Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
Positively, absolutely, excellent satisfaction.
Pros: Improves sound
If you primarily listen to digital music sources, you need to know about TEAC's beautifully made NT-503 digital-to-analog converter. This high-performance DAC delivers virtually any digital music file you're likely to encounter with an amazing sense of transparency and space. Get ready to dive deeper into all your favorite music.
The compact NT-503 is actually several components in one. In addition to the high-end DAC, a versatile network player lets you play high-res audio formats up to 5.6MHz DSD and 24-bit/192kHz WAV/FLAC from a PC or NAS (Network Attached Server.) There's also a high-performance headphone amplifier that can comfortably drive a wide array of today's best headphones. And finally, you get a fully functioning stereo preamp with volume control that can connect to your favorite power amp or active speakers to create a simple but sweet-sounding system.
The heart of any DAC lies in the actual DAC chips, and for the NT-503, TEAC went with dual high-performance DACs from AKM. We've seen these same DAC chips in other high-end DACs costing $3000 or more. These are stereo DAC chips, and by using two TEAC was able to reduce noise and crosstalk compared to using a single chip. In fact, the NT-503 uses dual-mono circuitry throughout, including beefy twin toroidal power supplies for potent sound and well-defined stereo imaging.
To get the very best sound quality from the NT-503, connect its USB input to your computer. This is an asynchronous USB input, which allows the NT-503's DAC to control the timing clock signal instead of your computer. This reduces timing jitter to the lowest levels possible for smoother, more detailed sound. The USB input also supports playback of the widest variety of music files, including high-res PCM up to 384kHz/32-bit and DSD up 11.2MHz. The TEAC website has the free USB driver download you'll need for computer playback.
The sound when playing digital sources "as is" is very clean and spacious, but the NT-503 also has the ability to upconvert digital signals of 96kHz and less to 2X, 4X, or 8X the original sampling rate, to reduce jitter even further. You can even upconvert PCM sources to DSD, which can help take the edge off of many of those harsh-sounding CDs from the 80s. There's also a handful of filter options for fine-tuning the DAC's sound to match your system and listening preferences.
Internet music options are available via an Ethernet connection, or wirelessly via Bluetooth.
The NT-503 has six digital audio inputs. In back you'll find the aforementioned Type B USB, an Ethernet port, plus optical and coaxial inputs for connecting a CD/DVD player, game console, or TV. On the front panel there's a Type A USB input for plugging in a thumb drive, and a combo mini coax/mini optical input for use with portable devices.
When it comes to getting music out of the NT-503, you'll find unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR outputs for connecting a wide range of power amplifiers. And you can see in the photo that the connectors are widely spaced to accommodate high-quality interconnect cables. For immersive private listening, TEAC included a superbly engineered headphone amplifier.
Positively, absolutely, excellent satisfaction.
Pros: Improves sound
Just tried it as soon as I opened the box..... Super great sound. Neutral, clear and precise to match exactly how the engineer mastered the song. Compared to the Chord Mojo, the TEAC slightly adds more meat into the song. It gently fills the whole spectrum of the headphone magnets. In other words, It makes use of the whole headphone driver ... Whoa!... The Mojo fills up about 85 percent of the driver. The TEAC fills all of it softly, making it sound more "Stereo"... I don't think you can that kind of listening from a portable amp. The power chord is thicker than a iMac's power chord. This is a powerful, well designed amplifier. Built well and feels solid. Controls are easy to swim through. I noticed small changes, with the PCM filter. Didn't notice anything with the convert switch. Don't care much as long as it works normally with default settings. Its easy to use (Plug and play), no bull crap to get it to work. The best thing that I like about the TEAC NT-503 amplifier is that, it can raise the volume and still maintain a pleasant sound/balanced frequency. Doesn't distort or raise volume with imbalance. Very smooth. Well worth the money. Very happy for this is to be my first full size amplifier. Hopefully it doesn't break. Great shipping service from Crutchfield.
Pros: Natural sound, great for listening, mixing or mastering. Powerful
Cons: Bigger than a portable amp, A bit heavy. No USB cable included!
Dual-Monaural Structure: The TEAC NT-503 employs a dual-monaural circuit structure that encompasses every aspect from the power and D/A sections to the analog output stage. Starting with the toroidal core power transformers, which feature the ability to supply stable current, and the high-performance VERITA AK4490 DACs, the dual-monaural structure has a complete mono circuit for each channel. This prevents the signals from interfering with each other as much as possible. Interference is suppressed between the left and right channels, which is particularly important for headphone listening, so this unit can also be used as a high-performance headphone amplifier.
Independent High-Capacity Toroidal Core Power Transformer: Both left and right channels each have one dedicated high-capacity toroidal core power transformer that supplies stable current. This is also a continuation of the dual-monaural design and enables the stable supply of current to each channel without being influenced by the changes in current consumption due to processing of the other channel's signal.
Isolation Circuitry: Between the digital and analog sections, the circuit design uses a digital isolator to completely isolate both the power supply and the ground. So, all noise coming from digital input sources, starting with noise from the computer via USB, is prevented from entering the analog section by way of the power line or the ground. An isolation circuit offers significant benefit particularly when playing high-resolution audio sources with high sampling rates.
