Author Topic: NuForce icon uDAC 2 - usb powered small hi end DAC  (Read 6352 times)

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Offline Sanjay

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NuForce icon uDAC 2 - usb powered small hi end DAC
« on: Oct 30, 2011 at 09:29 PM »
the Nuforce icon uDAC2 is now available in the Philippines. Price is only P5,900.

NuForce uDAC-2 is a high-performance 24bit/96kHz USB Digital Audio Converter (DAC) that connects your personal computer's audio to your home stereo, desktop sound system, or headphones. The quality and versatility of the uDAC-2's performance belie its diminutive size. With its extensive power supply, filtering capabilities and charge-pump circuit as a foundation, the uDAC-2 processes incoming data via a USB audio receiver. A D/A converter chip then translates the data to a two-volt analog signal. The NuForce uDAC-2's performance equals or exceeds that of a great many audiophile CD players. The unit's exemplary flexibility -- analog RCA, digital coaxial, and high-performance headphone outputs -- is bound to satisfy the needs of the most critical music lover.
As a step above the uDAC, the uDAC-2 boasts a highly linear TOCOS volume control for improved channel tracking at low listening levels in addition to 24bit/96kHz USB DAC and an improved headphone amp.

* iPAD with iOS 4.2.1 works with uDAC-2 provided that a powered USB hub is used between an iPAD and the uDAC-2.
* If you're using the Icon uDAC-2 with sensitive in-ear earphones and listening at low volume, please read this article about channel imbalance issues.

Note1. The uDAC-2 is designed for consumer playback of digital music. It has not been calibrated for professional recording. At the 9 o'clock volume indicator, there is hardly any signal; further, analog pots do not behave reliably. At normal listening levels, the volume tracking is within 1dB.
Note2. The uDAC-2 volume max out at around 0dB input (maximum digital input) with THD+N around 1% is intentional, i.e., targeting the voltage rail limit in order to achieve the loudest possible, yet un-distorted, music playback. Short of 1% THD at 0dB input, we are not fully implementing our voltage limit, which translates in practical terms to a diminished volume range for music.



Features
Discrete USB audio receiver and D/A converter
Coaxial S/PDIF output
Double jitter-reduction mechanism at data level and at oversampling filter stage
High voltage 2V analog output
A highly linear TOCOS volume control for improved channel tracking at low listening levels.
No capacitors in any of the audio signal paths
USB powered, no external power supply required
Headphones impedance between 16 ohm to 300 ohm are suitable for use with Icon uDAC-2






« Last Edit: Oct 30, 2011 at 10:12 PM by Sanjay »

Offline Sanjay

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Re: NuForce icon uDAC 2
« Reply #1 on: Oct 30, 2011 at 09:35 PM »
Some reviews from people that bought the nuForce uDAC 2.

review # 1

I originally bought the uDAC-2 to use for both my portable setup and my "real" home setup. For reference, here are my setups:

Portable: Laptop --> uDAC-2 --> Sennheiser HD650 or Shure SE-115K
Home: Desktop Computer --> uDAC-2 --> Matrix M-Stage Amplifier --> HD650

As a DAC, the uDAC is simply outstanding in its class, especially considering both its price and form factor. As a moderately active headphone listener (and [...] addict), I have tried numerous portable DAC and DAC/Amp solutions, such as the iBasso D10, the iBasso D4, the HeadAmp Pico DAC/Amp, the HeadAmp Pico DAC only, and the Zero DAC that was making waves all over the internet a couple of years ago. I believe the uDAC easily matches these DACs in prowess, with maybe only the HeadAmp Pico DAC only sounding slightly more detailed in its lower frequencies (although this is a highly subjective opinion, as I did not compare both the DACs with the same headset or same amplifier, and am only doing the comparison from memory as I had sampled a friend's Pico a while back).

The DAC is outstanding: it uses high quality components, has fantastic fit and finish, and requires only a USB port with no external power.

The headphone amplifier, however, was the most surprising part of the product for me. I did not really expect much of a headphone amplifier to be integrated into a $100 budget DAC, but the amplifier was outstanding for its price. It even managed to almost power my HD650s, which have an extremely high impedance of 300ohms, and are usually terrible sounding from budget amplifiers. The HD650s still sound a bit muddy (it's to be expected in a budget portable DAC/Amp combo), but my Shures sound phenomenal -- miles ahead of my laptop or desktop's built in headphone output. Since it's such a small accessory, it's perfect for making long study sessions in the library much more bearable with great audio coming out of my laptop.

I would highly recommend the product: it easily competes with products double its price (the iBasso D10), and is a fantastic way to get into high fidelity audio for a bargain price.

A note of caution: all of these products simply output your source material much more accurately and clearly than your internal sound cards (for the most part). Thus, any flaws in the source will also be more easily heard. I wouldn't really recommend listening to 128kbps MP3s with this. At least 196kbps (preferably V0 or 320kbps) MP3s/AACs if you must use compressed audio, but lossless audio formats such as FLAC and ALAC are generally much preferred.

review # 2
I have been studying and playing music for nine years and I'm attending university for classical music performance so sound is vital to me and I know when it's good or bad. Live concerts are the best way to listen to music but the convenience of purchasing recordings to listen to whenever is very tempting. For some bands and singers in "popular" music they may only come to you area once every couple of years and the concert experience is about much more than just music. It's a fact that people will listen to recordings more often than they will see live music, so quality in listening is very important.

My setup- FLAC > Laptop USB > NuForce uDAC-2 > Hifiman RE0

Package- Plastic box containing uDAC-2, ~4ft USB A to B cable, and instruction manual. 1 year limited warranty from NuForce.

