TEAC UD-501

Stereo digital-to-analog converter/headphone amplifier (Black)

Item #: 063UD501B

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5 Reviews

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Take it easy

Warm. Smooth. Relaxed. Those adjectives rarely describe typical digital audio. But that's the kind of addictive, highly engaging sound you'll experience with TEAC's UD-501 digital-to-analog converter in your system. This high-performance DAC lets you enjoy virtually any stereo digital audio source — including high-res PCM up to 384kHz/32-bits and 2.8MHz or 5.6MHz DSD digital audio signals — with exceptional transparency and clarity. So sit back, relax, and prepare to engage with your music on a whole new level.


High-res audio

Ready for high-res music

Versatile digital music handling comes courtesy of dual built-in Burr-Brown DACs that support high-resolution playback. The UD-501's asynchronous USB input allows the DAC to control the timing clock signal instead of your computer, reducing jitter to the lowest levels possible for smoother, more detailed sound. Plus this DAC gives you the option to upconvert digital signals to 192kHz to reduce jitter even further. The TEAC website has the free USB driver download you'll need for computer playback.

The UD-501 uses dual-mono circuitry throughout, including a beefy twin toroidal transformer-based power supply (one for each channel) for powerful sound, optimum channel separation, and clear stereo imaging. A variety of filter settings allow you to tailor the DACs sound to suit your system and listening preferences. And to top it off, TEAC gave it a sleek, all-metal chassis with aluminum panels that'll look fantastic in your home or office.

The ins and outs

The TEAC UD-501

The TEAC UD-501 sports flexible inputs and outputs to handle your audio system's needs.

This DAC features five inputs: the aforementioned USB, plus four digital inputs (2 coax, 2 optical) for connecting a CD/DVD player, game console, Apple TV®, or other audio devices with a digital output. You also get unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR audio outputs for flexible connectivity with a wide range of consumer-level and pro-audio gear. A full-size headphone jack and front-panel volume control lets you take advantage of the DAC's built-in headphone amp for private listening.

Product Highlights:

  • plays PCM digital audio sources up to 32-bit/384kHz resolution
  • USB input allows decoding of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files at 2.8MHz or 5.6MHz resolution natively via ASIO2.1 or DoP (DSD over PCM)
  • dual Burr-Brown (TI) PCM1795 32-bit DACs for precise playback of digital music files
  • built-in high-performance headphone amplifier with front-panel volume control
  • asynchronous USB technology for reduced timing jitter and better sound on USB input
  • dimmable front-panel display shows file playback information and menu options
  • selectable filter settings for fine-tuning sound with both PCM and DSD playback
  • user-selectable up-conversion option for PCM digital signals with sampling frequencies less than 192kHz
  • dual-monaural design to eliminate interference between right and left channels
  • individual toroidal-core power transformers (one for each channel) ensure maximum stereo separation and low-noise operation
  • compact all-metal chassis and aluminum panels minimize vibration for clean playback
Inputs:
  • USB (Type B) input for connection to a computer
  • two Toslink optical digital audio
  • two coaxial digital audio
Outputs:
  • fixed line-level stereo XLR balanced audio output
  • fixed line-level stereo RCA unbalanced audio output
  • full-size 1/4" headphone jack
Other Info & Specs:
  • supported sample rates for USB input: 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192/352.8/384kHz Linear PCM; 2.8MHz (DSD64) and 5.6MHz (DSD128)
  • supported sample rates for coaxial input: 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192kHz Linear PCM
  • supported sample rates for optical input: 32/44.1/48/88.2/96kHz Linear PCM
  • operating system requirements: Windows® XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Mac® OS X® 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later
  • USB driver for audio playback on Windows computers (free USB driver download available from TEAC's website)
  • free TEAC HR Audio Player application available for high-resolution PCM and DSD audio playback on Windows and Mac computers (download available from TEAC's website)
  • frequency range: 5-80,000 Hz (-3 dB)
  • THD : 0.0015%
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 115 dB
  • detachable AC power cable
  • 11-7/16"W x 3-3/16"H x 10-5/16"D
  • weight: 8.8 lbs.
  • If connecting to a TV, please make sure you can select "PCM" output in your TV's audio menu. This DAC cannot decode multi-channel Dolby® Digital signals.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Turn your workstation into a concert hall

Desktop DACs all feature USB connections for maximum sound quality with the music you play on your computer. Many offer a headphone output for private listening when you don't want to play your speakers. Some also include additional digital or analog audio inputs for hooking up other types of audio source components.

