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TEAC UD-501 Dual-Monaural DAC/Amp
TEAC UD-501 Dual-Monaural DAC/Amp
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Ladies and gentlemen, this DAC is so good it hertz.
It looks great. Especially when paired with my AX-501.
The menu is simple and easy to navigate. Using the one menu button to cycle through choices, and the input selector dial to make selections and change options, it only takes a couple seconds to run through all the options and probably less than a minute to completely configure.
I spent a fair amount of time listening to just the DAC with my M70x and Fidelio X2 and I'm really impressed. It makes a great headphone amp. It sounds fairly similar to the AX-501 I paired it with, until you get up into almost uncomfortable listening levels. I haven't tried it with any hard to drive headphones yet.
I also took some time and made myself a pair of custom length XLR interconnects to connect the UD-501 with my AX-501. They're hilariously short and totally unnecessary because of their length. But I really like big chunky connectors with locking mechanisms. If they had SpeakOn jacks, I'd use those.
So far I've only tried the USB from my Surface Pro 4, but the driver was easy to install and the DAC sounds fantastic.
I A/B tested it with the Surface as the source, switching between the USB input and headphone output of the Surface routed to the AX-501's Line 1 input (bypassing the UD-501 and using the Surface's internal DAC). At lower listening volumes, I couldn't tell much of a difference between them. The UD-501 might sound a little bit clearer, but not significantly in my limited listening experience. I will have to sit down and do some serious critical listening with some better headphones and speakers, than the aforementioned X2's or the old Technics SB-x10 speakers I happened to have handy.
Eliminating the AX-501, the UD-501 can crank out significantly more power than my Surface, obviously. At higher volumes the DAC really shines over using the tablet's internal DAC. Channel separation is far better on the UD-501. Music sounds crystal clear and voices sound natural right up into the double-aughts on the volume dial.
One thing to note; if you haven't already, you should check out TEAC's HR audio player available on their website. I like the clean interface and ease of use. I also like that you can set options for DSD over PCM or Native DSD right in the player's configuration menu.
I feel l should provide an update on my experience with this DAC since I've had it for some time now.
It still sounds great, but I have a problem when connecting it to my Surface Pro 4. Eventually it gets out of sync or something with the tablet and just starts making awful noises. Sounds get horribly distorted after a long while or after the tablet goes to sleep then wakes up.
Other than that it's been great.
There are settings you can use to make sure the connection from the device to the DAC remains constant. In your settings try going to Playback Devices/Device name/Properties/Advanced then enable both options in exclusive mode. After you do that it should prevent your tablet from going onto sleep mode as long as data is being passed through the DAC. Give that a shot!
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