NuPrime DAC-10H ™, DAC-10 ™

The Ultimate Desktop DAC and Headphone Amp

The NuPrime DAC-10H combines leading-edge technology that offers PCM 384K & DSD256 decoding with a high-power balanced headphone amplifier. To excel beyond high performance DACs cluttering the marketplace, NuPrime recognizes that merely supporting standard sampling rates and hi-res music formats using state-of-the-art chips or proprietary digital signal processing is not sufficient. To satisfy the most discerning audiophiles, the NuPrime DAC-10H must do three things exceptionally well: 1) drive any headphones with ease; 2) deliver the utmost detail during a symphony’s quietest passages or a soundtrack’s heart-pounding explosion; and 3) all of this in the most natural sound. Simply put, the DAC-10H is a truly musical device.

A Reference Class Preamp

To meet the requirement of customers who want to eliminate extra components in their system, a high-end preamp capable of driving the power amplifier directly is an essential part of the design. The DAC-10H includes features borrowed from the Reference class P-20 preamp:

  • Advanced, thin-film switched-resistor ladder network for controlling volume, i.e., a single resistor in the signal path at any volume setting.
  • Individually adjustable volume on each input for precise source level matching.
  • Volume adjustment in 99 precise, 0.5dB increments.

The Heart

As the heart of an audio system, the DAC-10H supports an extensive number of inputs and formats. Utilizing the world’s best performing 32-bit audio DAC is only a first step for designing the ultimate DAC. When state-of-the-art solutions are readily available to all vendors, the experience and proprietary know-how in designing many Editor’s Choice and Product of The Year award-winning products elevate the NuPrime DAC-10H above the competition.

Several notable features:

  • Five digital and two stereo inputs for system flexibility.
  • SABRE32 Reference ES9018K2M from ESS Technology is one of the world’s best-performing 32-bit audio DAC solution for high-end consumer applications and professional studio equipment. With ESS’s 32-bit Hyperstream™ DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, the SABRE32 Reference DAC delivers an unprecedented dynamic range of up to 127dB and THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise) of -120dB, all of which put the DAC-10H at the industry’s cutting edge.
  • Symmetrical signal processing with exact signal transmission over the entire frequency spectrum and extremely low harmonic distortion, ensuring an unadulterated musical presentation.
  • Asynchronous transfer mode.
  • Ultra-low-noise JFETs in the input stage for the lowest possible noise level.
  • Supports DSD native playback by ASIO2.1 (up to 11.2MHz) and DoP (up to 5.6MHz) method.
  • Sample Rate Display – 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384 kHz and DSD64 to DSD256.
  • Unique dual gain settings for RCA with 2V or 4V outputs, XLR with 4V or 8V outputs; and each of the balanced and unbalanced headphone outputs with four different high power output settings.
  • Exclusive driver software for Windows. Standard driver software for Mac.

Headphone Amplifier

Today’s best headphones can cost as much as a high-end DAC. Their owners demand a headphone amp that fully exploits their potential. Key features of the headphone amp:

  • A 4-pin balanced and a standard 6.2mm stereo headphone amplifier outputs.
  • Output circuitry designed for use with up to two dynamic headphones. Consistent wiring and the use of XLR-4 sockets ensure excellent channel separation.
  • A gain switch for use with in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones.

Other Features

  • Linear power supply with multi-rail toroidal transformer.
  • Independent left/right channel power supplies.
  • 12V trigger output
  • Full microprocessor control with memory retention
  • Included remote control for full convenience.
  • Available in stylish black or silver anodized aluminum finish

The NuPrime Sound

Just one listen confirms the DAC-10H as a true hallmark of audio performance:

  • Vast soundstage
  • Lightning-fast, wide-range dynamics
  • Ultra-low distortion and noise
  • Music emerges from a pristine background, with delicate details and nuances intact.

