TEAC NT-505 FUNCTIONAL REVIEW


 

On a 1-5 star rating:

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 documentation.
2 stars for no WiFi.
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.

The controller 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.

STREAMING 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.

PLAYING MUSIC 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 this DAC.


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Post removed 
The Teac HR Streamer app is in fact a variant of the Lumin app which also works with the Teac.  Most of the missing documentation you are looking for can be found on the Lumin site.  I switched to using the Lumin app instead of the Teac one as it is updated more often.  
@canibefrank
Page 13 of NT-505 manual, "You can use the upconversion function with all input sources."
A far as where I bought it, I bought it from Crutchfield.com because of their return timeline.



@jackd
Thanks for that. I downloaded the Lumin app and it looks like the exact same app! I see it has a lot of instructions on its use on the Lumin site.
Thanks for sharing all the info with us. Can you play mp3 music files on this DAC (either via a flash USB drive type-A or via Bluetooth from your smartphone)?
Yes, it plays mp3 files. I did a test and played some mp3 files from both a thumb drive connected to the front USB and from my PC using MinimServ. I have not played any music via Bluetooth.
I’m interested in this unit. Have you compared it sonically to any stand-alone DACs in that price range?
I have not made comparisons to other stand-alone DACs in this price range. I will say that this DAC does not have a sonic signature. It gets out of the way. So if you are looking for a DAC that "adds" something this may not be it. The only other "dacs" I own are the Node2, Oppo 203 and a Musical Paradise tube DAC. I prefer the TEAC over all three. So much so that I am now also using it as my pre-amp in front of two CARY 805AE mono amps.
interesting
Musical Paradise tube DAC was on my short list...
looks like it will probably be the TEAC unit with the NAD C658 second place
SMSL says their AKM Veritas 4497 chipped units will have MQA in the future
ah, to save a thousand bucks...
@canibefrank

And just to be clear, the Musical Paradise DAC is a wonderful sounding DAC. I do recommend it if you don’t already have a tube system. It is just that in my tube system I liked the TEAC better. I will likely be using the MP DAC in my SS second system which I listen to most of the time. Right now I am using a Node 2 as the DAC and using the MP DAC  with the Node 2 is a noticeable improvement.
Anyone using the 505 as a Roon endpoint?
@aberyclark 

Mine just arrived and I’m using it with Roon. The unit sounds absolutely fantastic so far. Roon works perfectly with it. You’ll need to give it the most recent firmware.