Vanguard Universal DAC w/Digital Preamp Option

The Vanguard Universal DAC is the first standalone DAC from Krell in over 20 years and it reignites the Krell digital legacy incorporating the latest in digital connectivity and technology. Enabling the Preamp option from the menu will add full volume control capability and it becomes the first digital only preamplifier from Krell coupled with classic Krell analog circuitry. The Vanguard Universal DAC is a perfect centerpiece for an all digital two channel system.


The digital input suite includes USB, coaxial and optical digital inputs, 2 HDMI inputs and output, Ethernet music streaming controlled through dedicated iOS and Android apps; and aptX Bluetooth wireless for convenient streaming from phones, tablets and computers.

Digital to Analog conversion is performed by the 32 bit ESS9018 DAC and feeds a classic Krell balanced, fully discrete Class A circuit which is also used in the Krell Illusion II Preamplifier. Krell Current Mode technology is employed to assure unequaled signal bandwidth, enough to easily handle the latest high-resolution PCM and DSD audio sources without impacting high-frequency response and detail.

Coaxial and HDMI inputs support PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz. Optical input supports up to 24-bit/96kHz.

2 HDMI 2.0 inputs support DSD and 4K video content. HDMI output includes Audio Return Channel for use with smart TV streaming services such as Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora. USB and Network streaming support MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV(PCM), FLAC, ALAC up to 24b/192kHz.

Bluetooth streaming features aptX® technology. A Bluetooth connection is a data pipeline between devices. Because the pipeline has a maximum width, it is difficult to flow large audio files through it. aptX solves the problem of sending audio wirelessly over Bluetooth by reducing the size of the audio files so they can be squeezed through the wireless pipeline without affecting sound quality. Formats supported are A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP.

iOS and Android apps for control and music management include:

Roon, Tidal, and Deezer services*

Playlist management across servers: Manage music playlists of music files stored on any server device on the network.

Playback of media files stored in PC (Windows XP/7/8), network storage, and DropBox and SkyDrive/OneDrive cloud storage.

Stream media files from a mobile device over the network to DLNA compatible audio components and smart TVs. Full search capability, playlist creation and editing.

Also included are features that make it perfect for custom installation, such as 3.5mm jacks for IR input and 12-volt trigger input and output, as well as optional rack-mount ears. Additionally, the unit can be controlled with home automation systems or the Krell web server through its Ethernet connection.


*A subscription is required for these services. Updating the digital module software may also be necessary depending on the vintage of the unit (see the download area at the bottom of the page).

Vanguard Universal DAC

Digital Audio
(1) EIAJ optical via TosLink connector
(1) Coaxial via RCA connector

Digital Video
(2) HDMI

(1) USB-A(Front Panel)
(1) Bluetooth
(1) RJ45 Network Port

Analog Audio
(2) Balanced via XLR Connectors R, L
(2) Single-ended via RCA Connectors R, L

Digital Video
(1) HDMI with ARC

(1) IR Receiver for Remote Control
(1) RC-5 via 1/8" stereo "trs" Receptacle
(1) Ethernet via RJ-45 Connector
(1) 12vdc Remote Trigger Input via 1/8" Mono Receptacle
(1) 12vdc Remote Trigger Output via 1/8" Mono Receptacle

Audio Output Impedance
Balanced: 150 Ω
Single-ended: 150 Ω

RC-5 pin out
Tip = RC-5 data, Ring = +5 V, Sleeve = GND
XLR Pin Out Pin 1 (ground) Pin 2 (non-inverting "Hot") Pin 3 (Inverting)

Maximum Output
DAC only mode:
Balanced 4 Vrms
Single Ended 2 Vrms

Preamp mode:
Balanced 11.6 Vrms
Single Ended 5.8 Vrms

Power Consumption
Standby: 6 W
Operation: 26 W

Inches (L) 16.83 x (W) 17.06 x (H) 3.47
Centimeters (L) 42.76 x (W) 43.33 x (H) 8.81

Unit only: 18 lb [8.16 kg]
As shipped: 24 lb [10.89 kg]

Download the "Vanguard DAC Sell Sheet"
Download the "Vanguard Setup Guide"
Download the "Vanguard Series Owner's Reference"
Download the "Vanguard Digital Module Update"