Specifications:

Inputs: 1 x USB Digital 2 x Coaxial Digital S/PDIF 2 x Optical Digital S/PDIF 2 x Analog Stereo RCA
Outputs: Stereo RCA (Line out). Output impedance < 100 Ohms. Max output: 2V (low gain); 4V (high gain) Stereo Balanced (XLR-3 socket pre-out ). Output impedance < 100 Ohms. Max output: 4V (low gain); 8V (high gain) Balanced headphone amplifier (XLR-4 socket ) Unbalanced headphone amplifier (6.3 mm jack socket )  
USB Sampling Rates: 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96KHz, 176.4KHz, 192KHz, 352.8KHz, 384KHz and DSD 2.8MHz (DSD64) , 5.6MHz (DSD128) 11.2MHz (DSD256) S/PDIF Sampling Rates: 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96, 176.4KHz, 192KHz  
Maximum Sampling Rate: 24-bits Bit Resolution: 16-24-bits  
Frequency Response: 10Hz to 80kHz Output Impedance: 100 ohm  
Max. output power: 680 mW @ 1 kHz and 600 ohm load at the XLR-4 output Frequency response: < 10 Hz to > 100 kHz  
Crosstalk attenuation: min. 93 dB @ 1 kHz THD+N: < 0.0003%  
Dynamic range: > 115 dB @ 600 ohm load (A-weighted) Dimensions: Height: 59mm Width: 215.4mm Depth: 382.6mm  
Weight: 10.5 pounds ( 4.8 kg ) Worldwide AC voltage: (90VAC~130VAC // 210VAC~ 250VAC) With Voltage Select Switch  
AC Fuse: Slow-blow,T2.5A, 250VAC      
Power Consumption: With 110V outlet, the standby power consumption is below 1.17W. With 230V outlet, the standby power consumption is below 2W. With 110V outlet, the idle power consumption is below 13W. With 230V outlet, the idle power consumption is below 14W.
Gain control sets to LL ( Low gain for both Unit gain and Headphone gain (Vol @ 99)
 
6.3mm headphone jack
4P XLR balance headphone (For borh R & L)
32 ohm
2000mW
4000mW (R ch) + 4000mw (L ch)
50 ohm
1300mW
2600mW (R ch) + 2600mW (R ch)
100 ohm
800mW
1600mW (R ch) + 1600mW (L ch)
300 ohm
310mW
620mW (R ch) + 620mW (L ch)
600 ohm
160mW
320mW (R ch) + 320mW (L ch)
If Gain control sets to HL (High gain for Unit gain & Low gain for Headphone gain) output values x 2
If Gain control sets to HH (High gain for Unit gain & High gain for headphone gain) output values x 4

 

Differences Between DAC-9 and DAC-10/10H

The DAC-9 and DAC-10 are exceptional devices. We did not design one as inferior to the other. Users should make their choice based on preferences with respect to sound characteristics, system compatibility and features. While both DACs share the same volume control and preamp design, there are differences:

The DAC-9's sonic character is slightly warmer than that of the DAC-10. And the DAC-9 offers no integrated headphone amp. The DAC-10's sonic character falls closer to the absolutely neutral. The DAC-10 features two levels of gain setting for both preamp and headphone amp outputs, with its XLR outputs producing 16 watts of power respectively, thus allowing the DAC-10 to partner with and drive any power amp or headphone. The DAC-10 is the wiser choice for audiophiles who enjoy comparing power amps or do a great deal of critical headphone listening.

Frequently Asked Questions

USB Standard and Ports

For a complete history and explanation of USB standard (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1) and port types (A, B, C, micro, etc), refer to Wikipedia USB article.

NuPrime communicates and decode digital music from the computer through USB Audio (this is a software standard, not physical USB standard). USB Audio is a software standard that defines how audio devices can communicate with the computer to play music. The USB standard and port type set the physical properties of how devices are to be connected to the computer and the speed limit.

The USB communication is always between a host and a client devices. Some devices such as smartphone or tablet can act as USB host or client device. When a smartphone is connected to the computer, it functions as a client device to the computer. Printer and USB hard drive are USB client devices. Client devices can not work with each other, unless one of the device has the capability to become a host. NuPrime's DACs (including Digital Integrated Amp) are all USB client devices and they are designed to play music from computer, smartphone or tablet. 

Some of the NuPrime models come with two Type-A ports. One of the ports is a standard USB 2.0 port (for audio, USB 2.0 is the standard and USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0) for USB audio use. The other port is a proprietary NuPrime digital port that uses the same USB Type-A connector. It is not a USB standard! NuPrime wireless devices (Bluetooth dongle, WiFi audio receiver) use this custom digital port for 5V power as well as digital music signals (in S/PDIF format). For example, if NuPrime WR-100 is to be connected with a non NuPrime DAC, it would have to be powered by a 5V power adapter and connect its optical S/PDIF output to the DAC. But if WR-100 is connected to NuPrime IDA-8 or DAC-9, a single cable is all that is needed.

