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Musical Fidelity M1 DAC - Any Impressions? - Page 4

post #46 of 63

I just received my v-link and m1dac yesterday. I haven't done much listening to this point, but am very satisfied thus far. The depth of the sound is so much more than I experienced before the upgrade.

post #47 of 63

I own the Musical Fidelity X-150 and a DacMagic. While this is a 'headphone' forum, my Citypulse EF 3.01 doesn't excite me as much as my hi-fi does, so I'll talk about my experiences using that.

 

I auditioned the new MF range alongside the X-Ray V8 and Triple-X PSU, through the XT-100 amp as I was unable to lug mine in (back issues).

 

Sources

 

NAD 525BEE CD Player (20 bit DAC)

NAD 545BEE CD Player (24 bit DAC)

Musical Fidelity X-Ray V8 w/ Triple-X PSU

Musical Fidelity M1 CDT

 

Amp

 

Musical Fidelity XT-100

various Denon/Marantz receivers/amps

 

Speakers

 

B&W 683

B&W 684

Focal Chorus 714V

Focal Chorus 716V

Focal Chorus 726V

Focal Chorus 816V

Focal Chorus 826V

Orpheus Apollo 'A'

Richter Wizard IV

Richter Dragon IV

 

I started off auditioning the X-Ray V8 and Triple-X, as they were available at half their original RRP, and matched the Amp I own well. This through the XT-100, as after a few minutes amp switching, nothing sounded as smooth, open, musical and detailed as the MF amp.

 

I then selected sources. The 525 resolved noticably less detail than the 545, so was quickly dropped from the A/B testing, with the X-Ray V8 up next. Sadly this was a CD player I wanted to love. At $1,499 AUD for the CDP+PSU (down from $2,999), it seemed like a bargain. I loved the sonic signature, loved the cohesion, placement and musicality. I wanted to get this for my wife's birthday. Yet there was one thing stopping me. The NAD didn't sound much different. In an untreated room, the transients were more coherent and clearer on the X-Ray, but the difference wasn't worth close to $1,000 - in fact, both myself and the salesperson commented that we could barely hear any difference - when the salesperson says it's not worth spending the money on the more expensive item, you know they're close!

 

Sitting with the X-Ray, XT-100 and a few CD's of my own (Fiona Apple - Tidal, The Roots - Rising Down, Four Tet - Panse), we switched to speaker choices. I'm looking to upgrade VAF DC-7's, but not flush and have a heap of medical expenses.

 

First to go were the B&W's. They sounded closed in and withdrawn, pleasant treble. The 683's actually sounded worse than the 684's in the room they were in - bass was a little 'runny' and bloated. The Wizard IV went next. A big, uncultured sound - probably okay for AC/DC but had very weak control over the music, no headroom etc. Quite harsh with the CD's I tested with, even though Fiona Apple is pretty forgiving. The Orpheus was similar to the Dragon IV - more control than the Wizard, less bloat, easy soundstaging, but inaccurate placement and no natural sparkle in the treble. A little on the warm side, good for guitar riffs, but no good for strings.

 

This brought me onto the Focals, which ended up sounding similar to the VAF's I own and the Monitor Audio Silver RS6, RS8, RX6 and GS20's which I've auditioned, as they partner well with the smooth MF gear to produce something not too bright, but having enjoyable openness and sparkle at the top end, controlled bass and clear vocals. The 714V's were a little withdrawn and compressed, the 716V's were better - more musical, while the 726V's sounded better on some stuff and worse on others - less bass control led to bloatedness and smearing on The Roots - Birthday Girl. At this point, nothing was an upgrade on the VAFs, and I was a little disappointed to say the least, so I tried the 816V. It had the clarity of the 716V and the control, but with the extra presence of the 726V. Getting somewhere, I listened to the bigger brother, the 826V. This suddenly felt better. The 3-way nature of the 826V gave the tweeter less of a load, and gave separation that was lacking elsewhere, but still decent presence.

