Teac AI-301DA Amplifier

Once upon a time in the event you mentioned audiophile and the words computer in the exact same sentence you'd happen to be chased out of town.

Understanding hires formats may be more daunting than deciphering the Da Vinci code but something that's incontrovertible is that lacking an outside DAC and possessing DSD files is similar to possessing an E type and keeping it inside the garage. One example is the AI-301DA, which boasts an asynchronous USB input signal and a Burr-Brown PCM1795 DAC.

Another pleasant touch is the fact that Teac supplies free software which passes them onto the DAC and extracts those DSD files from your personal computer.

If you are using your personal computer in a USB or CD player you are well set to benefit from all the abilities of the AI-301DA. Only recall in case you would like to extract every last bit of sonic good out of any computer-saved hires files you require a wired connection -301, as Bluetooth wireless isn't up to maxing your music files that are hires. We'd be talking about streaming hires files if Teac had chosen for AirPlay at the same time as or instead of Bluetooth.

Whichever set up you plump for you will be listening to the 80W Group D power amp, made by ICEpower of the unit. This works on the hybrid feedback oscillating modulator as well as a multi-variable increased cascade control, which minimises heat generation enough to negate the need to get a cooling fan.

The amp is styled in part type that was ancient, but has compact measurements (that was only 215mm broad). Layout-wise it straddles living room domains and hifi, computer sound without appearing like it is been knocked together in someone's garage or appearing too brash, too minimalistic. It feels inert and solid and contains milled motor.

The front power button clicks the input signal LEDs light up unambiguously to let you know which source is in use as well as when pressed. If combined using a TV or deck across a room it is likely that you will fight to decipher the light show however, it is possible to make use of the dinky handset, which will be plasticky but happily has dedicated buttons for every input signal and appears permanent. You will likely also want the remote in a desktop computer set up as the volume amount can not be corrected using a computer keyboard (although you can drag the volume slider).

A subwoofer pre-out, USB type B and USB service interface completes the jack pack that is remarkable. In asynchronous mode jitter is eliminated by the latter USB by going around the inferior internal clock of the computer.

If utilizing the unit for soundbar responsibilities there is a convenient auto-on function turning the TV and vice versa into life.

Using the Teac HR Audio Player software as well as a USB connection you might believe all your hires problems are over, but that isn't quite true. On a Mac the applications is not difficult as no additional drivers are expected to download and install. It is also a cinch dropping and dragging files to generate and save playlists, but (unlike other software including Audirvana) file compatibility eschews all. You might need to tinker together with the frequency settings utilizing the Audio MIDI utility and also have to manually change the audio output signal or utilizing the computer's sound preferences. Therefore, it is a pity the AI-301DA does not have an LCD screen that tells you sampling frequency, bit rate and the incoming format.

Sound quality

The AI-301DA can gather two stations at 40W (promised) and has enough in its tank to drive a set of loudspeakers having an impedance between eight and four ohms. Compared using a typical resolution version the piece is far more beguiling and I will be happy to hear it in a sense that I had never do.

Losing down a resolution notch or two into a 24/96 FLAC download of the Time Out Of Mind of Steely Dan is fully participating with a punchiness that is usually not present when listening through loudspeakers or a built in computer DAC. Donald Fagen's vocals are resonant and airy and the percussion comes with an unanticipated dimensionality that appears to come from above.

Fantasia another hires FLAC download, demonstrates the AI-301DA has a deftness of touch which are timed, catching me by the collar that is mental and carrying me away to a leafy hayfield. I could practically taste the cucumber sandwiches before I'm awakened by a little head-thumping bass from Lorde's Royals and she. This time I listen as and via Bluetooth coherent as it's, without bass notes that are free or woolly I do not sense the same back-tingling quality to Lorde's vocals as I do with better-quality formats.

The difference between hardwired and wireless connections is established with a comparison of CD and Bluetooth variations. The latter is adequate and has a lot of gusto and verve, but there is a modest but substantial increase in detail together with the CD variation.

The selection of a digital amplifier as opposed to a Class A/B one of Teac means the AI-301DA has a naturally clinical border to its sound. This can be very unforgiving with low bitrate music, although it looks to matter with higher quality sources than it does with more compressed ones streamed from vTuner or Spotify internet radio, where holes are dissatisfying.


There is an awful lot to enjoy in regards to the AI-301DA, particularly the manner by combining with the Teac HR Audio Player software, it manages DSD files. It is a pity the software can not manage Apple's own hires formats, where necessary, but you could revert to iTunes.

The amp is built, looks the part and is tremendously flexible with regard to its own file management and source compatibility, although its dearth of Ethernet or AirPlay causes it to be more limited when utilized in a family room scenario. However, given the exceptionally acceptable cost it makes a more than convincing claim for itself as a desktop amp using audiophile generation.

Teac AI-301DA Amplifier photo