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Teac Reference 501 high-end mini hi-fi launched

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Teac Reference 501
Teac Reference 501

Teac has announced a new addition to its audio lineup in the form of a high-end mini hi-fi system called the Teac Reference 501.

The new system consists of four optional parts each of which is priced at £699 and which can be combined in a whatever combination the user requires. They are:

  • AI-501DA - 90w per channel Integrated Amplifier with DAC
  • UD-501 - Dual Mono DSD-compatible Digital-to-Analogue Converter
  • PD-501HR - DSD-compatible CD Player
  • HA-501 - Dual Mono, Class-A Headphone Amplifier
All are finished in impressively built aluminium and steel cases and have a matching, stark styling that we think looks very fetching. Most importantly of all, though, is that they all contain some seriously high-end components that should ensure top notch audio. All that and yet the overall footprint of the stack is less than a sheet of A4.

The new Teac Reference 501 hi-fi components will be available later this month, January 2013.

For full details on the new Reference 501 concept and the new components, the official press release is repeated below:

8 January 2013: Created for an age where high resolution music is increasingly consumed via computer-based systems, the TEAC Reference 501 series is a separates-based mini component hi-fi system that captures today's audiophile zeitgest.
 
Engineered to the highest standards, hewn from top-spec materials and incorporating cutting edge audio technologies, this system (available in black or silver) will bring consumers audiophile performance in an easily accomodated A4-sized package.
 
Available to purchase on a 'pick and mix' basis, according to individual needs, the Reference 501 system comprises four key components, all priced at £699 each :-
 
AI-501DA       90w per channel Integrated Amplifier with DAC
UD-501           Dual Mono DSD-compatible Digital-to-Analogue Converter
PD-501HR      DSD-compatible CD Player
HA-501             Dual Mono, Class-A Headphone Amplifier
 
One look and you know that these are no 'run-of-the-mill 'mini hi-fi components, a conclusion that's reinforced when you get up close and personal with them. Each of the four components is constructed from uncommonly weighty solid aluminium panels attached to a thick steel chassis. All the better to provide a solid, resonance-free platform for the electronics to do their work in.
 
The retro design, too, harks back to TEAC's studio origins, with large, easy to grip friction-damped controls, positive acting buttons and solid metal toggles. The rack mount-style handles provide the final finishing touch to a hi-fi system that knows how to pay homage to its professional audio heritage…
 
AI-501DA 90w per channel Integrated Amplifier with DAC
Instantly identifiable, thanks to its pair of elegant VU meters, the AI-501DA belies its retro looks by boasting the latest in high efficiency Class-D amplifier technology. The state of the art modules employed (fed by an oversize toroidal transformer) deliver a colossal 90w per channel, an incredible output in such a physically small amplifier. Yet, despite that, the amp consumes just 0.2w in standby mode and runs so cool that fan ventilation is rendered unnecessary.
 
Designed to accept digital audio from both Windows and Mac OS-based computers, the amplifier boasts four digital inputs (USB, coaxial, 2 x optical) that feed a 32-bit/192khz precision D/A converter, the BurrBrown PCM1502. Once the supplied USB driver software is installed on your Mac/PC a fully asynchronous digital path is created, allowing low-jitter 24bit/192kHz audio replay. Naturally, there are also two analogue inputs for non computer-based sources.
 
With speaker connections handled via proper binding posts, a high quality headphone output located on the front panel and full remote control of all functionality (including the other Reference 501 series components) the AI-501DA successfully offers huge versatility (and power) from an unfeasibly tiny enclosure. 
 
UD-501 Dual Mono, DSD-compatible Digital-to-Analogue Converter
The UD-501 is a dedicated Digital-to-Analogue converter designed to process digital signals from a variety of sources, including PCs/Macs, and then output them as analogue signals to an amplifier such as the AI-501DA.
 
Internally, it employs two 32-bit/192kHz BurrBrown PCM1795 DAC chips (one for each of the stereo channels) with four audiophile-grade MUSES8920 OpAmps (a pair per channel) delivering the analogue output. That output stage is also buffered to ensure a linear signal performance, Being a Dual Mono design there are separate toroidal transformers for each channel (which is why it weighs an incredible 4kg).
 
The UD-501 is capable of natively handling DSD over USB (2.8/5.6Mhz files) and PCM audio files of up to 32-bit/384kHz resolution, sourced both PCs and Macs, and offers a range of custom filtering options for both DSD and PCM files. What that means in English is that adventurous computer audio fans will get state of the art replay of pretty much any digital signal they care to feed it.
 
As you'd expect the impressive processing capabilities are partnered by a generous range of inputs: USB, 2 x optical, 2 coaxial, and both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) outputs, as well as very high quality headphone stage.
 
PD-501HR DSD-compatible CD Player
We may be living in the Internet Streaming age but there's still a place for the humble CD player, especially when it's as cutting edge as this one. Equipped with a centrally-mounted, slot-loading mechanism it boasts a unique VACS (Vibration Acoustic Control System) to eliminate stray vibrations, thus minimising read errors and improving sound quality.
 
The highlight feature is the fact it plays computer-created DVDs encoded with DSD 2.8/5.6Mz audio content. What's more it processes the content on such discs natively i.e without converting DSD to PCM as most 'DSD-compatible' devices do, thus preserving all the integrity of the original DSD signal.
 
The onboard D/A converter that works the magic is a Cirrus Logic CS4398, a top spec chip that achieves a dynamic range of 120dB. The same chip also allows replay of conventional software and audio sources (up to 24bit/192kHz resolution).
 
Under the heavy aluminium cover you'll find top quality, 6-layer glass-epoxy circuit boards, fully separated power supplies for the digital and analogue sections (using Schottky Barrier Diodes for clean, rectified current). Consuming just 11w in operation and 0.1w in standby, the PD-501HR also has genuine eco credentials.
 
HA-501 Dual Mono, Class-A Headphone Amplifier
The massive resurgence in the popularity of headphones, spurred on by the smartphone revolution, has created a renewed interest for high quality headphone amplifiers. Like the other components in the Reference 501 system this is a Dual Mono design, with each channel featuring a discrete, all Class-A circuit designed to eliminate any possibility of crosstalk and signal interference. Specialist audio-optimised MUSES8920 OpAmps help provide high-resolution analogue output for any connected headphones.
 
Damping factor, in conjunction with output impedance, is a measure of an amplifier stage's ability to correctly control the headphone driver's diaphragm (the element that moves and so creates sound). Adjusting the damping factor for a given pair of headphones will allow a reduction in distortion and a flatter frequency response. Low end Headphone Amplifiers don't offer such flexibility but the HA-501 provides five user-selectable Damping Factor settings.
 
With a frequency range of 2Hz-100kHz and 1,400mA of output power per channel (at 32 ohms impedance) the HA-501 has more than enough current drive capability not only for the majority of regular headphones (with an impedance range between 80-250 ohms) but also more esoteric, high-end 600 ohm designs. And if you do have several headphones an auto-muting function will ensure you don't get deafened when switching between models with different impedances.
 
As you will have gathered by now the TEAC Reference 501 concept doesn't really do compromise, either on an individual component or a collective system basis. It is a mini hi-fi system whose aim is simply to be the best of the best, with genuine audiophile credentials and offering a level of engineering, flexibility and sparkling performance that puts it, assuredly, in a class of its own.
 

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