Everyone knows and scared in Hi-fi world, good sound always come with super pricey tag, sometimes it is as pricey as unaffordable. People are always pursuing good sound and for those who are rich and not constraint on monthly budget plan, this is not a problem at all. Truth is, 99 percent of us are quite constraint on budget and undeniably there are too many things in life that need money so it is not realistic for keep looking at the higher end product though.
Here is why Stoner Acoustic from Malaysia came in aid, year ago with their Stoner Acoustic UD100 USB stick DAC that is bold in performance but soft in price (Which is just 50USD, wow!), it is a true budget but high performance DAC in time, at least to my ears, it is performed on par with the JDS Labs Odac (Which is much expensive in comparison). But times move on and we are already waiting year 2014 to come, UD100 has to be facelift/replaced with a new model, I am really happy to introduce latest USB DAC that I want to share my thought, Stoner Acoustic UD110.
Stoner Acoustic UD110
UD110 is keeping up with competitor now, eveyone like 32 bit, 24bit, gladly UD110 is a 32bit/96khz DAC, looking back the aging UD100 which is just 16bit/44.1khz, USB receiver is now Saviaudio SA9027 (You need to install a driver for it), and the DAC chip which is what people concerned the most, is a very good PCM5102A from Texas Instrument company.
From the outlook itself it looks no different from its predecessor, UD100, a similar size layout like a thumbdrive. Although from inside they are totally different, but from outside they are identical. I have heard a lot of users complained about the heat shrink cover that covered up UD110, honestly I don’t quite agreed with the argument because I think UD110 is meant to be simple and cheap, adding up unnecessarily cover will add up the end user cost, after all UD110 is just selling for merely 50USD, why the hassle? Besides, I don’t think UD110 will break easily, with or without the cover, as long as the electrical circuit is not exposed directly/naked.
You will need to install driver for windows and this is just a simple setup so no worries. I can tell you that all of these are very simple, just install and you can enjoy your music. For your information, UD110 is a pure DAC which do not have built in headphone amplifier.
Source : Asus Laptop
Headphone Amplifier : Firestone Audio Bobby and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear Diamond Edition
Headphones : Chord & Major 7’13 Jazz, Shure SE425, Alessandro Music Series Pro, Shure SRH-940 and German Maestro GMP400
From my listening impression, UD110 is quite different from what I know about UD100. UD110 is warmer and sounded fuller, it is not as lean sounding as the UD100 as far as my memory served.
UD110 is a very fine DAC even I take out the price factor, it has a good detail level, reasonable soundstage and well balanced sound across the sound spectrum, a little (Just slightly forward) sounding rather than being flat and nothing fatiguing me in my listening impression, it is very good.
If I want to go into detail it might sounded bit too dry especially for some vocal based songs, but other than that I don’t have anything to complain on it. The sound is in a neutral tone and I don’t really sense any obvious coloration to sound, everything sounded as real as it can be.
I have an audio buddy that thought Creative Sound Blaster HD USB is a good soundcard/DAC that he is very proud of (Which sold 30USD) more than the UD110, I let him try the UD110 and he is annoyance enough not to return me my UD110. Really, for those who are tight on their budget, looking for soundcard/DAC that is less than 100USD, look no where else, UD110 is the best that I can think of. It is definitely better than the Fiio in the price range, although you can always spend hundred more for better DAC out there, but honestly there is little more that you can get, so why the hassle? In conclusion, Stoner Acoustic UD110 is a true budget DAC for audiophile.