EarStudio HUD100 MK2 review – Excellent sound

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Along with the IEMs, demand for USB DAC/AMPs are experiencing a huge boom these days. There are a lot of brands trying to jump into the band wagon with whatever they have. Some of them are really cheap and some of them are slightly on the expansive side. Most of the cheaper dongles are a USB-C to 3.5mm cables but there are a few brands that have removable cables. Radsone is one of them.

Hailing from South Korea Radsone has already made a huge impact with their ES100 Bluetooth dac/amp but in pursuit of a more dedicated DAC which doesn’t have any other distractions and with details and clarity in its mind they came up with HUD100 but after a few months they introduced HUD100 MK2 with refined tuning and better usability. Priced at $125.99 (varies between $120-140) the HUD100 mk2 DAC/Amp comes in only one color (black), has a weight of around 22g and can be used with both PCs and mobile devices.

Get one for yourself from here:-

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:-

When an USB DAC/Amp is bought we barely expect much with it, bare minimum is a cable to connect it with mobile phone and if they are from a more reputable brand we can find a few pair of cables at best.

With the HUD100 MK2 we can find a pair of cables, one Type C to C and another Type C to A cable to use with mobile devices and PCs respectively. There is a user manual and like most of the smaller and slightly expansive DAC/Amps there is a transparent protective case. Surprisingly there are a couple of extras here. Two case holders and two strips of double sided 3M stickers can be found inside the box which can be used to attach the device on the back of the mobile phone or DAP’s carry case. A neat addition, much more appreciated.

Sun Kissed!!

BUILD QUALITY AND CONNECTIVITY:-

The HUD100 MK2 has a dimension of just 45/25/8mm and weights just 21.5g. It feels very sturdy and solid in the hand. The front is made out of metal while back is plastic which should be protected with the case. It has two 3.5mm headphone jacks and a DSP switch on one side and the firmware updater switch and Type-C socket are on the other side.

Connecting it is very simple, use the type C to C OTG cable found inside the package to connect it with mobile phones or tablets. Connect it with PCs through the Type A to C cable but a PC driver has to be installed for windows PCs. A detailed guide can be downloaded from the product page.

A led indicator lights up when the HUD100 MK2 is connected properly, it changes color according to the streaming quality.

TECH TALK, DRIVING POWER AND SWITCHES:-

The AK4377 DAC chip is not the best in the market, not even for the price, I have the Tempotec V1-A and it is not good as a DAP as the amp section is very bad but the 100 Mk2 is plenty good, much much better than the gloomy and restricted V1-A. It’s the implementation which has done the job, premium components and refined tuning I guess. The 100 Mk2 is capable of doing DSD128 and PCM 32bit at 384khz. It uses MEMS oscillator for jitter free sound and it is the first DAC to use ARM cortex processor for algorithm. The harmonic distortion and noise is at a respectable value of 105DB for low power 3.5mm socket and 102DB for high power and has a dynamic range of 118db. Both are much higher than what a mobile phone can deliver.

The HUD100 is equipped with two single ended outputs. The one on the left side of the DSP switches is for the less power hungry earphone and headphone. It has an output power of 0.914vrms which turns out at around 114mw and should be plenty for most of the earphone in the market. The one on right with “H.P” (high power) aside is for more demanding earphones and mostly headphones. EarStudio suggests it for over 250ohm head gears but demanding IEMs like Shozy Pola can definitely use the 2.26vrms power. The HUD 100 MK2 can easily drive most of the headphones except those who are power hungry.

It has 3 DSPs at its disposal and are achieved with the switches. The one in the middle is DCT processing modes for users looking for well dithered analog like sound. The one close to the low power output is for bypassing any DSP and the one on the other side is tuned by Radsone for a more dynamic and powerful sound.

Do these DSP affect the sound much? Not enough and I like it at bypass position. The DCT mode is not bad either but makes the sound a bit colder.

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About Author

My humble audiophile journey started in 2010, when I was in college, where I fell in love with the elements, nuances, and variations of this mesmerizing world. The ability of tiny earphones to recreate amazing sounds made my bad days tolerable and good days better! Now I am a full-time audiophile with a preference for musical tracks, especially vocals and engaging ones. I must admit I am addicted, but not to drugs or alcohol, but to earphones. Come join me as I share my experiences, bad or good, and let’s have some fun!

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