When a high-end audio maker announces a new product, a high price tag is almost guaranteed to accompany its release. Indeed, NuPrime Audio's amps, preamps, DACs and heaphone amps are usually found in the four figure range, but not its new uDSD. The high resolution digital-to-analog converter and headphone amp will retail for under two hundred bucks.

In its introduction to the new "audiophile-grade" DAC/headphone amp, NuPrime explains that music is typically recorded in 24- or 32-bit PCM or DSD format at the recording studio and then converted to a lower resolution format for distribution to consumers. CD quality, for example, is 16-bit with a sample rate of 44.1 kHz, but PCM-encoded WAV audio files stored on a computer's hard drive might have a resolution of up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

The uDSD is reported capable of supporting the latest high resolution digital music formats at up to 24-bit/384 kHz, but as its name suggests, is also capable of native Direct-Stream Digital (DSD) decoding up to DSD 256 (or Quad-DSD).

Though originally developed by Sony and Philips for Super Audio CD discs, a commercially unsuccessful foray into the world of high resolution audio, DSD has been making something of a recent comeback thanks to the introduction of computers into home audio systems.

Whatever your digital audio poison, the uDSD looks like it will have you covered.

Meanwhile the headphone circuit offers a stereo output of 140 mW at 32 ohms (which is claimed more than ample for most of today's headphones and can even be used to drive active speakers), a dynamic range of 98 dB, signal-to-noise ratio of 112 dB and total harmonic distortion of less than 0.01 percent.

Though described as palm-sized, the actual dimensions of the uDSD have not been revealed. But it's unlikely to be as compact as the similarly-priced DacMagic XS from Cambridge Audio, though NuPrime's device does offer more output options.

A USB audio reception port to the side of its rugged aluminum housing provides power to the device from a connected Windows/Mac computer or laptop and is also where the audio-boosting journey begins. As well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack to the front, the uDSD also sports one coaxial S/PDIF and two (2 V) RCA analog outputs at the rear for connectivity to home hi-fi or desktop sound system setups.

The uDSD will be available from the middle of this month for a suggested retail price of US$179.

Product page: NuPrime uDSD

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