CES 2013: TEAC announces Reference 501, 'the most advanced mini hi-fi system in the world'

Just announced by TEAC at CES 2013 is the latest in its Reference line of mini component systems, the Reference 501.

Described by the company as 'the most advanced mini hi-fi system. In the world', the new system comprises four units, each of which is available separately at £699.

There's the AI-501DA, a 90W per channel integrated stereo amplifier with built-in digital to analogue conversion; a standalone dual mono DAC with DSD compatibility, the UD-501; the PD-501HR, is a DSD-compatible CD player; and the HA-501, a dual-mono Class A headphone amplifier.

All the components have a distinctly retro look, and will be available this month.

The AI-501DA amplifier has twin VU meters - see what we mean about retro? and uses high-efficiency Class D technology to deliver plenty of power from a compact enclosure, and do so without the need for fan cooling.

As well as two analogue line inputs, it has four digital inputs – asynchronous USB good for content at up to 24-bit/192kHz, two optical and one electrical – and uses a 32-bit/192kHz converter.

A headphone output is also provided, and the AI-501DA remote can also control the other Reference 501 components.

The UD-501 DAC can handle both DSD content and PCM audio files at up to 32-bit/384kHz over USB, and offers a range of filter options for both kinds of file. Like the amplifier, it can be used with PCs or Macs.

It also has two optical and two coaxial digital inputs, a choice of balanced XLR or RCA phono outputs, and a high-quality headphone stage.

The PD-501HR CD player will play not just CDs, but also downloaded DSD files burnt on DVD, and does so without converting the DSD files into PCM: instead its Cirrus Logic CS4398 converter handles DSD in native form.

The player also has TEAC's Vibration Acoustic Control System to eliminate mechanical interference, thus minimising disc-read errors.

Completing the Reference 501 system is the HA-501 headphone amplifier, which offers functions including five user-selectable damping factor settings, and sufficient drive to handle even tricky headphone impedances.

TEAC says of the Reference 501 system that it '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.'

See all the news from CES 2013 in our dedicated blog

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.