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Behringer UCA202 or UFO202 as a headphone amp?
SnTholiday
post Feb 3 2011, 00:51
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Hi,

Can anyone who is familiar with these two devices tell me if one, or both, can be used as a headphone amp? Currently I am using onboard audio, Realtek ALC889s, and the output cannot drive my headphones (Sennheiser HD 570) to an adequate level. I've read several reviews of these
devices but noone seems to be using it as a headphone amp. Several reviews say it can be used to monitor inputs but can the headphone output also be used for listening to music files on the PC?

Thanks.
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Cron
post Feb 3 2011, 12:08
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I use UCA202 as DAC + headphone amp at the office. It's paired with Audio-Technica ATH-M50 and they work like a charm. Sound quality is just as good as you'd expect from essentially transparent device.
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odigg
post Feb 3 2011, 15:05
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One issue may be volume. It seems the HD570 is 120 ohms and has a sensitivity of 95 db/V. The ATH-M50 is more sensitive and has a much lower impedance. You may end up with the same problem as your Realtek onboard sound.

It really depends on the UCA202 though. USB is a 5V source. At least in theory, 5V should be enough to drive the HD570 to loud volumes - it really depends on how the amp in the UCA202 is built.

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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 3 2011, 18:33
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QUOTE (odigg @ Feb 3 2011, 09:05) *
One issue may be volume. It seems the HD570 is 120 ohms and has a sensitivity of 95 db/V. The ATH-M50 is more sensitive and has a much lower impedance. You may end up with the same problem as your Realtek onboard sound.

It really depends on the UCA202 though. USB is a 5V source. At least in theory, 5V should be enough to drive the HD570 to loud volumes - it really depends on how the amp in the UCA202 is built.


If memory serves, the RCA jack output of a UCA 202 delivers about 1 volt RMS. The headphone jack is about the same. IOW, about the same as a PC inernal audio interface.

If high impedeance, low sensitify headphones are the load, investment in a FIIO E5 or equivalent might be advised.
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SnTholiday
post Feb 3 2011, 22:37
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Thanks a lot for the information. I decided to go with the NuForce uDAC-2.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 4 2011, 22:44
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QUOTE (SnTholiday @ Feb 3 2011, 16:37) *
Thanks a lot for the information. I decided to go with the NuForce uDAC-2.


The rated output of the NuForce's headphone jack is speced at 80 mW into 16 ohms. That works out to be about 1.13 volts. That is only 1.3 dB more than the 1 volt that you can expect from an on-board audio interface or the UCA 202. which is a barely audible difference. You can reasonably expect to get more voltage for driving high impedance headphones by sticking with the on-board audio and adding an inexpensive headphone amp like the Fiio E5. The E5 has about 5.3 dB gain (x 1.85) at full gain. Anohter inexpensive but really pretty good headphone amp, the Boostaroo has 6 dB gain ( x 2.0)
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odigg
post Feb 4 2011, 23:25
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I suspect the maximum output voltage for the udac is not stated properly. They also state the RCA output is 2Vrms. How can the max output of the headphone out be 1.13 volts when the RCA outs are so much higher?
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SnTholiday
post Feb 5 2011, 19:17
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I received the NuForce uDAC-2 and I am no expert on output voltages, sensitivity, etc, but the uDAC-2 more than adequately drive the Sennheiser HD 570s. The music will get very loud at not even 3/4 volume. I also ordered a Pyle-Pro - U-CONTROL USB-Audio Interface (looks just like the Behringer UCA202) to use as an external sound card and it does a good job driving the HD 570s as well.
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CSMR
post Feb 6 2011, 01:12
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QUOTE (Cron @ Feb 3 2011, 03:08) *
I use UCA202 as DAC + headphone amp at the office. It's paired with Audio-Technica ATH-M50 and they work like a charm. Sound quality is just as good as you'd expect from essentially transparent device.

It's cheap and may be good for the price, but these devices are not made to be transparent. They are made to cover the basics. It has a relatively high output impedance, 50ohms, which will may cause frequency response issues. Typically these devices have audible tracking problems on the volume control. I'd be surpised if it didn't have an audible noise floor. That said, quality is not going to be a problem for the OP, who is concerned about volume and in all other respects it will be much better then typical integrated sound.
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Cron
post Feb 23 2011, 10:28
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QUOTE (CSMR @ Feb 6 2011, 02:12) *
It's cheap and may be good for the price, but these devices are not made to be transparent. They are made to cover the basics. It has a relatively high output impedance, 50ohms, which will may cause frequency response issues. Typically these devices have audible tracking problems on the volume control. I'd be surpised if it didn't have an audible noise floor. That said, quality is not going to be a problem for the OP, who is concerned about volume and in all other respects it will be much better then typical integrated sound.

How I've understood it, you can achieve transparency with very basic components and design. The device has over -88dB noise floor. While RMAA says it's only "good" I don't think it's audible in normal listening situations.

I can't comment about the tracking problems as I haven't noticed any - but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some, as the pot feels quite flimsy.

http://www.birotechnology.com/soundcards/h...2_line-line.htm
http://www.birotechnology.com/soundcards/h...202_hp-line.htm
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 23 2011, 16:24
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QUOTE (odigg @ Feb 4 2011, 17:25) *
I suspect the maximum output voltage for the udac is not stated properly. They also state the RCA output is 2Vrms. How can the max output of the headphone out be 1.13 volts when the RCA outs are so much higher?


Here are what I suspect are the two most probable ways for the headphone jack to put out less voltage then the line output:

(1) The headphone amp's source impedance is nontrivial and the spec is for a loaded condition.

(2) The headphone amplifier has a gain of less than one.
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NwAvGuy
post Mar 2 2011, 20:44
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I'm new here, but might be able to help out with this discussion. I've recently done extensive measurements on both the Behringer UCA202 and the NuForce uDAC-2 including things not normally measured by RMAA including maximum output level and output impedance.

Interestingly, the $29 Behringer generally did *much* better than the $129 NuForce on nearly all the tests. And comparing the line outputs, the Behringer wins hands down. Although, the Behringer does have a 50 ohm output impedance which makes in unsuitable for a lot of headphones. But, sadly, even the uDAC-2 has a relatively high output impedance of 6 ohms which still causes 4+ dB of frequency response variations with my Ultimate Ear headphones.

The NuForce problems were serious enough I even contacted NuForce before going further with my review. And I was rather surprised at their ultimate response which can be summarized as "your uDAC-2 is working as we intended" and "we designed it that was intentionally". Here's the uDAC2 review:

NuForce uDAC-2 Drama

And here's the Behringer UCA202 review:

Behringer UCA202 Review





--------------------
Personal Non-Commercial Audio Blog: http://nwavguy.com
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