The uDAC is unique in that it uses the ESS9022 DAC chip from ESS Technology. Unlike the ubiquitous Wolfson WM8740, I’m not aware of any other entry level offering that uses the ESS9022 chip. Keep in mind that though the ESS9022 carries the “Sabre” name, it’s quite far from the Sabre32 DAC chip that’s often associated with high-end DACs such as Twisted Pear’s Buffalo DAC, or Wavelength Audio’s Denominator DAC. Nevertheless, the ESS9022 chip that’s used in the uDAC is still very good, and should be a potent competitor in the entry-level market.
Operational is very simple and intuitive. You connect to a computer through the USB at the back, and you have an option of either sending the signal to a headphone amplifier, active speaker, or power amplifier through the RCAs at the back, or directly to the headphone out in front. The RCA out level is controlled with the same volume knob that controls the headphone out level. When a headphone is plugged in, the RCA out is cut out automatically, a nice feature that eliminates the need of an output selector switch. The uDAC will also serve as a USB to S/PDIF coaxial converter, although the coaxial out won’t operate when the uDAC is turned on. You have to turn off the uDAC to get signal out of the coaxial out. No external power is required with the uDAC, as it is designed to be driven from the USB.
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.
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.
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.
uDAC-2 review soon? I read it's a good upgrade over the first one and might give the Audinst MX1 some competition 😉
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.
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?
Have you compared the UDAC to the HeadAmp Pico DAC?
If you have can you do a quick comparison?
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.
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.
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!
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).
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
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. 🙂
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?
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.
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!
Mike, Thanks for the explanation! Mark