TEAC UD-503 DAC/Ampsearch

TEAC UD-503 DAC/Amp

TEAC UD-503 DAC/Amp

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comeback with 505 please
just be aware, if your source is a macOS computer, this DAC might not work properly :-0
bought an UD-501 a few days ago and found it couldn't lock the USB signal. Checked some forums and seen it is a known issue: Teac UD-501, on macOS (versions above 10.10), does not handle properly resolution changes: if/when, by mean of some tinkering, you get it to work... then it will choke again as soon as you play a file that is lower resolution than previously played one (eg a 16/44.1 after a 24/96) :-/ Contacted Teac assistance and asked, at that point, if an UD-503 or 505, instead, would work but answer was... "Teac UD-501, 503, 505 all work fine macOS" so... packed up my unit and brought it back to seller for a refund
it's a shame as it was right what I need and was looking great paired with the HA-501 I already have
An EXTREMELY well regarded piece of equipment, but largely unknown in the USA ...
The new 505 models are out. If the NT-505 were under $1k, it would be a no-brainer!
Pity the silver model is sold out.
Varholiaglimp
It sure is. I've by-passed buying from Massdrop in the past because they wont offer the silver version of gear like this. I've asked them about it, but was ignored.
Varholiaglimp
Dang was about to join but yea silver is out. I’ve been waiting a long time. I need siliver to match.
Very underrated DAC and a great price. A very good measure of power supply is weight. Note the UD-503 weighs nearly 10 lbs. The wiring for balanced headphone out is clearly diagrammed in the manual so any competent custom cable maker can make an adapter for you. You have 2 choices of balanced - standard and active ground. The latter is only half the power, but creates an amazingly low noise floor. Very feature rich - for example for the balanced XLR outputs, you can specify 2 or 3 pin (no ground, ground) to connect to any active speaker or amp. You also get upsampling to DSD and choice of numerous digital filters to tailor the sound. Overall sound is very much neutral so your headphones will sound like whatever the manufacturer intended. If you are looking for a colored sound to compliment/offset your headphones' characteristics, look elsewhere. If you do studio work, this is a great all in one unit.
California_kid
TEAC is a strange company. They make cheap plastic boom boxes.. but also make great stuff like this DAC. I wonder if the "plastic boom box" version of TEAC turns people off from considering their better gear. It did that to me for awhile.
And then there is Esoteric, a subsidiary of TEAC which makes TOTL, world-class equipment.
BlueSkies
Not all that different from Sony if you think about it. But for sure, sound and video professionals are well acquainted with Teac and Sony. Part of the "stigma" of Teac is that they were synonymous with reel to reel tape players sort of like Xerox and copiers.
A power button on the front? That's crazy--who doesn't want to fumble around in the back, between all the cables looking for a power toggle switch the size of a strait pin? And what's all this about a Clock?! I have a phone--why do I need a clock? Who designs these damn things anyway?
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Cool story, bro.
Loogs
You're not that guy who confuses the word "story" with "comment" are you?
The output impedance is too high for most headphones.
Pointy
I believe the output impedances they list are for the line outs, not the headphone outs.
Not long ago I got the UD-501 off here for 350. The 501 is a better standalone dac than this unit too. All this one offers over that is pre-amp capabilities and a higher powered headphone out. Neither of those features are as important as SNR/crosstalk/THD/etc on a dac. 501 has it beat on that front. The price just can't be justified, at this price you can grab a Gungnir D/S or a CMA400i.
$749.99 and only 1 year warranty. Should be a 5 year warranty in that price range.
What the heck is dual monaural? Dual mono? That can't be right, there's only one volume pot and one power input...
Folks there are too many stellar offerings out there that come well under 750. Please take a look, if money is a factor.
Look at a known quantity, something that there is a lot press on, and a lot discussion on the audio boards, like Schiit for example. No, I do not work for them, believe me, Teac is well below their radar for competition.
They are made in the USA, their service, trial period, response shipping blah blah is all amazing. Look at the Bitfrost for a DAC $400, and a Vali2 for a nice warm tube amp $150 total $650. Or the more sophisticated Asgard 2 for the amp at $250 for a total of the $750 MD is asking. It is just one example. Yes people can find lots of negative comments out there on Schiit products, but at least there is a lot of commentary, and that can be taken against all the other positive commentary.
