GEAR REVIEW: NuForce uDAC-2 Headphone Amp

PROS: small, good audio quality, easy to setup

CONS: gold housing and crystal on volume knob (Signature model) is a little much

SPECS:
USB (USB 1.1, 2.0 compatible)
Maximum sampling rate: 96kHz
Resolution: 24-bits
Analog RCA Output = 2Vrms
Dynamic Range: 90dB
S/N Ratio: 98dB
THD+N 0.05%
Digital Output: coaxial RCA 75-ohm
Headphone output jack
Power output: 80mW x 2 @ 16-Ohm
Headphone impedance 16-300 Ohm
Frequency Response
20-20kHz
Price: $129 (standard) $399 (signature)

MP3s are the most convenient ways to listen to and share music, but the audio quality leaves something to be desired. NuForce has released a digital to audio converter to alleviate these issues. The uDAC-2 is very compact, and our test model was in a gold plated finish. The single volume knob on the front is the only control. A USB input on the back provides connectivity and power from a computer; outputs include a coaxial digital S/PDIF, as well as analog left and right outputs, both in the standard RCA format. The 1/8″ headphone output is located on the front, right next to a LED that lets you know the unit is on.

Connecting it is easy (a nicely braided USB cable is included) as no drivers or third party software are required. It’s stated in the manual that it’s NOT calibrated for professional recording environments. It is designed as a digital to analog converter for home audio use. Without getting into techno speak, it warms up and gives sterile audio new life. Most PC soundcards don’t invest in high-end D/A converters, so this is a godsend for any budding audiophile. There is no EQ control, but it’s not missed. Listening with headphones, there is a noticeable amount of solid bass response, without muffling, but more of those good frequencies that give it the “thump” that is desirable when it comes to low end. High frequencies have a nice clarity without getting spiky. It feels like more “musical” frequencies are enhanced, as if something was in the way of the speakers before, and now is gone. The RCA jacks allow connectivity to an amplifier/speaker setup, and sounded great in this configuration as well.
Overall, if you’re serious about your listening experience, and want to make an upgrade to your computer listening space, the uDAC is a good start. Not something to use for listening to your band’s mixes, but for personal enjoyment, this will be (pardon the pun) music to your ears.

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