Rated 5 out of 5 by 4
Rated 5 out of 5
by samtheman2013 The next Big THING!
This blew my socks off! I do not know whether to cry or to laugh! I am writing this while listening to ‘Celine Dione – The Power of Love’ on the Sony UDA1 DAC System for PC Audio using just pair of Sony SS-CS5 BookShelf Speakers. I am no audiophile, just an ordinary guy that loves music from Classical, Techno, Dance, Rap, Heavy Metal or anything in between. What else can I say! If I can give it 10 stars I would. Unfortunately five is the highest you can go.
Hi-Res Audio – what is it? I did not know much about it until I received this. If you have watched non HDMI movies vs the HDMI (1080p) movies the comparison is similar, but now it is audio vs video for HDMI. So basically it is like cooking before the Microwave! If you never had it you won’t know the difference. What you have listened to before is basically quite useless when compared to Hi-Res audio.
The sounds are so clear that you would not believe your ears! You can basically increase the volume to max and the sound only gets better. When music was first created in the studios this is how it was supposed to be. What we’ve been listening to so far the quality of sound has been lost thru the imaging and digitizing process, no matter how good you thought it was.
So far all the songs I have tried on this has been FLAC files. I tried regular MP3 files and you would not get the same effect – so you do need hi-res music files. There is no up conversion process unlike HDMI to 4K etc, that you see on some of the latest TVs. That said you can always listen to your existing MP3 files on this and the quality will be lot better than listening to them on a regular PC audio system.
You need a Hi Res Audio Player on your PC. I downloaded the one from Sony (the link is on the user manual). Also you need to install a USB driver which you can also download form the Sony site (again noted in the manual). All of those worked perfectly without any issues and I use a Windows 7 machine. The setup and installation is extremely easy. I purchased the most expensive speaker wires from Home Depot (as you would need good quality wire).
The build quality of the UDA-1 and the CS-SS5 Bookshelf speakers are exceptional. They are solidly made and have an expensive touch to them. Sony is really back! This is what Sony was 20 years ago. But they really need to advertise and market as no one knows about these exceptional products they are making.
Mind you before this, my in home-theater was a 7.2 Harmon Kardon system with a mid-range Pioneer Amp that cost me about 3000$ so yes I am used to good sound! But this thing is tiny (9 inches long, couple inches tall) and the bookshelf speakers are small as well, but the sound that comes out of this system will blow you away. Yes it is expensive but worth every penny! I still use my existing home theater for movies as that has surround sound etc. I use this in my office which is a smaller room about 20 X 20 feet. The UDA-1 just fit perfectly on a shelf and the speakers are hidden away on the floor.
Other reviewers have indicated that the output per channel is only 23W and not adequate, however at least for this size room you would not be able to put it on max volume for long as you would go deaf. The CS-SS5 does handle the max output from the UDA-1 without and shaking, rambling or other complaints and the sound does not get distorted either.
You need to use speakers that support Hi Res Audio and the Sony SS-CS5 seems to work well with it. Someday I will replace my Harmon Kardon home theater speakers with equivalent Sony Speakers of the same family – basically SS-CS3 (Floor standing Speaker) SS-CS8 (Center) and SA-CS9 (Sub-Woofer).
The quality of sound does not change no matter what type of music it is – Tried Mozart – “Marriage Of Figaro Overture” it’s like you are in front of the orchestra! Unbelievable! All this from a couple of book shelf speakers - 12 inches tall and 6 inches wide and the tiny UDA-1.
The UDA-1 comes with a tiny remote control that lets you choose the input, volume, mute and DSEE. This is handy in case it is sitting on a shelf and is not close to you as per in my case. The UDA-1 also turns off automatically after a while if not used (Unlike regular Amplifiers).
I figure someday Hi Res Audio would become the norm and more affordable but until then this is worth every penny and I would highly recommend it.
