Should a dac run hot??

Hello all

I just wanted to know should a dac feel warm or hot to the touch? Is this normal for a dac? please help me to understand. It is a Wadia 27 I have emailed Wadia but no response
Warm, yes.

Hot, no.

The amount of heat generated is directly related to the electrical efficiency of the device. As an example look at amplifiers. Tubes are very inefficient and very hot, that's why many come with a cage to keep fingers and cats from being burned. Solid state amps are more electrically efficient and have fans and/or heat sink fins to dissipate heat. Digital amps are the most efficient and run cool to barely warm to the touch.

My Chord DAC-64 runs warmer to the touch than my Wyred 4 Sound multichannel amp.

I've been running a 27 for years. It should be nice and toasty but never "hot".
My benchmark runs a bit hot.
Cerrot - Benchmark gets hot when you place something on the top of it or enclose it otherwise. My Benchmark, sitting on the open shelf, is luke-warm.
Depends on the voltages inside and whether it uses linear regulators for DC. The more voltage drop through a linear regulator, the hotter it gets. Most use linears. Also if the transistors or op-amps run class-A, this will generate heat too.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Harnellt - Wadia is on the expensive side and you would probably like to keep it for a long time. The only perishable item, I know of, is electrolytic capacitor. Its life is temperature dependant and it shortens by half for each 10 deg C (18 deg F) temperature increase. The only way that unit (DAC) can dissipate temperature is thru air convection. If temperature is too high it means that convection is too low. Increase it by removing it from enclosed space, by increasing space around it and finally by using very small quiet fan. Tiny slow moving fan should be plenty - anything is better than free air convection.

Thanks~I just checked it. I have my squeezebox on top of my benchmark (black diamond racing cones under benchmark and it's all on a taller shelf) and it is luke warm. Funny thing - when the benchmark input light is blue, it's warm; when it is red (no digital connection going through), it's hot. I make sure that it's on blue and all ok.

Thanks for your input.
Cerrot - Red light and hot - yes it is puzzling. Internaly AKM chip detects non-pcm stream and turns off processing. It should get cooler if anything - strange. I will check Benchmark's forum - maybe there is an explanation for that.
Consttraveler, 1 MINOR correction....
Agreed....warm yes / hot no.
BUT While it IS true that 'The amount of heat generated is directly related to the electrical efficiency of the device.;
it is ALSO true that the gross power input is also a factor.
Something drawing 100 watts at 90% efficiency will run cooler.. (actually, generate LESS heat) than another device drawing say.....25 watts and only 20% efficiency.
You can have a very inefficient device...a Class 'A' amp, for example, drawing a fair amount of idle current, which is all heat, but the temperature is fairly low due to huge heatsink mass. You may be able to heat a room with it, but you'll perceive it as 'warm'. Cut the heatsinks by half and it'll cook, while generating the same amount of heat.


You are correct. I was trying to keep it simple but should have written "all things being equal."

100 amp tube amplifier = Hot
100 amp Class A = less Hot
100 amp Digital = almost always the coolest.

Hello all and thanks for all for helping me with my question. I do have another question now. if the transformer is going bad or is bad what will this do? will it harm anything in my system? how bad is it? please let me know
Thanks again
Harnellt - I assume you talking about power transformer. Typical failure is caused by overheating and in effect destroying enamel on the wire causing shorted turn. Shorted turn heats up and wire melts interupting current flow. Why you suspect transformer?
Depends on the design of the DAC. If they are using the chassis to dissipate the heat, it may well run hot. The best bet is to find someone who is using the same unit and get a chassis temperature measurement - what is "hot" will vary from one person's judgment to another. If you cannot get to the company, and it works ok, I would not worry about it. However, If I couldn't get hold of the company, it would be the last piece of gear I bought that had their name on it.