Audinst HUD-MX1

Here is a great entry level DAC from a relatively young Korean company called Audinst. DAC techonology has been improving so much, and now we can have a great sounding DAC for a very affordable price.

Sound wise, the HUD-MX1 is very good, considering the price level that it’s being sold for. It’s free from any obvious coloration and digital artifacts. Detail level is very good, although nothing to get goosebumps about. There isn’t a strong bias toward a certain frequency region, neither are any frequency bumps or spikes present. Now that may sound like a “generic” description that I could’ve copied and pasted from some other reviews, but the fact is the HUD-MX1 is a plain, uncolored DAC that simply does its job very well. While DACs with a more “audiophile” sound signature with thick bottom end and warm sound are nice, sometimes you want a more neutral DAC for pairing with a tube amp, to avoid having a sound that’s too thick or too warm.

Its dimensions are quite compact, as you can see at the photo below, positioned next to the Ipod.

The HUD-MX1 is the lowest priced stand alone DAC that has come to our test room. So far, my experiences with DACs has been limited to mostly higher end units, and frankly speaking, it’s hard to get excited about a $179 stand alone DAC. I’m still waiting to get a Nuforce uDAC, which is repotedly to be very good for $99, but the uDAC hasn’t arrived, and so I have to write this review apart from the uDAC. (I’ll defintely write a comparison between the two, once the uDAC is here). But you know what, I truly think that the HUD-MX1 is a great DAC for the price. It satisfies all the basic requirements of a good DAC, and for $179, I hardly think that you can do any better. Let me explain some more.

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  • Nugra

    ah, you're right. ebay have stock of audinst. and by pure chance i found ud-1 on amazon japan! now how buy from that kind of website…

    thanks for the advice, Mike. and really, it looks like we must search in this kind of online shop as we dont have distributor for that kind of goods here…

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I'm afraid there is no way around it. Distribution is a big issue for both the manufacturer and the consumer. As a matter of fact, I think we've been reviewing more Sennheiser gears than any other brand mainly because they're easier to get around here.

  • Nugra

    i cant agree more. i just recently realized it, especially when it's about stuff from this kind of class. specialized item like this.

    but now, many thanks for you, Mike! if it wasnt because of you and your reviews, i would've been stuck with a senn connected directly to my onboard headphone output. ahahaha!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hey Nugra, good for you. I see that David has helped you with some stores in Singapore to get the Audinst!

  • David

    @Nugra: got my MX1 from here… http://audiohub.com.sg/audinst-mx1/, closer to Indonesia, at least…

  • David
  • Nugra

    you're right! thanks a bunch, David! surely will contact them when i get the money, in the meantime. i'll bookmark it

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  • Simon

    Finally got the MX1 in the mail today. I'm not sure if you ever got around to opamp rolling Mike but I have the AD797 in it right now. It does sound somewhat better than the stock one in some ways but overall I think the sound is largely unaffected.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yes, there are limits to what op-amp rollings can do. The AD797 is a very good chip though. You can hold on to it and try it with some other gears.

      • Simon

        In your opinion, do you believe in opamp burn-in? Vocals sound great with the AD797 compared to the stock opamp, and I'm noticing more and more differences as I use the AD797

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Hi Simon, opamp burn-in is something that I have never personally examined. I think even if they do burn, the difference should be very slight.

          • Simon

            I ended up going back to the original opamp. I think they designed it to work well with the original opamp so I'll just stick to that. I don't think it was worth opamp rolling on the MX1.

  • http://digitaldocrepair.com/forum/member.php?action=profile&uid=20 Rosario Brozena

    I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information ,-;

    • Mike

      You're welcome, Rosario. :)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019071074 Ofek Shilton

    Hi Mike,
    i have a questions for you..
    do you think that HUD-MX1 will be good for gaming(COD BO..)?
    and what do you think about sen558 + HUD-MX1?
    because i need a good sound card for my hackintosh and HUD-MX1 support mac :)

    tnx

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019071074 Ofek Shilton

    Hi Mike,
    i have a questions for you..
    do you think that HUD-MX1 will be good for gaming(COD BO..)?
    and what do you think about sen558 + HUD-MX1?
    because i need a good sound card for my MAC and PC for gaming..

    tnx

    • Anonymous

      I can’t be sure as I don’t play games on the computer. What are the requirements for a good soundcard/DAC for gaming? I think the Audinst should be pretty good.

