On a 1-5 star
5 stars for the
DAC/Preamp (considering its price point)
4 stars for the
Controller App. (works well with a few annoyances)
3 stars for the
2 stars for no
1 star for its native
file handling capability BUT with a freeware software solution it becomes 5 stars (see below).
This review is
more focused on providing a review of the functionality of the DAC of those
things that may not be obvious from the documentation. To keep this as brief as
possible I am intentionally not restating what can be found in the product
documentation since you can read this for yourself.
While I am
calling this a review, I am purposely not saying much regarding sound quality
which is so subjective and system / room dependent. But I will say I am very
happy with the sound quality of this DAC. I upgraded from a Bluesound Node 2
and realized significant and noticeable improvement in sound quality plus
higher resolution and DSD.
app itself is pretty good but a lot of its functionality is not documented so
you also have to figure it out on your own.
Once you do you will realize it’s pretty good. It just takes some time
to get used to. There are a few functional annoyances but that may just be
because I am used to using the BluOS app.
SERVICES work very well. I tried it with both Tidal HiFi and QoBuz HiRez. The
MQA decoding of Tidal sounded excellent, so good I am not renewing my QoBuz.
REQUIRES A HARD WIRED ETHERNET CONNECTION because the controller app will not
work unless the DAC is directly connected to your router via Ethernet. You
should not purchase the NT-505 unless you have a hard wired Ethernet connection
available. The DAC does have both coax and Toslink inputs so one could use an
external streamer connected to the digital input on the DAC but then you would
have to use the streamer’s controller app and none of the other functions of
the NT-505. That really wouldn’t make sense.
MUSIC FILES ON A
SERVER OR NAS: The native file handling capabilities of the NT-505 are awful
if you have a large number of music files.
It is slow to load and every time you turn on the DAC or your controller app it
seems to take forever to re-load. I
was ready to return this DAC until I noticed a single line in the
documentations were TEAC recommends third party free ware called MinimServer to
access and manage music files instead of their own software. You MUST use MinimServer if you have any
significant amount of music files in your library. MinimServer is very fast to load large
amount of music files and more importantly maintains the index of music files
in the server’s memory even when the DAC is off so it doesn’t have to rebuild
the index every time you turn on the DAC. MinimServer performs very well with
1T of music files that I have stored on a remote PC. If you have a NAS compatible
with MinimServer you can install MinimServer on the NAS and then use another
free software called MinimWatch on your PC to configure and control MinimServer. MinimServer and MinimWatch are
both very well documented and a Google
search will get you all you need to know.
MUSIC FILES ON
LOCAL USB DRIVE: The local USB port on the front of the DAC is intended for USB
thumb drives but with this configuration you can’t use MinimServer and are
limited to using the DAC’s native file management with the limitation described
above. But with a smaller number of files this isn’t that much of an issue. I
tested it with a connected HD with about 200 GB of music files and it did ok
but when I tried loading more the DAC choked and froze.
FROM A COMPUTER: There is a USB type A-B connection on the rear to connect a
computer directly to the DAC but I have not tested it since this DAC can play
all high rez and DSD files from the a remote server or NAS.
I am not going to
plug any source for purchases except to say that I bought the DAC from a
large online seller that offers a 60 day return for any reason with full refund
or credit for something else. That is more than enough time to fully evaluate