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NuForce DDA-100 ‘Power DAC’

  • It looks like this Power DAC concept could become  The Next Big Thing™:  not simply DAC and amplifier in one box, but a unit where the incoming digital signal from a computer or streaming device is amplified entirely in the digital domain. The digital-to-analogue conversion takes place just prior to the speaker outputs.

    NuForce have long been proponents of Class D amplification and their newly announced DDA-100 looks like it could be spankingly good. Using a similar amplification methodology to that of NAD’s C 390DD and M2, it converts a PCM input to PWM, and then uses that PWM signal to drive the output stage.

    “In effect, the PWM power amplifier stage operates as a power DAC.”, reads the marketing copy.

    “This effectively eliminates the DAC-related problems that have plagued serious listeners in the past. Fewer parts result in a more direct signal path, resulting in benefits passed along to you: exquisite sound at an affordable price.”

    The S/PDIF input can handle up to 24/192 whereas the USB is capped at 24/96.  Here’s what the remote control looks like:

    At US$549, Jason Lim could be onto a winner.  It’s not quite as powerful as NAD’s C 390DD but 50 wpc into 8 Ohms will be more than enough for many listeners. The NuForce DDA-100 has the potential to be utterly golden on the desktop AND in the lounge room.  

    The DDA-100 is available in black or silver finish and began shipping yesterday.


    • Digital inputs: 2 x TOSLINK, 1 x RCA Coaxial 75-Ohm, 1 x USB2.0 adaptive mode
    • Maximum sampling rate: 96kHz (USB) and 192kHz (S/PDIF)
    • Resolution: 24-bits
    • Speaker Output Power: 75W x 2 (4 Ohm), 50W x 2 (8 Ohm), 250W peak.
    • THD+N = 0.07% @ 15W
    • Frequency response: 20 to 20kHz +/- 0.1dB
    • SNR > 95dB A-weighted
    • Power: 100-240VAC worldwide auto switch
    • Dimensions
    • 9″ x 8.5″ x 2″
    • Weight: 2.64 lb. Shipping weight 5 lb.


    Further Information:  NuForce 

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. OK John,

      This is what Wadia has been doing for a while now with their 151 Digital amp and up-sampling DAC. All in one nice small, sleek, smooth package. Plus Wadia has the 171 I-Pod doc to boot.

      Thanks John Darko,

      You (we) ROCK!!!!!

      Don Cooper
      Palm Springs, Califonication, USA

      Also, do not forget the Brunoco (DIVA) digital Amp,DAC too!

      Don Cooper
      Palm Spring, Cali

    2. Sorry, I meant to spell it CALIFORNICATION!!!

      Do you guys have Southern Comfort “down under”

      If not, you (all) need it. 100 proof of course!!!

      Wink ;-), Wink ;-)))))))))

    3. Digital Audio this is. A “Review” it is not. How about actually reviewing this product rather than simply reproducing the specs from the manufacturer’s website? If you aren’t ready or in a position to review it, then there’s no need for the article, yes?

        • I always need a hug.

          However, I’d settle for review sites actually doing some reviewing rather than parroting press releases in-lieu.

          Luckily Srajan is one the case, and we can all wait on that.

          • But this review site DOES do reviewing:


            This NuForce items is a news post and is marked as such. However, it IS NOT the result of a press release – NuForce don’t/didn’t send me anything. It’s the result of a reader heads-up about another newly launched PCM –> PWM ‘Power DAC’ given I’d just finished up Part 1 coverage of NAD’s C 390DD (that works with similar technology).

            Obviously, I would very much like to review this NuForce unit but as with all reviews, time and product availability are the two main limiting factors in deciding what to cover and when.

            I’m delighted Srajan has this one covered as I’m booked solid for reviews for the next 2-3 months.

    4. Well, whether or not Dave needs a hug, he does have a valid point, which you haven’t addressed, have you?

      • Yes, I have. Moreover, this is how I run my site and – without intending to sound belligerent – it isn’t gonna please everyone. I’m OK with that.

    5. Would be nice to see you do a review of this to see how you think it compares to the more expensive NAD direct digital stuff.