      As for gaming headphones, I think quite a few people uses the HD558, though other also recommends the Beyer DT990 and the Audio Technica AD700.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019071074 Ofek Shilton

        let me be more clear..:)
        is the HUD-MX1 have delay ? or it will be the same as the onboard card?
        because i never had a USB dac/amp so i just wanna be sure before i buy…

        tnx A lot

        • Anonymous

          Sorry Ofek, I don’t think I am the right person to ask. I’m just so inexperienced in gaming.

  • meg

    can you compare the mx1 to udac-2?

    • Anonymous

      Meg,
      The MX-1 is superior.

  • Daniel

    Hi Mike,

    I was told you received a unit of Tiny Tube for reviewing. How does that stand against the Audinst MX1? I’m torn between the two and I am running it with a pair of A5s.

    • Anonymous

      Sure, Daniel.
      The Tiny Tube is not here yet. The article should be up in 4 weeks time.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Mike,

    I’m the daniel who asked about the Tiny Tube. Any idea when it’s arriving? I kinda have to make a quick decision between the MX1 and Tiny Tube so your input would be helpful.

    Then again, no hurries.

    Just one question, there’s a tube amp in the Tiny Tube, do you reckon I should get the MX1 if I can’t put up with the hassle of using tubes?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Daniel,
      The Tiny Tube is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, but it would take some
      time before I can write something about it.

      Personally, I don’t think tubes are that much of a hassle. But tubes
      come with a big difference in sound characteristics, and so ultimately
      it would depend on the type of tube being used and the circuit designed
      for it.

      • Daniel1703

        Yo Mike,
        Maybe you could just tell me your impression of it. I’ve been told by a friend that it’s really good. I just need to know how much better it is compared to the MX1 so that I can make a decision. The price is about the same but I tend to turn my DAC on and off rather often. Electricity in Singapore is pretty expensive too so I can’t afford to keep tubes on for prolonged periods. Plus the warranties on both products have a difference of a year (I care).

        • Anonymous

          Okay Daniel. Ask me again next week and I should be able to give you an
          impression.

  • metomurti

    Hi Mike. I am between Audinst Hud Mx-1 and Audiotrak Prodigy Cube. There is huge difference in price. But I don’t know how this price difference effects sound quality? Is audinst really better than audiotrak? Thanks.

    • Anonymous

      I havent had the chance to listen to the Prodigy Cube, sorry.

      • metomurti

        Ok then can I ask another question? Now I am using this combination:

        Macbook + Airport express + optical cable + Edifier s730 speakers with digital input.

        But I want to change some devices. How is this configuration:

        Macbook + usb cable + Audinst + Optical cable + Edifier s730 speakers with digital input.

        What do you think about this new combination? You are also a Mac user. I think that you listened music with airport express via digital out before. Is there really big difference between these two combinations? Or does it not worth to do it and spend another 180 dolars? Thanks very much.

        • Anonymous

          Well,
          My airport express died a few years ago, but while I had it I totally enjoyed it.

          Personally, I’m more into practicalities than I do into squeezing every last bit of technicalities into a system. The Airport express will give your Macbook wireless freedom. The Audinst won’t. Despite any jitter the wireless transmission may induce, I’d probably still stick to the Airport express.

          Of course that’s just my “what if”. If somehow the airport express optical interface turns out to be plain awful on the sonics, then I’d try to do it another way.

          I think if you got the Audinst, better route it this way:

          Macbook > USB > Audinst > RCA Cable > Edifier.

          I’m willing to bet that the Edifier’s digital to analog conversion is inferior to the Audinst’s WM8740 based DAC.

