TEAC UD-505 Desktop Dual monaural USB DAC/headphone amplifier - Reviews
TEAC UD-505
Pros: A very well executed all in one box solution, solid build and I liked the three isolating feet, excellent Preamp, a very fine head amp, a fine DAC with DSD conversion and PCM conversion, convenient TRS 6.3mm or balanced TRS very unique! I loved the balanced 4.4mm bravo on that choice, blows away Wyred4 Sound Intimo, remote control, bluetooth, easy to use, great menu, solid as a tank
Cons: A fine DAC- but some may like a more precise sound, not the last word on headamp transparency, slam or bass comparing it to other Amps, but for the price this thing is VERY close to state of the art
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USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier $1699-$1,999.00USD (Depending on where you buy it)
ON LOAN FROM:
Todd F. Green President
Todd The Vinyl Junkie www.ttvjaudio.com


HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Hi-Res audio playback supporting DSD512 (22.6MHz) and PCM 768kHz/32-bit PCM
  • Dual monaural circuit design with a high-end AKM VERITA AK4497 DAC on each channel
  • 5 types of PCM digital filters and 2 types of DSD digital filters
  • Up-conversion up to 24.5MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM
  • Dual on-board clocks for 44.1kHz and 48kHz frequencies, and 10MHz external clock input
  • Bluetooth? receiver supporting LDAC? and Qualcomm? aptX? HD
  • TEAC-HCLD output buffer circuit and TEAC-QVCS volume control for high quality sound
  • 4.4mm 5-polar Pentaconn jack and dual 1/4″ TRS jacks for balanced and active-ground drives *1
  • TEAC’s patent registered pin-point feet in three positions for the perfect installation *2
  • “Bulk Pet” USB transfer technology, with four transfer modes to vary sound character *3
  • Free TEAC HR Audio Player for DSD512 and PCM32/768 playback


TECH DETAILS:

  • Hi-Res audio playback supporting DSD512 (22.6MHz) and PCM 768kHz/32-bit PCM
  • Dual monaural circuit design with a high-end AKM VERITA AK4497 DAC on each left and right channel
  • 5 types of PCM digital filters and 2 types of DSD digital filters
  • Up-conversion up to 24.5MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM
  • Dual on-board clocks for 44.1kHz and 48kHz frequencies, and 10MHz external clock input
  • Bluetooth® receiver supporting LDAC™ and Qualcomm® aptX™ HD
  • TEAC-HCLD output buffer circuit and TEAC-QVCS volume control for high quality sound
  • Dual toroidal-core power transformers
  • Digital Isolator for separated digital and analogue sections
  • 4.4mm 5-polar Pentaconn jack and dual 1/4” TRS jacks for balanced and active-ground drives*1
  • TEAC’s patent-registered pin-point feet in three positions for the perfect installation*2
  • Bulk Pet USB transferring technology with four transfer modes for various sound characters*3
  • USB audio port for Hi-Res audio input from Windows/Mac
  • Coaxial and optical digital inputs on both front and back
  • Convenient analogue LINE input to use the UD-505 as a pre-amplifier
  • Analogue outputs with balanced XLR and conventional unbalanced RCA outputs
  • High-contrast full-graphic organic EL display with dimmer
  • Full-metal body with an A4-sized footprint
  • Free TEAC HR Audio Player for DSD512 and PCM32/768 playback
  • Compliant with RoHS
The UD-505 is also a pre-amplifier - using an analogue processing; a wide range of analogue/digital inputs, and fixed/variable level XLR (balanced) and RCA (unbalanced) outputs. You can build a hi-fi system around the UD-505 with a stereo amplifier/pair of monaural power amplifiers and floorstanding speakers, or a simplified system based on a pair of active speakers The TEAC-QVCS (Quad Volume Control System) which is claimed to be a precise volume control design. This circuit employs four sets of variable gain-amps controlling volume for left, right, positive and negative (L+, L–, R+, R-). Each variable gain-amp is located on a simplified signal path which helps eliminate interference noise by creating a shorter signal path. In addition, the TEAC-QVCS provides precise volume control in 0.5dB steps in ‘dB’ display mode, or 100 steps in ‘step’ display mode.

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The UD-505’s headphone amplifier circuit provides balanced-drive by using the TEAC-HCLD circuit, – comprised of four output transistors for each left and right channel – for headphone output. The amp uses transistors which are in parallel when a single-ended headphone is connected, the UD-505 delivers stronger driving power than most ordinary single-ended headphone amps provide. When listening to conventional headphones, it also operates in Class-A (by expanding the Class-A range of operation), despite using a Class-A/B amplifier. With challenging 600Ω high-impedance headphones the amp seemed to work very well in deed beacuse of this amp set up. Is it better sounding than my Bottlehead Crack With Speedball? Its not as musical but it certainly is faster and more precuise- meaning in many ways depending on your mood- you may want more accurate sound then it would be a clear winner for the UD505- but if you want romance in sound then using the Bottlehead is your ticket- still using the DAC in the TEAC UD-505 but bypassing the internal amp of the TEAC and RCA leads out to the Crack. Of course the 300ohm or 600ohm headphones are made for the Crack esentially and exclusively- and the Crack fails at anything under say 150ohms as an amp...Contrary - The TEAC Amp section can drive 32ohm IEMs all the way up to 600 ohm headphones- making it logical choice for both sound and convince as a one box solution.

Comparing the UD-505 as one box solution - it is a better sounding DAC and amp both judged seperately- when comparing it to the $1499 Wyre4Sound Intimo or the YULONG DA-ART Aquila II. YULONG DA-ART Aquila II is a fine cheaper solution to the one box delema and even managed to beat the Wyred4Sound Intimo... but fell short in performance when comparing the YULONG to the TEAC. The overall performance of the UD-505 puts it near state of the art honestly. They really did do an excellent job over at TEAC- again being a one box solution this punches way above most one box systems and rivals some of the best separates out there for performance and sound. It's operation flawless, whisper silent, volume as smooth as silk- a joy to use and listen to and operate.