December 9, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5
by BeJay2 HI-RES AUDIO…HEAR THE DIFFERENCE
Know that I’m a fan of Sony Electronics – this little box is one more reason why I am. That said, I don’t consider myself either an audiophile or technophile so I was initially skeptical around “Hi-Res Audio” and whether a digital-to-analog conversion device would justify its price tag. Short answer: Yes, it is definitely worth the price.
The UDA-1/B USB DAC is designed to be the heart of a computer-based digital music system. It can power a pair of quality bookshelf/desktop speakers or it can drive high-end headphones. Naturally those devices need to be of sufficient quality before you can appreciate what this Hi-Res Audio amplifier will supply.
I discovered that high-resolution audio really does sound better even to my over-60 ears, or should I say, especially with my compromised hearing. As soon as I set up the UDA-1/B with a pair of Sony SS-CS5 Bookshelf speakers (3-way, 3-driver, bass reflex), my music files seem to burst out with tone and texture. Over time I had forgotten how fine the original recordings ought to sound. And, the combination of the DAC with these particular speakers works nicely in both sound quality and level (the 20+watts per channel can fill our good-sized living room).
I particularly like to listen to cello solos and cello with full orchestra. It was a revelation to hear pieces that I am very familiar with sounding so clear and, well, exciting! I’ve only had the UDA-1/B for a short time and already find I am listening more often and enjoying what I can hear now. The very first track I tried, YoYo Ma playing the first movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto (Chicago Symphony), convinced me. But you’ll need to hear your own music to agree.
After the Elgar, I decided to throw additional tracks at the UDA-1/B to see how it handles different musical situations. First, the second movement of Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 4 (Chicago Symphony), where the music builds to several riotous climaxes. I could hear detail and separation that surprised me given the complexity of Ives’ compositions.
Not everything I listen to is classical though. Next I switched genres to a live digital recording of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” by Hummingbird (a band from Connecticut’s Northwest Corner that plays an eclectic blend of blues, jazz, and country). It pleased me to recognize the acoustic ambiance of Miranda Vineyard’s club-like tasting room behind Bobbi Soares’ melodic, jazz-influenced voice – nicely resolved by the UDA-1/B’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine.
Finally, to represent another slice of my listening time, I wanted a close mic’d track without instrumental distraction. I chose the title track of singer-songwriter Shane Faubert’s new “Line in the Sand” album on the French Bam Balam label. It’s a non-compressed Folk/Pop recording with a lot of air around his smooth, buttery-voiced and intimate vocals. I turned Off the DSEE for this one and, again, the UDA-1/B and SS-CS5 combination performed with a presence that felt as if the artist was in the room. Very nice.
What I didn’t anticipate is that the performance of my vintage Challenger headphones by Superex falls short, way short. [Told you I wasn’t an audiophile – in case my wife is reading this, I’m putting a pair of Sony’s MDR-1A/B stereo headphones on my holiday Wish List.]
For convenience, I have been using my Xperia Tablet Z attached to the UDA-1/B’s front-panel USB port and playing tracks from the Walkman app (8.5.A.0.6, Android) with ClearAudio+ turned On and DSEE set On at the DAC. There is a handy Remote Controller (small at 3-3/8” long) that can: turn the unit On/Off; Volume +/-; Muting; Switch among the five inputs (USB Front Type A, USB Rear Type B, Coaxial, Optical and Line); as well as DSEE On/Off.
There is a really easy-to-read Help Guide for the UDA-1/B, that I strongly recommend studying, at: http://helpguide.sony.net/ha/uda1/v1/en/
For example, I learned the audio formats that the UDA-1/B can decode depend on which digital audio input jacks you use to connect. Also, I found out there is a Protector Function that kicks in when an abnormal current is output to the speaker terminals, or when the internal temperature of the UDA-1/B is too high – all the input indicator lamps flash for 5 seconds and the unit turns off automatically. Good to know.
