This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
27" iMac with 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, ADM Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, PureMusic 1.86 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Audirvana; April Music Eximus DP1, Esoteric/APL Hifi UX1/NWO-M with Audiophilleo 2
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Synergy Hifi tubes, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X,
TruLife Audio Athena [on review]
: First Watt SIT1, ModWright KWA 100SE
Speakers: Aries Cerat Gladius, Voxativ Ampeggio, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200 [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event,
KingRex uArt USB cable with Bakoon BPS-02battery supply
Artesania Esoteric twin 3-tier with optional glass table, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF2 [on power amps], 1 x
GigaWatt PC3-SE Evo [on front end components]

Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: $1.099 for DAC-100, $549 for DDA-100

Clearly not content
to remain merely another class D amplifier brand—though that's what they're arguably still best known for—the catalogue of California-based NuForce has veritably exploded since their first year 2005 wares/waves.

For a while they even had their own loudspeakers. Today the company has multiple headphones, digital-direct iDevice converters, multi-channel amps, universal players and everything in-between. More importantly for overall visibility, they've broken into European mass distribution like Mediamarkt/Saturn where they now rub shoulders with Yamaha and Philips.

Starting in June 2012 with the new Home Reference Series, five models will have trickled down by October to build a high-value bridge between the existing NuForce desktop kit and famous Reference gear. Top to bottom in the right rendering is the $1.095 DAC-100, the $695 100wpc STA-100 amp, the $695 HAP-100 headfi preamp with three RCA inputs and the $695 UDA-100 USB DAC. Not shown until lower on this page is the final member, the $549 DDA-100 direct digital amp (or power DAC in Wadia speak). On styling it and the STA-100 are the odd men out without the two-tone stripe down the middle (and the DDA-100 also gets a different volume knob without line marker). On review today are the first two arrivals from this new crop, the DA-100 and DDA-100.
"The DAC-100, STA-100, HAP-100 and UDA-100 offer deliberately matched styling. The HAP-100 will be our top-line headphone amp and rival the very best at any price. Similarly the DAC-100 was designed to compete well beyond its class." At $1.099 that 4-input remote controlled converter (2 x coax, 1 x USB, 1 x Toslink inputs) with class A headphone socket and 2V line outputs is clearly positioned above the existing $449 NuForce HDP with which it otherwise shares similar functionality.

Though its styling doesn't make it a member of the faceted-face Reference family—that would be the PCM 1798-based 4V-out DAC-9 192K at $1.695 above—the NuForce website actually lists the DA-100 in both its Home/Desktop and Hi-End sections.

The rationale seems plain. For four of its five models, the 100 Series is priced between $549 and $695. Only the DAC-100 sticks out by fully doubling what the cheapest model gets. As such it's a bit beyond the core 100 Series stuff but not yet full-bore Reference material. Having to sleep somewhere the official designation puts it to bed with the 100 stable mates.

To visualize their DA-100's performance aspirations, NuForce supplies graphs to show jitter performance. "The DAC-100 shows a noise spectrum well below -130dB and jitter side-band performance more than -100dB below the test signal."

The company eschews PLL and SRC 'jitter buster' solutions in favor of a hardware memory buffer which reclocks the data decorrelated from various source clocks. The USB input is of the 24/192 asynchronous sort and requires a driver for both Windows and OSX (Windows Vista not supported).

Further specs are THD+N of 0.005%, A-weighted S/N of 96dB, output impedance of 100Ω and, for headphones, recommended load impedance of 120 - 600Ω, 10.4Vpp/3.7Vrms output of 500mW into 300 - 600Ω with a constant 80mA current. Remote control functions cover volume, input selection, mute and standby. Dimensions are 216 x 229 x 51mm WxDxH, weight is 1.2kg. Available finish options are black or silver.