BUT...

Comparing the amp section of the UD-505 to my PASS WHAMMY the winner goes to the PASS WHAMMY by far. The dynamics and stage using the dual OPA627 on browndogs along with the excellent engineering of the WHAMMY put this amp ahead. Kit price for WHAMMY is $200 plus the box and plus assembly, plus OPA627 on browndogs make this a $700 offering from engineer builders like the Amp Builder on etsy- if this WHAMMY design were more commercial like the TEAC with all their fancy laser etching, box construction, marketing and shipping costs the Whammy would be triple that price coming in somewhere around $1500- $1999. But kits already assembled can be bought for $800 or there abouts on ebay without hyped up boxes or silk screening.

Moving on- I wanted to isolate the UD505 as a DAC alone- Typically I use the Topping D90 which is brutal in it's ability to transfer the zero's and ones into beautiful precise music and hides nothing- I use all copper wire including the power cords from Signals Magic Power Power Cord which makes the DAC honest yet warmer than say silver or typical double or quad braided PC wire. Some may poo poo at the idea of cables. I did a long review on cables here on head-fi (https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/capistranocables-xlr-cables.24634/) where I basically determine pure copper 6n or 7n works best for me and my gear. With that being said I used the refference wire by GRIMM called SQM XLRs for the UD505 by passing the UD505 amp - therefore using it solely as a DAC. I also used the GRIMM TPR XLR wire which is slightly more warm and fun. Hooking both the Topping D90 and the UD-505 to my Ray Samuels Apache - I was able to switch on the fly. The DAC on the UD-505 utilizes the VERITA AK4497 D/A while the Topping D90 uses the 'higher' AKM chip AK4499EQ- the most expensive AKM to date. Bottom line they are close- but the D90 edges ahead in detail, bass slam and stage- but by a small margin.

The Apache is in another league when comparing head-amps to the UD-505. Everything is more transparent, 3-d and holographic when music is mastered in that way. Vocals and things like cymbals and string instruments are all great with the UD-505- but switching to the Apache- you realize why it costs $3000. Is it a fair comparison? yes. The UD-505 holds it's own and it is close. The Apache is two box system (fully balanced preamp/amp which is connected by an umbilical cord to the regulated balanced separate power supply) and adding a DAC makes it a three box system. More desk space and more money- is the pay off worth it- yes for me my combo ssystem seperates have not been beat. But the TEAC UD-505 does deliver for less ruppies (cashola AKA bread) and very close to the performance of the three box setup.

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More details: Loved the dual function Pentaconn, a totally new single-plug connector for balanced headphone drive
In addition to the dual conventional 1/4” TRS jacks for balanced connection, the UD-505 employs a newly designed single headphone jack for balanced drive. The Pentaconn jack is a new 4.4mm 5-pole jack that has been developed by NIPPON DICS Co., Ltd, and complies the RC-8141C JEITA Standard, providing a single-jack solution for balanced headphones (Which I used with my IEMs and my favorite headphone of all time... the Kennerton GH50 JM Editions; with great results I might add). More Pentaconn jack-equipped headphones and cables are expected in the near future. Along with the Pentaconn jack, two 1/4” TRS jacks provide three driving modes: balanced, active-ground, and parallel drive (for two pairs of single-ended headphones).

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More features:

“Bulk Pet” USB transfer technology for enhanced audio quality. When transferring large volumes of digital data for Hi-Res audio sources through USB cables using conventional isochronous transfer mode, large variations can occur in the processing loads of the sending computer and the receiving USB DAC. This can cause sound to drop out and other problems to occur. However, with our new USB transmission technology – dubbed “Bulk Pet” – a fixed amount of data is transmitted constantly, levelling out the processing burden on both devices and contributing to stable data transmission. Changing the processing burden on the computer directly affects audio quality so users can select the setting they prefer (from four transmission modes).

PCM digital filters :
  • Sharp Roll Off: FIR filter with a steep roll-off that sharply cuts signals outside the audio band
  • Slow Roll Off: FIR filter with a slow roll-off that gently cuts signals outside the audio band
  • Short Delay – Sharp: Short delay filter with a steep roll-off that sharply cuts signals outside the audio band
  • Short Delay – Slow: Short delay filter with a slow roll-off that gently cuts signals outside the audio band
  • Low Dispersion: Short delay filter with low dispersion that cuts signals outside the audio band.
  • Off
The USB software loaded without me having to install drivers- a huge plus and all functions worked flawlessly without issue. The preamp is whisper quiet and extremely intuitive to use. The remote is a nice touch, it is solid and controls just about everything one could want- more company's should be so thoughtful in providing this much control remotely. I tried the different filters and settled on the slow short delay for me as sounding best. Sometimes I preferred no filer so I left it off and then realized - off was maybe a tad bit more revealing but still not as musical. It depended on the tracks I used honestly.



Summery: A great buy at the price, the UD-505 is and has many features and performance few can match. I know the TEAC blew away the $1499 Wyred4Sound Intimo DAC/HEADAMP I reviewed months ago which is a very similar price to the UD-505. And you get a remote and preamp function with the TEAC. The DAC the sound is balanced, smooth and extremely detailed. If you want a very solidly built tank like desktop headphone amp, DAC and Preamp; the UD505 is a logical solid choice. It's near state of the art without having to fork over double or triple the price for just a slight sound improvement. Highly recommended as a one stop box solution that should serve owners well into the future.

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