Acoustic Research releases audiophile UA1 DAC

ua1Acoustic Research has just debuted its new Digital and High-End Division, an entirely separate range from its affordable products, with the intention of bringing back the premium reputation of this 60 year old Hi-Fi brand. To kick things off, the company has just released the UA1 DAC which I managed to get some time with using my PM-1 cans at The Sound and Vision Show in Bristol last week.

Acoustic Research have chosen the Japanese and UK markets to launch the rebirth of the 60 year old brand.

The UA1 is the first product from the new Acoustic Research Digital and High-End Division. This hi-res DAC (Digital Analogue Converter) is at the very top end of the market, promising to upgrade the sound from any computer to deliver genuine high-definition audio.

The high-end, and others which will follow, are being marketed separately from the more affordable products that you may be familiar with.

The AR UA1 is a £400 audiophile-grade high-resolution USB DAC and headphone amp compatible with Windows and Mac.

It features gold-plated brass connectors and a powerful amp that Acoustic Research claims will drive “any audiophile headphones”, along with the company’s M-Class D/A engine.

The M-Class engine has isolated digital and analogue stages, making use of Burr-Brown’s PCM1794A DAC and dual Burr-Brown OPA2134 current/voltage convertor.

UA1 and headphone ampIt’ll come with software designed for FLAC, DSD64, DSD128, DXD, WAV, AIFF and ALAC files, while you can also use the AR UA1 to play your music back through stereo speakers.

Acoustic Research has constructed the UA1 out of aerospace grade aluminum, with exceptional anti-vibration properties.

High-end components are used throughout on a single circuit board and damped rubber feet are fitted on the bottom, ensuring the UA1 is securely gripped when used on a desk.

ua1 rearBest of all is its portability. The small, compact DAC is USB host-powered so needs no mains supply – so you can just take it anywhere and plug and play.

The Acoustic Research UA1 DAC comes bundled with a free copy of the expensive JRiver Media Centre software for Mac and Windows is included.

I hope to get a review sample soon so stay tuned for my thoughts. What I can say so far was that it certainly didn’t sound or feel like a budget device.

Acoustic Research UA1 specifications at a glance
File formats
- Audiophile-grade ultra-low-jitter asynchronous USB Audio input
- High-quality high-power headphone amplifier to drive high-end headphones
 - Analogue outputs for playback through any Hi-Fi or Active Speaker
- Toslink Digital out for digital system integration
- High-precision Alps manual volume control
- LED Status display - Multicolour showing frequency
- Headphone Power (THD < 0.01%) / 32 ohms 400mW + 400 mW / 300 ohms 43mW + 43mW
- Full copy of J-river Media Center for Windows or Mac included (Worth £50)
Acoustic Research M-Class DAC and Power Design
- Genuine lossless path support 16-bit 44.1kHz to 24-bit 192kHz
- Isolated digital and analogue circuits
- Burr-Brown PCM1794A flag-ship class DAC
- Burr-Brown OPA2134 current/voltage line out driver
High power high precision current feedback headphones amplifier
- Texas Instrument TPA6120A2 headphone amplifier in proprietary circuit design
 - Ultra low distortion at max output <0.01%
- Supports 16 to 600 ohms headphones
- Ultra-fast slew rate, genuinely responsive to Hi-Res content
Dual High Precision Oscillator
– Accurate clock for 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 / 176.4 / 192 kHz
Audiophile grade components throughout
– High quality capacitors
– High quality ALPS analogue volume control
– High quality gold-plated brass RCA connectors