Review Work (Headphone Amplifier)

Stoner Acoutic UD120 : Best Budget DAC!

Stoner Acoustic UD120 in Earmass.com!

Stoner Acoustic UD120 in Earmass.com!

I have been with Stoner Acoustic since their first release, UD100. I immediately contacted Mr Stone as soon as I know there is a latest creation from him, the long waited UD120. It is a whole new era now, with DSD popping out from every new machine from every manufacturer, it is clear that audiophile crowd is heading to a different way like few years back, UD120 has disappointed me in some point because DSD is not supported as far as I concerned, not for the price but I thought they will be supporting it.

I am welcoming DSD but it is not deal breaker any way, especially for USD60 (Approximately), we can’t expect everything except good sound. I have faith in Stoner Acoustic to produce DAC that is minimal in size but superior in sound, from the sterile but good sounding-UD100, to slightly warm and more musical UD110, I expect better sound from UD120.

11Stoner Acoustic UD120 (Approximately 60USD)

From the looks it is different from the previous UDs, it has a ‘extended’ version of 3.5mm jack which vary from previous UDs. This is a smart act and will prolong the lifespan of UD120 especially if involved a lot of plug in and out. In term of build quality it is a clear step up from previous UDs, the ‘naked’ body or heat shrink body is gone, now it is a good plastic ‘uni-body’, in another term it is much more ‘quality’ and convincing build. Nothing feel cheap and all the components look great, you know that UD120 is not a luxury thing but it is not cheap either.

Driver is an easy issue, you can download the driver from here, just download it and installed, UD120 will sort it out for you. One might ask if we can directly plug in IEM/headphone to the output of UD120 since that it is a 3.5mm female jack, I asked Stoner Acoustic regarding this and he said it is not recommended, and this is his answer   You can directly play with an iem, but the output impedance of the UD120 is 470ohm, end up the sound of the iem will be very soft and rolled of “depending” on the IEM’s impedance changes among the frequency band.’

In short, I just test it using desktop speaker/Pc speaker and paired it with some headphones, like how regular users will use it. Before we start, you can read technical spec of UD120 below (Directly copied from Stoner Acoustic official blogspot):

-TRUE ASYNC
-USB Audio Class (UAC) 2.0
-16/24/32 Bit @ 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192/(352.8/384 asio) kHz
-DAC PCM5102A
-ULTRA LOW NOISE TPS7A4700 LDO
-OUTPUT IMPEDANCE AT 470OHM
-$ USD69
-ATTENUATION, -6dB/STEP
-WINDOWS (DRIVER PROVIDED) | MAC | UBUNTU
**Google Chrome is blocking *.exe file, please use other browser to download. 
-*THIS DEVICE RUN HOT, MAKE SURE THE SURROUNDING AREA IS VENTILATED.
-1 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY

2Audio Quality

I have paired Stoner Acoustic UD120 with my Asus Laptop and play it through Obravo AI25P and subwoofer speaker, my headphone setup which consist of Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear Edition with PSU, Beyerdynamic T90, German Maestro GMP450 and Rudistor MD2.

Stoner Acoustic UD120 is a very capable PC’s DAC. Frequency response is quite balanced, sound signature is towards warm rather than being dead neutral. The slightly warmish tone will make the sound not as crystal clear as let say the UD100, in return, its sound signature is not that boring anymore. For 60USD I have nothing that can really complain, the audio quality is very good, according to the price. The timing is precise, no audible distortion can be heard. Detail level is good, I can pick up several instrument easily too, in term of price to performance ratio, it is a very competitive product, maybe for what your money can buy at this price range.

However, if we took out the price strength, there are some distinction between UD120 and higher end DAC too. First of all is the soundstage and imaging, it is not compact in any mean, but it definitely has a clear distinction between UD120 and higher end DACs. Then, the sound lack some cleanliness that I want too, it is not ‘dirty’ nor ‘unclear’, but it is the moment that you feel that it is just not clean enough. Lastly, the bass impact and depth can be better. Keep in mind though, there is no DAC that can do better than UD120 in this price range, I just want to be clear that for those who are looking for miracle, don’t try your luck.

Nevertheless, Stoner Acoustic have come out with a real deal here. It is not easy for them to make something this good for so little price, overall the sound quality is excellent, it added nothing and nor it take away anything, it just present the music, with good smooth and slightly warm sound.

3Strength and what can be improved

Strength:

  • Simple design and feature
  • Excellent sound quality for its price and ready to slash DAC which has higher price tag
  • Simple, plug and install driver for the first time and play
  • Very cheap in term of pricing, among the best you can get in price
  • Good construction quality

What it can be improved?:

  • No DSD support
  • Some interference noise when mobile phone is near the DAC
  • Can do better in bass

3Final Thought

Stoner Acoustic has once again prove themselves, they keep telling you what little money can do to make big improvement to audio quality. I scratch my head and find myself very hard to not recommend you the Stoner Acoustic UD120, not only because of the price is so cheap, but also of the excellent audio quality and simplicity that came beyond, what more could I expect?

 

 

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