Originally Posted by kaushama
Chris! Please post your impressions regarding my baby now. Enough soslo listening!
That pretty much sums it up for me.
Lots of detail. Really made me glad I bought Sony MDR-Sa5000s. Amazing synergy with them.
Almost no synergy with HD595s though - although they are probably a much lower end headset and scale less than the sonys.
The power of the DAC? Well, it made expensive cans sound expensive. Made cheaper ones sound better, but not by much.
The DAC makes a difference - it's not placebo.
I thought I had adequate quality with my X-fi, but it broke so I went to onbaord and even that with a small amp I though - hey, this doesn't sound bad.
But with the MD-10 I like to call it reverb, but others call it psychoacoustic affects for 3d layer and sound. And whatever you call it, it makes me smile. It's a lovely effect. It's not a neutral DAC in the sense of digital in, digital sound out, you get very much a musical output.
In fact, it has showed me how much lossy MP3 can gain with a good DAC since most of my music is lossy but even then I am still getting new details and facets to the music.
Where does it excel? The DAC brings out all the difficult bits of music. The dynamic range is amazing compared to my x-fi or onboard. Music sounds alive. cymbals and other 'sss' sounds are very clear and sharp - well defined. On rock whereas before you could not tell what was being used on the cymbals for percussion now it's clear. Lot's of breathing detail and performance sound. Air in recordings is now almost syrupy. It's like you're sitting infront of the piano or in a concert hall. But whereas x-fi processing that does this goes too far, the DAC seems to get it right - just enough in certain parts, but then it dissolves at other times.
A friend really likes AV mode for rock. Increases reverb. I prefer HIFI because it sounds cleaner albeit more intimate.
I'm not going to talk about basses, mids and highs because they're all ok. I've never listened to real uber kit for any length of time so all I can say is this is a massive step up from X-fi. The irony is that I wouldn't have bothered with this unless my X-fi developed hiss in the left channel.
This is the problem - because my expectations are so low with audio kit and I adapt quickly to the setup I listen to, I find the DAC amazing. It might not be amazing in the grand scheme of things and no better than a pro.dac with cs4398 or a x-fi elite pro or EMU0404 but I'm still impressed. Whether by placebo or not it works.
In fact, it's the first bit of kit I've ever had the desire to show off because I couldn't quite believe it.
I'm happy for now.
But I really must re-iterate this. the power of the DAC was not in the sound it produces directly. But rather the fact is that it finally justified my purchase of the SA5000s. I thought they were pretty marginal before. Not much better than HD595s overall albeit without the veil. But now the headphone grabs me when I'm distracted back into the music.
It seems to me that my MP3 files were not the weakest link in the chain as I once thought as the area where I could get most improvement because the amp is so forgiving. Definitely not a neutral amp! In fact, to me it's a similar niche as the UM2 from westone - not the best, not perfect, not neutral but FUN! It reveals the good details, hides the bad. And it does all this whilst sounding authoritative. The music sounds strong, vibrant and with punch. Simply authoritative. It's a useless description, but that's how I felt precisely. This is how it should sound I thought.
p.s. the headphone amp on the MD-10 is really nice. Much better than my go-vibe5 which isn't saying much, but still!!!
Next stop - compare MD-10 DAC with a benchmark DAC1 (June 8th or so)
Get a HD650 and AKG K701 trial going with it.
Do a roundup of ety er4p, W3 and triple fi borrowed from pjbox.
Try MD-10 with supermacro LE.
Eventually - go balanced or electrostatic.
In all however, if I get a big home setup I don't think I'll have any desire to ditch the MD-10 for anything, not even a headroom MAX dac, or stello or something like that. They key to this amp is a good DAC chip and now good quality capacitors and a good LM4562 in output. With that setup I think the next important step is for the headphone amp part. The amp specs are pretty close to ideal.
How is the stello in comparison Kaushama? Full review please.