          • metomurti

            Hello again. After talking with you I begin to understand more clearly. Thanks a lot. After reading your last reply, I searched more. In a forum it was written like that:

            “There are 2 types of signal, analog and digital. just assume that digital is ‘raw’ one and analog is the ‘ready to use’. most PC / multimedia speakers are using analog connection, just like earphone / headphone.

            soundcard / dac or whatever it is, convert the digital (raw) to analog (ready to eat) so the speaker is ready to produce the sound. there is also speakers with digital input (i.e. Edifier S730) so it can accept both analog and digital data. if it is given analog, it will produce sound immediately, if it is given digital, the built in decoder will convert (cook) the digital data into analog data.”

            So, as you mentioned before using my speakers with a DAC like Audinst will be better.

            I have no questions more. Have a good day.

            • Anonymous

              Yep, that’s right.

              Try to find an OPA627 to go with the Audinst. Instant sound upgrade.

              http://coolfungadget.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=91

              • metomurti

                Hi again. I have a question. What do you think about the music quality of the different ports on Audinst? Is there any difference between the headphone ports or line out ports? Maybe they have different opamaps for music output? For example opa 2134 for lineout music and lme49860 for headphone music. I don’t know, I just assume.

                • Anonymous

                  I dont think I have done that comparison, but normally the line out is more transparent but lacking punch.

  • Jason

    I have had an Mx1 for about 3 weeks and constantly get crackling noise through my DT770 pro (80 ohm), whether i am using USB power or the power adaptor. Tried a different USB cable, and all my settings are correct (100% volume in media play/laptop). Same issues as the cracklings always seem to come back.

    Any ideas?

    • Anonymous

      That is very weird Jason. I truly have no idea what’s happening there.

      Try a different headphone?

    • Zsolt Ero

      I had cracking noise when using the power adapter, I wrote them an email and they sent me a new power adapter for free with express delivery (it arrived in a few days). First, I would just power on the DAC using USB, without the included power adapter and then I would start experiementing with different USB sources. It is possible that your PC has low quality power supply which triggers this cracking noise. Try it on many PCs/laptops as you can, _only_ using the USB cable. You can find out what’s wrong this way.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Zsolt.
        That sounds like a more positive experience.

    • Zsolt Ero

      I had cracking noise when using the power adapter, I wrote them an email and they sent me a new power adapter for free with express delivery (it arrived in a few days). First, I would just power on the DAC using USB, without the included power adapter and then I would start experiementing with different USB sources. It is possible that your PC has low quality power supply which triggers this cracking noise. Try it on many PCs/laptops as you can, _only_ using the USB cable. You can find out what’s wrong this way.

  • Jason

    Quite possibly the worst piece of electronic equipment i have ever purchased. terrible customer service that did not respond to my questions.

    Crackling noise has not gone away and I have tried EVERYTHING to get  rid of it…the Audinst is a piece of crap, period.

    • Anonymous

      That’s too bad.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know what the crackling noise is all about since I’ve never
      encountered crackling noises on the two Audinst units I’ve come across.
      Likewise nobody else seems to have that problem.

      The issue with customer service is that the Korean dude who runs Audinst
      write very poor english, so that’s probably explains (though it doesn’t
      corrects) the lack of replies.

    • blackbird_pie

      do you run into any similar issues with other usb dacs? If you do then you should check your own pc as the culprit, rather than the Audinst.

  • Jrq

    After a year of enjoying HUD-mx1, I began experiencing crackling noises during volume adjustment, and, what’s worse, a silent squeaks, ocurring with irregular intervals (similar to the sounds that you hear while playing a badly scratched CD), even when I’m not playing anything. What makes me sad, is the mentioned lack of  response from the Audinst’s so-called “Support”, as I am by no means familiar with electronics. I was delighted with its performance, but it’s quite annoying that a device which costs circa $170 has a year-long lifetime and one can not count on the consumer support.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Jrq.
      These crackling noises are starting to become a big issue. Especially
      when the Audinst support is not responding in these cases.

      I’ll try to send him another email to see if he’ll respond to my email.

    • Anonymous

      Email sent to Audinst. Let’s see what they say.

