TEAC unwraps its 'baby' Reference 101 series amplifier/DAC and HR-S101 packagePress Release dated: 10 Dec 2014
TEAC is on a shrinkage mission. Having wowed the world with the introduction of the compact Reference 501 series hi-fi components and left it speechless with the even smaller Reference 301 series, the legendary manufacturer is proud to announce the next stage in its quest to miniaturise hi-fi… the tiny Reference 101 series.
The first product in the Reference 101 series – the AI-101DA Integrated Amplifier with USB DAC - takes all of TEAC's hallmark virtues – great sound, advanced technology, simple operation – and wraps them up in a precision-engineered aluminium alloy body that's the size of a book. Even better you can also buy it as complete system with speakers (known as the HR-S101, detailed at the end of this news release)
TEAC AI-101DA – KEY FEATURES
- USB DAC for high resolution audio streaming (24-bit/192kHz)
- Bluetooth aptX high-quality wireless music streaming
- 2 x 26w Class-D power amplifier
- Auto power saving mode (useful for use with TV or cable/satellite PVRs)
- 2 x optical audio inputs, 1 x USB input, 1 x line audio input
- Aluminium alloy front panel and enclosure
- Available in black or silver
- Machined aluminium controls
- Can be placed vertically or horizontally
- Measures just 182mm x 53mm x 191mm
- Free music player software for Mac/PC
- Remote control
But while TEAC has nominally tailored the AI-101DA amp/DAC for a very specific audience - those who primarily now use a computer and/or smartphone to listen their music – its innate versatility means that it can also be partnered with a flatscreen TV, hooked up to a cable/satellite PVR or even used in partnership with an older CD player.
However you choose to use it this carefully conceived integrated amp/DAC will deliver a virtuoso sonic performance. At its heart is a BurrBrown PCM1796 digital-to-analogue converter (DAC). As well as playing back high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, this highly specified chip also upconverts lesser quality audio signals (like CD) to the aforementioned resolution while brilliantly suppressing jitter distortion (a serious issue with computer-based audio).
With four audio inputs on board (2x optical, 1 x USB, 1 x analogue line in) the AI-101DA will handle a wide selection of sources. If, as suggested above, owners partner it with a TV or cable/satellite PVR they'll definitely appreciate the Auto Power Saving Function. This cleverly brings the AI-101DA out of standby when a digital signal is detected and automatically shuts it down after three minutes of inactivity… as fit and forget as such products get.
If your main interest is music streaming via Bluetooth then it's worth noting that TEAC has fitted the AI-101DA with the aptX variant of the ubiquitous wireless technology. Streaming via 'regular' Bluetooth can result in a singularly underwhelming sonic experience but the aptX version is designed to maximise audio performance (so long as your smartphone or computer also supports it) to give CD-like sound quality.
Getting the audio out to your speakers is the job of the onboard amplifier. This is a Class-D type design (runs cool so no need for a noisy fan) that delivers 2 x 26w per channel. To give enhanced bass impact it's augmented with a switchable DSP-based active HR (High Resolution) Loudness facility that also works for regular analogue signals. And if that doesn't light your fire there's even a subwoofer output!
For personal listening, there's a high-power headphone output that delivers 2 x 100mW, allowing it to drive a wide range of headphones (even tricky high impedance types).
As you would hope TEAC also supplies high-resolution audio playback software for use with the AI-101DA, for both PC and – notably – Mac computers. It's really straightforward to use and can be downloaded for free from TEAC's website.
Unlike many lightly built competitors the TEAC is wrapped in a body constructed entirely from weighty aluminium alloy (even the 'faux' rack handles and three rotary controls on the fascia are made of machined aluminium alloy). Pick it up and the AI-101DA feels like a serious product (it weighs 1.2kg) that will wear the years well.
It's versatile when it comes to positioning too. It can be placed horizontally or vertically (ideal if it's mated with a TV or PC)… chunky binding posts at the rear ensure you get a secure connection to loudspeaker cables, however you care to place it, however you choose to use it.
NEED SOME SPEAKERS?
The AI-101DA is, of course, available to purchase on its own but TEAC has also created a package complete with speakers for consumers who prefer a total solution.
The HR-S101, as it is known, comprises a AI-101DA along with a pair of TEAC's compact LS-101 two-way loudspeakers. These are a rear-ported bass reflex design, fitted with a 20mm treble driver and a 70mm mid/bass unit. The treble driver features a distinctive chrome-plated diffuser and the speakers – which can be purchased in either attractive cherry or black finishes – are supplied with good quality AWG8-grade speaker cable that's a perfect fit for the binding posts on bothe amplifier/DAC and loudspeakers.
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