Headphone Amplifiers

Sony UDA-1 USB DAC Stereo Amplifier Review


The Design and Setup of the Sony UDA-1 USB DAC Amplifier

The Sony UDA-1 is a compact and dense little unit, surprisingly heavy for its size. You have your choice of either black or silver finish and I must say the silver does have that pleasant nostalgic feel of classic Sony gear. I was sent a unit in the black finish for review and it looks sleek and inconspicuous.

Sony UDA-1 USB DAC Amplifier Review

The build quality is top notch and reminiscent of the Sony ES line of products. This isn’t purely a USB DAC, the UDA-1 also features a 23 watt amplifier to power a pair speakers - the UDA-1 is specifically tuned for the Sony SS-HA3 bookshelf speaker. Given its smaller stature, the almost 9lb weight is quite surprising, especially given the fact that on the bench it only puts out around 12 watts into 8 ohms before clipping.

Sony UDA-1 USB DAC Amplifier Review

For inputs the UDA-1 has one USB port in the front for use with a flash drive, a USB input on the back along with coaxial and optical digital inputs. There is also one analog RCA input. For output, there are high quality speaker posts in the rear and a ¼” headphone out in the front and one RCA line out. The front Type-A USB input allows for easy playback of music files off of a flash drive, but is limited to 44.1/48kHz 16 bits. The rear Type-B USB is used specifically for streaming Hi-Res audio from a computer.

Sony UDA-1 USB DAC Amplifier Review

The focus of this unit is clearly on USB and Hi-Res Audio, so my testing consisted of using a PC via USB as the source. I played back a potpourri of file formats from compressed mp3 to uncompressed 192/24 FLAC and DSD.

If you are on PC, a Sony driver is needed to run full USB 2.0 Hi-Res audio. This is a quick download and easy install. Also needed is a player like Foobar2000 and the ASIO support plugin. Foobar makes it a cinch to find and install this component and it took me less than 5 minutes to get up and running. Adding DSD support to Foobar2000 takes an additional download and install of an ASIO proxy and Foobar SACD plug-in. There are a couple settings that need to be adjusted as well, but it was straight forward. I do hope in the future, none of this kind of setup is required to properly enjoy Hi-Res audio. If you are a Mac user, the process is plug in play with software like J River.

Go to Page 3: In Use