Gold headphone amp with Swarovski crystal

NuForce's uDAC-2 Signature Gold Edition 24bit/96kHz USB digital audio converter is for the discerning music enthusiast interested in connecting their computer to a stereo system or headphones. It will unlock the audio potential of their digital music files. The exterior gold plating classes up ions in the surrounding air, allowing a smooth and confusion-free journey for your electrons. It is also "adorned" with a Swarovski crystal, an understatement that veils the crystal's true technical purpose, which is to diffract the quantum-genetic memory of the universe to restore the missing data in your collection of shitty 192kbps MP3s. The NuForce uDAC-2 is cryogenically-enhanced and costs $400. NuForce Introduces a Lustrous Gold-Plated Digital Audio Converter for the Most Discerning Headphone Enthusiasts [NuForce]


  1. $400, shome mistake shirley?  You mean $40,000 right?  As an audiophile myself I wouldn’t pay anything less.

  2. “Double jitter-reduction mechanism at data level and at oversampling filter”

    What? I’m so in…

      1. yeah, guys like that have more dollars than cents.

        *communal groan*

        thank you ladies and gentlemen, i’ll be here all week!

  3. surely the built in speakers on my laptop deliver all the audio quality I need without using additional hardware?

  4. which is to diffract the quantum-genetic memory of the universe to
    restore the missing data in your collection of shitty 192kbps MP3s

    Comedy gold (plated, of course)

  5. If I had absurd amounts of money and I was that into audio I might buy it. Quality D/A converters last a long time. A least four times longer than a computer and possibly longer than their digital interface. Seriously the thing might well outlive USB2 or the RCA connectors on the other side.

    However it’s really odd to have a wired solution for rich guys to play their audio. Use Airtunes have an ipod dock.

    BTW 192kbps isn’t that shitty. Seriously have your heard 128kbps MP3s?

    1. You seem to be making the dangerous assumption that the guts of this thing are actually any good… 

      The base cost, shipped, of a 5.1 analog and toslink in/out USB audio card is ~$20. Aluminum case and everything! Now, the odds that you’ll be getting Burr-Brown on those 5.1 channels are somewhat less than zero; but the base cost of a USB-Audio chipset with a fairly stiff feature list is extremely low(if you are planning on toslinking it, it probably doesn’t matter, unless your magic ears can hear the terrifying jitter; but the analog outs on such are likely to be fairly dire…).

      It would be less than entirely surprising if this thing is ~250 worth of pure tinsel, ~50 worth of perfectly OK but not thrilling DACs, a bog-standard USB audio ASIC, and the rest profit…

      1. My brother-in-law has one of their stereo amps. His seems like a good value for the money. Nuforce’s business model consists of sticking the cheap (but good sounding) digital amps that were all the rage in the modder community a couple of years ago into a decent enclosure. They’re not making any wild claims here, this same amp is offered in a plain aluminum & plastic enclosure for $150, which seems competitive with most headphone amps. (Which yes, do make a difference. The sound cards in most PCs are generally lowest-common-denominator, and don’t provide enough power to drive some models of headphones.) Are the cosmetics worth $250 more? I guess it’s up to the buyer. But I can’t hold it against them for offering. They’re not hiding what it is, or why you’re paying more.

        Given how much steampunk stuff is just hot-glued gears and other frippery, There is some irony in boingboing mocking a company offering cosmetic enhancement.

      2. I’m not making an assumption. You are making the assumption that just because you buy a bottom of the barrel $20 5.1 USB “sound card” means everything else is as awful a quality as what you got straight from china.

        Seriously without the bling this is a $120 D/A and a good one, not some god awful “USB sound card”.

    2. “Quality D/A converters last a long time. A least four times longer than a computer”

      Four times?  How long do computers last (I ask because I’ve had components fail, but never an entire machine, full-stop)?  My Apple IIGS is still kicking 24 years later – do quality D/As last for at least a century, then?

      Also, what orifice might you recommend for pulling such figures out of?

      1. I’ve got a Nakamichi CD-400 with dual 20-bit Burr Brown DACs that has been through two cars in the last 12 years…  Still kicking out some great sound.

        Really wish it played MP3’s…oh well maybe one day when it dies.  So far it has outlasted any computer that I regularly use.  I mean I had an Athlon Slot A 800 sitting in my work room, but I hadn’t turned it on in about 3 years.  So when cleaning house I junked it.

        I’m not going to say parts don’t die, or any piece of electronics can’t die.  But he probably has a point about the connections becoming obsolete (USB) before it gives out…   at least at $400 I’d hope so.

      2. I’m looking at a DA/AD converter (a Sony media converter from 1997?) it has got to be 13-14 years old. Give a desktop a useful life of 3-4 years this has been connected to 4 of them. The ports are so close to being obsolete.

