Bought the UAE23HD to use with my office laptop. I've been using a $50 pair of Sony MDR ZX610 24ohm headphones for 2+ years and although my laptop was able to drive them easily (24 ohms) they sounded okay but a bit muddy and bass-heavy, yet not very clear. After plugging the Sony in the UAE23HD, I was amazed what a difference in sound, clarity and volume this DAC/Amp delivered out of the box. I could drive my phones at %30 system volume. I then bought the Audio Technica ATH-M40X (45ohms) and my laptop couldn't drive them at all. Then I plugged the ATH-M40X into the UAE23HD and WOW now I have a perfect setup in my office. These two go together really well producing enough loudness at 50-60% system volume, a crisp midrange, detailed bass response and highs that are not annoying. I'm still waiting on my ATH-M40X to burn in properly and refine the high frequencies. UAE23HD and Audio Technica ATH-M40X is a great match for me.
For the beginning, I checked it with Crossfade LP2 headphones, and I imediatelly noticed wider soundstage comparing to 9018 based dac I used before (same range price, Apogee Groove), however I lost the bass power that Groove provided and I could not live without it. :)
I checked it later with my Stax combo, and started to appreciate more in this combination. The overall transparency and detail was a pleasure to listen to, for good recordings.
The only thing that I miss from my previous 9018 based dac used for Stax, was the... power button. :( It would be great to have a way to turn off all the lights when not in use.
Adding separate power supply did not improve noticeable the sound in my case. The bass was still shy, but that is not a big problem since I will use them with Stax.
The UDA38Pro exceeded my expectations. Having heard MANY dacs in the sub $500 range over the years, I was initially skeptical of the performance capable of an ES9038Pro based unit at such a low price. I was pleasantly surprised to find this dac to not have the typical Sabre sound of cheaper dacs. This dac is more three dimensional with a beautiful midrange. Make sure to give it the best quality power supply possible and you will be rewarded.
A very technically capable DAC - neutral, smooth, realistic texture and detail. It has a sweet and liquidic character, an extremely pleasant and addictive sound. For me it is close to perfect.
I can only compare to the Audio-GD R2R11 DAC and I think the UDA38 Pro is superior. The R2R11 had an unnatural coarseness to the sound, lacking in fine detail and sounding smeared with more complex music.
the lossless volume works very well, there is no quality loss at any level. as mentioned by another reviewer it doesnt get very loud till about halfway, its a very steep logarithmic curve.
Thankyou thankyou thankyou!! I was pulling my hair out trying to isolate the interference in my DAC and this thing has solved all of the problems I was having!
Best choise. Excellent quality and delivery as well.
I hope to shop from you again.
Thank you very much....
Pleased to report that it works out of the box with Matricom G-box running SPMC on Android Lollipop with no configuration necessary.
Audio levels might quite low in that case so be sure to bump your software volume controls up to at least 75% if you don't hear anything, but now that I've got the levels adjusted it works great passing audio to powered desktop speakers.
USB input from MacOS, playing flac on foobar 2000
OPT input from Chromecast audio streamed from my android phone
Output through RCA to my Linn integrated Amp, with Sonus faber Concertino speaker
When listening to OPT, turn on the Mac with USB connection will break the OPT transmittion, need to reset it in order to resume the music
The Volume control is not efficient, need to turn up the volume very high in order to send enough sound signal to the amplifier.
Mainly Listening to Jazz and classical music.
The sound is very balanced. It is not low heavy or sharp high. The sound can be regard as the most smoothest and natural-sounding I have ever heard. It is also dynamic with detail. It is easy to listen and can attract me listening more and more.
For more than 15 years I am mainly listening to music from my PC and already experienced some huge sound quality improvements:
Onboard Sound -> Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium = huge difference
200 EUR Magnat full size speakers -> KEF iQ5SE full size speakers = huge difference
200 EUR SONY amplifier -> AVM Evolution A2 high end amplifier = big difference
With my latest setup (~190 kBit VBR MP3, Soundblaster X-Fi, AVM Evolution A2, KEF iQ5SE) I was quite happy for some years now. Then I heard about the HiFime USB DACs and decided to give it a try.
