The TEAC UD-501 is currently the cheapest DAC to support DSD replay across USB. It has fixed single-ended phono and balanced XLR outputs, and a volume control for the built-in headphone amplifier. There is no remote, but it does feature a range of filter options activated from a front panel menu button.
This DAC is part of TEAC’s revamped Reference 500 series, a midi-sized but fully discrete range of components with silver ‘pro audio’ style side panels featuring integrated handles. The unit itself is available in an all-silver finish, or a contrasting matt black body with silver knobs, switches and side panels. Either way, the two-line display is an orange on black panel.
Its two dials are not strongly resistive to the touch and both the menu button and the power on toggle should be more recognisably ‘thrown’ when engaged, but there is no play on any of the control surfaces. Overall, the metal-bodied DAC feels solid sitting on its four low feet. There is one odd ergonomic observation– the ¼” headphone jack is sited next to the power switch, while the volume control (which only works for headphones) is on the other side of the front panel. The logical panel order would be placing the headphone ‘group’ together, possibly on the right side of the front panel just after the display.
Its rear panel features a similarly odd choice of layout pattern. One part of the split digital input block itself splits the left and right analogue line level outputs. This relegates the two fibre-optic TOSlink inputs next to the IEC power inlet and a toggle switch to defeat the DAC’s power saving mode, while the two coaxial S/PDIF and USB digital inputs sit between the RCA and XLR sockets of the line out blocks. Fortunately, this is all clearly marked and covered in the comprehensive supplied manual, so this shouldn’t pose any functional concerns in everyday use. I used it single-ended exclusively.