TEAC UD-501 Reviews

Average Customer Review:

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Clean Sound for CDs

Written By Sir Shops-a-lot, Texas on Monday, July 27, 2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I chose this to play CDs through. For me, USB streaming and headphone listening are bonus features that I haven't made much use of. I think of it more as a digital receiver.

I gleaned from the TEAC product pages there is Burr-Brown chip for each channel. I looked up the chip, there are two DACs on each. It appears the dual DACs per channel can be configured in a mono mode to achieve 126dB S/N. Probably as good as it gets in this tier, if TEAC indeed did this, of course.

Out of the box, the unit is set with the PCM filter off. This is intended for CDs that were produced overly bright, but most of mine are not. I use the "sharp" rolloff which preserves the frequency levels above 10kHz. I found this via some very nice posts by Archimago's Musings on blogspot.com

With this in my component chain, I feel like I'm in the recording studio control room.

Sony disc player > TEAC UD-501 DAC > Marantz PM-8005 amplifier> Infinity R-152 speakers

Pros: Nice build quality, nice user manual.

Cons: Explanation of digital filters lacks detail in the manual, luckily found elsewhere. "Filter off", is actually counter-intuitive and may not be best for CD's

Astounding increase in fidelity

Written By Windchime, Washington on Monday, June 22, 2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

For years, I have wondered why our Denon/Klipsch A/V systems had only mediocre musical quality. After talking with Jenny@Crutchfield (highly recommended), I decided that adding this DAC should improve the system. I was absolutely ASTOUNDED what a difference this DAC makes. Well worth the cost. For the sake of comparison, I realized that this DAC costs approximately the same as the Denon A/V receiver. So, clearly, the DAC built into any (comparably priced) receiver would clearly be inferior. Just a side note: this unit is quite heavy/dense (but not large). Nothing but praise for this unit.

Pros: - Amazing improvement in sound; - Trivial hookup;

Cons: I know it's minor, but it is disturbing that there is no way to turn the unit on and off remotely. Specifically, you get used to a "universal" remote (IR, or maybe even IP). I can turn on/off everything but this with "one button". I guess if I had to choose, I'd rather have good sound quality. On the other hand, maybe an extra $25 of price would make it possible to power remotely?

Amazing DSD, Powerful & Detailed PCM

Written By Eric, Apple Valley, MN on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I compared the TEAC UD-501 to the onboard DACs on my Marantz CD-6005 and Audioengine B1 Bluetooth by running coax and optical inputs, respectively, from those devices to the TEAC. Both of those DACs are fine units, but in both cases sending PCM from these devices to the TEAC resulted in much more powerful and detailed music, revealing parts of the recordings that were otherwise locked away. It definitely added that wow factor and punch, but was fatiguing in longer listening sessions at higher volumes. In both cases I left the CD and Bluetooth analog connections to the amp in place as options so that I could switch back from the digital connections through the TEAC UD-501 to the onboard DACs on my devices when I felt the music being overpowered by the TEAC or for when I was in the mood for more subdued sounding music. Sending PCM to the USB input via laptop had the same detail and powerful sounding music with the corresponding wow factor and punch. I don't want to say there was a lack of subtlety, but there were certain recordings that just sounded a bit too amped up. Unfortunately with the laptop I don't have the option of reverting back to another input like I do with the CD and Bluetooth. Overall I give the PCM a strong 4 stars, the 5th star is earned with DSD. Playing DSD files through the laptop is when this thing truly shines. I could want for nothing more. Amazing, warm, full, detailed sound. No fatiguing or overpowering. Just perfect.

Pros: Powerful and detailed PCM, great information on the display about input signal, versatile - accepts many formats, DSD format playback is amazing and in my opinion the highlight of this unit.

Cons: PCM sound may be subjective with this unit, it has power and punch and is quite revealing.

A great DAC for under $1000

Written By Lee M, Rye Brook, NY on Friday, September 19, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I use the UD-501 to listen to Hi-def music on my Imac (mid-2011) via headphones (Sony MDR-7506). I can only directly compare it to an HRT Microstreamer on this particular system (it's much, much better), but it beats the pants off of any other stereo system I have heard to date, with the exception of a high-end system that had a McIntosh MCD100 SACD/CD player. Yes, there are better DACs on the market, but for the money, IMO you cannot beat this unit. Great entry-level unit. There are many reviews of this unit online, so there is a lot of feedback (both positive & negative) for a potential buyer to digest (a good thing).

