Space Key is the name MAGIC PIXEL aptly chose for their newest endeavour in the portable audiophile market. The Space Key is a USB thumbdrive which incorporates both a DAC and an amp. The project is looking for funds on Kickstarter and will close in less than 24 hours.
Built on the foundation of the renowned ESS SABRE9018Q2C chip, the Space Key sports a signal/noise ratio of -115 dB, while total harmonic distortion is an astounding 0.0002%. What’s more interesting, though, is that it supports sample rates up to 384 kHz and bit depth up to 32 bit. Not only that: it also supports native DSD playback up to DSD256. It supports headphones ranging from 32 Ω to 300 Ω.
A 0.96″, 128×64 OLED display is used to display information on the stream being played (e.g. DSD256 or PCM 24 bit 192 kHz). There is also a switch to adjust volume – a feature I often missed on the Zorloo ZuperDAC.
The device is compatible with almost every operating system in existence, although native DSD support is limited to Windows due to limitations in DSD implementation, so all other systems (macOS, Linux, Android, iOS) need to use DoP – DSD over PCM.
The campaign on Kickstarter will close in less than 24 hours and it is on the edge of being funded: it raised £39,201 out of the £40,000 goal. The company already shipped a few products which were funded on Kickstarter, so there is a good track record here. If you are interested in this little device, you can learn more about it on the campaign page. Should you want to “buy” it, it will set you back £89 ($110, €105). That seems like a very reasonable price for a feature-packed product like this, although it remains to be seen whether the campaign will be successful and when the product will be shipped (excluding the “if”, given the good track record of the company).