 

Unfortunately I can't buy my wife speakers for her birthday, so I went off for a think, and a coffee. While wondering if I was feeling indecisive, I bought a cycle trainer. Problem wasn't me then!

 

Coming back into the shop, I priced out the M1 DAC-A ($799) and CDT ($999), and Len Wallis quickly dropped them into the demo room for an audition. A/Bing with the X-Ray V3, everything was there that was missing with the DacMagic and the previous 'no standalone DAC' setups. The toes were tapping, the lo-fi of The Roots became attractive again, the salesperson said "wow, that sounds more expensive than most of the 5 figure stuff we sell" and we chucked some Pearl Jam on - Immortality. Authority in spades, soundstage opened right up and headroom - the whole picture expanded beyond words. The CDT probably isn't necessary as a vast improvement on the NAD player I own, but it's a perfect match for the DAC, and the DAC improved almost every speaker in the room, except the 726's, which became too forward and a little brash. This DAC had such clarity, smoothness and detail that I've stopped wanting a Bryston BDA-1 or Audiolab M-DAC. I'm delighted with the M1 DAC, and stunned by just how much of an improvement it is on the Cambridge Audio DacMagic. I'll be listening to everything in my collection as soon as my wife unwraps it!

 

Haven't tried the USB on it - all this was coax. I also understand that this may sound totally different to other ears.

 

Sorry for the overlong review, but wanted to give context!


Edited by Monkee - 2/1/12 at 7:26am
post #48 of 63

Bumping this thread again hoping for some comparissons from anyone that has heard some of the other options in the price range.

 

I'm considering the M1 DAC + CDT, Rega Apollo R + Rega DAC, and the new Woo Audio DAC + Transport.

 

Any comparissons would be great. They're all pretty much the same price. Tough choices.

post #49 of 63

I had the Rega DAC and M1 DAC in my system at the same time and vastly preferred the M1 DAC. The Rega sounded kinda dull and congested to me in comparison and I found it really boring. That is exactly the opposite of what I was expecting based on the enormous number of positive impressions I've seen. In comparison to the SA8004 I found I actually preferred the SA8004. The M1 is open, detailed and simply sounded more like music to me than the Rega. This is with an Apex Peak/Volcano and HD800s and using a Metric Halo ULN-2 as the computer interface. I've never heard any of the transports you mention.

 

I see you have the Wyred DAC 2 on your wish list and I also have a Wyred DAC 2 here for demo and that's a clear step up over the M1 in just about every category but I think the M1 is an excellent option at its price point. 

 

 

post #50 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstaken View Post

I had the Rega DAC and M1 DAC in my system at the same time and vastly preferred the M1 DAC. The Rega sounded kinda dull and congested to me in comparison and I found it really boring. That is exactly the opposite of what I was expecting based on the enormous number of positive impressions I've seen. In comparison to the SA8004 I found I actually preferred the SA8004. The M1 is open, detailed and simply sounded more like music to me than the Rega. This is with an Apex Peak/Volcano and HD800s and using a Metric Halo ULN-2 as the computer interface. I've never heard any of the transports you mention.

 

I see you have the Wyred DAC 2 on your wish list and I also have a Wyred DAC 2 here for demo and that's a clear step up over the M1 in just about every category but I think the M1 is an excellent option at its price point. 

 

 


How about the M1 vs the SA8004? My gripe with the 8004 is the lack of analog outs.

My main concern is spinning CDs. Trying to decide on a 1k split DAC and transport, 1.5k DAC with a cheaper transport, or just a CD player that comes in around 2 grand.

I wish there were more info on the Woo offerings as those are my top pick but Woo hasn't proven themselves in the field yet.

