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NuForce Icon uDAC-2 (Black) USB DAC (24bit/96kHz) and Headphone Amplifier Reviews

Positive Reviews

Kolapso

Good first usb dac/amp for the money

Posted

Pros: Good volumepot, small in size and can really improve the sound vs a computers internal soundcard.

Cons: None discovered sofar

I feel that it's a good amp for starting out, atleast sofar. Definitely better than my realtek soundcard, aswell better/onpar with (imho) my Xonar DG.soundcard.
El Pino

Hidden potential

Posted

Pros: small, rigid, LO

Cons: no power supply included

Hi there,   I would like to say few things about this little thing here. After seven eight months of use I found uDAC2 quite good when it comes to sound quality for this money (lets say money for pure DAC). Why? First I was listening the uDAC2 through AMB Mini3 (via line out) in a simple connection - connected directly to USB on my laptop - for a few months. Yes, gotta argee that after first impressions and the ear got used to it, the sound was nothing special. Not that boring or unbalanced, but neither entertaining. After some time, an idea occured, since uDAC2 has no external power supply possibility, you still can conect it to an USB hub with additional power supply (usually...
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Kaviar

Perfect for my needs

Posted

Pros: Sound, design, ease of use

Cons: None for the price

I went from onboard sound (realtek on a z-68 board) to this and did notice an immediate difference. Bass is more snappy, mids more natural and highs are now nice and crisp. Anyway, the real advantage for me at least is that I now have no problem listening to music for long periods at a time and at high volumes without succumbing to listening fatigue. Previously I could not listen even at moderate volumes for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Negative Reviews

seawalnut

Cute design, OK performance, poor QC

Posted

Pros: When it works: reasonable sound quality, nice package layout, good value if size is important

Cons: Poor QC, mediocre support

Any product can fail, so negative reviews are always statistically suspect. However... I have bought SIX of these (including two of the RCA-less uDAC2HP model), over a period of a couple of years, and TWO were DOA. Also, two of the supplied USB cables were shorted, in one case apparently damaging a PC. (Sensed that the audio problem might be in the wiring when the USB cable got hot to touch.)   When it works: a good entry-level USB DAC, also unusually portable for frequent flyers. Sound quality (to my ears) not quite up to standard of other brands not that much more, so I'd recommend the step up where feasible. And very reasonably priced now, with prices way down in just a...
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nwavguy

uDAC-2 Has Significant Problems

Posted

Pros: Nice metal case, responsive customer support

Cons: Poor channel balance, output impedance is too high for many headphones, poor measured distortion, too much gain for most people

I just completed a full review of the uDAC-2 with measurements on my personal blog. Some of the results were bad enough I contacted NuForce before publishing my review to make sure I didn't have a bad DAC. They verified my results and confirmed my uDAC-2 was "within spec". At their request, I've included their comments in my review.   I plan to be testing other similarly priced USB DACs in the future, but based on what I know about the uDAC-2, I can't recommend it. Even the $29 Behringer UCA202 seriously outperforms the uDAC-2 in most areas.  
idontevenknow

Unreliable

Posted

Pros: sounds good, looks good, has RCA out on the back

Cons: did not last for me

I first bought the uDAC2 in the fall of 2010, and it blew me away with its quality as it was the first decent source I'd ever listened to. Sadly It stopped working within about a month. I returned it with it's cable under warranty and received a refurb model. Sadly, this new one wasn't sent to me with a cable, but no big deal. Fast forward to this week, and I've just had this one die on me as well.   While it was working, I loved my uDAC-2, but I can't recommend it to anyone after going through 2 of them in under a year and a half.