USB 3.0/3.1 is also compatible with USB Type-C, the latest plug design that’s just starting to gain adoption. This reversible plug is distinct from USB 3.1, though manufacturers may choose to support both at once. For example, the 2015 MacBook and the second-gen Chromebook support the USB 3.1 standard on their Type-C ports, while the OnePlus 2 uses the USB 2.0 standard despite a Type-C port. Don't confuse the USB standard with the port type. 

What is USB Audio and how do I configure Windows or Mac computer for USB audio and the DAC ?

USB Audio is a standard for digital audio used in PCs, smart phones and tablets to interface with audio peripherals. The source device that produces the data is called the USB Host and the receiving end is the USB Client. So, if a smartphone is connected to a computer, the computer is the host and the phone is a client. But if a DAC is connected to the smartphone, then the phone is now the host and the DAC is the client.

Most USB audio interfaces are USB 1.0 and USB 2.0 compatible, so you should have no problem getting a device to work with any computer manufactured in the last 5 years. A USB audio interface attaches to the computer with a standard USB connector and to the device itself with any number of other connectors, ranging from proprietary connections to standardized connections.

USB Audio devices do not need the bandwidth of USB3.0 and USB3.0 is backward compatible with USB2.0

USB 2.0 can handle bandwidth of 480 MB/second. To put this into perspective, 24 bit/192 khz audio--the highest bandwidth in commercial use--uses approximately 10 MB/second per track of audio. So, a stereo recording would take approximately 20 MB/second or 5 percent of the possible USB 2.0 bandwidth. This large amount of bandwidth available allows for USB audio interfaces to accommodate just about any recording or playback scenario imaginable.

Steps to setup your computer to use external USB Audio device such as a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter):

  1. Connect the USB Audio device to the computer (before installing any device driver).
  2. Install the Windows device driver if it is required (Mac computer does not need to install USB Audio device driver)
  3. Go to the System Preference/Setup and look for Sound device setup. Choose the desire USB Audio device (e.g. NuPrime uDSD, Encore mDSD, ...)

For further information about how to configure the music player software for high resolution music playback, download this user guide: http://www.nuprimeaudio.com/images/productpage/NuPrime-USB-Playback-Guide.pdf

Occasionally Windows users might encounter driver error or not able to install certain device driver files. This is usually due to conflict with previously installed driver. Unfortunately there is no simple solution to this problem. Try the following steps:

  1. Uninstall NuPrime USB audio device driver.
  2. Go to Device Manager and look for any USB audio device driver (or any device driver) that has an error mark next to it.
  3. Delete the driver.
  4. Install NuPrime USB audio device driver again.

What kind of volume control and preamp do you use for your DAC?

In traditional pure-analog designs, a switch-resistor network for volume control works best but is very expensive due to the use of many high precision discrete resistors. Next is a high-quality volume pot. You rotate the pot to change resistance, which in turn attenuates volume. A volume pot is non-linear and has balance issues at low volume.

A DAC typically has a mix of analog and digital inputs. Some DACs convert the analog input into digital to utilize the DAC's internal digital volume control and inputs selection, avoiding the use of expensive analog preamp and volume control as described above. The performance degradation of the analog input that has to go through A2D, volume adjustment and then D2A depends on implementation, which is beyond the scope of this discussion. Digital inputs on the other hand should go through the high-end DAC's internal volume control for best performance. 

Therefore it make sense to best adjust the volume in the digital domain for digital signals, and use an analog preamp and volume control for analog inputs.

Our DAC-9 and DAC-10* have analog inputs without A-to-D conversion. We use a mixed analog and digital volume-control design. The digital volume control’s 0.5db steps are sent to the DAC for the best possible result. The DAC’s analog output and analog inputs from other sources then go through a switch-resistor network. The DAC's output is switched straight through with minimum resistance. For analog inputs, the switch resistor network provides the best possible result. 

In conclusion, we feel we’ve developed the best type of volume control and preamp for a modern DAC.

How do I connect my DAC to Android or iOS tablet and smartphone?

If you are not familiar with USB audio device, please read the FAQ topics on "What is USB Audio and how do I configure Windows or Mac computer for USB audio and the DAC ?" and "USB Standard and Ports"

The standard USB audio cable that comes with your iOS or Android device can not be used to connect the DAC. You will need a different cable that treat the iOS or Android device as the host, and the DAC as the client. 