      So just to set things clear, the Audinst was performing great when you got it, and it only developed problems recently? 

      • Jrq

        Exactly, it all began 2-3 weeks ago. As far as “skipping CD” noises go, problem seems to be solved – it was probably USB port’s fault. After some connecting – disconnecting Audinst and other devices and switching ports, they’re gone.

        I’ve also encountered another minor issue. It’s definitely computer’s fault, but maybe someone has an idea how to fix it. When using a Lenovo N500, I set the screen to turn off after a few minutes of idleness (for example, while playing music) and all worked perfectly fine. Recently, I’ve switched to a Samsung RF711 and when its screen turns off, the sound on HUD-mx1 skips for a fraction of a second. Is there any adjustment that can be made to eliminate this skipping? It’s not a big problem, but gets annoying after some time.

        • Anonymous

          Hi Jrq,
          I can’t know for sure, but I guess with all these USB Devices, and the
          wide range of Operating systems and range of different PC hardware, we
          can’t always get a trouble free operation. I mean, take the average USB
          printer, sometimes they just decide that they don’t want to print a
          certain document that I sent to them, and I don’t know what to do on
          those situations.

          I realize it’s not an excuse for a bug, and this is one of the reason
          that I went back to recommending the Audinst and not the Yulong U100
          that I really liked — the Audinst seems to be more reliable across
          different platforms and OS.

      • Jrq

        Exactly, it all began 2-3 weeks ago. As far as “skipping CD” noises go, problem seems to be solved – it was probably USB port’s fault. After some connecting – disconnecting Audinst and other devices and switching ports, they’re gone.

        I’ve also encountered another minor issue. It’s definitely computer’s fault, but maybe someone has an idea how to fix it. When using a Lenovo N500, I set the screen to turn off after a few minutes of idleness (for example, while playing music) and all worked perfectly fine. Recently, I’ve switched to a Samsung RF711 and when its screen turns off, the sound on HUD-mx1 skips for a fraction of a second. Is there any adjustment that can be made to eliminate this skipping? It’s not a big problem, but gets annoying after some time.

    • Zsolt Ero

      It has 2 year warranty, I am sure they will replace your product. They always respond to my emails in a day, and they have sent me a new power adapter for free when mine was broken.

  • r-gun

    can it work with ipad?

    • Anonymous

      I haven’t tried it with an Ipad, sorry.

      Has anyone tried the Audinst with an Ipad?

    • Sangkeun222

      Yes it works with ipad and iphone

      • Anonymous

        How do you make it work in the Ipad and Iphone?

        • Sangkeun222

          you can find a Y cable on the internet for connecting

          • Anonymous

            I see. Yes that would work.

          • Anonymous

            I see. Yes that would work.

  • san

    hi,guys…..i have hud mx-1 nearly a year already…..
    recently, i found out a problem with it
    when i select line out and set the volume knob to full, i notice there are slight sound “leak” in both headphone out…….
    which means there is a weak signal send to connected headphone while using “line out” for speaker……….
    however, it doesn’t happen the other way around (there is no sound from speaker while headphone out selected)……..
    do any of u experience the same problem?can anyone check this with your unit?
    thanks in advance…..
    i already send an email to audinst “support” today and waiting for reply…..

    • Anonymous

      It’s always been like this on mine. With sensitive headphones you can hear something on max line out. But I think its normal, if you don’t want you can disconnect the headphone. Is is barely noticable even with headphones on, if you just leave the headphone on the desk its unnoticable.

      • san

        thank u for clarify this…….i thought it’s something new…..
        cheers…..

  • Corben

    Hi, i’m thinking of getting the audinst, but after reading all the comments, i know it has been 1 month, does the audinst still have the same issue? Mike, does your audinst work just fine?

    • Anonymous

      Mine works just fine, but I’ve sold it long time ago.

      • Corben

        oh you did? sticking to fostex now?

        • Anonymous

          Not quite, just have to shuffle through the gears once in a while.

    • Sangkeun222

      I bought the mx-1 about 5month ago and it still works fine. no negative issue.

