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Like it lots,

A Review On: Audiolab M-DAC

Audiolab M-DAC

Rated # 17 in DACs
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Purchased on:
Price paid: $600.00
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Pros: Compact, high VFM, good functionality, designer has provided many feature updates in firmware

Cons: lack of 192 on USB, and nobalanced headphone out from the front panel.

I've had this forever, but never thought about writing a review for it.


I came to the Mdac via the Young and the Weiss 202, both which i still had when the Mdac first landed. it saw the Young off with its pre-amp functionality, remote control, headphone out  and better treble. The Young sounded a touch coarse in the upper register compared to the Mdac. Similarly the Mdac a touch coarse compared to the Weiss, but only slightly so and for less than 1/6 th the costs I was cashing my Weiss in and putting the money into my hifi elsewhere.


I lived happily with the Mdac for a good year or so, then the designer started mentioning upgrades to the unit, revisions to the output stage, mods to the local regs inside the unit and improvements to the earthing scheme amongst others. I sent mine in for the mods and after a while, quite a while, it returned. It was sweeter sounding up top, very fine indeed and the bass had taken on a whole new level of solidity and drive. 


During the time I've owned the Mdac there have been a host of firmware updates, both Mac and Windoze. They've added a lot of stuff, dimming display, wider bandwidth input for using with poor jitter sources, menu naming, improved filters. It's nice to see a company actually delivering a regular stream of new features via drivers, plenty never bother.


Since then I've further sent it back for another mods package, which is based on the design he intends implementing in the replacement Mdac2, which he's going to make and release under his own brand rather than with Audiolab (IAG) who he's no longer connected with. So I'm looking forward to that coming back any time soon. The Mdac2 sounds like it will be Xmas/Feb time and will be a drop in mainboard PCB upgrade for current Mdac owners or a completely new unit for new purchasers. I'm very interested to see what he can come up with using a dual ESS chip layout and with is capable of handling DSD directly over USB and dual wire Spdif.


To be honest I mostly use it as a digital pre driving my power amp directly and that's where it sounds best IME. Talk says that the revisions to the output stage have lowered the Headphone output impedance even further and added more class A operating margin for more drive into difficult loads. Might be tiem to change from my Sony MDR-1r to some planars...

1 Comment:

Is it possible to control headphone out  volume via remote control?
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