  • iOS device - use a genuine or Apple MFI approved USB Camera Adapter cable
  • Android device - use a quality USB OTG cable

iOS Device

USB Audio has always been supported by iOS. You can use Apple USB Camera Adapters to import photos from your digital camera. You can also use Apple USB Camera Adapters to connect other USB devices to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If you're using an Apple USB 3 Camera Adapter, you need an iPad with iOS 9.3.

Some USB devices need more power than your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch can provide. If you connect one of these types of USB devices, you might see an alert that says “attached accessory uses too much power." Try one of these steps: 

  • Connect the USB devices to a powered USB hub or secondary power source.
  • Use a Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter. The Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter has a built-in lightning port, which you can connect to a USB power adapter. This provides power to your iOS device and connected USB device.

Android Device

Prior to version 5.0, the support for USB audio is spotty. Some device manufacturers do a better job than others. In general, Android OS 4.1 and above provide support for USB audio device. If you have doubt, check with your device manufacturer or search for help online. Please do not ask our support staff. In general, similar to iOS device, if the DAC is connected and functioning properly, the Android OS will send the audio to the USB port. There is no need for any system configuration.

We strongly recommend USB Audio Player PRO for high resolution music playback.

Similar to iOS device, if your USB device consumes more power than allowed by Android device, you will need to power the USB device. If you are technically inclined, here's a useful article: http://source.android.com/devices/audio/usb.html

Powered USB DAC

NuPrime DAC-10/10H, DAC-9, IDA-16, IDA-8

Externally Powered USB DAC

  • NuPrime uDSD - should always be connected to computer or a powered USB hub
  • Encore mDSD - can be connected to mobile iOS or Android devices directly, provided that the headphones used do not draw too much power. mDSD should be connected to headphone before connecting to the mobile device. If you don’t hear any sound from iPhone or iPad, try to lower your iDevice system volume, then pressing the mDSD volume up first, then increase the system volume.

How to connect to a powered USB hub - you will need a USB Type A to Type A cable for connecting the Android USB OTG Cable or Apple Camera Adapter Cable to the USB hub.

 

How to play DSD on NuPrime device ?

We recommend JRiver Media Center for its ease of use and setup. Please refer to this setup guide: /images/guides/JRiver-Configuration-for-DSD-Playback.pdf

For Foobar please refer to this general purpose USB audio playback guide: /images/guides/NuPrime-USB-Playback-Guide.pdf

What are ASIO and WASAPI ?

WASAPI - Applications communicate with the audio driver through Sessions, and these Sessions are programmed through the Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI). In general, WASAPI operates in two modes. In exclusive mode (also called DMA mode), unmixed audio streams are rendered directly to the audio adapter and no other application's audio will play and signal processing has no effect. Exclusive mode is useful for applications that demand the least amount of intermediate processing of the audio data or those that want to output compressed audio data such as Dolby Digital, DTS or WMA Pro over S/PDIF. WASAPI exclusive mode is similar to kernel streaming in function, but no kernel mode programming is required. In shared mode, audio streams are rendered by the application and optionally applied per-stream audio effects known as Local Effects (LFX) (such as per-session volume control). Then the streams are mixed by the global audio engine, where a set of global audio effects (GFX) may be applied. Finally, they're rendered on the audio device.

Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) is a computer sound card driver protocol for digital audio specified by Steinberg, providing a low-latency and high fidelity interface between a software application and a computer's sound card. Whereas Microsoft's DirectSound is commonly used as an intermediary signal path for non-professional users, ASIO allows musicians and sound engineers to access external hardware directly.

Can't play DSD256 with Audirvana 2.5 on a Mac

Mac OSX does not support native DSD, it only supports DoP (DSD over PCM). DAC-9 and DAC-10 only support DoP 128.

If I am using your DAC with a preamp or integrated amp, how do I set DAC’s preamp volume?

It depends on how good the volume control on your preamp or integrated amp is. Basically you want to set the volume of the less accurate preamp as high as possible (90% of maximum for example) and use the better preamp to make the fine adjustment. If both are equally good, set both to around 0db (mid-point). It is easier to test your preamp at low volume. Set DAC-9 to near maximum volume and try it out with your integrated amp. Does the music sound well detailed at very low volume? Do the opposite and compare again.

Is the Line-Out / Subwoofer Out full range?

All the Line Outs or Subwoofer Outputs from all the DACs and Integrated Amps are full range.

The subwoofer outputs from home theater products are filtered according to the device setting.