        Experience is where I pull this figure out of.

  6. Actually, a great a/d d/a converter for use in professional recording can run you 2,000 bucks. I’d like to add that a 24bit/96kHz d/a converter does you no good when you’re listening to 160 kbs mp3s ripped from 16bit/44.1kHz source material.

  7. I can tell from the linked picture that this is junk: they embedded the Swarovski crystal in an ordinary piece of metal, not hardwood from an endangered species of rainforest tree.

    1. “hardwood from an endangered species of rainforest tree.”

      On ebay a few years ago…

      The MPINGO Analog Antenna:


      The processing of Mpingo is an
      extremely dangerous undertaking. The few live Mpingo trees in existence
      grow about 100 miles in the middle of nowhere near the village of
      Mchinga in the Lindi region of Southeast Tanzania. An exceedingly
      fierce tribe of Bantu Pygmy (see a picture of them below) live in the
      area where these few trees grow and the tribe protects them with their
      lives because they worship these trees as their Supreme Deity. Every
      year some Korean and other audiophile manufacturers from the Far East
      make an annual pilgrimage to this area in search of Mpingo wood.

      Koreans generally prevail in the ensuing firefight with the Bantu
      Pygmys because their elite Shun Moon Schlock Troops are heavily armed
      with Russian Groza OC-14 assault rifles with grenade launchers. The
      Shun Moon Schlock Troops always manage to terminate (using solid silver
      slugs, of course) enough of the Bantu Pygmys to snatch a branch or
      two from one of the Mpingo trees. But the Shun Moon Schlock Troops do
      sustain heavy losses themselves: Payments to the grieving families back
      home require that very high prices be charged for the Shun Moon Schlock
      Mpingo products they are able to manufacture from the few precious
      pieces of Mpingo wood they are able to steal.

      We procure the
      wood we need for our Mpingo analog antennae in a different manner: We
      negotiate directly with the witchdoctor of the Pygmy Bantu tribe.
      Mpingo trees grow best when fertilized with human blood, and because the
      Mpingo tree produces audiophile wood, it really prefers to be
      fertilized with the blood from an audiophile. We have learned from long
      experience Mpingo trees really thrive when fed the blood from a fat
      white male audiophile who prefers SETs and horns. The witchdoctor
      tells us that sacrifices from lovers of SETs and horns results in
      Mpingo trees with smoother, less harsh and less angular foliage.

      we know that the fat white guy that fertilizes the trees each year
      feels no pain: When you get an SET and horn lover this close to such an
      immense quantity of Mpingo wood, they fall unconscious because they are
      in such a blissful state of harmonic ecstasy and besides, the circular
      polarization of the Mpingo wood�s electrons suppresses all thoughts of
      fear and negativity in fat white audiophiles.

      We’ve even
      observed in the last few years that the Mpingo tree even renders iPods
      and MP3 players useless as the wood’s electrons don’t like digital
      media and Mpingo wood actually neuters digital electrons by turning them
      into neutrons. And we have no shortage of volunteers demanding to
      accompany us on our annual trip for Mpingo wood: We tell the lucky stiff
      we pick they will have access to a virtually unlimited supply of Mpingo
      wood for the rest of their life and they will pay nothing out of their

      Since these audiophiles are always looking for the best
      deal on the Internet and eBay, they leap at this opportunity. And we
      don’t misrepresent our promise to them: We make certain a body part is
      planted next to the roots of every Mpingo tree after the Pygmy Bantu
      have drained them of their blood.

      Anyway, after we have
      delivered our “payment” to the witchdoctor, we have our pick of the
      best part of the Mpingo tree from which to cut an analog FM antenna to
      bring back for our annual auction.


      I begin the manufacture of each year’s Mpingo analog FM antenna I first
      treat it with a proprietary process that gives the antenna a unique
      property to regulate the resonance of any sonic component and its
      transmission, and to reject all IBOC and other digital signals. This
      works down to the cellular level of the wood and yes, it even works down
      to the sub-atomic level so the electrons that are stimulated by analog
      FM signals remain in blissful harmony.

      Another unique feature
      of the Mpingo FM antenna involves what happens to it when wind hits it:
      Whenever the Mpingo FM antenna is excited by any external physical or
      acoustic energy, it will resonate throughout the entire audible
      spectrum, thus overriding unwanted harmonic distortions and at the same
      enriching the musical reproduction of your FM tuner. When you purchase
      this Mpingo Antenna, it will be gently taken from our special
      environmentally-controlled biohazard-proof pyramidal-shaped positive
      karma-concentration storage room.