More Reviews

cheapskateaudio

Dcent at best

Posted

Pros: Great sound on its own

Cons: Lacks cachet, does not work well with a high end system

This little amp is a surprise. Alone it is actually not that bad with some HD650's. The sound is typical dark, liquid, and pretty nice to listen to if you're into that sort of tubey coloration.   Later, when you try to put this DAC into a revealing system, perhaps as a source for a revealing amplifier, the surprise is that the uDac 2 is actually quite terrible. And it has nothing to do with anything that has been ranted and raved about, forget the tech specs. The DAC section simply has a flat out horrid frequency response, it's boosting the upper mids in a way that makes revealing amplifiers sound ear piercingly bad...  This DAC could go well driving a tubey sounding tube...
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jshaffe

Good for its size

Posted

Pros: tiny, well built, usb powered

Cons: distorts at certain frequencies

It does a good job as a DAC for my starving student amp. Eventually, I will probably upgrade but it works well enough. It is nice that it powers off of USB and doesn't take up tons of space.
kungmarten

Just OK, but works if you really need the setup

Posted

Pros: Size, plug'n'play

Cons: Boring, a bit distorted, sound.

My firs uDAC (v1) fried because of manufacturing problems. I got version 2 as a replacement. What I like about it is the ease of installation and portability. I use it mainly at work where my options are a bit limited. For this purpose the form factor is excellent. What bugs me though is the un-dynamic sound that seems a bit distorted. In my opinion quite boring - I get a lot better sound (with the same headphones, Beyerdynampic DT770 Pro & Sennheiser HD200 tested) from my Sony Walkman A845 than from this DAC/Amp, even though the price is similar.  I will keep using it at work because of the form factor, but I can not recommend it for home use - there are just too many...
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funkmeister

uDac2-HP is nifty

Posted

Pros: Has a volume knob

Cons: cheap USB cable, uneven sound, audio isn't as good as hoped

Keep in mind that my star rating is weighted against price, and I'm reviewing the uDac2-HP. It sounds just like my laptop's out even though there are legitimate reasons to expect it not to. There's a sense of quality to the unit and its volume knob from their feel but the USB cable that came with it is poking wires out of the plastic shroud. Lame-o. I have another cable hanging around that I used instead. Anyway, I like the sound well enough despite its supposedly massive shortcomings that others talk about. It isn't spacious like the Icon HD (which is an awesome product) but it sure sounds fine with some of the hidden details in the recordings no longer getting drowned out in the...
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axw

nice little toy

Posted

Pros: size, price, last but not least sound

Cons: for the price hard to find any

When I first got it I was surprised that the Lavry DA-10 I then had isn't much better. It sounds better than most soundcards, better than usb powered Meier Audio Porta Corda amp+dac.
Irick

Great first DAC

Posted

Pros: Price, Size, USB Powered, Sturdy as a rock, Sounds great.

Cons: A little tinny at the upper volume, probably a side effect of being driven off a v5 source.

I often make the off color joke that, when i look for audio equipment i want something sturdy enough to club a baby seal to death (in self defense, of course) and still keep on kicking out music as good as the day i bought it. This little box gives me absolutely no qualms about my readiness to combat the droves of radiation mutated seal offspring vulnerable only to audio equipment we will surely face in the dystopian future that awaits us all. The enclosure is made of a very sturdy material i assume is some aluminum alloy held together by some easily removed screws in case maintanance becomes nessisary, the output contacts are all very secure and there is absolutely no looseness in the...
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SolidSnake3

Great little DAC for an amazing price

Posted

Pros: Small, light, usb powered, affordable, solid build, sound quality

Cons: For its retail price, can't think of anything legitimate

The NuForce Icon uDAC2 is the first Dac I have ever owned and with that came some unsure expectations and uncertainty. My laptop is a relatively budget one with a noisy headphone out. When using sensitive earphones like my JH5's and CK10's the static and other noise being sent out was just too much. It ruined the quite parts of songs and was actually borderline uncomfortable. As a result I set out to find a relatively cheap DAC that would solve this problem.    After a bunch of reading and research I settled on the uDac2 which I ordered from a local audio shop. The uDac2 seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, small, compact, transportable and would cut the hiss along...
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AlwaysOn

First DAC - uDAC-2

Posted

Pros: Very detailed sound, improved imaging

Cons: Not much bass?

Consider this an in progress review, just received the unit yesterday and it is not yet burned in.
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