Design- Small metal casing with a plastic volume knob. Sturdy build. USB cable probably contributes to more desk clutter than the actual unit. It's small enough that I can travel with it if I'm away for a weekend but still want to listen to music.

Idea- the point of the uDAC-2 is to bypass the (probably low quality) sound card in your computer by getting the audio signal from USB. From here it either converts your signal from digital to analog for use with an external headphone amplifier or uses its own headphone amp to output a signal directly to your headphones. The uDAC-2 contains higher quality components than your computer's internal sound card which contributes to better sound reproduction. Pardon me if this is not right and please comment to correct me.

Impressions- This little box definitely improves the quality of sound your computer outputs. The first thing I noticed about it was that it seemed to deliver the high frequencies more clearly on bad recordings where my sound card wasn't cutting it. After a few days of listening and while doing direct comparisons with and without the uDAC-2 I have noticed an improvement in the overall clarity of the music and separation of instruments in an orchestra. I listened to Mahler 1 with the Pittsburgh Symphony led by Manfred Honeck and it made me appreciate the beautiful recording even more. Listening to the Four of a Kind trombone quartet (my main instrument) I have never heard a better reproduction of the instrument from my audio equipment before. Everything seemed so detailed and you could much more clearly hear the breathing and mechanical noises of the players. With both of these recordings I felt like I was almost there attending the recording session live. However, it will also amplify imperfections in recordings. Some youtube videos have a lot of excess noise and low quality recording which you will be able to notice more with the uDAC-2.

Value- This device costs $129 but is the improvement in sound quality worth that much? To me, yes, but perhaps not to others. I will defintely listen to music through this device for at least 129 hours over the next couple of months and I think $1 per hour for this improvement is a worthy price. Audio equipment is expensive as you look for higher and higher quality but the differences between the internal sound card in my laptop and the uDAC-2 are quite noticeable to me.

Service- I have not dealt much with NuForce but I did send an email to them and received a response within three hours at which was 9 pm where NuForce is. My order was also shipped out the same day I ordered (the day of the product's release).

Conclusion- This product is a great entry-level digital to audio converter and headphone amplifier. It's absolutely simple to use and doesn't take up much space but it delivers sound that is definitely one step closer to true live sound. If you're beginning to look at upgrading your audio setup and you already have decent headphones this is a very good product for your next purchase. Happy Listening!

Review # 3
Not being a legitimate audiophile---but knowing the difference between brilliant and blah---I am one who is constantly upgrading and playing with my sound systems and let me tell you something: THIS IS THE HOLY GRAIL for desktops. I had a Headroom bitamp set up between my Macbook and my speakers. It certainly amplified the sound, giving it a boost for sure. But I also heard a constant low grade flutter that drove me nuts. Then I read about the NuForce Dac, bought it, set it up in microseconds and BA-BOOOOOM! It doesn't just juice up the sound it literally sends it sky rocketting into a whole new dimension of clarity and quality. This is a spectacular, stunning improvement over what I had. My speakers suddenly sound like studio monitors. Jazz? WOW. The Beatles remastered? They are ALIVE. Steely Dan? When did they move in? Do NOT hesitate: GET THIS LITTLE BABY. It's really small: but don't be thrown by it's tiny little imprint. I would give this fifty stars but they only allow five here.

Offline Sanjay

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Re: NuForce icon uDAC 2 - usb powered small hi end DAC
« Reply #2 on: Dec 11, 2011 at 02:37 PM »
Check out the inside of the nuForce icon  uDac2:



no need for external power, just hook this up to your computer. it will be powered by USB. Listening to MP3 or FLAC on your uDAC 2 sounds like your listening to CD from an high end expensive CD player.

The uDac 2 is less then P6,000.

Offline bladecutter_ph

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Re: NuForce icon uDAC 2 - usb powered small hi end DAC
« Reply #3 on: Feb 07, 2012 at 12:27 PM »
Sir,

Will uDAC 2 work for this setup:
Laptop Computer --> uDAC-2 --> Yaqin MC10T --> FS Speakers

I'm looking for entry level DAC so I could play my digital files through my tube amp.

Will appreciate your feedback.

TIA>

Offline Sanjay

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Re: NuForce icon uDAC 2 - usb powered small hi end DAC
« Reply #4 on: Feb 20, 2012 at 08:29 AM »
Sir,

Will uDAC 2 work for this setup:
Laptop Computer --> uDAC-2 --> Yaqin MC10T --> FS Speakers

I'm looking for entry level DAC so I could play my digital files through my tube amp.

Will appreciate your feedback.

TIA>

The nuforce uDac2 will work perfectly in that configuration.

Offline Sanjay

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Re: NuForce icon uDAC 2 - usb powered small hi end DAC
« Reply #5 on: Feb 20, 2012 at 08:33 AM »
Check out the Nuforce uDac2 video on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yOTifL6uH0&feature=player_embedded

Offline rollyblu

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Re: NuForce icon uDAC 2 - usb powered small hi end DAC
« Reply #6 on: Apr 20, 2012 at 12:18 AM »
If your laptop is running on windows try installing Asio for windows media player and Asio4all for other media player. You'll be surprised with the sq.

Offline Sanjay

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Offline CocoBoy

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Re: NuForce icon uDAC 2 - usb powered small hi end DAC
« Reply #8 on: Aug 22, 2015 at 10:50 PM »
Trying the udac2 to work with myair 2 with the usb camera adapter. Just cant figure out the usb powered hub to make it work.
ALA EH!!