      • Anonymous

        Nice.

  • Tom

    I just bought one of these for my 2011 27″ iMac i7 which I have connected to a set of Aktimate Mini speakers.

    I could hear a weird crackling at times through the built in analog out, but its absolutely perfect through the HUD-MX1. I’m not a critical listener at all really and never use headphones, but this DAC was worth every cent ;)

    • Anonymous

      Sounds good, Tom!

  • Anon

    This little thing is the prettiest piece of technology I’ve ever brought.
    Also it sounds great with my k242hd.
    Having a problem with kernel streaming though.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve never found KS really reliable with any soundcards, under Win 7 WASAPI is fantastic.

  • LexTixer

    I sold off my Audinst HUD-MX1 unit. It seems not right with the boring sound stage and lack of musical & dynamic.

    Check it out guys: http://www.inearmatters.net/2011/04/impression-uber-muzik-tiny-tube-dac.html. I just got my hands on Uber muzik tiny tube DAC version 2, it has the dynamic sound stage. Rich round mid frequency, at the same time the high and low is smooth and nicely projected.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, George. Seems like you’re liking that tube midrange a lot.

      • LexTixer

        Well is small and preety promissing then Audinst, i do bring to work @ offshore for 2 months rather then bringing my AudioGD NFB12SE.
        I will give more review at this sitehttp://www.headfonia.com/uber-muzik-tiny-tube-dac/

        • Anonymous

          Thanks, George.

          The Tiny Tube v1 was great. Looking forward to listening to the v2 one day.

  • Cowincanada

    Hey Mike, toss up between mx1 + mstage vs asgard (can only afford either) powering HD600? mx1 +mstage i’m buying used and asgard new

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Go with the Asgard. That’s what I’d do. :)

  • tjf1

    Hi Mike,

    I’m looking for a semi portable amp/dac for my desktok/laptop in the less than 300$ range and was considering the Audinst. I’ve tried the total bithead in the past which sounded okay, but didn’t seem worth the price point in terms of overall performance. The unit would most often times be paired with a set of Audio Technica MKII’s. The sort of unfounded logic I was going with in my head was neutral sounding DAC + Heavily bass biased cans = a better combo than a biased DAC + already biased cans. I do however want to retain the favoring of lows and bass since house/electronica/dubstep/downtempo will be the flavors of music played on this rig. So what do you think? Will the Audinst get the job done for what I’m looking for, or is there something better?

  • Valena29

    I’m having a bit of trouble deciding. I currently have the Sennheiser HD 598 and was looking for a DAC/Amp solution. I’m torn between this, the audits HUD-MX1, or the Fiio E9 & E10 combo, both solutions, under $200. 

    Mike, may I ask for your opinion? 

    Thanks in advance!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Valena,
      I think the Audinst will pair better with the HD598. That’s what I would go with.

  • Chris

    Hi Mike,

    I have been considering many dac + amp combos as well as separate units. I have a pair of ath m50s and would like to know if this dac/amp is a good fit.I really wanted to get a music streamer II and a dedicated amp but the upfront cost is slowing me down. Is the DAC on this ok to be used with an external amp down the road? Any other thoughts on an m50 pairing? Thanks, Chris.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Chris,
      The Audinst is a really good buy, even now I still like to use it due to the simplicity and good sound. And yes you can pair it with an external amp later.
      It should be a good pairing with the M50.

  • Sindri1980

    Hi Mike,

    What do you think about the Matrix mini-i compared to this? I feel like upgrading my DAC, but I like the XLR outputs of the Matrix for my Adam monitors… (I need a DAC with pre-amp capabilities).
    What about that new Cambridge Dacmagic Plus? Any plans to review it in the future?

    Thanks,
    Raúl

    • Sindri1980

      Perhaps the Yulong D100? 

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        The Dacmagic+ looks like a good solution. The quality should be superior to the Audinst and Mini-i, (based on my experience with the regular Dacmagic), and you got the XLR out too.
        I’m interested in reviewing it, but perhaps not now. Got a lot of DACs coming our way soon.