Furutech are a Japanese company very well known for their cable products, the other most well known being Oyaide. It was interesting to see that fairly recently, they had started branching out into making audio equipment under the name of ADL, which stands for Alpha Design Labs. ?Their portable amp, the Cruise and their first USB amp product, the GT-40 (which includes a phono stage) were quite well received, though are fairly unknown on Head-Fi. ?While at the Fujiya Avic Headphone festival in Tokyo, I saw that they had a new product, the Esprit, which combines a DAC, pre-amp and headphone amp and managed to borrow one briefly to give it a quick go. Since I liked what I heard, I arranged with Furutech for a loaner for review.
The unit itself is in a very solid aluminium box consisting of 4 main parts held together with 8 allen (hex) screws. The controls and rear jacks are all high-quality parts befitting a unit costing only a few tens-of-dollars shy of $1k. Not only that, but it has no less than 5 inputs — 2 analogue and 3 digital and all in a relatively tiny box. Alongside that, the USB input includes an optical digital output to allow a signal to be passed to another device.
However, this isn’t merely a headphone amp and DAC but is also an ADC, that is, it can be used to record from analogue sources such as musical instruments, record players (though you need a phono stage) or the like onto your computer. It also acts as a pre-amp if you have active speakers. This makes it a very versatile box and possibly a good solution if you want something better than the (usually awful) line in on your computer for recording something to your computer.