TEAC HA-P50B Portable DAC + Amp

rigodeni

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Good contrsuction, low noise floor, powerful, versatile
Cons: Price, has a little bass boost which can be unpleasant on already bassy headphones
Smaller than I expected from photos. High quality materials, switches, and knobs throughout. I have 20-300ohm headphones in my collection and with the Lo/Hi gain switch this amp was a great fit with all of them. Even with my HD 600 (300ohm) I did not need to pass 11 o'clock on the volume dial with high gain. It can take power input from DC IN and use Micro USB for digital input at the same time (isolating power from the digital signal). So it can be used as a desktop or laptop sound card. It can also charge while in use with the single Micro USB input. Sound is a step up from on-board audio (Dell XPS 8700) for sure. But will not replace a middle to higher end full-size Hi-Fi desktop amp/dac. From my on-board audio it's more analytical and will reveal imperfections in recordings quite clearly. It does add a few DB to bass but other then that it's quite neutral. No hiss or hum is audible all the way up (very low noise floor). On bass heavy headphones like my DT 770 Pro 250ohm I found the bass boost a bit much, especially at high volumes. However, on my more neutral HD 600 the bass boost was quite pleasant. Either way you can adjust this through an equalizer to your liking. True plug and play on all my devices. Tested with the following:
 
-Windows 7, 8, 8.1
-Moto X 2013 with Android 4.4 Kitkat
-Moto G 1st gen with Android 5.0 Lolipop
-iPhone 6 Plus iOS 8
 
Seems the volume can't be changed on iOS 8, not sure about other versions. It's just fixed at max volume in the iPhone. Not a big deal since you can change it with the volume knob on the amp. In all Windows tests it pulls the driver from Windows Update with no problems. Android just works. Upgraded the firmware to latest version 1.24 without a problem. I can't comment on battery life as of yet. Tested the TEAC Hi-Fi app on Windows. It's got great sound but lacks alot of features. Particularly no EQ and lacks importing universal playlist files like m3u. Foobar200 has identical sound with way more features.
 
IMG_20150312_103542551_HDR.jpg
 
In Canada this is hard to find under $300. That being said it's not the best value for improving sound quality for a desktop setup. At $300 or so you can get a much better desktop amp/dac. But if you don't have enough right now for a desktop and mobile setup, this will still improve audio from desktops too. But if you already have an aftermarket sound card or very high end motherboard it likely wont improve anything outside of adding a bit of power through the amp. Highly recommended as a mobile amp/dac, but I would not pay more than $250 for it.
windplr
windplr
Hi, nice review.  Thanks for all the info.  I just wanted to confirm that you were able to use this on an Android phone with an OTG cable and something like USB AudioPro to drive high def recordings into the HA-P50.  Thanks!
rigodeni
rigodeni
I've personally only tested mp3's at 320kbps on my android using the google music app. It worked great for this. I have heard others play higher res stuff though with other apps without issue. This is a good thread to check or ask about this.
sportyerre
sportyerre
I use it with Xperia Z1c and Asus Fonepad8, it is not needed the OTG cable, it can use the standard USB cable and the amp provide power to the phone.
Using the power cable provided ,it is possible to linsten and charge both at the same time.
It is not indicated on the user manual but it works also with my iPod Mini 5th generation

kleefurd

Head-Fier
Pros: Well built, clean, warm tone. Powerful sound. Very "British" voicing.
Cons: No way for sound sculpting, but it might be better that way.
Source :
MacBook Pro (Optical Out)
iPod Nano (7th Gen)
iPad Mini Retina

Headphones :
Westone W40
Beyerdynamic DT1350
Sennheiser HD25-1

Mode of testing :
(1) Optical out from MBP into amp.
(2) USB connection between amp and iOS devices.

I shall not go through the specs of this little gem in here. They can be found at
 
http://teac.jp/product/ha-p50/overview/
or
http://www.fujiya-avic.jp/products/detail58051.html
 
What I want to share is real world owner's experience.
 
A little background. I am a retired sound engineer who have worked in some prestigious studios in my past life. So I am familiar with high end 4 way monitors, high end consoles like SSL, Neve, used some really quality products, thus I am quite sure I have got "golden ears"... but all of these means nothing because sound is subjective. Everyone have their preference and here is mine on the wonderful TEAC HA-P50B.
 
I was shopping in Hong Kong for headphones (picked up a Beyerdynamic DT1350 after auditioning a few of them) and I came across a "brand new hotseller". I was sold for the fact that there is iOS devices implementation including the Lighting connector support. That is enough for me. I believe good sound is achieved through the shortest connection and going digital whenever possible and letting the DAC do the job, and let the amp does the boosting of the signal to bring sweet sweet tones into the ears through reasonably priced and quality headphones.
 
Probably due to habit, I have always used closed cans. If I want that open sound, I will always play music back on my Eve Audio SC208s. They are pretty darn good for their price. I use a Prism Sound ADDA converter which are the ones used by high end recording studios. (yes, my old office gear, so to speak).
 
The TEAC HA-P50B blew me away after a week with them (especially when listening through Westone W40 uIEM). What this little bugger did to the sound (I connect an iPod Nano 7th Gen via USB to the TEAC HA-P50B) is quite amazing.
 
Digital audio will always have a certain brightness/harshness on the top end, and the DAC handles them very well and I am certain that the amp smoothed them out while revealing a lot of details while keeping sound clean and slightly to the warm side, which is the kind of tone I love. Slightly warmer than the Benchmark DAC1 (something I use in the studio for monitoring) but it is ok since I am only using this set up for music playback and not for monitoring any recording or mixing.
 
The DT1350 sounded a little dull on low level listening but once "cranked up" past (estimated) 75db, they open up and got me feet tapping on Big Band stuff. The same effect happened for numetal, EDM, so this is quite a nice general purpose DAC + Amp. It states that it can drive power hungry headphones pretty well, but I have yet to test it. Will probably hook up a HiFiman HE-500 at some point to test them. But I am quite sure they will handle the job well.

But for some reasons, Optical In from MBP brightens up the sound significantly, and when used with the Sennehiser HD25-1, the sibilance was kind of irritating. Interesting.
 
Power charging is very well implemented. You can use the USB-power connector connected to a USB charger while using the TEAC HA-P50B and it does not introduce any noise. This is straight to the wall socket, not through my power conditioners, or suppressors. My Parrot Zik goes ballistic when connected to the USB charger and I end up carrying a battery pack if I am flying long hauls, and that is why the Zik is now relegated to "use while mowing the lawn".
 
I would recommend the TEAC HA-P50B to those who are looking for that old British monitor sound. But again, what headphones you connect to it matters. There is no way to know how your combo will sound until you get to demo them. But it seems to sound very very accurate and neutral with the Westone W40 with the longer STAR tips. At least to my ears. I referenced them to my Adam MP4s and while not as revealing as the MP4s, but the tonal quality is definitely not off.
 
What a little gem TEAC has created. Thank you.
kleefurd
kleefurd
Yes it does. I have the same iPod Classic too.
Negative818
Negative818
Great, thanks for replying.
rigodeni
rigodeni
I have this and it powers my HD 600 well at 11 o'clock on the volume dial with high gain. Same with my DT 770 250Ohm. Curious how much more power your HE-500 would need as I may try a planar magnetic headphone one day. I can't imagine it would be much past 12 or 1 o'clock.
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