High-performance VERITA AK4490 DACs: The TEAC NT-503 utilizes VERITA AK4490 DACs, which are made by AKM (Asahi Kasei Microdevices) Corporation and have an established reputation for use in high-end audio equipment. The VERITA AK4490 DACs provide the fine expressive capability suitable for the playback of high-resolution audio sources that reproduce sound waves outside the human audible range. The high-resolution audio DACs support up to DSD 11.2MHz native playback, as well as PCM 385kHz/32-bit playback.
TEAC-HCLD Output Buffer Circuit: In order to transfer music signals to output devices without losing their dynamic range, the NT-503 utilizes TEAC-HCLD (High Current Line Driver) circuits. These circuits increase the current transfer capability that is crucial for analog outputs. Each channel side includes two buffer circuits with high current transfer capabilities. By using differential drive for balanced output and parallel drive for unbalanced output, current transfer capabilities are increased, allowing the transfer of music signals without losing their dynamics.
PCM UpConversion: In addition to DSD 11.2MHz native playback and PCM 384kHz/32-bit Hi-Res playback, the TEAC NT-503 will upconvert your lower resolution PCM music files bringing new life to your digital music collection. You can use the upconversion function on all input sources.
Upconversion Table: The relationship between input sampling frequencies and sampling frequencies after upconversion are as follows.
|Input Source||Upconversion Setting|
|Input Sampling Frequency (PCM)||Sampling Frequency After Conversion|
|kHz||N/A||32 kHz||64 kHz||128 kHz||256 kHz||8.0 MHz|
|44.1 kHz||44.1 kHz||44.1 kHz||88.2 kHz||176.4 kHz||352.8 kHz||11.2 MHz|
|88.2 kHz||88.2 kHz||88.2 kHz||88.2 kHz||176.4 kHz||352.8 kHz||11.2 MHz|
|176.4 kHz||176.4 kHz||176.4 kHz||176.4 kHz||176.4 kHz||352.8 kHz||11.2 MHz|
|N/A||352.8 kHz||352.8 kHz||352.8 kHz||352.8 kHz||352.8 kHz||11.2 MHz|
|48 kHz||48 kHz||48 kHz||96 kHz||192 kHz||384 kHz||12.2 MHz|
|96 kHz||96 kHz||96 kHz||96 kHz||192 kHz||384 kHz||12.2 MHz|
|192 kHz||192 kHz||192 kHz||192 kHz||192 kHz||384 kHz||12.2 MHz|
|N/A||384 kHz||384 kHz||384 kHz||384 kHz||384 kHz||12.2 MHz|
Full-Metal Body: The TEAC NT-503's full-metal chassis is wrapped from both sides with 8mm-thick aluminum panels, while a center beam connects the front and rear of the chassis. These features prevent twisting and bending to produce a strong and stable body. The NT-503's full-metal body construction is effective against external noise and suppresses the penetration of electromagnetic noise emitted by computers and other devices. This helps to produce a clean internal environment with low noise even when the surroundings are hostile to audio equipment.
Front-Panel USB-A 2.0 Input: The NT-503's USB-A 2.0 port on the front-panel supports 5.6MHz DSD and 192kHz WAV (PCM)/FLAC music files stored on a USB MSC (mass storage class) device, as well as compressed MP3/WMA/AAC music files and Lossless WMA/Apple audio files. USB MSC devices may include a thumbdrive, flashdrive, or portable digital music player (formatted in FAT16/32). The unit will recognize up to 20,000 music files and 16 music folders. The TEAC Remote App for iOS and Android is required for playback control of a connected USB mass storage class device. Compatible music files include -
Note: The unit's front-panel USB input does not support Apple iOS devices, Android smartphone/tablets, or computers/laptops.
Asynchronous USB-B 2.0: The TEAC NT-503 is equipped with a rear-panel USB-B 2.0 input for connection to your computer and playback of your computer's music library. When connected by USB, rather than synchronizing with a computer clock that is unstable and noisy, the NT-503 supports asynchronous USB transfer mode; allowing it to control PCM and DSD signals by synchronizing with its own clock generated by its built-in high-precision crystal oscillator. Two dedicated internal clocks running at 44.1kHz and 48kHz are built in. You'll be able to playback DSD and PCM music files stored on your computer.
HR Audio Player App (for Windows & Mac): The free TEAC HR Audio Player application software lets you get more out of the TEAC NT-503's USB input by supporting a variety of other music files, in addition to DSD and PCM, on your Windows or Mac computer. Simply download this free application software onto your compatible Windows PC or Mac computer.
Master Clock Input: With support for 10MHz external master clock input (via a BNC coaxial connector), synchronization with master clock signals of even higher precision is possible. By synchronizing with clock that has an even higher precision, you can enjoy changes in tone quality and improved audio quality.