Options so far are...Emotiva ERC-2 and the W4S DAC 2, Rega Apollo R and DAC, M1 DAC and Transport, and I haven't looked into just a CD player yet.
post #51 of 63

I can tell you from my experience that the m1 would be a downgrade from your sa8004. You would have to spend quiet a bit more than that to significantly beat an sa8004.  The only thing I heard that was better, was the bryston(2000.00+), but that was using an ipod as a transport for the sa8004 and Brent was using the halide bridge usb converter as a transport. So that really wasn't a fair fight in favor of the bryston because although the sa8004 extracts digital from an ipod, it's not as good as the optical or coaxial inputs. And even then it was very close. They sounded very similar(using the same dac chip), but the marantz had just a little bit of grain(due to the ipod input) compared to the bryston. The next time we met, the marantz was used as a transport and sacd player. Playing back sacds through the marantz feeding the liquid fire was the best sound of the night IMO. The m1 isn't quiet in the same league as what you have now. Think of it as a poor man's w4s 2. I really like the m1, and came close to buying one for a second setup I have because it does have balance outputs.

post #52 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by moodyrn View Post

I can tell you from my experience that the m1 would be a downgrade from your sa8004. You would have to spend quiet a bit more than that to significantly beat an sa8004.  The only thing I heard that was better, was the bryston(2000.00+), but that was using an ipod as a transport for the sa8004 and Brent was using the halide bridge usb converter as a transport. So that really wasn't a fair fight in favor of the bryston because although the sa8004 extracts digital from an ipod, it's not as good as the optical or coaxial inputs. And even then it was very close. They sounded very similar(using the same dac chip), but the marantz had just a little bit of grain(due to the ipod input) compared to the bryston. The next time we met, the marantz was used as a transport and sacd player. Playing back sacds through the marantz feeding the liquid fire was the best sound of the night IMO. The m1 isn't quiet in the same league as what you have now. Think of it as a poor man's w4s 2. I really like the m1, and came close to buying one for a second setup I have because it does have balance outputs.


That's reassuring to hear about the SA8004. I knew it was a stellar value for the features but I didn't think the transport and DAC would hold up against seperates.

I really nees more outputs...Maybe I'll roll with the DAC 2 and use the Marantz as a transport.
post #53 of 63

the marantz sounded really good as a transport into the bryston, and hold it's own against many of  the separates I've listened to. For example, as much as I like my stage dac(and I really like it) the marantz is just on another level when feed digital using either optical or coxaial. The usb is good, but not on par with the digital inputs. But I guess you already know that.smile.gif

post #54 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by moodyrn View Post

the marantz sounded really good as a transport into the bryston, and hold it's own against many of  the separates I've listened to. For example, as much as I like my stage dac(and I really like it) the marantz is just on another level when feed digital using either optical or coxaial. The usb is good, but not on par with the digital inputs. But I guess you already know that.smile.gif


Yeah I knew the USB section was pretty poor. I used an AGD DI with it for awhile and used the Coax in.

I'll have to see where I end up...I'm really considering just taking a chance on the Woo stuff..but I've never been one to take big risks in this hobby either...

Thanks a bunch for the info.
post #55 of 63


My experience is that the M1 is definitely not a downgrade from the SA8004 if maybe not a huge upgrade either when using the 8004 as a transport. But this may be down to the fact that there are two versions of the M1 out there and I think the newer M1 with asynch USB and a revised power supply may sound better than the older version. Also I found the M1 to prefer its AES/EBU input over coax SPDIF.  My evaluation of DACs is largely based on using my ULN-2 firewire interface to feed SPDIF coax or AES/EBU to the DAC and that reveals much more of the DACs real character than using the SA8004 as the transport. 

 

I was very impressed with the M1 at it's price point however if you use the SA8004 as the transport the upgrade will be tempered as I find the general character of the SA8004 is carried through its digital outs which means to me the DAC inside the 8004 is not what holds back its performance when playing CDs. If you take away the 8004 disc transport and just compare the DAC section to the M1 then to my ear the M1 is a clear upgrade. I had the M1 for approximately 3 weeks and during that time also auditioned the Wyred DAC 2, Perfectwave DAC Mk 1, Bel Canto DAC 2.5 and Bryston BDA-1 and didn't feel the M1 was embarrassed by that company but in the end felt nothing really bettered the ULN-2 that I also own.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moodyrn View Post

