Well, what can I say, as an April Fool’s this year my computer decided to kick my Soundblaster Extreme in the balls – and it suddenly showed only SPDIF port. Yeah – heaps of abundant joy of fun.
So I tried to see if this happened to more people and no surprise - it did and the most common answer seemed to be – Fuck you Creative – and something new. For me, I got the on board HD driver going and got actually decent sound with my Sennheiser G4me 360 cans. But seeing as I have worked for a long time now to set up my FOOBAR and ripping all my CD’s into lossless wav files. Learning a lot about music – it seemed that this could be the time to burn some money on a new toy.
The toy is this: http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/iconudac2/index.php . The nuForce uDAC 2. A small DAC that you plug into your USB port and got an instant soundcard. There is a rather hefty debate whether this one or the Asus Xonar would be the best investment – and seeing as I also use my laptop for music – this looked like a sound investment. (Pun not intended). Another reason for buying they uDAC 2 was that it has some AMP quality and also that it works good to bridge into the stereo with the RCA channels.
So, installing it was a breeze, plug-in, turn on computer and just browse it up in the available sources in the media list. Go to properties an d set the sound quality to 96 kHz 24 Bit if you like and enjoy. I got my Sennheiser HD 515 out and plugged in to test since they demand a bit more than my computer usually turns out via the 3.5 mm jack. It sounds really nice and while not as good as via my V-CAN AMP from the stereo better than my computer via HD and via my previous Soundblaster. Switching to my AKG K530 cans I noticed that the sound was no longer in the same range that my HD 515. Nice to hear such difference in them and how the small uDAC2 boosts both.
While I haven’t taken out the tougher to drive AKG’s nor my “best” headphones yet – I am happy with the little uDAC2. I’m extra happy that I can keep my G4me 360′s plugged into game mode with the mic as well into the HD driver and let my music go via the FOOBAR without messing up my system. The uDAC is a simple solution and gives me a good sound quality that is also switchable and if I get a new computer – I don’t have to worry about getting the coolest internal soundcard anymore.
There are some tests still do perform; how well it transfers to the stereo via RCA, how well it works with the laptop, and finally how well it works as substitute for the soundcard with driving my Logitech 2.1 THX speakers.