Published on December 19th, 2015 | by Greg0
Peachtree Shift: A Classier Portable DAC/Amp
It’s less than a month until one our biggest holidays- and we’re not talking about Christmas or even New Year’s Eve. The annual Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, hits Las Vegas like a hurricane, bringing hundreds of thousands of people and the latest gadgets from around the world. And while we don’t really report directly from the show, we’re always in touch and around to check out what is coming down the pipeline. Last year, we toured hundreds of suites and spoke to dozens of representatives to find the best, fastest, smartest, and most powerful. It probably isn’t surprising, but some of the gear that we saw has yet to be released, and some of it has just become available.
For instance, the Peachtree Shift Portable USB DAC and Amplifier- one of the four products we saw debut almost a year ago. Compatible with any recent iOS device and many Android ones, you just need to ensure yours supports USB OTG (On-The-Go) and USB Audio Class 2.0. You can also connect the Shift to your laptop or PC, OSX or Windows, and it works like a charm. This portable amp features an ultra-low-noise design that can power any headphone, even sensitive IEMs. If that sounds familiar, that’s because we recently checked out another headphone amp built specifically for use with in-ear monitors, the ALO Rx. But the Shift is more than an amp, as it also includes a true DAC chipset as well, handy and necessary for optimal audio performance. It’s not just any DAC either- where your typical audio device crams your music, making it sound a little hollow, the Shift is built around a 32-bit/384kHz ESS SABRE32 DAC that can handle uncompressed, lossless, and high resolution files.
The Shift is solidly machined, with an aluminum case padded on the top and bottom with nicely textured leather. More unusually, inside the package is a sturdy leather case with additional room for your smartphone or other portable music player. The Shift is perfectly sized: five inches by three inches- and only weighs in at about six ounces. With a battery life of about eight hours, it can recharge pretty quickly in under four, via USB. Unlike many other portable headphone amps, the Shift can handle your hi-fi system. Flip the switch to fixed output mode and connect a 3.5mm-to-stereo RCA adaptor from the Shift’s output to feed a line-level analog input. There’s another switch to toggle between high/low-gain settings depending on your headphones. There’s no volume control, so you’ll need to rely on your headphones, but that means no knob to get in the way either.
One other unusual feature: the ability to trickle-charge your Apple iPhone, drawing from the internal battery to help power up your device. In fact, they’ve included a Lightning cable specifically to help, along with the other necessary cables. And about the only things we didn’t like were the buttons, placed around the edges and a little hard to identify (though you won’t need to use them that often). Speaking of edges, what’s amazing about an audiophile-grade or reference-caliber DAC/amp is the lack of rough edges, the headroom and space. The Shift is tilted a bit towards warmth and just slightly colored, balanced and a little more broad than detailed. We’ve seen Peachtree gear before, from Bluetooth speakers to some of the finest desktop amplifiers that we’ve seen. With this new product, they turn your mobile device into a sound system capable of driving even the most demanding headphones around. The Peachtree Shift is available now, online and in stores, for around $299.