      I can assure you when packing
      it I will wear a full biohazard suit guaranteed to be sterilized both on
      the inside as well as on the outside. The Mpingo antenna will be
      shipped in a contamination-free airtight aluminum coffin and soothingly
      placed onto the coffin’s satin pillows. We have found that shipping
      it in a coffin guarantees a safe arrival and you have the added bonus of
      being able to use the shipping container for your own personal

      I also want you to know the tribe of over 500 fierce
      Bantu warriors in Tanzania as well as a team of 50 stateside employees
      inspected your antenna, picked the wood larvae and ticks and leeches and
      other little critters off it and polished it with additional coats of
      the exceedingly rare Mpingo wood oil (20W-50W to be exact) to make sure
      it was in the best possible condition before shipping.

      We also
      place individually hand-carved “Shakra Zulu” crystals around your
      Mpingo antenna inside the aluminum-shipping container so as to maintain
      its positive karmic charge and to keep any electrons from digital radio
      broadcasts from contaminating your antenna during shipment.


      the momentous day your antenna will be shipped to you, our chief
      Shaolin Monk packing specialist from Beijing will light a candle and a
      hush will fall over the crowd of slack-jawed truckers at the Overnight
      terminal when he places the coffin containing your Mpingo antenna into
      the finest gold-lined Overnight trailer that money can buy. And if any
      of the truckers at the freight terminal exhibit even the slightest bit
      of disrespect during the shipping ceremony, the Monk has been instructed
      to immediately dispatch the offender to the great shipping terminal in
      the sky.

  8. Some days, usually when I’m broke, I really wish I had no ethics and could sell crap like this. I have a feeling you could literally gold plate crap and someone would buy it. I guess the selling point would be that with gold plated crap, your crap won’t stink.

  9. Maybe I don’t know how to read audio specs, but I am a little confused. Says it has a max sampling rate of 96kHz. Then it’s frequency response tops out at 20kHz. Shouldn’t a worthwhile converter go up to the Nyquist limit of 48kHz?  

    1.  Theoretically, sure. We can’t hear stuff past about 20kHz and under 20 Hz. But then you get into psychoacoustics and the interaction of frequencies with one another. Right now the best digital conversion tops out at 192kHz. I read somewhere that analog tape is something like 384kHz. The difference between 16 bit and 24 bit is more important anyway.

    2. Well, of course the anti-aliasing filters won’t be perfect (although for $400, they ought to be pretty darn good), and you don’t want to add any phase-distortion or group-delay distortion, plus there’s the whole question of how to define frequency response (linear to the 1dB point or 3 dB point with what passband ripple?) so it won’t be exactly 48 kHz. But these are just a bunch of numbers, which can’t be too relevant to someone who’s going to spend $400 on this toy, if you get my drift.

    3. Dr.
      B — there’s no direct relationship between a DAC’s sample rate(s) and
      the rated freq range of the analog output section. (For instance, when
      the NuForce is sampling at 32KHz, the ability of the output stage to
      reproduce 20-20KHz is unchanged, even though there shouldn’t be anything
      higher than 16KHz coming in. Likewise, your 20-20KHz pre-amp still has
      those specs whether its source is FM tuner, cassette, LP or CD.) In this
      case, I suspect that the analog section of this NuForce is p’bly just
      an IC, and “20-20KHz” is simply what the chipmaker specs it at ;-)

  10. Exactly what I’ve been looking for!  It will look great on my $650 wooden vibration dampening blocks (

    What? No Cat-5 connector on my gold plated Swarovski crystal laden A/D D/A converter.  How will I plug in my $500 Denon audio connector cable ( 

    Perhaps they have a more expensive version with a Cat-5 connector that I could purchase?  I’ll need two though, one for the right channel and one for the left.  I find that I don’t like to mix signals in the same device, I’m just picky that way…

  11. To be fair, the marketing does speak of the gold plating and crystal as aesthetic, not technical, features.

  12. Gosh $400? Ripping off audiophile is a victimless crime. I hear asynchronous USB is the next big thing in high end media centre. BTW did someone mention Burr-Brown? Huh?

  13. This device seems premature in the absence of a service offering mp3s encoded on a UNIVAC I for additional warmth.

  14. Wow. Okay, I know kicking audiophiles is fun and all, but I think it’s seriously bad form to use completely fictitious (as in, you made them up, not them) advertised features as strawmen to make fun of a product.

    You might as well have reviewed an iPod and stated that Apple claimed it would cure your cancer.

    There’s enough about the device that’s silly to poke at without making shit up. Frankly this entire post comes off as petty.

  15. Someone needs to just sell a high-fidelity loudspeaker in a gold-trimmed rosewood casing that sits on a desk and repeatedly plays a lossless recording of the owner saying “I’m better than you.”

  16. $400 is not horribly out of line with its competition. Yes, you are paying extra for gold-plating and a sparkly crystal, but you’re not paying, say, $300 extra.