I am a MacBook Pro user. So, for a connection with my laptop, I downloaded and installed a free app called Hi-Res Audio Player and a driver named SONY USB DAC Amp Driver (Mac). It’s easy to do and it’s all explained in the Help Guide. The Player launches from the Desktop, finds the UDA-1/B, and presents a straight-forward playlist interface (see screenshot below). Those are .aiff files on a 400Mb Audio CD, the cable is the included USB A-B to the DAC’s rear panel.
Like most of Sony’s home audio products, the UDA-1/B has a clean, pleasing design that is quite functional. I have the black model and there is also one in silver. If I had Sony Engineering’s ear I’d suggest it would be helpful to visualize the volume level setting, especially when using the Remote Controller. You will need to provide speaker wiring (don’t skimp) and compatible speakers that have the ability to reproduce the fine audio this unit is capable of delivering. Sony does include an A-B USB cable (rear panel).
Summing up, I am more than satisfied with my UDA-1/B set up as described, however over time I expect to add additional sound file sources and find more creative ways to enjoy this fine component. I recommend it without hesitation.
December 4, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by DianaE310 Great for: music lovers, studio, small biz, dorm
Hello fellow Sony lovers, Me again with your quick easy review of the UDA-1B for PC Audio. I will try to make this simple and basic.
USE/WHAT IT IS:
- To connect PC/Smartphone/Tablet audio to high resolution audio - the way music was intended to sound with pristine sound Sony is known for.
HIGHLY SUGGESTED FOR:
- Dorm Living
- Studio Living
- Small business
- Extreme music lover
- Office/Meeting room
>>Audio has come a long way since I updated - long gone is the need for those huge 3-piece setups with subwoofer with a tape deck and 5 CD changer. With a PC or Tablet, and the popularity of PC audio, this is the easiest set up that makes sense.
>> The sound is impeccable. I feel embarrassed that I was OK with listening to music any other way. This would be excellent in a small business space, just connected to a computer or tablet in the back.
>> Due to my cursed talent of being able to do put myself in "user error" scenarios (yet able to quickly recognize it), I am happy to share some troubleshooting tips.
- http://helpguide.sony.net/ha/uda1/v1/en/index.html is the Help Guide.
- Note: I use a iMac desktop and you can use iTunes, however, you must FIRST download the UDA-1 driver. This also goes for Win users. If you are an Apple user, find the .dng file. You can do a search for it if the main page in the pamphlet doesn't direct you (the default download page is for Win).
- IMPORTANT! In order to play songs from iTunes, you MUST: (1) Select the Apple menu - “System Preferences” - “Sound,” and select the “Output” tab. (2) Select “Sony USB DAC Amplifier” from the “Choose a device for sound output” list. -- ** The sound will not push from the desktop speakers to the speakers if you don't do this. I went crazy trying to figure this out! **
- You can download the Hi-Res Audio Player but I found it unnecessary (and actually confusing) once I realized it was simply an iMac change in setting to push audio to the UDA-1 (as stated above).
- You need to purchase speaker wires and the cable connectors, they are not included. I purchased two items: (1) Monster Cable Quicklock and (2) Insignia speaker wires.
- In terms of connecting with a smartphone, there is a USB in the front. Use the cable from USB to your phone and play iTunes. Switch the input selection to USB Front and done.
- As a simple person, I do love technology but I don't know how much I need it until I am introduced to it and I don't want to give it back. I work with business owners on a regular basis as a consultant so this will be HIGHLY recommended by me for their office/business space.
- I paired these with a pair of SS-CS5 bookshelf speakers (under $200, can find on sale for around $150).
December 11, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by sandiegodom Simple to Use. Spectacular Sound!
In my review for the excellent but now discontinued SCD-XA5400ES player I raved about not only the accuracy of the player but also the sheer musicality of the unit. Not only was this the case when playing actual super audio CDs but also for ordinary “red book” CDs. Sonically the UDA-1 is a direct descendent of the XA5400ES.
The design is simplicity itself and certainly does not reveal the technology hidden under its hood. The front panel and entire chassis is of aluminum construction. There is a large volume knob, input selector, power button and LED indicators to let you know which input you have selected. Plain, simple and clean. There is nothing adventuresome about the industrial design but there is also nothing distasteful about it.
