Affordable Reference Class DAC and Headphone Amp
With its AES and XLR outputs and decoding capability of PCM 384K & DSD256, the NuPrime DAC-9H is a reference-class DAC designed for studio professionals. With four digital and one analog stereo inputs, the DAC-9 is a full-featured DAC and preamp ideally suited for high-end systems. The DAC-9H differs from DAC-9 with additional balanced 4.4mm ‘Pentaconn’ socket and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone outputs that support Single Ended Unbalanced, Fully Balanced and Active Balanced Ground Driving headphone amplifier.
State Of The Art Balanced Headphone Amplifier
The DAC-9H headphone amplifier is capable of driving the most demanding headphones, be it through the balanced 4.4mm ‘Pentaconn’ socket or the 3.5mm standard stereo socket. The ‘Pentaconn’ socket (manufactured by Nippon Dics Co.) is the new unified standard for balanced headphone connection which headphone and cable manufacturers are using in their new and future products. Audiophile quality components and a fully balanced layout ensures minimal crosstalk and maximum channel separation. Supplying up to 1.2W of output power, the circuitry supports Single Ended Unbalanced, Fully Balanced and Active Balanced Ground Driving. Besides offering a high level of transparency through both types of connection, each offers a slightly different flavor.
Through the 4.4mm ‘Pentaconn’ socket balanced output, listeners will appreciate the pristine background with the absence of noise. The soundstage is wide and possess a strong presence with a full and extended bass.
Through the 3.5mm socket low impedance output, the sound is clearly outlined and has a sense of naturalness. The midrange performance is a prominent highlight and imaging is solidly focused.
As the heart of an audio system, the DAC-9 supports an extensive number of inputs and formats. Utilizing one of the world’s best performing 32-bit audio DACs, the AK4490, EQ is only a first step for designing the ultimate DAC. State-of-the-art solutions, readily available to all vendors, along with the experience and proprietary know-how in creating many Editor’s Choice and Product of The Year award-winning products elevate the NuPrime DAC-9 well above the competition.
Several notable features:
- NuPrime SRC IC chip provides FPGA processing where Input signals are up-sampled to mega hertz before down converted to the targeted sampling rate with ultra-low jitter and distortion.
- AKM Newest Generation: High Sound Quality Premium 32-bit Stereo DAC (AK4490 EQ). State-of-the-art DAC with warmer sonic characteristics, supporting USB PCM 384 and DSD256.
- A proprietary NuPrime implementation that is also capable of decoding DoP formats via coaxial and optical inputs (to support NuPrime Omnia portable device that are able to output DoP stream in addition to S/PDIF).
- NuPrime vibration-free isolation feet (patent pending*)
- Extension port for Bluetooth dongle and WiFi audio streaming (optional)
- Full microprocessor control with memory retention
- Five digital inputs and one stereo input for complete system flexibility
- Supports DSD native playback by ASIO2.1 and DoP method. DSD is decoded natively with the same sample rate as the input source.
- Ultra-low-noise JFETs in the input stage for the lowest possible noise floor
- Volume adjustment in 99 precise 0.5dB increments
- Advanced, FPGA implemented thin-film switched-resistor ladder network for controlling volume, with a single resistor in the signal path at any volume setting
- Individually adjustable volume on each input for precise level matching of sources. If DAC-9 is connected to another preamp or home theater AVP, set the volume @ 94, which is 0dB.
- Exclusive driver software for Windows
- Standard driver software for Mac
- Asynchronous transfer mode
- Very low power consumption on Standby Mode
- Available in black or silver anodized aluminum finish
Using Bluetooth and WiFi Audio Receivers and Dongles
NuPrime defined an USB Type-A port to carry S/PDIF data and 5V power for connecting to external wireless audio receiver using just one standard USB cable.
The NuPrime Bluetooth dongle BTR-8, D-Stream Audio Primo HD (24-bit/192kHz) and NuPrime WR-100/100D (24-bit/96kHz, co-developed with D-Stream) wireless receivers have a micro USB port that is compatible this specification. This allow a standard off-the-shelf USB-A to micro USB cable to be used for power for the receiver as well as wireless audio data transfer in S/PDIF format.
- 1 x USB PCM / DSD Digital (PCM up to 384kHz & DSD up to DSD256 )
- 1 x Coaxial Digital S/PDIF (PCM up to 192KHz supporting DoP format DSD64)
- 1 x Optical Digital S/PDIF (PCM up to 192KHz supporting DoP format DSD64)
- 1 x Bluetooth or WiFi receiver module (optional).
- 1 x AES balance XLR (PCM up to 192KHz)
- 1 x Analog Stereo RCA (does not go through A2D conversion, analog input is selected by the preamp directly to analog outputs)
- 1 x pair of stereo RCA out (max output 4V)
- 1 x pair of stereo XLR balanced out (max output 8V)
- 1 x Optical S/DPIF out
- Balanced 4.4mm ‘Pentaconn’ socket and 3.5mm standard stereo socket headphone outputs
- USB Sampling Rates: 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96KHz, 176.4KHz, 192KHz, 352.8KHz, 384KHz and DSD 2.8MHz(64), 5.6MHz(128), 11.2MHz(256)
- S/PDIF Sampling Rates: 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96, 176.4KHz, 192KHz, 352.8KHZ, 384KHz (Coaxial)
- Bit Resolution: 16-32-bits
- THD+N: 0.0015%
- Dynamic range: >-113dB
- Frequency Response: 10Hz to 80kHz
- Dimensions: 235 mm W x 281 mm D x 55 mm H (including feet)
- Weight: 2.3Kg
- Worldwide AC voltage: (90VAC~130VAC // 210VAC~ 250VAC) With Voltage Select Switch
- AC Fuse: Slow-blow, 1A, 250VA
Curently using a DAC-9H and STA-9 combo and I love them. I can't comment the sound of the unit alone as I only use it with the STA-9 but together, they make sonic bliss no less. Deep tight bass, clean midrange and extended highs that are not fatiguing or anything. For the price you can't go wrong.
2 things to note though:
1) The binding post are close to each other making most spades difficult to place so they don't touch (safely). Since there is no dedicated sub out, I use the speaker level wires so I run bananas to speakers and spades to sub. I will make/buy angled stacking bananas to remediate. No biggy.
2) The preamp section doesn't mute the speaker output when connecting headphones. This is a design oversight/error in my opinion. Luckily, I use it in my office system so I can easily reach the back switch on the map to shut it off or on when necessary.