    Now, do you NEED a $400 D/A converter/headphone amp? There are some pretty good ones for a lot less money, but the ones that, say, a recording studio would use run about $1k.

    Some computers already ship with pretty-good audio components that will drive most headphones well. If so, you don’t need this.

    If you have a crappy computer, you might find some improvement by buying an external converter/amp (less background noise, less distortion, better stereo soundstage). And also, if you have some extra-fancy headphones, you might NEED an external amp to supply sufficient power (for example, HiFiMAN orthodynamic headphones require about 10x the power of most).

    1. $400 is not horribly out of line with its competition. Yes, you are paying extra for gold-plating and a sparkly crystal, but you’re not paying, say, $300 extra.

      But you are paying $270 extra.  They sell the exact same product in a non blinged-out version for $129, if you don’t mind giving up your Swarovski crystal: NuForce uDAC-2.

      1. And the “non-blinged-out” version is nothing short of spectacular.  Best computer audio most people will ever hear.

  17. You may not be able to hear frequencies below 20 Hz, but with big enough drivers you can certainly sense them. It may depend on where you are with respect to the antinodes of the frequency of interest.

  18. The non-gold Nuforce DAC headphone amp is just spectacular, and worth every penny of the approximately $120 it costs.  I got mine for $99 plus shipping and use it with my portable digital audio workstation.  For music production, it’s output is every bit as good as the Apogee DACs which are considered among the best.  When you plug in a pair of headphones and listen to music through the uDAC-2 you’ll be shocked at how different a proper audio adapter sounds than the onboard audio you get with any laptop or desktop.

    Of course, the gold and the stravinsky crystal or whatever is just nonsense, but if it brings attention to this fine product, the gold version was a good investment for NuForce.

  19. Um, subjectively perhaps.

    “Richard McQuillan 4 hours ago

    Real data:…”

    oops…. Replying to Pope Ratzo

  20. It’s so nice to hear so many people who know nothing about the topic offer their opinions!

    I have an ungodly expensive amp and earphones. Yes, there’s a difference. No, I don’t get excited about it, and usually listen direct from my iPod to a set of $20 phones, because I’m more interested in the music than the “experience”. But at least I don’t post stupid comments about topics about which I know absolutely nothing.

    You guys are a trip.

    Idiots, but a trip.

  21. Uh… I have the same unit in flat black. It’s a nice device and definitely is a great improvement over my MacBook Pro’s built in audio jack.

    But it’s exactly the same specs for a third of the price.

  22. I think I’ll wait for the platinum edition. More Swarovski crystals may negate the effects of Auto-Tune.
    Songs may not sound good, but at least it will be hi-fi.

  23. Amazing, that’s more bullshit both per gram AND cubic centimeter than anything but a copy of Dianetics.

    1. I think the L+R jacks are there for convenience. Personally, I use the third Coaxial connection to output digital to my receiver. I carry the unit (the non-bling $129 version) in my computer bag and use the headphone jack when I am out and about.

  24. For those who mock using 24 bit/ 96kHz on something like this because mp3s and CDs can’t give near that- garbage in garbage out and such- you forget that the people who buy this are more likely to be using SACD or DVD- Audio. The latter sends stereo audio up to 192kHz at 24 bit which means this trinket for all it’s bling isn’t good enough, assuming you can actually hear the difference. The average mp3 listener has never heard of a headphone preamp and thinks Skullcandy is a premium brand.

  25. you guys get outrageously snarky whenever high end audio is on here, but generally make fools of yourselves.

    so the guy decorates the case with a crystal. It looks nice. He didnt say the crystal does anything.

    And dr. benway is confusing sample rte with frequency response. Two different things. Im starting to doubt most of you ever heard a great stereo in action. 

    I think having a passion for the audio is an interest in a mix of art and science and engineering, and all the differing philosophical differences in approach and execution in the hifi world are very interesting. Theres all these limitations nd compromises at the edges of the performance of the technology, and the art comes in- how do you decide what to give up, to get something else, performance wise? Make your woofer bigger, get deeper bass, but it will physically move slower. tough call etc. Do you get a stereo “voiced” to sound good? Or stick to pure science approach-just the facts ma’am type setup. analog vs. digital and tubes vs. solid state are the big endless debates in the hifi world. And it makes us dorks. yet I see endless pages of apple vs. PC arguing here and its really similar.

    Once you get into the amp and speaker design stuff, Its a mind expanding (and wallet depleting ) world. If I were into wine or paintings none of you would question it I bet. 

    And you end up with a cool stereo in the end. Women seem to think its a little sexy to be obsessed with it, like it speaks to your passion in life and maybe refinement, to care deeply about something people dont think twice about.. They always seem to like hearing about it, when they see my audio junk and records and cleaning tools and tubes etc. Here on boing boing it makes you a tool though, i guess.

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