iMic DAC Lightning Review
Now I am no audiophile by any stretch of the imagination. My only claim to audio expertise is that I’ve owned a lot of audio equipment, which I have sold and consolidated into a single PowerMac with iTunes and output to a pair of analog Harman/Kardon soundsticks w/jellyfish subwoofer. (Yes, I actually sold my entire CD collection in 2004 after scanning the cover art and ripping all the music at high quality to liberate my bookshelves and have a larger “randomizeable” playlist)
I listen to music from my collection, streamed from neighbors’ apartments, and from internet radio. Music is playing from every conceivable genre about 10 hours a day from my home office.
Until recently I thought the setup sounded pretty good to my ears. This is until I talked myself into buying Griffin’s iMic. Immediately after plugging it in and resuming the song I was playing I finally understood what people mean when they talk about a “sound stage” as I had just gotten one free with my purchase.
At the same volume settings, the playback was louder, and there was a much better separation between the highs and the lows. There was more full bass, filling the room instead of feeling like a directional speaker. There were also frequencies I seemed to be hearing that I wasn’t before — kind of like there were gaps in the spectrum that were now filled in. In short, my music came alive.
For some it will seem a little pricey for a device that let’s you do the same thing you’ve already been doing (sound in/out) but it is true that it’s a lot cheaper than almost any other audio device that does the same thing and I’m sure you’ll notice the difference.
TECHNICAL NOTE: On a generously equipped and recently patched PowerMac G4 QuickSilver there are very real performance issues using the iMic with the internal (USB 1) ports. Music playback is steady for just under a half-minute before it “skips”. I am not sure if this is a software issue or a bandwidth limitation of USB 1, but there are absolutely no problems using it with a USB2 PCI card.