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KingRex UD 384 DAC, U-Power DC Battery Power Supply, and U-Craft USB Cable Review

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Digital Sound

I’m an analog guy at heart. I like single-ended no-feedback tube amplifiers, I like vinyl, I like tape. I don’t hate CD however, and that’s because I’ve heard very good CD players designed by analogue-at-heart guys. So you may think I’d be somewhat unfair to solid-state computer audio, but luckily I’m also a guy who has owned two CD mega changers and still own the Sony CD CX355 300 disc CD changer. The fact is there is a place for convenience and computer audio is king of the convenience game. That alone has merit. It’s also why the mega changer is collecting dust. And the KingRex sounds better than either of my mega changers. So it’s already a winner and I haven’t even got into detailing the sound.

I usually begin auditions with vocals and or piano because our ear is very accustomed to hearing the former, and because the latter is a tough instrument to reproduce well. I used the Audio Space Mini-2SE EL34 based push pull amplifier for this review along with the King Rex T20U Tripath Integrated amplifier and the Line Magnetic 219IA 24 watt SET amplifier, through Audio Note AX Two loudspeakers. I was pleased by the straight up, rather neutral character of the sound in initial casual auditions.

I began with Loreena McKennitt 16/44 and the results were more than respectable and more than I expected from computer audio. I was please by the low noise floor and coherent vocals. The sound was fast, punchy and had solid bass lines. I found the treble to be somewhat lean at times and the DAC was not kind to lesser recordings. This was noticeable on older pop/rock albums suck as Say it Isn’t So by The Outfield. Still, the rhythm was intact and my toe tapped. Clearly, the positives outweighed the negatives and given the price of the UD384 I was quite happy with the results. And this without the U-Power battery pack or the U-Craft cable.

KingRex U-Power

U-Power and U Get Better Sound!

Taking out the stock USB cable and connecting the U-Power battery supply and U-Craft Y cable, I was surprised how much the sound improved. I made the first comparison with the above noted Outfield song and there was considerably more bass weight and a fuller richer presentation, and the lean treble was replaced by cymbals that sounded far more like the real thing. I can’t be sure which maters more, the cable or the battery supply. Why? Because the Y cable requires the battery pack in order to work. Without the battery pack or some sort of external power supply, the cable can’t be used. Interestingly, the marked improvement was much more noticeable on my Line Magnetic 219IA than the Audio Space or KingRex amplifiers. Not one to let you read between the lines, I would say that on a budget system of lower resolution you may not notice the improvement of the cable and battery supply, so I’d suggest starting with just the UD384.

Still, the U-Power and U-Craft cable filled out the sound and reproduced a more rounded, fuller and less washed out digital sounding presentation, indeed almost like a tube amp does versus most solid-state amplifiers. Once you hear the DAC with the U-Power and the U-Craft cable, it will be tough to go back.

And unfortunately, this is where I also note a few weakness of the King Rex U-Power and U-Craft cable.

U-Craft USB cable from KingRex

One Response to KingRex UD 384 DAC, U-Power DC Battery Power Supply, and U-Craft USB Cable Review

  1. Adam says:

    How do you think that this DAC is going to compare to the Geek Pulse that the LightHarmonics guys having going over on Indiegogo?

    It’s also in the same ball park price and has similar general specs.

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