately $1000 in raw parts (this ain't no discount design). Use parts from your existing stock or upgrade to exotic and other boutique parts.

Check out the customer testimonials below, or these online comments: #1, #2, #3. Or if you prefer a professional audio reviewer, check out Scott Faller at EnjoyTheMusic.

Click for a larger image
Completed Chime

Completed Circuit Board

HagDac Inside



SNR92dB (A-weighted)
Output Impedance<1k ohm
Output Voltage1.2Vrms (full scale)
InputsS/PDIF x 2 (75 ohm), USB
Data Rates44.1kHz
Size7.25" x 11.65" (PCB)
Weight7.5 lbs
Input Voltage100V, 110V, 120V, 200V, 220V, 240V
Tubes12AX7 (ECC83), 12AU7 (ECC82), 5Y3 (or GZ34)

Reviewer Excerpts

"I am quite a fan of the Mac Mini/Hag Chime combination as a very high quality and extremely flexible and fun digital source. Its total retail price with extra hard drive is about $2400. That’s not inexpensive at all and certainly there is a lot of competition at and below that price range for stand-alone CD players. This combination really holds its own against the Resolution Audio CD player, which retails for $3500. The Resolution player is a little more true and accurate to the recording and presents a slightly more flat and fair presentation of a recording. The Resolution player lets you hear a little more detail in the recorded venue and in the individual instruments and it places the pieces in a slightly more delineated location front to back, left to right and top to bottom. The Mac Mini playing Apple Lossless encoded tracks sent via USB to the Hagerman Chime tube DAC gives a slightly more euphoric presentation but really just slightly. The Hagerman Chime DAC really is very very close to the Resolution player in the areas I have mentioned above. There is that slight tube bloom and air with the Chime which makes for a more dreamy and room-enveloping and room-transforming experience ... I am more comfortable in stating that the Mac/Chime combo is competitively fair and accurate, and while it has the (some might say) euphoric advantages of tubes, it still remains exceptionally true to the recording ... As fun, flexible and practical as the Mac Mini is as a storage and playback component, it would not come to life musically without the Hagerman Chime DAC. The Chime gets its bits via USB from the Mac Mini and it transforms them from binary data to an organic and lifelike musical performance. The Hagerman Chime DAC is as revealing and accurate as stand-alone CD players costing almost twice its price. The Chime allows a more direct emotional connection to the performance than most CD players I have experienced, period. The Chime is flexible enough to use as a three input digital preamplifier. Most importantly, the Hagerman Chime DAC does what every exalted audio component should do, and that is creating a more believable connection to the musical performance." - Sandy Green, SonicFlare

"As most of you know, when you introduce tubes to signal path, things like bass tend to sound fuller and bit more rich and flavorful. This was the case with the Chime ... The Chime did a great job at reproducing the lower frequencies of everything I threw at it. From YoYo Ma's quarter century old cello, to big heavy bass runs from Victor Wooten, the Chime hung in there with the best of them never embellishing or coming across as too lean ... The additional detail provided by the oversampling gave a tad more life to my choices in music. I didn't notice any veiling of the music at all, in fact quite to the contrary. I half expected the MIT output caps to effect the sound more, but they disappeared very well. The instruments like pianos which are extremely sensitive to veiling induced by inferior quality parts or mediocre designs were clean and clear. The Chime let the music come through completely unencumbered ... Due to the oversampling on the Chime, I did find that there was a bit more detail and resolution that allowed some more refinement and placements of the instruments. The resolving nature of the treble was crisp, clean and well extended on nearly all music. I spent hours on end listening to tunes without any hint of listeners fatigue ... When it comes to the audiophile stuff like soundstage and imaging, the Chime did a very nice job at all of these ... Overall, I found the HagTech Chime to be an outstanding performer in every aspect." - Scott Faller, ETM


The Chime not only sounds superb, it has impeccable measurements too. Below is the 1kHz square wave and 20kHz sinewave performance (with HagDac).

1kHz square, 20kHz sine

Bypassing the HagDac, the bandwidth and distortion of the tube amplification section can be measured. The 10kHz squarewave is perfect, with bandwidth flat out to 150kHz. Distortion is a residual 0.03%, mainly second order.

10kHz square 1kHz distortion


Customer Testimonials