TEAC launches a trio of high-res audio devices for audiophilesPress Release dated: 15 Oct 2015
TEAC, one of the world’s best known hi-fi brands, has added three, exciting new components to its award-winning Reference 503 separates-based mini component hi-fi system… the UD-503 USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier and the NT-503/NT-503DAB USB DAC/Network Players.
The TEAC UD-503…
The follow-up to 2014’s acclaimed UD-501 model, the UD-503 is a beautifully engineered, state of the art USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier that retains its predecessor’s dual-mono architecture and incorporates a high quality headphone amplifier with balanced/unbalanced outputs.
• Twin AK4490 DACs supporting resolutions up to 11.2MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM.
• Dual-monaural structure thoroughly separates independent left and right circuits from the power supply to the output stage.
• Can be used as a preamp in conjunction with power amps and active speakers.
• Analogue RCA inputs add flexibility for older components.
• Headphone amplifier supports fully balanced, parallel-unbalanced and active ground headphone operation.
• TEAC-HCLD current-enhancing output buffer circuit, to better convey the dynamism of music.
• Capable of up-conversion up to 12.2MHz DSD and 384kHz PCM.
• TEAC-QVCS high-precision volume control with a four-circuit structure allows 256 setting steps.
• High-precision internal clocks, plus support for a 10MHz external clock.
• Full-metal body with three independent pinpoint feet delivers high vibration suppression and stability.
As a standalone audio component the UD-503 offers an astonishing degree of technological innovation in what is an unbelievably compact enclosure.
Decoding high-res digital audio signals is, of course, its prime purpose in life. This it does with the help of a pair of AKM VERITA AK4490 digital to analogue converters. Part of a family of components developed by AKM for pro audio and high-end audiophile applications, these DACs were purpose-designed for a hi-resolution audio age, with full support for 11.2MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM audio signals. With a working S/N ratio of 112dB these are truly state of the current art.
The fully dual-mono architecture (with one transformer per channel), along with differential processing from DAC to output stage, minimises any chance of mutual interference to signals and results in the virtual elimination of common-mode noise.
Fully asynchronous USB transfer mode allows the UD-503 to control and sync incoming PCM and DSD audio signals using its precision built-in 44.1kHz and 48kHz clocks, rather than the rather poor ones that most PCs use. Unusually, users can go one better by adding an external 10MHz master clock, for even better precision.
Rather than buy an off-the-shelf solution TEAC has programmed its own FPGA IC to handle DSD signal augmentation. So now, even regular CD level audio signals (44.1kHz/16-bit) and 48kHz PCM files can now be up-converted to DSD, adding a sense of ‘air’ that is otherwise usually absent. And with four types of PCM and two types of DSD filter there’s plenty of scope for further fine-tuning.
In a first for TEAC’s Reference series components a digital isolator is employed to completely segregate the digital and analogue circuits, preventing digital noise from an external device using the USB input polluting the UD-503’s power supply.
With a set of analogue inputs provided and a 256-step TEAC QVSC (Quad Volume Control System) the UD-503 can act as a standalone pre-amp in a hifi system, either partnered with power amps or active speakers. TEAC has redesigned its HCLD output buffer circuit (which increases current transfer on analogue output signals), optimising it for both balanced/unbalanced output.
Most headphone amplifiers support conventional single-ended headphone output but the UD-503’s HCLD (High Current Line Driver) circuit goes much further by supporting single-ended, balanced (BTL) and Active GND modes. The latter is a new drive method that (via an amplifier circuit) forcibly connects the headphone ‘negative’ to a stable 0v ground. The result is an even lower noise floor and increased sonic insight.
Physically, the UD-503 benefits from a precision-engineered, full-metal A4-sized body, supported by three internally-spiked ‘pinpoint-type’ feet, an ideal way to minimise low-frequency heaviness and enhance detail resolution.
You’ve just read about the UD-503. Now imagine a variation on that theme which puts the emphasis on hi-res audio streaming via a network/Bluetooth and streaming audio services such as Spotify and Deezer. That’s essentially describes the NT-503 (with added DAB/DAB+ reception on the NT-503DAB version).
ADDITIONAL KEY FEATURES
• Supports 5.6MHz DSD and 192kHz WAV/FLAC Hi-Res Audio Streaming via Ethernet or USB Flash Memory
• Bluetooth® aptX® delivers high-quality Wireless Music Streaming from Smartphone and Tablet
• Supports Subscription Music Services such as Spotify and Deezer, and Internet Radio Stations (and DAB/DAB+ on the NT-503DAB)
When it comes to handling hi-res audio the NT-503 builds further on the UD-503’s rear USB input by also adding the ability to handle high-res audio streaming via a network. DLNA 1.5 compatibility means that formats such as DSD (5.6MHz) and 192kHz/24-bit WAV/FLAC can be replayed from PC or NAS (Network Attached Server), all controlled via free TEAC apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
Housed in the A4-same-sized enclosure as the UD-503 the NT-503 also exchanges one of that model’s headphone outputs for a USB input that’s capable of receiving hi-res audio (5.6MHz/192kHz PCM files) on USB flash memory.
There’s also direct, built-in support for popular paid-for subscription music services such as Spotify and Deezer as well as the free TuneIn internet radio portal, which gives access to 100,000 stations and 4 million podcasts. Last but not least there’s onboard aptX Bluetooth, to allow high quality music streaming from your smartphone or tablet.
As well as the regular NT-503 TEAC is also making available the NT503DAB… exactly the same device but with additional DAB/DAB+ digital radio support (not available in all territories).
It’s worth mentioning that the single-headphone output on the NT-503 still makes use of TEAC’s HCLD circuit to deliver mostly Class-A performance for single-ended headphones of up to 600ohms impedance.
So there you have it. Three new high-res audio-compatible devices that genuinely strengthen TEAC’s claim to be the maker of the world’s foremost compact hi-fi systems.
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