AMB γ1 (Gamma 1) DAC Review

AMB γ1 (Gamma 1) DAC Review

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AMB γ1 (Gamma 1) DAC Review
AMB γ1 (Gamma 1) DAC Review
Diminutive as it may be, the AMB γ1 Gamma 1 is a solid DAC. It is a flexible device with a myriad of input options like coax, USB, and S/PDIF and an optional external PSU.
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Reader's Score
From $110 Shipped

The AMB γ1 (Gamma 1) is a DIY project by AMB Laboratories and is designed to provide a high-quality, low-cost Digital-to-Analogue converter for use with most sources like the PC.


My AMB γ1 Gamma 1 unit is the Lite version, which only supports USB input. MisterX from Head-Fi put it together, and I must say his workmanship is amazing.

It is housed in a miniature enclosure like the Alien, Bantam, and Mini³ DAC’s so it fits in the pocket with ease. With its minimalist black color scheme and excellent build quality, the AMB γ1 Gamma 1 is a very nice DAC to display on any setup.

Small is an understatement. The AMB γ1 Gamma 1 is a centimeter smaller in length and width than the JDLabs P4.

The full version supports an optical and coaxial input for just $30-50 more.

Sound Impressions

At $110 shipped for the AMB γ1 Gamma 1 Lite version, this DAC is surely worth it. Truly a small powerhouse, the AMB γ1 Gamma 1 gives a much-needed improvement on three core “C’s” of sound quality: clarity, crispness, and cleanness of output.

Paired with the Little Dot MKIII and output through the M-Audio AV30 and Sennheiser HD25, the sound from my laptop is exceptional. The highs have more sparkle, the mids and vocals sound “right,” and the bass tightened even more.

Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal

The heartbeat at the start felt more powerful, and more realistic than before. Michael’s vocals shined through while the instruments vastly improved in clarity and impact. Soundstaging is deeper and more transparent, giving a more “live” feel to it. Can’t help but groove to this tune!

The Corrs – What Can I Do

The opening voices of the sisters are very much more alive, immediate, and awe-inspiring. The midrange became fuller without sacrificing detail retrieval. Percussion and guitars sound more recognizable and enjoyable. Overall, the music got more engaging with this DAC.

Red Army Choir – Ochi Chernye (Dark Eyes)

The powerful trumpet intro gained in intensity, and so did the Russian vocalist of this powerful song. Voices from the choir became more distinct and distinguishable than the muddled vocals without the Gamma 1, which is a very welcome improvement. Instruments have more power and clarity throughout.

Harry Gregson-Williams and Stephen Barton – Game Over (Modern Warfare OST)

This orchestral music gained much-needed aggressiveness and attack, more befitting of Modern Warfare 1’s explosive ending score. Even though there are a lot of instruments playing together in unison such as violins and trumpets, the Gamma 1 handled the congestion easily and provided an excellent, crisp playback.

Roxette – Spending My Time

This is another track where the AMB γ1 Gamma 1 DAC’s capabilities truly shine. Instrument separation and micro-detail are excellent, it almost feels like a personal concert right in front of me! Marie Fredriksson’s smooth yet powerful voice gained body and clarity that it became so breathtaking. Awe-inspiring, to say the least.

Bread – Everything I Own

While the song is an old recording, David Gates’ vocals and the instruments still sound incredibly crisp and clear. The guitars have more definition and control than previously without the Gamma 1, while David’s voice sounds richer than before.

98 Degrees – Give Me Just One Night

This boy band’s fast and lively song could be handled easily by the Gamma. Instruments retain detail despite the speed and dynamics, while the vocals feel more vibrant.

Styx – Babe

From start to finish, Styx’s famous love song feels more emotional than ever. Powerful yet soothing, the added tightness and control across the spectrum make listening to Babe an even more engaging experience. The vocals sound particularly warm and more well-rounded which I like a lot.

Selena – Dreaming Of You

Selena’s hit just got a lot better. Thanks to the AMB γ1 Gamma 1’s improvement to clarity and definition, the song gets more intimate much like Styx’s Babe. The Tejano singer’s voice is noticeably warmer, cleaner, and less shrill-sounding, which I found annoying with my laptop’s headphone-out. The emotion just overflows…

Our Verdict

Diminutive as it may be, the AMB γ1 Gamma 1 is a solid DAC. It is a flexible device with a myriad of input options like coax, USB, and S/PDIF and an optional external PSU.

I may only have the USB version but to me, it already made a difference in sound. It vastly upgrades PC or laptop audio and can play a big role in an audio chain. Reviews say it could even compete with more expensive solutions like the E-MU 404, Super Pro 707, and the Pico DAC. A must-buy.

AMB γ1 Gamma 1 Technical Specifications

  • 24-bit 192KHz high-performance Wolfson ΔΣ oversampling DAC chip.
  • 192KHz S/PDIF receiver chip with low-jitter clock recovery.
  • The maximum USB resolution and sampling rate is 16-bit 48KHz.
  • 1.3mm miniature barrel-type DC power jack, RCA phono S/PDIF coax jacks, standard Toslink-style S/PDIF optical jacks, 3.5mm stereo mini jack for audio line output, mini-USB connector.
  • USB host interface supports Linux, MacOS, and Windows (no additional software driver necessary).

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