MD - you are off the mark on this offering. It is too much money you are asking of people for an unknown product from a company with a dubious past, or to be nice from an unknown company.
Its wrong! I feel I can say that because between my daughter and I have spent over a grand on your audio products alone. I am a fan of MD, but this ......
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Definitely really itching to pull the trigger. I'm getting the THX-AAAs from the drop that should ship in October... So the Jotunheim should tide me over... Unless I find a used Gungnir multibit in the meantime. But still considering all options. Hopefully I'll get to listen to a multibit before I buy.
coolerking
Are you talking about the same Schiit that audiosciencereview found improper, or in fact, non-existent grounding on the Jotunheim model? I'll admit, great marketing though!
In the past few years, it seems as if Teac is under new management, going back to their high quality tudio equipment days, both with these mini components, as well as the lauded coaxial series they are producing. Perhaps a little too late though, as I agree with you on their questionable past in general hifi, at least in the USA.
There's nothing warm about tubes until they distort, and that's due to the even order harmonic nature of their distortion. Otherwise, tubes don't provide any magic audio signals unless you crank them in a guitar amplifier. So, please don't get hung up on the "tube warmth" nonsense being spread in audiophoolia.
If you're gonna go cheap, at least go ifi....even if their designs are awkward.
What's with MD's love affair with TEAC? I love MD, i have bought lots of stuff through them, not worrying if I can save a few dollars elsewhere. So this is a real question.
Also: when MD points to a Head-Fi user as an endorsement of the product, I am actually embarrassed. Understand, it is a SINGLE user, in this case name JoeDoe. I look for trends of reviews, meaning much commentary, and trying to discern where the truth lies.
I am glad no one has purchased this product. I always imagine some poor sole out there who is not a electronics hardware veteran trying to make sense of all this stuff, getting duped and buying something with their hard earned and saved earnings THAT SUCKS. I always imagine they end up wrongly thinking this is as good as gets, I do not understand all this noise about audio, and then that person is ruined.
Below is a great website, it has the links of many great audiophile websites. For the love of whoever, please do not listen to me, or any other person posting on MD for that matter, do your research here:
https://www.dailyaudiophile.com/
I will bet my Grandma there are TEAC folks on this board now, or someone in the fulfillment chain from TEAC to the MD buyer. Some comments on this discussion echos exactly what JoeDoe said?
I am a hardware engineer. When I started my audio hobby I used audio asylum. I am a skeptic, I liked that The users there are serious and will sniff out and reveal a poser immediately. http://www.audioasylum.com/
I had the opportunity to buy a TEAC integrated amp once. I researched it, and I found nothing about it. I bought it, and the thing was bright as the sun. Which is always the risk with Class D amp stages (I am not talking a headphone amp, sorry to confuse) . I only could blame myself. When there is no commentary out there on legitimate user ran websites, I have learned to stay away.
coolerking
To be fair, I don't think there are a lot of people who are shopping in this price tier who would blindly follow Massdrop's listings as a indication of what's good or not.
I agree that a single Head-Fi user is not a great endorsement. I imagine something like this happened: "hey, we have to list this product, can someone write a good description for it?" and that person did their best... (i.e. we've all been in a job where we had to do something we didn't agree with)
That being said, in the audiophile world I feel like the only endorsement that's worth anything is your ears. I didn't pull the trigger on my Mojo until I heard it live. The Focal Elex didn't get my money until I was able to hear the Elear, Clear and Utopias in person. Yes, Massdrop has gotten a few leaps of faith from me (on the plus side TH-X00, on the bad side T-X0) but I've gotten beyond just trusting them blindly. Heck, I was one of those lunatics who complained about shipping delays/timing and I don't even do that anymore... [Yes, it sucks when the price you pay is your hard earned money to learn those lessons]
The UD 501 recently dropped for $380 and now this one for $750. Pay double the price for a slightly newer model? I don't think so.
Painiyff
The UD-501 released at a similar list price, it's now 5+ years old which is why you see it for less than half the original price. The 503 is being sold at a discount now that the new 505 line is out, this cycle will continue as long as new models are released in the same line. The $359 price was $500 off it's original selling price, this is $349 off it's $999 release price... this model will continue to drop in price until all stock is cleared out. It's part of the concept of the life cycle of a product and in no way unusual.
