Valab DAC Question

I just noticed that whenever I plug my USB cable into the dac, it disables both the optical and the coax inputs. The optical/coax switch becomes useless.

Has anyone else noticed that?
Yes - that is the case on my and probably all Macs.

When you select the USB driver in the Audio MIDI Setup tool, you turn off the native "Built-In Audio" output which is what feeds the optical output.

FWIW I believe that the Valab prioritizes the USB input when it is live. The switch selects between optical and coax when there is no USB input. I say this because many DACs are set up this way.

To prove it would require a second source to test.

It makes it hard to A/B on the fly, but other then that it doesn't represent a problem for me.
I wanted to use the Valab as a source selector and was disapointed when I started to see limitations, but this is a huge disapointment if usb prohibits switching.
Sorry - I don't think that there is a way around it - I was hoping to A/B two different USB DACs - that's when I figured it out

Every multi-input DAC I have ever had gives preference to one input - in some cases you need to throw a switch, in other cases you literally need to turn off the source.

It seems that what you are describing is a pre-amp and a DAC integrated into a single case - which is a great idea

Perhaps someone else knows of such a unit

But don't give up on the Valab it's a terrific unit
Just posted in another thread regarding Kevin's (Valab) high current power cord. It is not safe as the ends spin while the jacket stays in place. At least it does not seem safe to me. He knows this but is still selling them this way.
I believe this is actually a computer glitch, not a DAC limitation.
The USB standard states that any USB device should be activated and recognized by the computer at the moment it is powered up. From that moment on the digital output of your computer will be directed by the operating system to the (then) available I/O unit: the USB port.
In order to de-activate the USB port one must power down or eject the USB device.
Windows usually has a small Eject icon on the lower right hand corner of the Task bar.
Mac OS requires one to find the device on Finder (duh) and eject it.
I hope this helps
I am not giving up on the Valab at all. I really think this might be what some people refer to as a Giant Killer.


Excellent listening experience.
Nice to have USB input to get my files to my HIFI.
Low cost ($200) makes it a low risk purchase.
Many mods online for it now.
Kevin at Valab seems reachable for questions and suggestions for mods.


Not as attractive as most other HIFI gear.
No documentation. ( not really needed I guess )

I really like mine. I can't think of any reason for anyone looking for a dac not to at least satisfy their curiosity and test one out. Ask any Valab owner and I bet you will hear the same thing.

Happy listening!