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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: NEW Nuforce uDAC-2 with 24/96 - USB DAC AMP with line out and S/PDIF out - Page 55

post #811 of 874
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by firgoe View Post

from udac2 to audinist mx1 ... is it an upgrade? the headphone is 64ohm fa-003


I haven't heard the audinist mx1; but I can say that my $220 iBasso D4 with $60 worth of upgraded opamps installed is only a small upgrade over the uDAC-2, while the $399 DACport is another small upgrade above that.  

 

I'm listening right now to my HiFiMan HE-300 headphones with the uDAC-2 and I still think it sounds very good, even after all this time.  I do think that the RCA output sound quality is a little above the headphone out sound quality so it's perfect for feeding a bigger amp when you upgrade, and I still think the line out seems to sound very similar to my Pico DAC-only RCA out.  I have a hard time telling which DAC is which when feeding my WA6 or Amphora from the line out and comparing them.  I still remain impressed with either output of the uDAC-2 for it's low price.  It's a definite step up from the original uDAC1 with it's improved imaging and treble extension.  I got hold of a modded uDAC-2 with the output resistor removed and it was very slightly improved vs a stock one that Blutarsky has (more transparent with my ES5), and the gold edition I've tried sounds the same as the modded unit, with that very slightly improved transparency and clarity, possibly from the cryo-treatment.

 

I actually have two of these and my teenage son uses one with his Westone 1, HD600 and HD-25, while I use mine with my Westone ES5, HE-300 and LCD-2.  Mine have a very small amount of low volume channel imbalance below 8:45 o'clock, which takes place at volumes lower than I care to listen, and they are both silent with no hiss.  It's perfect for my Macbook rig because I feed the RCA out into my Audioengine powered speakers, and when I plug in a headphone it shuts off the RCA output so the speakers go silent.

 

 

post #812 of 874

I am now using udac2 for listening and I would have to say that I am satisfied with it. I don't have trained ears but I can hear the difference very clearly between my pc output and udac output. I can easily recommend it for less than $150.

 

But I am looking for a real upgrade for around $300 (My budget is $400). I don't know whether I should get a better dac/amp or get a dedicated amp? I was thinking audinist mx1, matrix mini-i, nfb-5 or adding fiio e9.  but i accept any recommendations.

post #813 of 874

around 400 bucks, I think DACport is a pretty good option to upgrade from uDac2

 

they are similiarly a small transportable device and also DAC+Amp combo.

 

Sound wise, their character isn't really different, but DACport definitely has higher resolution through all spectrum.

 

 

But sure that's not the best option in the world, for example if what you need is to drive any "hard to drive" headphone, better spend the budget to get powerfull amp then.

post #814 of 874
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by firgoe View Post

I am now using udac2 for listening and I would have to say that I am satisfied with it. I don't have trained ears but I can hear the difference very clearly between my pc output and udac output. I can easily recommend it for less than $150.

 

But I am looking for a real upgrade for around $300 (My budget is $400). I don't know whether I should get a better dac/amp or get a dedicated amp? I was thinking audinist mx1, matrix mini-i, nfb-5 or adding fiio e9.  but i accept any recommendations.


My recommendation above was to get a better dedicated amp and feed the uDAC-2 into it.  It really depends on what phones you plan to drive, and you could still use the uDAC-2 for driving IEM if the full size amps are not perfect for those.

 

If you could pick up a CTH, Millett Hybrid, EF1 or EF5 in that price range you could drive full size phones better with a lot of power even for orthodynamic headphones.  Even feeding the uDAC-2 into a medium power EF2 amp is an upgrade, but not as big as the others.  The Nuforce HDP is also an upgrade over the uDAC-2, but the gain is not optimal for driving IEM at very low volumes like when you sleep with music playing quietly.  You might also be able to pick up a used Woo 3 or 6 amp in the $400 price range.

 

I have briefly heard the Schitt amps (Asgard and Valhalla) and those would be good choices too in your price range, depending on your headphones.  I think the uDAC-2 as a DAC feeding any of the full size amps above is likely better than trying to buy a $400 DAC/amp combo.

 

post #815 of 874

I have been reading your reviews and is getting more and more confused.  You said that the DACport beats all other dac/amp by far but here, you also mention that you prefer the udac for something like the ES5.  Is that just purely for that headphone or a range of them?  Also, how silent is it if you just plug an IEM in?  I see that you have mention the HDP basically being pitch black, is it the same here?

post #816 of 874
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xsho123 View Post

I have been reading your reviews and is getting more and more confused.  You said that the DACport beats all other dac/amp by far but here, you also mention that you prefer the udac for something like the ES5.  Is that just purely for that headphone or a range of them?  Also, how silent is it if you just plug an IEM in?  I see that you have mention the HDP basically being pitch black, is it the same here?

