Japanese audio specialist TEAC has just launched a five-strong Reference 505-Series of hi-fi separates. The firm – famous for producing everything from high-end turntables to cassette decks and all kinds of digital sources – has just launched the NT-505-X USB DAC / Network Player and UD-505-X USB DAC / Headphone Amplifier next to the existing AP-505 Stereo Power Amplifier, AX-505 Integrated Stereo Amplifier and PE-505 Phono Amplifier.
The new Reference Series from TEAC doesn’t just stand out because of its high-end components, either. If you’re looking for quality hi-fi that won’t clutter up your lounge, the entire range is notable for its compact A4 footprint that absolutely refuses to scrimp on quality.
Aside from updated DAC-chipsets, new stressless, 3D pinpoint feet and floating top panel, the entire new 505-series benefits from TEAC’s rich heritage of more than 60 years of design and finesse. After all, this is the same company that builds ultra high-end Esoteric audio equipment and Tascam studio equipment. Because of this, the TEAC Reference 505 range offers unique features and quality not often seen at competing brands – or within this price-range and form factor.
The concept behind the Reference 505-Series is simple: hi-fi audio performance in an A4-sized package. To that end, all products in the 505 range have a few features in common, including full metal housings (no plastic here), a fully balanced design, the use of powerful toroidal transformers instead of the oft-used switchable power supplies, high-quality components and painstakingly designed internal PCBs. Tear down a 505-series product and you’ll see a fully packed product boasting high-tech components and the full complement of cutting-edge technology.
Using the NT-505-X or UD-505-X (both upgraded with a new ESS Technologies DAC) as a digital source and preamplifier and the AP-505 power amplifier (with sound tuned Hypex nCore module) you can create a compact, premium, powerful, and immensely versatile audio setup that doesn’t occupy much shelf space. The AX-505 integrated amplifier, meanwhile, is based on the same Hypex nCore module and offers even more compact amplification.
To further improve the sound quality of the digital chain, the CG-10M external ‘Master Clock Generator’ can be added to reduce jitter and improve the digital audio clocking.
Add a PE-505 fully adjustable Phono preamplifier (boasting both XLR- and RCA-inputs), and you can enjoy your turntable and precious mono and stereo vinyl collection at the highest level, too.
To drill down a little into the products within the A4-sized TEAC Reference 505-Series, the UD-505-X is TEAC’s flagship dual monaural USB DAC with an integrated and fully balanced headphone amplifier. The dual mono structure processes stereo signals with higher purity, and the D/A converter section uses one ESS Technology ES9038 Q2M in each of the left and right channels. The product achieves a high signal-to-noise ratio by using each DAC in mono mode. Moreover, TEAC upgraded it to enable native playback of 22.5MHz DSD and 768kHz/32bit PCM formats. The crucial analogue processing section includes four TEAC-HCLD2 circuits – improved versions of the inaugural TEAC-HCLD. Using the newly adopted diamond buffer circuit, in addition to two standard 6.3mm headphone output connectors, one 4.4mm 5-pole headphone connector is available, enabling balanced connection and active ground connection with a single plug.
In the wireless domain, the Bluetooth receiver supports Sony’s LDAC and aptX HD for high-quality 24-bit wireless audio streaming from your smartphone.
On to the TEAC NT-505-X, a dual monaural USB DAC with versatile network playback capabilities. Again, the dual mono structure processes stereo signals with higher purity, and the D/A converter section uses one ES9038 Q2M (made by ESS Technology) in each of the left and right channels, achieving a high signal-to-noise ratio by using each DAC in mono mode.
When used as a USB DAC, you’ll get native playback of 22.5MHz DSD and 768kHz/32bit PCM formats. The analogue section here also includes four TEAC-HCLD2 buffer amp circuits that allow different drive modes – fully balanced drive for balanced output, and parallel drive mode for unbalanced output – to achieve enhanced acoustic expression.
On the network audio side, the NT-505-X supports hi-res streaming services such as Qobuz – and, following a recent software update, Tidal Connect is now onboard (with MQA decoder) as well as Spotify Connect and TuneIn internet radio. The NT-505-X is also Roon Certified.
The TEAC PE-505 is a new generation of MM/MC phono head amplifiers for vinyl lovers. Not only is the gain and load adjustable, but it also has a unique impedance detection circuit so that you know how to set the correct impedance match between the phono head amplifier and the phono cartridge head.
Because of the small output level of the phono cartridge, a high amplification is required. The newly developed NF-Type crystal is used in the RIAA equalisation circuit to achieve an ultra-low equalisation error of just 0.05 dB, and the old Decca and London equalisation curves have been incorporated, so even if you’re spinning a pre-1955 record, you’ll be able to match it correctly.
And the TEAC PE-505 doesn't just support MM/MC cartridges – the gain and impedance matching can be easily switched from the front panel. The PE-505 also has a DEMAG circuit, which allows you to adjust the gear to the DEMAG position and play the record for about 30 seconds to eliminate the magnetic field in the MC head.
TEAC’s AP-505 is an ultra-compact stereo power amplifier, powered by Hypex Ncore technology. As with the rest of the 505-series, TEAC has designed it for versatility, so you can choose from three output modes: stereo, bi-amp, or BTL (Bridge Tied Load/Bridged) as a mono amplifier. Boasting 115W + 115W of max output power (or 220W in BTL mode) you also get large retro-feel level meters, as well as XLR Balanced and RCA Unbalanced analogue audio inputs.
At its heart is an Ncore power amplifier module, made by Hypex (headquartered in Groningen, the Netherlands) and specially tuned by TEAC’s engineers for superlative sound quality. By employing a fully balanced circuit design from the input section to the output stage, the AP-505 keeps the audio signal as unadulterated as possible as it moves through the amplifier. The result? Extremely low distortion levels and an excellent signal-to-noise ratio (assisted by the effective elimination of common-mode noise). In the power supply, the AP-505 employs a high capacity toroidal-core transformer, with Schottky barrier diodes in the rectifying circuit. Unlike conventional diodes, Schottky barrier diodes reduce rectifier noise, leading to a ‘cleaner’ supply and a more stable delivery of current.
Of course, it makes no sense to design an amplifier that delivers excellent sound to a pair of speakers but which itself generates distracting operating noise from a cooling fan. From the outset, TEAC’s engineers were determined to use a circuit and layout that would allow sufficient natural cooling; one that would allow for the creation of a compact but powerful amplifier that didn’t need the help of a cooling fan.
Thus, at the crucial input stage, high-quality MUSES8820E dual op-amps are used for both the XLR and RCA inputs. In the power supply section for the input stage, both the left and right channel rectifying circuits are completely independent from the power transformer onwards and employ four, high-capacity, 4700μF capacitors on each channel (8 in total), achieving clear soundstage separation between channels.
And as for the exterior, lightweight aluminium-alloy panels cover the AP-505’s very robust steel chassis. A four-step dimmer allows users to adjust the intensity of the display illuminating those retro analogue level meters, while a switchable sensitivity (±0dB, +20dB, movement off) allows you to enjoy more, less, or even no meter movement, if preferred.
Delivering a huge amount of power from such a compact package, the entire TEAC Reference 505-Series offers high sound quality and precision engineering that’ll please audiophiles across the globe. With the release of the range, TEAC has emphatically proven that great sound can be found in small packages – and downsizing need not mean downgrading.
Take a closer look at the flagship network player and combine it with other TEAC Reference 505-Series components at the official TEAC website.
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