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TEAC AI-301DA review

Richard Easton
19 Feb 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
400
inc VAT

The TEAC AI-301DA is a compact and capable amplifier with plenty of connections, plus Bluetooth

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Specifications

Warranty: One year RTB, Details: www.teac.com, Part code: AI-301DA

The TEAC AI-301DA is an amplifier that comes in a very compact and attractive aluminium chassis that will feel just as at home sat on a desk as in an AV cabinet. We were particularly fond of its motor-driven volume knob that rotates even when you use the included remote control to adjust volume. At just 215x254x61mm, its small size will be a real advantage for those looking to use its USB DAC feature to improve the audio output of their desktop or laptop PC.

The included remote control is equally compact and provides the usual controls for switching inputs and changing volume.

The AI-301DA uses an ICEpower class-D amp and can be hooked up to a pair of passive speakers using either bare speaker wire or banana plugs. It can provide a maximum output of 60W to each speaker if they are 4 ohms, or 30W if they are 8 ohms. You also have the option of connecting a separate subwoofer for added bass response.

Among the usual wired connections, including two RCA line inputs, coaxial and S/PDIF digital in, the AI-301DA also includes Bluetooth for wireless playback. It supports the aptX codec for higher quality audio over Bluetooth with reduced latency.

The AI-301DA uses a BurrBrown PCM1795 digital-to-analogue converter, which can be connected to a computer via the USB type-B port to use as an asynchronous USB DAC. This lets the DAC control audio timing, rather than the computer, in order to reduce jitter and provide better overall sound quality. If you’re using USB or the coaxial connections the AI-301DA will support high-resolution audio up to 24bit/192kHz, although the optical input is limited to a maximum 24bit/96kHz.

Sound quality was very good when playing our high-resolution test tracks via USB on a pair of Bluesound passive speakers. A turntable connected through the RCA inputs sounded equally great, and we were easily able to pick out the intricate details in our jazz tracks when listening through a pair of Sennheiser HD700 headphones. The front of the unit has a 6.3mm headphone jack, so you’ll need an adapter to use 3.5mm headphones.

The TEAC AI-301DA is a very capable amplifier with multitude of connections and sleek looks. It isn’t quite as exciting as the Creative Sound Blaster X7’s unorthodox design, but is able to power more demanding speakers without the need for any optional extras. If you’re looking for a more traditional amplifier, without the need for the Sound Blaster X7’s more fanciful extras, the AI-301DA is a fantastic, if slightly more expensive, choice.

Buying information
Price including VAT£400
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Supplierwww.petertyson.co.uk
Detailswww.teac-audio.eu
Part codeAI-301DA

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