 

I noted that you wrote "udac" in your question, and I'm assuming that we're both talking about uDAC-2, since this is the uDAC-2 thread.


There are a couple of instances that come to mind where the uDAC-2 headphone out jack has slightly better synergy than DACport with a particular headphone - the ES5 is one, where the DACport is excellent but with the uDAC-2 the ES5 are even more mesmerizing and more enveloping; and the other instance is with the LCD-2 where with the DACport they seem slightly thinner sounding and slightly underpowered vs the uDAC-2.  These two phones could not sound more different from each other in descriptions of their sound signatures, but somehow the uDAC-2 works well with their electrical characteristics to make these phones sound a little better with it - which is what I call synergy.  

 

Also, when feeding my Audioengine A2 powered speakers from the RCA line-out of the uDAC-2 I hear slightly better synergy in the treble presence and "air" than when feeding the DACport headphone out into the A2 (note - DACport has no line out unless you get the LX model which is only a DAC, and I haven't tried the LX).

 

I find my uDAC-2 to be extremely quiet - I just now tried it again with my ES3X IEM which can reveal hiss in amps more easily than any of my other IEM.  I don't hear any noise until I have the volume control turned past 1PM, where I can begin to hear a very slight humming noise.  For me normal listening with the ES3X is conducted with the volume knob at 10 o'clock, and 11-12 o'clock is extremely loud,  and 1 o'clock is painfully loud - I'm guessing close to 120 dB.  So, there is no way I can listen to IEM with the volume knob high enough to hear any noise.  I concede that it's possible my chronic tinnitus is masking any hiss or noise at lower volumes, so your mileage may vary.

 

Note - I have several devices plugged into USB next to the uDAC-2 than can introduce noise, including a USB-3 expresscard that get's extra power from USB, an 8 port hub with power going to the USB-3, EyeTV, DACmini, HDP, Apogee mini-DAC, Pico DAC, and 750Gb external drive.  For noise this minor I'm not willing to eject the drive, shut down eyeTV, and disconnect the hub and USB-3 just to see if the tiny amount of noise at extremely high volume settings goes away.

post #817 of 874

just found the other day that my uDAC-s doesn't support 24/96 audio, although it's clearly advertized as being capable of such (http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/iconudac2/index.php).

I checked this with an USB monitoring tool and although I'm playing 24/96 files the USB transfer rate shown by the tool is 176400 (44100 x 2 x 2). with my other 24/96-capable DAC the transfer rate increased at the expected value (about 96000 x 3 x 2).

for me it's obvious that Nu-Force "forgot" to mention that 24/96 is only supported with the SE and GSE versions. how very convenient...

post #818 of 874
Quote:
Originally Posted by butch View Post

just found the other day that my uDAC-s doesn't support 24/96 audio, although it's clearly advertized as being capable of such (http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/iconudac2/index.php).

I checked this with an USB monitoring tool and although I'm playing 24/96 files the USB transfer rate shown by the tool is 176400 (44100 x 2 x 2). with my other 24/96-capable DAC the transfer rate increased at the expected value (about 96000 x 3 x 2).

for me it's obvious that Nu-Force "forgot" to mention that 24/96 is only supported with the SE and GSE versions. how very convenient...



- Are you sure you are using the uDac-2 and not the original uDac?

- Are you using software that properly outputs 24/96 to the uDac-2?

- If the software can output properly, is it configured to output to that sample rate on the uDac-2 without resampling?

post #819 of 874


It seems that nobody picked it in this thread, but NuForce offers now 3 different versions of the uDac-2, two of them (SE and GSE) distinctive because of asynchronous USB mode, apparently also available as an upgrade over the basic uDac-2 (option to purchase a kit ($140) that includes a replacement circuit board).

 

Obviously the question is, did anybody try it? I am not sure whether it makes a great deal of sense, is jitter reduction really a key issue for a tiny USB powered device? Is uDac-2 resolving enough to even care about it?

post #820 of 874
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by axw View Post


It seems that nobody picked it in this thread, but NuForce offers now 3 different versions of the uDac-2, two of them (SE and GSE) distinctive because of asynchronous USB mode, apparently also available as an upgrade over the basic uDac-2 (option to purchase a kit ($140) that includes a replacement circuit board).

 

Obviously the question is, did anybody try it? I am not sure whether it makes a great deal of sense, is jitter reduction really a key issue for a tiny USB powered device? Is uDac-2 resolving enough to even care about it?