Optical input is not working or has intermittent problem

Some entry level consumer devices have optical outputs with high jitter and that can affect the locking of optical signal with some model of NuPrime DAC. If this is determined to be the problem, you can use an optical to analog converter such as "Musou Digital Optical Coax to Analog RCA Audio Converter Adapter" (available from Amazon.com) to convert the noisy optical signal to the DAC's analog RCA inputs.

My Windows PC is not showing the NuPrime DAC

1. Check the Sound setting in the Control Panel. Verify that the NuPrime DAC is selected. If it is not showing, the device driver was not installed correctly.

2. Go to Device Manager to check the USB audio device driver is installed and without any conflict. Remove conflicting USB audio devices. There are several places to check:

a) The NuPrime USB audio device listed under Device Manager.

b) In Device Manger, in "Sound, video and game controllers", there should be a NuPrime USB audio device. Check that there is no "error status". Right click to "Update Driver Software" if the status is "error".

3. Reboot computer.

4. Check that your USB cable is not defective. 

 

How does NuPrime determine the "Displayed Sampling Rate"?

There are two ways to determine the sampling rate:

  1. Use meta data from the source music. If the meta data is wrong or the source does not contain any sampling rate data, then NuPrime device will not display the correct sampling rate.  Even if the display does not show the correct sampling rate, the decoding will not be affected. The actual sampling rate is detected during the decoding process. Products using this method are: IDA-16, DAC-10 and uDSD
  2. Use SRC (sampling rate converter implemented in FPGA) to detect the clock of the source music to determine sampling rate. Products using this method are: IDA-8, IDA-6 and DAC-9.

The sampling rate is displayed during the following conditions:

  1. When an input is first selected, the Input Number and Sample Rate are displayed. Unless there is a change in input or sampling rate, the initial sampling rate will not be displayed again. 
  2. The sampling rate is displayed whenever there is a change in Input Source or music sampling rate.

Encore mDSD playing DSD file on latest OSX has noise

Please go to MIDI setting on MAC and make sure it is set to 24 bit.

What is the XLR pin definition of your DAC?

Our DACs follow the standard XLR pinout.

Pin 1 = Ground; Pin 2 = HOT (+); Pin 3 = COLD (-)

How to use NuPrime DAC with Synology NAS ?

Connect Synology USB output to DAC's USB input.

Then follow this application note:  https://www.synology.com/en-global/knowledgebase/DSM/help/AudioStation/playmusic

"Enable high quality output for USB speakers" should be selected in the Audio Station's Advanced Setting.

How can DAC-10/10H line out be turned off ?

DAC-10 / 10H line out can be turned off by holding the Mute button for 3 seconds. The line out will not automatically turn off when the headphone is inserted because there are multiple headphone outputs.

DAC-10H / DAC-10 Reviews

Product Of The Year
 
OUR TOP PICKS by The Absolute Sound
 
"......Within their product categories the DAC-10H DAC/preamp and ST-10 basic power amplifier are priced at the lower mid-level, yet they both deliver a level of performance that could be considered exemplary regardless of their cost. The DAC-10H has the capabilities, sound, and feature set that should keep it current for a number of years, while the ST-10 produces a level of sound quality that unless you absolutely must have more power output capabilities, will make “upgrading” to anything but a far pricier and more powerful amplifier more of a sideways proposition than an upward one…
 
...As it is a relatively new firm, NuPrime has yet to develop the reputation and visibility of more venerable audio companies. But given the quality of its first three products, the IDA-16, DAC-10H, and ST-10, it’s hard not to predict that NuPrime will be a force to be reckoned with now and in the future...", - Steven Stone, editor
 
 
 
"…I could talk about the DAC and preamp capabilities of the DAC-10H all day—they're that good. But what I really want to focus on most is the headphone amplifier. It's really something special…NuPrime's is the real deal—fully balanced design, with gobs of power, all routed through that sweet lossless volume control system. This headphone stage was clearly taken very seriously...Maximum output is 4,000mW per channel into 32 ohm loads via the balanced output. It will do 3,200mW into 50 ohms and 1,600mW into 100 ohms, meaning every variety of planar magnetic headphone should theoretically be well served. And that's exactly how it played out in my testing.
 
...as a DAC, it equals anything I've heard in its class. Add in the exceptional preamp stage, the cutting edge format support, the very generous connectivity, and of course that killer balanced headphone amp, and it seems NuPrime is ahead of the game...", - John Grandberg, InnerFidelity.com