      • Sure would Mike. I’ve asked for a review unit. NuForce replied with: “At this time, I don’t have any loaner units of the DDA-100. I’ll keep you posted on this.” So I guess one *could* come my way but probably not for a while yet…

        • Hmmmmm…interesting. Kind of gives the appearance they have something to hide, doesn’t it? Turning away free publicity seems odd. What am I missing here?

          • Doesn’t seem that way at all. Most companies have a marketing strategy. Digital Audio Review (DAR) as good as it is may not be a part of their plan at this time. Maybe their doing all the big mags first, then sending it to smaller mags. So not sending a review unit to DAR doesn’t seem odd at all. They can’t send a review unit to every audio review site or blogger online.

            I hear this argument all the time from skeptics. “The company must be hiding something.”

            Do you think the execs and engineers of these companies lose sleep at night thinking of ways to pull the wool over audiophiles eyes? I don’t think their losing much sleep!

            • You make some valid points there Thomas; although it isn’t *only* ‘circulation’ size that determines a review site’s working relationship with manufacturers. It’s writing style, overall focus and (oftentimes) personality.

              Incidentally, the NuForce DDA-100 Power DAC was recently reviewed by Srajan at 6Moons and he really didn’t like it at all:

      • *What* hype? I’ve seen nothing written about this product, good, bad or otherwise. For over $500 you’d think that asynchronous USB would be standard, but it looks like NuForce went with a simpler and cheaper option.

          • I am a BIG W4S fan…they make some of the best DACs around – and I have one here. However, TNT’s comps may be meaningless, as the Nuforce is a 50W amp @ 8 ohms, the W4S is 150? So that the second is more dynamic might be attributable to that fact. However, TNT kept repeating about the Nuforce: “natural”.

            It is. I am lucky however for using it wit 4 ohm ribbons and that may be a perfect match, as the DDA-100’s output gains and with this system the dynamics happen to be explosive. Lastly, you cannot compare them fairly. One is a digital only amp, the other is not.

    6. the “hype” is the talk about what is removed from a standard setup:

      one trades an analog interconnect for a digital interconnect

      one eliminates preamp gain stages

      one eliminates analog volume control

      one trades D to A conversion AND A to D conversion (if one also was previously using a class D amp) for D to D conversion

      my completed system has a digital transport, digital interconnect, DDA-100, speaker cable ….. the signal stays in the digital realm until the single gain stage at the amp output

      at present we have 4 very good cd players: audio research cd8, esoteric X-o5, rega isis, nagra cdc to compare to a rega apollo-R feeding a DDA-100

      digital input to a class D amp is a marriage worthwhile

      a future has landed

    7. Hi again John. I’ve just commited to buying one so we’ll see how it goes compared to my other integrated units. Would you like to borrow it when I’m done?

    8. Hi all,
      direct question: how is supposed this powerDAC to perform with a low-quality (that means jitter) SPDIF-over-USB input signal?
      I have recently upgraded my adaptive-USB DAC to a fully asyncrhonous one (NFB-11.32 by Audio-gd) and the improvement has been ASTONISHING.
      The concept at the base of this NuForce product is really exciting, but… what about music from audio files? Theoretically the dda-100 seems dependent from the USB-clock quality…

      Let me ask a further (quite off topic) question to take advantage of your expertise: with my new DAC I have greatly improved the sound quality, but the performance is still a very little worse than using my CambridgeAudio CD connected through a good coaxial cable. Since the asynch behavior solves any issue about jitter (the signal is re-clocked internally), how comes that I have different results between coaxial and USB? What can make an SPDIF signal worse than another, except from the jitter? Maybe elettrical noise? Or my FLAC sources are not good enough? I ripped them using CDParanoia under Linux, that told me to be one of the best methods…

      Sorry if I have dwelt, and thank you in advance for your attention.


      • Hey Roberto. It might not be the async nature of the USB that’s brought you improvement. It might simply be a better USB implementation all round. As you say, some are better than others. Don’t be put off my adaptive though; there’s some good stuff out there. If in doubt as to how good NuForce’s USB reception will be, best feed it with an Audiophilleo (or similar).