ElectronicVices
Of course it's not unusual for pricing to depreciate over time. However when my original comment was posted, the 503 was double the price of the 501 on massdrop, which is a much bigger difference than it is now and therefore imo not worth buying the 503 at the time.
3 out of 5 stars at What HiFi: https://www.whathifi.com/teac/ud-503/review
I highly recommend getting one of these. If you’re only driving headphones, it is all that you need on your desk/in your setup. I have mine also going into an Audio-GD Master 9. The price is a tad high for this drop, though. If you can get it for $650 or less and you want to kill off any sign of GAS, go ahead and pick this up!
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I love my TEAC setup (UD-501 + HA-501 + Beyer T1v1). A lot of people have an "attitude" that wont let them open up their minds and try this. If they can get past that and try this equipment, it's a shock to many how good it sounds. I'm like you - I don't look at "upgrades" anymore. I'm done.
BlueSkies
Nice! I had slight skepticism because I do enjoy seeing things like raving reviews online, however I do also know that in audio, my ears are the only ones that matter. I took a leap of faith and purchased my UD-503, and I have no regrets, at all. It's nice to be able to find a single unit that can do it all, for the sake of desk space. my Master 9 is definitely huge and overbearing on my desk, in my tiny little office.
I also own a pair of Beyer T1v1's that I use with this setup, and it's one of my favorite headphones in my collection. The sound is exactly on-point! The only modification that I have performed on the Beyer was when I drilled out holes for Mini-XLR jacks, so that I can run removable cables and my balanced setup.
How exactly are balanced headphones connected to this unit? There are no 4 pin XLR or 4.4 pentaconn connections, but it says the unit can drive balanced headphones with the two TRS outputs on the front panel.
And in the specs it says:
Headphone Output
  • Connectors: 1/4" (6.3mm) Stereo jack x 2
  • Format: Balanced, Active Ground, Unbalanced
  • Polarity, balanced: Tip: HOT, Ring: COLD, Shield: GND
  • Polarity, active ground: Tip: HOT, Ring: COLD, Shield: GND
  • Polarity, unbalanced: Tip: L, Ring: R, Shield: GND
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There’s still some interesting connectors out there. For example, on some Audio-GD units, there’s dual 3-pin XLR which carries L and R signals separately. I don’t use them at all, I just use 4-pin XLR. My dual TS to 4-pin XLR was the missing link to use all of my balanced cables again :)
This arrangement is not "old school" and is actually very smart. The vast majority of users wont use it balanced, so with the plugs arranged like this most people can just plug in singled-ended and go.
It seems that some don't like the velvety sound of this dac. Also this has gone for $649 at other online retailers in the past. I think I'll wait.
Can't output to headphones and line out at the same time...that's a dealbreaker for me.
is there a voltage option, or does this unit accept both 220-240v/50hz and 110-120v/60hz? When I tried to join the drop, there wasn't an option. Or is it "freevolt" like the Teac 101s?
fmulderme
I've seen Massdrop do that.. they "cut and paste" specs from manufacturer's websites that they (Massdrop) don't actually offer. Leaves many customers confused. You will have to ask Massdrop about it directly.
fmulderme
In the past, when Massdrop have listed something like this in the specs:
US/Canada: AC 120V, 60Hz UK/Europe: AC 230V, 50Hz
But without any mention of input voltage in the main body of the description, it's usually meant that there are two different models (with different power input stages) for North America and The Rest of the World (well, most of it anyway!)
It's also usually been the case that Massdrop is only selling the North American model (which they'll happily sell and ship to you anywhere in the world!) and haven't given a seconds thought to the fact that the model they're selling won't work in most of the countries they ship to.
I want this unit fairly bad. I've been loving the crap out of my UD-501. It is my go-to out of all my DACs. If this was the NT-503, I'd have already hit the go button.
Fayne
Yeah the trouble with the 501 is, how does one better it? It's the prefect DAC for a home audio enthusiast. Maybe that's why they discontinued it. Its design topology and electronics make it beyond what anyone could possibly ever need.
I started with the Teac UD-301 DAC/Amp and upgraded to the UD-503 about a year after it was released. The difference in sound quality is significant, and to me, this is DAC is the bargain of the decade.
