Rating: ★★★★★

A must have piece of equipment for any home theater setup or high-level digital audio needs, the NuForce uDAC 2 combines a digital audio converter with a headphone amplifier, helping get the most out of both equipment and content based on the situation. While maybe not the first thing that comes to mind when setting up a home audio solution for the first time, rest assured that this little device makes a big, big difference.

The compact design of the uDAC 2 (it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand) makes it ideal for tucking away in any available nook or alongside shelved devices when putting together your desired setup. Connecting via USB to a computer and outputting using either standard left and right-channel audio cables or a S/PDIF coaxial audio cable, the primarily advertised digital audio conversion of the NuForce uDAC 2 allows you to set up videos or other media on a computer and output it through whatever you’re using normally.

Where the uDAC doubles its usage is with its functionality as a headphone amplifier. The differences in using this to get more out of your headphones are going to rely on a lot of factors, namely what kind of headphones you’re using, and where PCs are concerned, what kind of sound card you were using previously. Getting more power is hardly ever a bad thing, however, and odds are you’ll notice increased clarity and better sound coming from the same headphones you’ve been using already. Note, however, that this is a double-edged sword: If you’re big on high bitrates and loss-less conversions, the uDAC 2 will pay divedends, where as anything lower than 196 kbps is going to have glaring issues where you might not have noticed them before.

Though the price may seem a little steep for such a small device, the uDAC 2 acts like a big piece of equipment when it comes to improving sounds and creating a little added universality between all of the A/V equipment in the home. You can certainly do more with other, more expensive products, but the NuForce uDAC 2 delivers on everything it promises, making it a pretty indispensable part of any home audio solution. Available in silver and black, the uDAC 2 is designed to slip into and out of existing setups, is typically easy to set up and get started with (though you may need to play around with settings on your computer to change the audio output device), and creates a big difference once it’s up and running.

Pros:

  • Reduces electronic noise and static sounds
  • Small and easy to hide away in any entertainment center
  • Brings out levels in audio not commonly provided with stock equipment

Cons:

  • Packaged USB cable is only about 3 feet, not ideal if you need to bridge more space between equipment
  • Can conflict with previously installed audio software, so some repeated device management may be required if you plan on moving the DAC frequently
  • Will amplify every audio burp and glitch in lower-bitrate media










Michael Radon

 
Born in the Midwest, living in the Southwest, Michael Radon grew up wanting to make video games for a living before finding his calling as a writer. Though he often heads out on spur-of-the-moment adventures with little to no preparation, he's just as sure to remember his toothbrush as he is at least two portable consoles, a laptop and five to ten games on his person at all times just for those lulls in the action where he can squeeze in a few levels of gaming.