Product Review: NuForce uDac-2 (USB DAC)

Not very often am I inspired to write a product review, but I am quite smitten with my latest (and least expensive) audio purchase.  The NuForce uDac-2 is a "high-performance, Headphone Amp and 24bit/96kHz USB Digital Audio Converter (DAC) that connects your personal computer's audio to your home stereo, desktop sound system, or headphones to deliver superior sound. It improves upon our original uDAC model by providing a highly linear TOCOS volume control for improved channel tracking at low listening levels, a 24bit/96kHz USB DAC, and an improved headphone amp."  In English-  This is the most affordable, best performing USB powere Dac on the market IMHO.

I started looking around for a reliable, affordable DAC a few months back as I was dissatisfied with the sound output of my MacBook Pro.  I had an 1/8 inch to RCA adapter running to my office stereo system and it simply was not cutting the mustard.  As I looked around the web, I encountered many different brands and devices... some big, some small.  All of my research kept bringing me back to NuForce.  So I figured for $120 I'd give it a try.

Upon receiving my unassuming package, I opened it and quickly began moving cords around to account for my new toy.  Before I completely had everything ran perfectly, I did take the time to do some A-B testing between my previous setup and the NuForce.  All I can say is WOW!  The highs were crisper, the lows more complete and the overall sound just opened up wide.  I used the same sample material (a Loss-less Tom Petty album) and even invited colleagues into my office to listen.  All agreed, the NuForce uDac was a winner!

My only gripes (very minor) are that it is only USB Powered.  In my research, I found the higher priced/performing DACs to all have their own power supply.  I wander what the addition of direct power would do to the performance of this unit.  also, the 24 bit resolution and 96kHz sampling rate is not on par with other high-dollar "lossless" 24/196 units, but than again neither is the price.  For the simple fact that the vast majority of my digital music is MP3 and not lossless, I didnt find this to be a hinderance on my purchase. All I can say of the uDac is for the money... and for an entry-level DAC, it is heads above the rest.  I sincerely recommend this to any and all music lovers as an entry into Digital Audio Convertors.

Available in a variety of models and colors:

Note the size comparison... this thing is TINY: