The UD125 from Stoner Acoustics is to be fated as a winner, why? First of all, it is priced very cheap at 85USD. What? 85USD and you said it is cheap? Yes, it is indeed very cheap when it is a 24/96 bit DAC from a renowned company that has a built in headphone amplifier, it is not just any DAC bundled with low performance headphone amplifier, we definitely won’t post our review if we don’t really like it, we will just ignore it. But the UD125 has the characteristic that I love so much, that I use it over and over again even my higher end DAC and amp is just beside my computer, let me tell you why.
Stoner Acoustics UD125 (85usd)
The UD125 is a small size device, especially when you consider it is a DAC + headphone amplifier. At first glance it remind me a lot like the ODAC, but once you really look into it you will know it is a different device, build quality is quite good and it is solid, I believe it can withstand some abuse in its life of service, however the finishing is a little rough, the shut line is not tight but it is not a problem at all and it is way far from being called fragile, it is definitely not scoring 100% in build quality and finishing but will easily score 85% in my rating. The appearance/packaging/outlook (there is a USB cable included and a useful carrying pouch) is very simple just like the operation of the device as well. My only concern of the UD125 is it is using Mini USB instead of the currently far more popular Micro USB or the more common printer USB cable, it is not a big deal but I believe it will be easier for user to find replacement cable than the Mini USB cable, it is not a big deal at all but I prefer the Micro USB cable. The volume controller (the toggle) is a little hard to adjust since it is not extrude enough to the outside and my finger is quite big in size, again, it is not a big deal especially when it sell so cheap.
It is really easy to operate the UD125, what you need to do is plug in the UD125 to your computer through the USB cable, your computer will install the driver by itself, it might take 1 – 2 minutes at the first initialization and it only occurs once, after that you just plug it in and your computer will recognize it immediately. After you plug in the UD125 to your computer, you can immediately listening music through UD125, as simple as it can.
The toggle knob on the UD125 is where you can adjust the volume if you are using the internal headphone amplifier, I believe this is how most of the user will use it anyway. The volume when go from minimum level to maximum level (when it is at maximum level the red light will blink 3 times and you are in Line out mode) is very long, in fact I think that it is too long and refined that sometimes need to wait for very long to adjust volume from maximum to headphone listening level. 95 percent of my review period with UD125 I am using the DAC + headphone amplifier mode because it sounds great and it is very simple, before we proceed to audio quality, I would like you to know that it is not any headphone amplifier, it can easily powered my 250 ohm Beyerdynamic T90 to dangerous volume level.
It is worth to mention that this is first UD series that has built in headphone amplifier, I have tried every UD series, I bought their first UD100 and fell in love with Stoner Acoustics’ simplicity and sound quality for the price, then I reviewed their UD110, UD120 and now the UD125.
I have paired Stoner Acoustics UD125 with 1More Triple Drivers, Beyerdynamic T90, ZMF V1, Sennheiser HD700, line out to Teac HA-501 and my speaker setup. PC as source, tried once use Meizu MX4 as source (OTG)
I mainly tested UD125 as a single box unit, which mean use the internal headphone amplifier too because although I did tested the line out feature and use my Android phone as source, I still think connect it to PC and listen through IEM is the most enjoyable application, in my opinion it is only meaningful when you use it in the simplest way it can, this doesn’t mean that it is not well performed when use as line out, in fact it sounded very good when use at line out, I do occasionally connected it and line out to my humble speaker system, I really enjoyed the audio quality and it has a balanced and slightly warm audio signature, detail level, soundstage and imaging is very good too, the result is same when I connected it to my headphone amplifier too, the definition and layering is quite good especially when you consider the selling price, I do honestly think it is unbeatable and a reasonable step up from the UD120 itself. However, I enjoyed it more when I use it as a single box unit (just plug in the headphone and use the internal DAC and amp).
The sound signature is quite favorable, it tilt towards a warm tuning, it has bodied mid and bass performance and the treble is always smooth and without any tiring, so you will never found the treble to be harsh, it is a good thing really, in another hand I have never found it lacking resolution anyway. The whole music presentation is very analogue, warm and in an organic way.
I found myself liking UD125 very much, I believe most of the audiophile will like it too, especially for those who like Jazz and vocal centric music genre, honestly treble-seeker guys won’t enjoy this UD125, the treble will never grab your music attention, it is quite smooth there, I won’t say it has a recessed treble but UD125 presenting the treble in a polite way.
My audio buddy, Stephen, bought and listened to the UD125 way earlier than me, he like the UD125 with his HD600 very much and well, he is a hard core vocal lover. I myself love vocal music too but I never found UD125 unenjoyable with either Classical music or other music genre, I enjoyed other music genre with the UD125 too. In my honest opinion, you really can’t go wrong with the UD125 for the money, even if you have the money for higher grade DAC, you might feel that UD125 is not that bad compared to them either.
The soundstage has good shape and is round enough for my music, the sound is not thin so don’t you worry here, it has ample music body and not harsh sounding, unlike most of the cheap/lower end DAC/Amp that often get too thin sounding. Detail level is good enough, it is not muffle sounding despite the untiring treble. It is not super transparent but not too bad either.
I thought I won’t be going back to low end product again, but the fact prove me wrong lately. The very cheap 99USD IEM, 1More Triple Driver is very good sounding and make me less and less listening to my higher end headphone, and now the 85USD DAC + AMP combo, Stoner Acoustics UD125 sounded so great, honestly when paired with 1More Triple Driver they made a good combo, it is a very good sounding combo that easily satisfied your multiple genre music listening habit, without burning holes at your pity little pocket. This is also my main music listening setup when listening music through my PC.
But I won’t recommend UD125 if it only paired well with the Triple Driver, in fact it never made bad pairing with all of my headphones, even the Beyerdynamic T90 sounded good through the UD125, it is proved that UD125 is capable of driving more expensive and power demanding headphone when you are thinking of upgrading your headphone along the route, needless to say that it doesn’t need any driver to work with PC, and easily used (Dummy-proof), the feature is good too, very good DAC performance, built in with a capable headphone amplifier, a good line out feature, being so small and priced so cheap, I really can’t find a reason not to like the UD125.