        • Hi Jhon.
          Well, IMHO even the best USB implementation could perform poorly if fed with a very jittering USB source: the good thing in going asynchronous is actually to be not source-dependent. My $150 netbook, for instance, is surely not a very good source 😉
          No coincidence the Audiophileo uses an asynchronous-USB implementation in its input… it would be nice if NuForce put me in the condition of not needing a converter, which in turn will need a good power-supply unit in addition.
          In the case, I would try with the “HiFace Two” first, since it’s really inexpensive and it seems to perform very good (I didn’t try it personally, though).
          Do you own the hardware to make a direct comparison between asynch and non-asynch with the NuForce? It would be extremely interesting to know the outcome of test like that…
          Thank you very much for your feedback.

    9. I’m using the DDA-100 right now in my home theater system – too bad I can’t upload a photo.

      It is being used with large ribbon speakers (nearing $7000 in cost), ARC litz and NORDOST wires, Audioquest and other optical and HDMI wires. My area has stable electrical, I am using power conditioning for all circuits, and it is so quiet here that you can hear your own heartbeat.

      Let me put it this way. The naysayers are few and far in-between. This amplifier bypasses many of the problems of both, analog and ICE amplifiers and sounds it. Oh, BTW, the other amps I compared it to are PASS for high end and Audiosource for a low end comp.

      The DDA-100 is a game changer. It is an engineering miracle (considering its price) aimed at the mid and low end market but is equally at home in a high end system. It puts out moderate power (my speakers are 4 ohms so I get 50% more power), but it can peak at 250 watts, good enough for my stereo-based home system that has a very large panel TV in the middle.

      Speaking just for myself, it has my unreserved recommendation, and no, I’m not about to split hairs having given it.

      I could care less what Srajan or anyone else says about it. I don’t agree with him. Should I? The fact is, if you had read his words to the end, you’d have found that the amp blossomed as it was played louder. I have 88db/[email protected] speakers which happen to be perfect for this amp. What Srajan used is probably wrong for this amp and probably not a very good speaker to begin with.

      Does it compare well with real high end amps? Well, like Srajan, I used a PASS amp to compare. Not the same wires or speakers. His problem. I tested it with desktop speakers too, they were close to as good, as good, or better than what I had before for this application.

      Listen for yourself and send your angry emails to Srajan, not to me.

        • Just like I will send from time to time, angry emails are part of this business. Say anything, and bet on it, someone will be unhappy. Unhappy people run the world and become presidents with a happy face.

          Reminds me of one experience where the other guy purchased a $12,000 ARC preamp (no phono stage in it, I mean, you want phono too, for a mere $12,000?)

          My assertion was that no wire with gain is better than any wire with gain. He insisted that putting the ARC in between the DAC (which has a line amp-preamp already and a very transparent one to be sure), and his amp “improved” the sound. Meaning that extra electronics and an extra interconnect in line serving no amplification need sounded better than not having these added to the signal path. Meaning that more distortion sounded better to this gent than less distortion and the more transparent path. I won’t belabor you recitations about how many times I had proven to very experienced listeners that this kind of thinking was wrong…

          Of course we need to look at psychology here, not science. He had INVESTED $12,000 buying a boat anchor that was detrimental to his wallet and his sound and now has to justify the clearly foolish expenditure. (He admitted the preamp served no other or switching purpose.)

          Hence, you can understand the very angry emails from this fellow who, really, didn’t know what he was talking about. The anger wasn’t really at my opinion, but rather at what he knew in his heart of hearts: he wasted his money and got fluked in the process…as in Sandra Fluke and her $3000 condom habit that US taxpayers now fund.

          Par for the course and expected for reviewers in the game.

          As it gets dark on one side of the planet, we can rest assured in the knowledge that light dawns on the other side.

    10. I bought a DDA-100 and received it about 3 weeks ago. I use it in a very simple home office setup. Source is a MacPro via USB with a combination of 16 bit CD rips and 24 bit downloads, speakers are Harbeth P3ESR’s.

      I’m sure I’m not the mist discerning listener, but to me, listening nearfield with this set up the sound is very good. I listen to 90% jazz and find it to be very detailed with a wonderful soundstage.

      I couldn’t be happier with it.

    Bleep – A Guide To Electronic Music

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