Today I received the UAE23HD and … wow:
Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium -> UAE23HD = big difference
I was already presuming that the Soundblaster X-Fi was the bottleneck in my setup, but I wouldn't have thought that a 70 $ USB DAC would be that much better than a good sound card.
Music brought tears to my eyes again (the same music I was listening to for years). Thank you so much for this awesome product!! I will recommend it to others!
I had the chance to test it against
many other dacs and this means: Dacs/Players ranging from 1982(the very beginning of digital audio) over 1995 to 2011. Cheap and expensive. Resistor Types, Delta Sigma and 1-Bit. One of them is the DAC-In-the-Box
made by the long defunct company Audio Alchemy, who were the first to come up with the concept of a small external DAC in 1986.
Long story short:
Against any other DAC, vintage or new, expensive or cheap, the SPDIF DAC lacks warmth.
Low bass is there, but the lower mids are missing. Any instrument lacks body.
The result during comparison is always the same and very obvious.
Its not like "hmm - I think this Dac is warmer, could I listen again?" the result is as obvious as one was
As the SPDIF DAC is highly integrated with the headphone / line out I think evrything was done well.
But I assume maybe there is room to play with the capacitors in the Dac.
Fantastic unit! A clear upgrade from the regular UAE23. I am very happy with the performance of this unit, especially for the price, although I am not assessing it based on the price. Thanks to the folks here for making it possible to break into some great quality sound for relatively little expense.
Paired this with a mid 2012 MacBook Pro using both MTX-M50's and HD600's run by a LD MKII and also with LD MKIII. Spending hours switching headphones straight out of the MacBook and the DAC, then the amp there is very little difference, if any, honestly. I ended up returning the Little Dot amps and the HD600's because the $600 difference just wasn't there. I kept the DAC because I felt there MIGHT be some difference and it was only $42. Perhaps I expected a light to come on in a dark room but that wasn't the case. If I have to spend hours trying to hear the difference, I'm glad I did not spend more than ~$40. For those that have computers/sound cards that are lacking, perhaps this will help. Don't expect miracles from a MacBook, at least the model I am using. I don't know about the newer ones; seems they are cutting more corners every year.
I've been buying 24bit versions of what I download for quite a while now - whenever available really - practically for my personal (pono) player - but because I thought it would pay off eventually. And been playing them at home, on the hifi via the headphone output of my Surface, thinking, obviously that sounds better. But eventually also thinking that I should really get a DAC to take advantage...
Anyway, I finally unpacked my UH1 this evening, found a USB cable, loaded the Windows 10 driver, and put on All Melody by Nils Frahm.
70 odd minutes later and I'm transfixed! Wow! The clarity, depth, width, tone etc. just unbelievable! At this price - I wouldn't have to play anything else, and I feel like I've had my money's worth already.
This is a seriously transformative piece of kit - for me it's a step change that adds a huge amount of value to my existing collection.
One happy camper tonight!
I decided to add, that device sounds even better with burn in. Thanks hifime, great job!
Just received this 2018 DAC and am a bit shocked at the clarity and overall great sound I'm getting from it now. At first I was a little disappointed until I warmed it up for about an hour and then loaded the ASIO driver with windows 10. The sound really came alive and started kicking butt. It was extremely dynamic with tight bass after loading that driver. The overall sound is so natural and live sounding now. What a great value, especially compared to the Dragon Fly Red which I also tested. The DR may have a little larger soundstage, but it did not seem as tight in the bass nor dynamic to my ears. This could be also due to the DR having the lower end 2016 DAC vs. the 2018 DAC in this HIfi. The overal fit and finish of this DAC with the plastic case may be on the lower end, but the sound is what really matters. I may wrap it up in some ultra strong tape to help protect it.
Again, don't forget to try the ASIO driver because it drastically improved my sound.