Pros: Price. Sound. Build quality. DSD-capable.

Cons: None, when compared to similarly-priced DACs.

Love it!

Written By Chris, West Des Moines, Ia on Sunday, August 24, 2014

I have been using this DAC for about 6 months. I thought it sounded good when I first got it. Sounded even better after some burn in time. Well worth the money!

Pros: Sounds great!

Cons: I can't think of any.

Hands-on research

What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • USB DAC/headphone amp
  • 6' AC power cord
  • 40" Stereo RCA cable
  • Owner's Manual
  • Warranty Card
  • Caution note

Product Research

Features

Dual Burr Brown DACs: The TEAC UD-501 uses two Burr Brown 1795 DACs for high performance and support of a wide range of digital audio sources. Its three digital inputs (optical/coaxial/USB) support sampling rates of 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8 and 384kHz. It's ideal for playback of FLAC, WAV, Apple Lossless, and other high-resolution file formats. The two internal Burr Brown 1795 digital-to-analog converters each work on a single channel (left or right) for true dual monaural operation. They are capable of 32-bit processing and even have the capacity to process 2.8/5.6MHz DSD data, for faithful and accurate playback of high-resolution sound sources.

192kHz Up-Conversion: When handling digital signals of 96kHz and less, you have the option to up-convert to double or quadruple the original signal sampling frequency - up to 192kHz. Even when playing back a 44.1kHz sound source (equivalent to CD sound quality) a smoother analog audio signal can be obtained in order to convert to a higher resolution digital signal. 44.1kHz input frequencies can be up-converted to 88.2 or 176.4kHz, 48kHz input frequencies can be up-converted to 96 or 192kHz, 88.2kHz input frequencies can be up-converted to 176.4kHz, and 96kHz input frequencies can be up-converted to 192kHz. Frequencies of 176.4kHz and higher will not be up-converted when input. This up-conversion feature can be switched on/off, according to your preference and application.

Dual MUSE Operational Amplifiers: The TEAC UD-501 employs dual MUSE operational amplifiers to transform the electrical current output of the D/A converter into a voltage signal. TEAC opted for a dual monaural configuration for the operational amplifiers, employing two MUSES8920 operational amplifiers, one on each of the left and right channels. These devices are made by New Japan Radio and are designed especially for hi-fi audio.

Dual Monaural Design: In order to process the audio signal from a high-resolution sound source in a purer state, TEAC adopted a dual monaural circuit design whereby each of the left and right channels comprises its own single monaural circuit. This avoids mutual interference between the left and right channels and enables pure stereo playback.

Individual Toroidal Core Power Transformers: The two toroidal-core power transformers offer a stable current supply with energy-efficient operation. Using a pair of power transformers, one each for the left and right channel, ensures that current is delivered exclusively to each channel.

Asynchronous USB Input: The TEAC UD-501 features a USB (type-B) port for connecting your Windows PC or Mac computer. The UD-501 accepts digital audio source material stored on your computer at up to 32-bit/384kHz. When receiving digital audio signals from a computer via USB cable, the unit can operate in asynchronous mode, controlling the timing of the input signal using the UD-501's internal clock. With asynchronous transmission over USB, signal compromising jitter is effectively eliminated, allowing digital audio signals to be transmitted in a pure, unadulterated state. This allows optimal playback of high-resolution digital audio files from playlists/libraries in your iTunes, Windows Media Player, or similar playback programs on your computer.

Note: Compatible with Windows XP (32-bit), Vista (32/64-bit), and 7 (32/64-bit); Windows computer will also require the installation of a dedicated TEAC USB driver. Compatible with Macintosh OS X Snow Leopard (10.6), OS X Lion (10.7), and OS X Mountain Lion (10.8); no additional driver required for Macintosh computers.

HR Audio Player App (for Windows & Mac): The TEAC HR Audio Player is a free application software download to help you playback and enjoy your high-resolution audio files on your Windows or Mac computer with ease through the TEAC UD-501 and your connected home audio system. The TEAC HR Audio Player allows you to listen to your audio as soon as you connect the TEAC UD-501 and install the application; simply drag-and-drop the music files on your computer into the window of the application. Various high-resolution audio files formats are supported, including DSD (2.8MHz/5.6MHz), PCM (44.1-384kHz; 16-32-bit), and FLAC (44.1-384Hz; 16-32-bit), plus compressed music files like MP3 (32-320kbps). You can even choose between ASIO2.1 and DoP (DSD over PCM) modes when playing back DSD files from your Windows PC. In order to maximize the connected unit's performance, a simplified screen of the TEAC HR Audio Player helps reduce CPU load time while data processing.  Furthermore, the RAM Buffer Playback mode that stores the audio data onto the internal memory is supported for the ultimate digital audio playback conditions. Additional features include Playlist, Repeat, and Shuffle playback.

