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Harman/Kardon DAL-150 review: Harman/Kardon DAL-150

Harman/Kardon DAL-150

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Eliot Van Buskirk
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Eliot Van Buskirk

Evolver.fm Editor Eliot Van Buskirk has covered and occasionally anticipated music and technology intersections for 15 years for CNET, Wired.com, McGraw-Hill, and The Echo Nest. He is not currently an employee of CNET.

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2 min read

Simple design for a simple function
About the size and weight of a deck of playing cards, the DAL-150 couldn't be more simply designed. On one end, there's a USB port for connecting to your PC; on the other, you'll find an S/PDIF digital coaxial output for connecting to your stereo receiver. That's it--since the unit gets its juice from your computer's USB port, no power adapter is required.

5.0

Harman/Kardon DAL-150

The Good

Allows you to play PC-based MP3s on your stereo; excellent sound quality.

The Bad

A bit overpriced; must use Microsoft Windows Media Player exclusively; included cables are short.

The Bottom Line

The Harman Kardon DAL-150 does a good job of delivering on its promises, but it's a little limited for the price.
The Harman Kardon DAL-150 EzLink connects your PC to your stereo digitally so that you can play MP3s over your system at a higher sound quality than is possible with an analog sound card. And while the device works as advertised, it has a few shortcomings. The Harman Kardon DAL-150 EzLink connects your PC to your stereo digitally so that you can play MP3s over your system at a higher sound quality than is possible with an analog sound card. And while the device works as advertised, it has a few shortcomings.

That's the good news. The bad is that the included USB cable is a little less than two feet long, and the included digital coaxial cable is only about three and a half feet long. Therefore, your stereo has to be about six feet away from your computer for the included setup to work, which is less than ideal for many people. Sure, longer cables (both USB and coaxial) are available, but you'll have to pay extra for them.

Another gripe: Unlike , the DAL-150 plays only MP3s and supports no other file types. Plus, you have to use Microsoft Windows Media Player to play them. If you're looking for a digital connection to listen to Internet radio in the RealAudio or Windows Media formats, this device won't work. Clicking an icon in the taskbar lets you toggle between outputting standard S/PDIF digital audio or passing the signal along in the MP3 format to that decode MP3s at an even higher-quality level than the DAL-150, according to the company.

That said, the DAL-150 itself does decode MP3s very well--the sound quality is quite good--and uses hardly any of your PC's resources. When we compared its output to that of an analog sound card, it was abundantly clear that the DAL-150 produced cleaner sound and better stereo imaging.

Discount, please
The $149 DAL-150 certainly delivers good sound in a simple design, but its short cables and limited compatibility make it hard to recommend unless you get it at a significant discount. Of course, if your stereo is set up near your computer and you don't mind using Windows Media Player, our reservations are of less concern to you. But we recommend you investigate other options before you buy the DAL-150.



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