BASIC FEATURES & SETUP
Physical setup of the UDA-1 was very simple and straightforward. Pick the type of analog or digital input that matches your playback source and off you go.
The only downside of the installation was the need to download a driver for the unit by hand-typing the URL hosting the file. It would be nicer if, upon first time connection of the USB cable, the unit would query your Mac/PC to determine if the firmware was present and if not, ask the PC for permission to find the URL. The user could then intercede and complete the rest of the process. This is probably a lot to ask, but is what we’ve become accustom to.
You will also need to install a hi-res audio player directly from Sony (there are Mac and PC versions). This should be bundled with the driver download so you get both at once. Currently the audio player is on a page other than the driver so there is a bit of hunting around. The audio player is bare bones and besides allowing for the creation of playlists doesn’t do much else.
It’s also possible to use iTunes to playback hi-res files including DSD using third-party apps available in the App store. This is a more elegant solution as the apps allow hi-res files to be mixed right in with the mp3/AAC files and played back seamlessly. Unfortunately I was unable to get this to work reliably. I could play back one DSD track but not the next. After re-launching and restarting, checking preferences and everything else I could think of I still couldn’t get the app-modified iTunes to work consistently playing back DSD files. I had more consistency with ALAC files though.
Interestingly I could not get the Sony player to playback DSD either although I bought the DSD files from a hi-res storefront recommended on Sony’s site. This was a frustration needless to say but underscores that should you take the plunge into hi-res you should be comfortable tinkering around your computer. If you are not it may be a bit frustrating.
A small Apple TV-sized remote control is included and this will control all of the limited functions available on the unit. Again, simple and clean.
There are a variety of inputs available including USB 2.0 (front and back), coaxial digital, optical digital and analog (both inputs and outputs). You can use the UDA-1 along with its built in 20 watt stereo amplifier, input your favorite source and you are in business. Or you can use it strictly as a DAC and connect the analog output to your home theatre system (Note the UDA-1 has ONLY analog outputs). I tried both methods and either produced excellent results.
Although I was unable to play back a DSD, the ALAC files were suitable for the first go-round. I first connected the analog output of the UDA-1 to my reference system. The UDA-1 created an experience that at least subjectively sounded on par with the XA5400ES. Vocals were lifelike, clear, detailed and had an almost three-dimensional quality.
Next I installed a pair of bookshelf speakers to the unit. I got the same impressive results. Although only rated at 20 Watts/channel, combined with the speakers, the UDA-1 had no difficulty filling the medium sized room with great sound.
Now what I was secretly hoping for was that the UDA-1 would work some magic and make my mp3’s sound better in the same way the XA5400ES had made my CDs sound better. I have always hated the lackluster audio reproduction on the Apple TV but the unit itself can be very convenient. So I connected the optical output of the Apple TV into the UDA-1 and held my breath. Unfortunately upon A/B comparison there was virtually no difference in sound quality. Now granted my receiver already has circuitry to improve the sound of compressed files so they probably already sound much better than they would otherwise. However the sound of the mp3’s still sucked. Once the detail is gone – it’s gone.
For the audiophile who wants to wean him/herself off CDs and enter the convenient world of digital files this is definitely one way to do it. With the UDA-1 you will definitely experience music much more close to what the artist intended. The sound will likely rival that of your CD player and come very close to matching the sound quality of a SA-CD player.
The only drawback is that you need to be connected to your computer to access the files you have there. This will not be conducive to integrating the unit into a home theatre system. For this the HAP-Z1ES or HAP-S1 would be a better choice.
The very first time a couple of friends showed me this strange download application called Napster, that very night I remember lamenting, ‘this will be good enough for most people and high quality audio will disappear.’ Unfortunately I was right. Now with Hi-Res audio gaining traction this is a big step back in the right direction. The UDA-1 is also a big step in that direction. It is perfect for the home office, den or any other room where you do not have a full time home theatre system but still crave superior sound.
December 9, 2014