Nuforce uDAC (and comparisons)

The Nuforce uDAC is probably one of the most successful entry level DAC that the audio world has ever seen. Stores consistently run out of stock on the uDAC, and as fast as Nuforce can make them, the market buys at even a faster rate. Which is why it’s been very hard to get a hold of the uDAC, especially here in Asia. For $99 dollars, there’s nothing hotter than the uDAC.

Not only it’s a pretty awesome sounding player, it’s also wrapped in a very high quality finish aluminum casing that blows away all the other offerings in the market. The photographs don’t do justice to the uDAC, because the red enclosure is not made from plastic, but actually a very high quality finished aluminum, with a very fine semi-metallic red finishing. Likewise the front and back panel has the same high quality finishing. The volume knob feels very good, as it also doubles as an on/off switch. The uDAC comes in a very striking size. The dimensions are very tiny, the panel designed to be just enough to fit a pair of analog out RCAs, a coax RCA in/out, and a USB in connector. Build quality wise, it just doesn’t get better than this, until you go way up the price ladder.

Let me share some photos of the uDAC, before we move on to talking about the sound.

Front view, standing up.

 

Back panel (top to bottom): USB in, coaxial digital out, RCA analog out.

 

Volume knob doubles as power switch, the dot in the center is a blue color power on LED, 3.5mm headphone out on the right.

 

In this shot you can see a hint of the high quality metallic finish of the uDAC.

 

The uDAC next to a 2nd gen Ipod Nano.


Nuforce uDAC (and comparisons)
3.3 (65%) 4 vote[s]

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23 Comments

  • Reply April 23, 2010

    inyuret

    Thanks for the review and comparisons Mike. I was set to get this, but then I found out about the Audio-GD Sparrow. Its a bit more expensive than the MX-1, I guess I'll wait for reviews before I decide.

    • Reply April 23, 2010

      Mike

      I'm glad you find it helpful.

      I have talked to Kingwa about the Sparrow, and he said he's still doing some final testing before releasing the product. It shouldn't be too far away though.

  • Reply May 2, 2010

    theo

    another good review, i have been considering the udac for ever, but i wonder how the prodigy cube compares to it, considering how close in size they are.

    nice work

  • Reply October 9, 2010

    Simon

    uDAC-2 review soon? I read it's a good upgrade over the first one and might give the Audinst MX1 some competition 😉

    • Reply October 9, 2010

      Mike

      Hehehe, everyone's been asking for an uDAC-2 review. I still have trouble getting the product though. I think demands have been very good for the uDACs.

      • Reply October 10, 2010

        Simon

        I have a uDAC-2 right now. It was an impulse buy because I got tired waiting for a used Audinst MX1 to arrive (not even sure if it will, been 2 weeks). I'll try to compare the two if the MX1 ever shows up in the mail but I'm sure you'll get your hands on a uDAC-2 some day even though it is probably flying off shelves.

        I forgot to ask, how many hours did you have on the uDAC-1 and MX1 when you reviewed them?

  • Reply October 11, 2010

    JJ

    Hey Mike,

    Have you compared the UDAC to the HeadAmp Pico DAC?
    If you have can you do a quick comparison?

    Thanks!

    • Reply October 11, 2010

      Mike

      JJ: I saw the uDAC as more useful for the tiny headphone amplifier that conveniently runs off the USB port. As a USB DAC, its performance was not very impressive, as also confirmed by a lot of other owners. The Pico DAC is quite superior.

      Simon: I can't remember as that review was months ago, but I normally let them have enough running time before starting a critical listening session.

      • Reply October 12, 2010

        JJ

        Thanks for the reply!

        I just bought the Pico DAC and waiting for

        it to be delivered.

        I enjoy reading your reviews and again

        thank you for doing the comparison.

  • Reply October 11, 2010

    Mark

    Hey Mike, Great review! Thanks! I love my Nuforce uDAC, is it possible to use with an ipod directly? or only with a computer? Thanks!

    • Reply October 11, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Mark, glad you're enjoying it. I don't think you can use it with an Ipod directly. Only with a computer (USB port).

      • Reply October 12, 2010

        Mark

        Hi Mike,

        Thank you for the quick reply! Been reading through your reviews, you do a great job! What amps / DACs would you recommend for an ipod for about $100? Thanks! Mark

        • Reply October 12, 2010

          Mike

          Mark, you can't use a DAC off an ipod. It's like hooking up a car engine to another car engine, they serve the same purpose and is not designed to be used together in one car. 🙂

          • Reply October 12, 2010

            Mark

            Hi Mike,

            Thank you for your patience! Am I mistaken or are :

            Fiio E7 ($99)

            Headstage Lyrix Pro USB ($149)

            Battery powered Amp/DACs that can be used directly with an ipod? or is DAC a misnomer when describing the units?

            Thanks! Mark

            • Reply October 12, 2010

              Mike

              Hi Mark. Amplifier is different than a DAC. Amplifier amplifies the signal, and yes you can use one with an Ipod. A DAC is a digital-to-analog converter and the Ipod already has one inside, so you can't use one with the Ipod. In the case of the Fiio E7 and the Headstage Lyric Pro USB, I think they are amplifiers and DACs put together in one package (a two-in-one deal). You can use the amplifier section with your Ipod, but not the DAC section.

  • Reply October 12, 2010

    Mark

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the quick reply! Been reading through your reviews, great job! Which amp/DAC would you recommend for about $100 for an ipod? Thanks!

  • Reply October 13, 2010

    Mark

    Mike, Thanks for the explanation! Mark

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