The combination of the Teac UD-503 DAC, Audiophile Optimizer and JRiver Media Center is astounding. The vast majority of my music collection consists of roughly 4TB of 24-bit/192Khz Flac, DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 files, in a variety of music genres. The above combination of hardware and software makes everything I listen to sound as if I'm hearing it for the very first time. It is that revealing.
The difference in sound quality between the UD-301 and UD-503 is staggering, and if you already have the UD-301 and you're considering upgrading, don't hesitate to do so; it is MORE than worth the extra money and the difference in sound quality is literally jaw-dropping.
I think the UD-503 is one of the most underrated and under appreciated DACs on the market. I used both the UD-301 and UD-503 in my studio, in a typical 'near-field' setup, so I can't attest to how it might sound in a more conventional living room or listening room environment. Friends who hear my system are simply blown away by the quality and quantity of crystal-clear music, and when they return home and listen to their own audio systems, they immediately want to upgrade their gear.
I have been an audiophile since the 70s (revealing my age here), and I've owned some very high-end audio gear over the years; McIntosh, Apogee, B&K, California Audio, Conrad-Johnson, to name a few. I'd put my studio system up against any of them. While that may not be a fair comparison (studio setup vs living room setup), it is to me as close to perfection as I'm able to attain. I HIGHLY recommend the UD-503.
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al.stroh
In your opinion, would the 503 be that large an upgrade over the 501? I have had the 501 and it is a serious piece of kit. My only issue with it is that the headphone amplification is less than stellar, though is clear enough performance wise.
I am using the 501 with the Lake People G109p for headphones and am very pleased with it, but that doesn't change the fact that the 503 is intriguing.
I remain surprised that TEAC doesn't have a larger following.. for the money, they make amazing gear, as you have stated.
Xannen
I have no experience with the 501, so I can't really comment on it.
I have no complaints about the headphone amp in my UD-503, which is driving my AKG K712 Pro cans, modified for balanced operation, and a couple of different pairs of IEMs with balanced cables. Everything runs in balanced mode in my studio setup; the 503, studio monitors, subwoofer, console, DI/mixer, etc. It's the only way to fly, in my book, and with no music playing, everything is noise free and dead silent.
This is a good dac/amp but I paid $250 for the ud-301 and this is better but not $500 Better. Massdrop is smoking crack to imagine that this will sell at this price.
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Why do you say that the 501 is better as a dac? What makes it better?
Xannen
Looking at the design, construction, and internal components, the way I see it the 501 was designed from the ground-up to be a top-tier DAC that can be used with headphones.. but only if you have to. If one wants a headphone amp, that's a different job and they make the HA-501 for that purpose. When these 2 pieces are assembled together, you have a stellar "component-based" system of matching pieces.
This is a good dac, but that ain't no drop at 749$ US. I can get the same one here in canada for the same price... but without paying duty or shipping.
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I own the UD-301 and I'm happy with it. Paid 360$ Canadian brand new. But just realizing that as a Canadian, I dont belong here on massdrop... nothing represent a price drop for me. If you add money exchange rate, duties and taxes.... Everything is more expensive than if buy locally.
ericlerouge
Don't belong here?? LOL, don't they have international drops, too? I can understand the whole duty and exchange rate problem, though. I live near the border in the Buffalo / Niagara Falls area, trying to hide stuff from customs was always a pain when going to my Grandfather's summer place in Crystal Beach and on the way back, lol.
"... feature a newly developed low-distortion technology that enables a signal-to-noise ratio of 112 dB—arguably the best in the industry. "
Wait. I'm confused. Are they suggesting that it is up for debate as to whether the highest SNR is best? Is that not just objectively true? Or, maybe 112 db is right in the Goldilocks zone -- just enough noise in the signal that people don't get freaked out by the overwhelming clarity of the signal.
xnobys
I think what they're saying is, the Verita AK4490 DACs "feature a newly developed low-distortion technology" and that because of this the UD-503 is able to get a real world SNR of 112dB, which they claim is "arguably the best in the industry".
In other words, higher SNR is good, and 112dB is about as high as you're going to get.
Lots of cheaper devices will list a SNR higher than 112dB in their specs, but I think often they just copy/paste the maximum theoretically possible SNR from the specs of the DAC chip they used rather than measuring the effective SNR their device is actually capable of.