Note: Compatible with Windows XP (32-bit), Vista (32/64-bit), and 7 (32/64-bit). Compatible with Macintosh OS X Lion (10.7) or later.

Optical & Coaxial Digital Inputs: The TEAC UD-501 is fitted with  two optical (toslink) and two coaxial (RCA) digital inputs for connection of other digital audio sources like your CD/SACD, Blu-ray/DVD player, or network player. These digital inputs will accept two channel linear PCM (not Dolby Digital/DTS). The coaxial digital inputs support 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz sampling frequencies (16- or 24-bit). The optical digital inputs support only 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96kHz sampling frequencies (16-or 24-bit).

Digital Filters: Three types of digital filters (Off/Sharp/Slow) are provided for PCM playback, while four types of cut-off filters (-6.6/+0.3/-1.5/-3.3dB) are provided for DSD playback. You can also shut down unnecessary circuits, like the USB circuit when the S/PDIF input is selected or the Line out circuit when Headphones are connected for purer audio processing. 

Headphone Amplifier: The TEAC UD-501 features a built-in headphone amplifier and front-panel 1/4" headphone jack that will accept headphone impedances from 8 to 600-ohms. The 100mW + 100mW output (at 32-ohms load) headphone amplifier uses CCLC (Coupling Capacitor Less Circuit) technology. In conventional headphone output circuits, a capacitor is used for output-stage coupling, and so the sound is unavoidably colored. When the capacitor is combined with a high-pass filter this often results in phase lags, or low frequency level degradation. With CCLC the negative impact of capacitors on sound quality is eliminated, providing full low-frequency sound and a responsive headphone listening environment with great spatiality.

Note: In addition to the dual monaural headphone circuits, there are options to switch off the XLR and RCA outputs. By cutting the power supply and isolating those circuits that are unrelated to the headphone output, the performance of the UD-501's headphone output can be maximized. This feature also makes the headphone amp very easy to use as the volume control for the headphones is completely separate from the output mode (Fixed, Adjustable or Off) on the rear panel.

Balanced & Unbalanced Outputs: The TEAC UD-501 DAC is fitted with both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) outputs to connect to a variety of amplifiers, receivers, and powered speakers.

  • Balanced XLR: The TEAC UD-501 is equipped with a stereo XLR balanced output that can be connected not only to other domestic hi-fi components, but also to professional audio equipment. As a highly versatile, high-performance DAC, the UD-501 offers a high-degree of interoperability with devices ranging from those used by discerning consumers all the way up to those used in the professional domain. The XLR output connectors have switchable polarity, either pin 2 HOT or pin 3 HOT, to accommodate vintage amplifiers.
  • Unbalanced RCA: The UD-501 also contains a stereo RCA unbalanced outputs to connect to most stereo receivers and integrated amplifiers. The RCA lineout jacks have an exclusive clearance zone, so a high-grade pin cable with a large shell is able to be connected. Two operational amplifiers are connected in parallel with the line out circuit section to improve the line-out signal drive. This helps achieve a more linear analog output signal than any other known method.
Note: The XLR balanced output and RCA unbalanced outputs are fixed. If the UD-501 is connected to a power amplifier or an active speaker, the amp or speaker must have its own volume control. The UD-501's front panel volume control adjusts the headphone output only.

All-Metal Chassis: The front, side, and top panels are each constructed of aluminum and attached to a robust steel chassis. These heavy parts eliminate vibrations, allowing internal circuits to perform under stable conditions.

Organic EL Display: The front-panel Organic EL display indicates input, music file type, and sampling frequency. The display has four brightness settings.

AC Power: The TEAC UD-501 operates off of standard household current using the supplied AC power cord. The standard detachable IEC cable with 3-polar socket allows you to upgrade to a high-grade AC cable (sold separately). Thanks to its auto power save function, the unit goes into sleep mode after 30 minutes if it has failed to detect a sound signal. Power consumption in standby mode is 0.1W or less.

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