Digital Inputs: The TEAC NT-503 features two rear-panel digital inputs, an Optical (Toslink) input and a Coaxial (RCA) input, plus a front-panel Optical/Coaxial-Mini combined input (a coaxial-to-minijack conversion cable is included). The rear-panel digital inputs support up to a 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio signal, as well as 2.8MHz DSD (DoP) audio. The front-panel digital input makes it simple to connect a portable digital audio player capable of a digital output.
Note: This NT-503 does not support Dolby Digital, DTS or AAC through its digital inputs.
Balanced & Unbalanced Preamp Outputs: One pair of XLR balanced outputs and one pair of RCA unbalanced outputs are included and can be set to either a variable or a fixed volume level, allowing a simple system to be put together in combination with a power amplifier or active speakers. The XLR balanced and RCA unbalanced outputs have been symmetrically located for the shortest signal paths. There are four line output level settings.
Discrete Headphone Amplifier: The NT-503 also employs a high-performance headphone amplifier with a front-panel 1/4" headphone jack that delivers 500mW+500mW of output power. The TEAC-HCLD circuits, based around four output transistors in parallel-drive mode, drive conventional single-ended headphones powerfully and precisely. In addition, a uniquely-designed class-AB amplifier with extended class-A operation range allows the NT-503 to process most part of amplification process in class-A mode, and maximizes potential of wide range of headphones, including 600 ohms high-impedance models.
Network Connection: The NT-503 is equipped with an Ethernet (RJ-45) jack to connect to your home's network router. Once you have connected the NT-503 to your router, it can act as a versatile DLNA 1.5 player for access to music libraries on a Windows PC or other DLNA compliant music server; plus access select online music services and Internet Radio. The TEAC Remote App for iOS and Android (see remote section below) is required for access, control, and playback of network audio.
DLNA 1.5 Compliant: The NT-503 is a DLNA 1.5 network player that offers network audio capability with support of Hi-Res Audio formats such as 5.6MHz DSD and 24-bit/192kHz WAV (PCM)/FLAC, plus compressed MP3/WMA/AAC music files and lossless Apple/WMA/LPCM audio files that can be played back from your Windows PC or NAS (Network Attached Server). The unit can recognize up to 20,000 music files and 16 music folders. The unit supports Windows Media Player 12 and many servers that comply with DLNA. Compatible music files include -
Note: Gapless playback is also supported when playing back files of the same sampling frequency, even if the file format varies between WAV, FLAC, AAC, Apple Lossless, WMA, OGG Vorbis, and MP3.
Online Music Services: Through its network connection, the NT-503 offers access to on-line music services like Spotify, Slacker, and Deezer. In addition, you gain access to Internet Radio (TuneIn) that provides over 100,000 radio stations and 4 million podcasts all over the world. Pandora will be available through a future firmware update (no ETA).
Note: Not all online music services are available in every country. Subscriptions and fees may apply.
Bluetooth Music Streaming: The NT-503 supports Bluetooth 3.0 wireless music streaming using advanced codec technologies like aptX (Android OS 4.0), AAC (Apple iOS), and SBC (standard Bluetooth sources) for the best audio performance possible. The unit will automatically select the best streaming codec for your device. Enjoy high-quality music streaming of stored music libraries and music apps from your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet, computer, laptop, or digital portable audio player. Playback control and song/artist display will still be done from your Bluetooth source device.
Note: The NT-503 does not support wireless audio transmission to Bluetooth wireless headphones, nor does it support Bluetooth hands-free phone calls.
TEAC Remote App (for iOS & Android): The free TEAC HR Remote App for iOS 7.1+ and TEAC AVR Remote for Android OS 4.1 turns your compatible Apple iOS or Android OS device into a network remote control for the NT-503. From the app and the touchscreen on your mobile device, you can control input selection, volume level, as well as music selection and playback operation of USB-A & DLNA connected devices.
TEAC-QVCS (Quad Volume Control System): For the preamp circuit, the NT-503 utilizes the TEAC-QVCS (Quad Volume Control System), which is a circuit with a fully-balanced design that uses balanced processing of the audio signal at every stage from immediately after conversion from digital to analog until it reaches the volume amplifier.
Digital Filters: In addition to four types of PCM digital filters and an OFF mode, the unit has two types of DSD digital filters, so you can choose the best filter for the input file format and type of music. You can enjoy the subtle sound nuances of different filters without needing to connect different USB DACs.
Note: When receiving signals at 352.8kHz or 384 Hz, the digital filter will be disabled during playback regardless of this setting.
IR Remote: The TEAC NT-503 comes with an IR remote control for wireless operation of the USB DAC/Preamp/Headphone Amplifier. Remote control functions include Power on/off, Input selections, Volume up/down, Mute, OLED dimmer, Upconversion mode, Filter mode, Headphone type, and Menu selection.
Organic Electroluminescent Display (OLED): The organic electroluminescent display (OLED) with a 4-level dimmer provides high contrast and excellent visibility. A large font is used to enable listeners to check the source input and volume level even from a distant.
Automatic Power Saving Function: The unit will automatically enter Standby mode if there is no audio input for approximately 30 minutes.
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