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Dual-monaural USB DAC that supports 11.2MHz DSD with built-in fully-balanced/parallel-unbalanced...

Teac UD-503-B Dual-Monaural USB DAC with Headphone Amplifier Black

Rating:
5/5,
  • Dual-monaural USB DAC that supports 11.2MHz DSD with built-in fully-balanced/parallel-unbalanced headphone amplifier DAC with dual-monaural structure is even more advanced High-performance VERITA AK4490 DACs support 11.2MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM For DAC chips, which are the keys to digital audio, we have used VERITA AK4490 DACs, which are made by Asahi Kasei Micro devices Corporation and have an established reputation for use in high-end audio equipment. The VELVET SOUND architecture provides the fine expressive capability suitable for the playback of high-resolution audio sources that reproduce sound waves outside the human audible range. Furthermore, a newly developed low distortion technology enables performance of S/(N+D) = 112 db.

Recent Reviews

  1. JoeDoe
    Hugely Underrated DAC with a Great Headamp to Boot!
    Written by JoeDoe
    Published Sep 17, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Versatility, SQ, Value
    Cons - Balanced headphone implementation
    I'll admit Teac is a brand that flown relatively under my radar since I began my head-fi journey. Seeing as how their gear rarely get's dedicated appreciation threads, major reviews on the usual head-fi websites, or a dedicated fan club, I'll admit I assume the gear they produce was just so-so. Let me tell you... I couldn't have been more wrong.
     
    The Breakdown:
     
    The Chain:
    MBP running JRMC21 > W4S Recovery > UD-503 > Project Ember > Alpha Prime, PS1000, HD800S (loaner)
     
    Test Songs (all ALAC either 16/44 or 24/96):
     
     
    "Happiness" by Needtobreathe - HARDLOVE
    "Strasbourg/St. Denis" by The Roy Hargrove Quintet - Earfood
    "Grown Folks" by Snarky Puppy - Culcha Vulcha
    "Gold" by Chet Faker - Built on Glass
    "Best for Last" by Adele - 19
    "Common Ground" by The New Gary Burton Quartet - Common Ground
    "Jupiter, from The Planets" per Sir Adrian Boult and the LSO
     
     
    Sound: In a word: analog. I realize that this is a loaded term when it comes to our hobby, but here's why I chose it. The 503 does vinyl better than vinyl! [​IMG] Jokes aside. It has a fantastically non-fatiguing, yet highly detailed sound. There's definitely a little more warmth than 'neutral' but certainly nothing that I'd call flabby, loose, woolly, or syrupy. Just a pleasant tube-like euphony that yields just a hair more slam, midrange richness, and treble sweetness.
     
    Bass: The low end on this guy is wonderfully clean and full. From my DC-1 review, "In my experience, you often are stuck with a choice. Full low end with rolled off treble or detail for days with just enough bass to know it's there." Thankfully the good people at Teac have given us both! We get the reach that is usually reserved for SS amps, but the lush thickness that only tubes deliver. Kick drums have a fantastic punch, electric basses have a thickness I've only ever heard from tube-based DACs, and electronic music sounds are deep and clean! In all hyperbole-free honesty, the 503 has a great low end. Really fills out slightly lean cans like the HD800 or Alpha Prime, but never went overboard with cans that already have a little bump in the trunk.
     
    Mids: Rich. I had the Questyle CMA600i at the same time as the 503 and the two units are remarkably similar. Both offer balanced design based on the AKM4490 DAC chip. To me the midrange was where they differed the most. The Q was more in-your-Schiit face while the Teac was a touch more laid back. Once again though, the mids had an organic richness that I've only ever heard from tube-based designs before. From Adele to ZZ Top, vocals just seemed to float out in front. Check out the pipe-work on one of my favorites:
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Treble: Extended, yet non-fatiguing. Just like the mids, the treble in the Teac was more laid back than the Questyle. I was very reminded of 1) a nice vinyl rig, but more recently, 2) the Chord Mojo. Somehow the DAC implementation was done so well that it eeked out every bit of detail as the Schiit Gumby, yet still never made me wince when I was rocking the PS1000s or HD800S. That's quite a feat gentlemen. The upper end really made this unit so easy to listen to. I rarely found myself wanting to analyze or compare this guy to other gear. I really just sat back and let the tunes flow! 
     
