If you’re looking to spice up the sonics of your laptop or mobile device, but haven’t had the cash to commit to hi-res audio, UK audio specialists iFi may have the answer with their super affordable new Uno portable DAC and headphone amplifier. .
Touted as a “first stage audio upgrade” for those taking their first tentative steps in taking sound quality seriously, the Uno is priced at £79 / $79 (about AU$129 – AU$139).
For those new to the term “portable DAC,” you’re not alone, but don’t worry: a digital to analog converter basically translates a digital audio signal into an analog signal, allowing your headphones or speakers to deliver a sound. . All smartphones, tablets, and (almost all) computers have one, but chances are it’s not the best, with poor filtering and shielding making output noisy and distorted, while also incapable of high bitrate processing. to listen, and that’s where a special unit like the Uno comes in.
iFi claims that the small 8.8 x 2.6 x 8.1 cm unit offers a more “thrilling” listening experience, with the unit packed in its Quad DAC+ and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator technology, both of which are present on the the company’s more expensive models, such as the excellent hip-dac.
This uncomplicated device has a USB-C input allowing it to be connected to Windows PCs and Apple Macs, as well as smartphones and tablets, with the connection also acting as a power source for the device, conveniently meaning no extra cables. needed.
There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack with a switchable 6dB gain stage that also matches your headphones, plus RCA stereo outputs that allow you to connect the Uno to an amplifier or powered speakers.
There’s also pretty extensive high-resolution audio support, with the Uno playing files up to 32-bit/384 kHz, plus out-of-the-box compatibility with Tidal’s PCM, DSD256, and MQA files. An illuminated ring around the volume knob meanwhile changes color according to the input format and sample rate.
There’s also built-in EQ adjustment, with three preset modes for music, movies and games.
The Uno is set to be available immediately from Uno (opens in new tab) no later than the first week of December.
Analysis: Uno could be the best choice for a budget boost for your audio
With so many of us using our computers and mobile devices as our primary source for listening to music, it’s no big surprise that dedicated DACs are growing in popularity.
A decent DAC, however, usually comes at a premium price (and often in a thick frame), and while there are certainly plenty of examples of cheap headphone amps and DACs in a compact form, the performance improvement so far has seldom been significant enough to warrant their use. can be used as a breakout box for what is built into your source device.
While its small size and shape may unfortunately still not be quite compact enough to make it suitable for listening on the go, iFi’s track record nevertheless means that we have high hopes that the Uno is a perfect companion for a desktop PC, Mac or stationary tablet and one that we can’t wait to pop our speakers and cans with.