A massive jump in PC sound quality
- Massive sound quality boost over on-board audio
- Only stereo output, requires high-end components to be worthwhile
KingRex's UD-01 digital audio converter replaces your PC's sound card for transporting audio to an amplifier. By cutting out the PC's noisy internal circuitry the UD-01 offers a significant boost in sound quality with a warm yet clear signature.
Price$ 255.00 (AUD)
The UD-01, KingRex’s mid-priced USB digital audio converter, offers a sizeable leap in sound quality over a PC’s on-board sound solution, but you’ll need an equally high-quality system to take advantage of it.
In the world of audio, the personal computer is something of a black sheep. Long reviled by audiophiles as a source lossy, low-quality music fed out through noisy internal circuitry to cheap speakers, the PC is starting to slowly make itself heard as a legitimate digital audio hub.
Central to the process of outputting audio is a computer’s sound card. It’s the device that turns a digital avalanche of ones and zeros into an analog electrical signal that goes on to be amplified and blasted out through speakers. The problem with sound cards is that, by their very nature, they’re sensitive to electrical noise. The two simple ways around this are either to lower the card’s sensitivity, to block background noise — compromising sound quality — or to use higher quality components — raising prices and not fixing the problem entirely.
The only sure-fire way to eliminate digital noise is to physically separate the sound card from the computer enclosure. That’s the KingRex UD-01’s modus operandi — attached via a USB cable to the PC, it sits in its own enclosure and uses high-quality components to decode audio signals.
Working natively on both Windows and Macintosh systems, the UD-01 is simple to set up. A power pack is supplied as well as a USB cord, which uses a traditional USB-B plug to connect to the unit. Output is through stereo analog RCA ports, so it’s perfect to connect to a dedicated amplifier. Chances are that if you’re using anything that requires another type of connector (like entry-level PC speakers using a 3.5mm headphone jack, for example) you won’t benefit too much from the UD-01.
For our testing, we compared the UD-01 to the on-board sound from a Gigabyte P35 DS4 motherboard, as well as a Creative Xmod and Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1. The UD-01 is only capable of stereo output, so if you need surround sound the other systems' various digital and analog outputs might suit you more.
To establish digital noise levels we conducted a simple test. With the system connected to our test setup of a KingRex T20 amplifier and JohnBlue JB3 speakers, we cranked volume levels to max and listened for higher frequency hissing. Using the on-board sound system it was noticeably audible; it was less so with the consumer-level external solutions. With the UD-01 connected, however, we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of any audible hissing or interference — a testament to the high quality of the internal circuitry in the device.
Sound quality was stellar. Background noise aside, we did notice a slight difference in the timbre and clarity of sound with the different systems. The UD-01 reigned supreme throughout our test, with a more expansive sound range and a slightly warm signature.
The only problem with picking up a quality DAC like the UD-01 is that you’ll need to have equally high-quality components to be able to take advantage of the additional clarity and sound quality. If you’re currently getting by with a high-end system directly connected to your PC, consider this product carefully.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 2 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 3 Parrot Mambo Drone review
- 4 Evapolar USB air conditioner review
- 5 Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD TV review
Latest News Articles
- Nvidia rushes hotfix after bad GeForce driver broke Windows 10's Start menu, apps
- AMD drops Radeon RX 460, RX 470 prices ahead of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1050 launch
- Samsung releases super-high-capacity 8GB DRAM
- Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti can give prebuilt PCs a big gaming boost
- Tested: Shadow Warrior 2 sees huge performance boosts from Nvidia's multi-res shading
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: The new best Android phone
- TV buying guide: What to look for when buying a TV in 2016
- Best iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus plans: Optus vs Telstra vs Vodafone vs Virgin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCSenior Business Analyst - Telco - Melbourne CBDVIC
- FTMicrosoft Dynamics AX Technical ArchitectVIC
- CCContract Senior Systems Analyst (Oracle/SSADM) 161027/SSA/634Asia
- TPBusiness Transition Program ManagerVIC
- FTIntegration Solutions ArchitectNSW
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- CCTechnical Consultant MS Dynamic AXQLD
- CCContract Programmer (JAVA/J2EE/SQL) 161018/P/911Asia
- FTSenior Perl Developer | Infrastructure | TelecomNSW
- CCCompliance Administrator - Contracts/ ProcurementVIC
- TPHelpdesk/Level 1 SupportQLD
- CCInfrastructure Specialist :SCOMWA
- CCHuman Sciences Professional - DefenceNSW
- CCIteration Manager - Telco - Melbourne CBDVIC
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/J2EE) 161101/AP/162Asia
- TPTraining LeadVIC
- FTSoftware / Web Development ManagerNSW
- FTSenior Infrastructure EngineerNSW
- FTiOS Developer - PermanentWA
- FTSalesforce Subject Matter ExpertNSW
- TPSenior Android DeveloperNSW
- CCMicrosoft AX Support AnalystsQLD
- FTJava/JEE DeveloperVIC
- FTIntermediate Front End DeveloperQLD
- CCJunior Programmer (Application Dev. & Mgt.) 161017/JP/221Asia