 


 

uDAC-2 SE Impressions:

 

I'm finding the uDAC-2 SE is a bit more open and transparent sounding, and a little more refined sounding than my original uDAC-2.  This might be a result of better jitter reduction or extra micro-detail, I can't say.  The differences are hnot huge, but I find the overall experience a little more immersive than the original uDAC-2.  My SE has an excellent volume pot, with almost no extreme low volume channel imbalance with sensitive IEM.  It is silent with my IEM, and can play quiet enough with my ES5 to sleep while listening to soft music.  

 

It works great out of the box with Mac OSX 10.6.8, and doesn't need any assynch drivers to be installed.  However, it is a little more finicky when trying to run it on my Macbook at the same time as a powered 8-port hub with 5 or 6 other 24 bit USB DAC's (original uDAC-2, Audioengine D1, HDP, DACmini, DACport, Apogee mini-DAC).  Sometimes if I plug in one too many 24 bit DACs then I get static in the music (same with my original uDAC-2 and HDP).  The other DACs listed seem to be immune to this. Someday I'll try another hub to see if that is my problem.  Fortunately I usually only have the DACmini, Apogee, and uDAC-2 SE plugged into the Macbook at the same time, and have no issues.  I leave the D1 plugged into the family iMAC where we have more room for a bigger DAC/amp but no extra outlets to plug one into the wall. 

 

In comparison to the $399 DACport, the uDAC-2 SE is a little more intimate and forward sounding (closer to the performers, smaller venue), but the tonality is now almost a match.  However, power wise it seems to have a little easier time driving my HE-5 LE right now than the DACport which do better with my HE-500.  The desktop amps still have more power, but the uDAC-2 (regular and SE) has plenty for me (and slightly more than the D1).  The SE is probably closer to the Audioengine D1 in presentation than it is to the DACport, but the D1 can't play quiet enough with my sensitive IEM for sleeping with music.  And with the D1 I can hear some quiet line noise in the background in between songs with my most sensitive IEM like ES3X and ES5 (that I can't hear with headphones).  The system volume doesn't affect the D1, but the uDAC-2 can be controlled that way, which is nice occasionally to have.

 

For those with full size phones and no IEM, the decision becomes more of do you want a smaller size, with coax S/PDIF out and a little more power, or do you need optical input instead of the coax out.  Sound-wise you wont find a lot to complain about with either.  And, as before, the line out sound quality with any of these is excellent and rivals that of my more expensive Pico DAC (in detail and sound signature).

 

post #821 of 874

Thanks for all your posts. Much appreciated.

 

I see that you have run this uDAC-2 through your Hifiman EF2. I also own this little amp.

How do you have your volume pots adjusted? Full up on the uDAC-2 then adjusted on the EF2?

I mainly listen to hard rock and metal. Usually through Grado sr225 cans.

Thanks.

post #822 of 874
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jakmak View Post

Thanks for all your posts. Much appreciated.

 

I see that you have run this uDAC-2 through your Hifiman EF2. I also own this little amp.

How do you have your volume pots adjusted? Full up on the uDAC-2 then adjusted on the EF2?

I mainly listen to hard rock and metal. Usually through Grado sr225 cans.

Thanks.


I had the uDAC-2 volume set at 3 o'clock and controlled the listening volume with the EF2.  This was just out of fear of over-drivng the inputs of the EF2, even though I didn't hear any distortion at max. (PS - I like the EF2 with Grados, and just sent someone a PM tonight recommending the combo.)

 

post #823 of 874

The HP out on my udac-2 has developed a very noticeable hiss. It's not as loud as the HP out on my 4yr old laptop but is a lot louder than the near silent level when I first got it. I've tried plugging it in my PC with the same loud hiss. I've also tried multiple IEMs and they all hiss louder than before. It's pretty much silent when the HP plug isn't completely in, where you only get the left channel. The hiss becomes loud when I plug it all the way in. My IEMs are dead silent on my Samsung Captivate with the HP amp set to -20dB in Voodoo Control. Is there anything I can do to try to remove the loud hiss? 

post #824 of 874

I've been using this for a number of months now & it's one purchase I don't regret at all.  It's musical & just perfect for IEMs.  As a desktop DAC, it holds it's own well in the low-end category.

post #825 of 874
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by superballz00 View Post

The HP out on my udac-2 has developed a very noticeable hiss. It's not as loud as the HP out on my 4yr old laptop but is a lot louder than the near silent level when I first got it. I've tried plugging it in my PC with the same loud hiss. I've also tried multiple IEMs and they all hiss louder than before. It's pretty much silent when the HP plug isn't completely in, where you only get the left channel. The hiss becomes loud when I plug it all the way in. My IEMs are dead silent on my Samsung Captivate with the HP amp set to -20dB in Voodoo Control. Is there anything I can do to try to remove the loud hiss? 



If it wasn't there before and is a new problem, it could be a hardware problem or defect.  Contact Nuforce.

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