    Soundstage/Imaging/Separation: Let me put it like this. During the time I had the Teac, I auditioned a Gumby, Mojo, and the CMA600i. Teac beat em all. I'm sure I'll be lambasted for saying a combo unit that retails for $$$ less than the Gumby could do things better, but that's how I feel. So ya know, it must be true! [​IMG] Jupiter is my soundstage test. Check it!:
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Aesthetics/Build Quality/Accessories: From an aesthetic standpoint, the Teac won't win many awards. It's a little awkward looking and certainly doesn't offer any sort of cosmetic flare like Schiit or Chord products, so if you want something that will look like a piece of furniture on your desktop, this guy ain't gonna cut it. But I will say that everything was laid out very well and made operation very simple. Buttons press easily, OLED is easy to read, volume turns like a dream, and there are about every input you could need around back. Not to mention you get a sturdy remote. Not bad Teac, not bad at all!
     
    Amp Section: Just so be thorough, I'll add this blurb about the amplification section. 1) Very clean. No hum, hiss, or noise. 2) Had plenty of power for my Alpha Primes and HD800S when I had em. 3) Played well with both high and low impedance cans. 4) Both headphone-outs were used simultaneously without affecting SQ. Honestly unless you're trying to power HE-6 or something else that's just crazy power hungry, the 503's improved amp section over it's predecessor should cover all your bases! I did compare it's amp to that of the CMA600i, and while the 600i offered more total power, I wouldn't say it was better, really just more aggressive in nature. The Teac still could get anything I threw at it up to ear-splitting levels.
     
    Qualms: The only semi-qualm I have has to with the head-amp setup. A unique feature of the 503 is that not only do you get two 1/4" outputs that can run simultaneously, with the right cable, you can run them in balanced mode just like you would if you had an XLR output. Instead of reterminating my headphones, I had a custom dual-TRS-to-XLR adapter made so I could try my Alpha Primes and loaner HD800S in balanced mode. 1. I didn't notice enough of a difference to justify the balanced output, but the fact that you'd have to have your cans reterminated to a very unorthodox plug OR pay someone to make a custom adapter to make use of the balanced out is kind of a pain. Teac could really score some points if they offered an OEM adapter for those of us with XLR-equipped headphones. 
     
    JD's DAC Ranking list: Teac UD-503 > Gumby > Emotiva DC-1 > Chord Mojo > Resonessence Concero HP > ALO Pan Am > Audio-gd NFB 11.32/15.32 > Schiit Bifrost Multibit > Centrance DACport LX > ODAC > Cambridge DACMagic 100 
     
    (please note this list is based on both function AND SQ)
     
    Final Thoughts: All in all, the 503 is an incredibly underrated piece of head-fi gear. It offers complete balanced operation, preamp and headphone amp functionality, a smokin' DAC section, DSD capability, remote control, multiple filter options, and an LCD screen all for right at $1k. Few bargains of this caliber are to be found in our hobby gentlemen. If you're in the market for a solid-state combo unit for any headphone with low to medium power needs, this guy really should be at the top of your list!
      Baycode, Brooko, monsterzero and 3 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ProfFalkin
      Love my UD-503
      ProfFalkin, Sep 20, 2016
    3. 147JK
      For what it's worth, I think the TEAC gear looks FAR better than the typical "minimal" stuff out today.  It looks like audio gear, instead of trying to disguise itself as something its not (Apple-style).  No offense intended, but by comparison the Schitt bent-aluminum design ethos looks hurried, cheap, and unfinished.
       
      I'm running a UD-301 plus HA-501 plus DT-880 600 OHM.  Love the gear - couldn't be happier.
      147JK, Feb 28, 2017
    4. frogmeat69
      Great review, just purchased the NT-503 model, excited about this from the few reviews out there,  CAN'T WAIT!!
      frogmeat69, Mar 25, 2017

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