I can tell you from my experience that the m1 would be a downgrade from your sa8004. You would have to spend quiet a bit more than that to significantly beat an sa8004.  The only thing I heard that was better, was the bryston(2000.00+), but that was using an ipod as a transport for the sa8004 and Brent was using the halide bridge usb converter as a transport. So that really wasn't a fair fight in favor of the bryston because although the sa8004 extracts digital from an ipod, it's not as good as the optical or coaxial inputs. And even then it was very close. They sounded very similar(using the same dac chip), but the marantz had just a little bit of grain(due to the ipod input) compared to the bryston. The next time we met, the marantz was used as a transport and sacd player. Playing back sacds through the marantz feeding the liquid fire was the best sound of the night IMO. The m1 isn't quiet in the same league as what you have now. Think of it as a poor man's w4s 2. I really like the m1, and came close to buying one for a second setup I have because it does have balance outputs.



 

post #56 of 63

As they say sound is very subjective. I really liked the m1 and came very close to buying it. I think it's a little better than my stage dac, but it just wasn't musical sounding to me. It's a tad bright, and a little analytical, and there is also a little too much digital hash that plagues many dacs in that price point. But I do think it sounds good for the money. But it never hurts to try it out. One man's bronze maybe another man's gold.

post #57 of 63

 

I don't think this is as much a case of hearing things subjectively as it is a case of listening to different systems. Were you feeding the DAC power straight from the wall? I had it plugged into a PS Audio Power Plant and to my ear that makes all the difference with a DAC and I bet with a relatively low end one like the M1 it probably makes an even bigger difference. I can imagine if I plugged the thing into the wall my opinion would be more in line with yours. I wasn't really thinking about that with my earlier statements. I bet I probably heard more of the DACs "potential" but that's not very real world given the price point and I hereby throw my opinions out the window. What you heard is probably more in line with what most people will hear out of the thing. 

 

BTW, I didn't keep this DAC either I just tried it to see what you can get for $750 and I was impressed but I realize now that I didn't hear it the way most people will. I also bet the Sa8004 has a better power supply so without something else to clean up the power first it very well may beat the M1. Lots of variables in this stuff.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moodyrn View Post

As they say sound is very subjective. I really liked the m1 and came very close to buying it. I think it's a little better than my stage dac, but it just wasn't musical sounding to me. It's a tad bright, and a little analytical, and there is also a little too much digital hash that plagues many dacs in that price point. But I do think it sounds good for the money. But it never hurts to try it out. One man's bronze maybe another man's gold.


 

 

post #58 of 63

Yeah, that's a good point. I heard it plugged straight into the wall. But I agree, it still sounds good for the price. I was even more impressed with the vdac II. It didn't sound as good as to m1 of course, but it wasn't far behind, and costs less that half. I competes really high above it's price point. I was even using the crappy power supply that came with it. So I see it as an even greater value.


Edited by moodyrn - 3/28/12 at 6:49pm
post #59 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstaken View Post

I had the Rega DAC and M1 DAC in my system at the same time and vastly preferred the M1 DAC. The Rega sounded kinda dull and congested to me in comparison and I found it really boring. That is exactly the opposite of what I was expecting based on the enormous number of positive impressions I've seen. In comparison to the SA8004 I found I actually preferred the SA8004. The M1 is open, detailed and simply sounded more like music to me than the Rega. This is with an Apex Peak/Volcano and HD800s and using a Metric Halo ULN-2 as the computer interface. I've never heard any of the transports you mention.

 

I see you have the Wyred DAC 2 on your wish list and I also have a Wyred DAC 2 here for demo and that's a clear step up over the M1 in just about every category but I think the M1 is an excellent option at its price point. 

 

 

 

Your post and one on the Naim forum has steered me from the Rega DAC to the Musical Fidelity M1-A DAC. Having said that, "dull and congested" can be "warm and organic" to someone else. Since I am looking for resolution, detail and musicality, the M1 seems to fit my criteria more than the Rega DAC (Rega gear have always been known to filter some of the energy in the highs rendering the sound to be warmer, lush and rounded). Some folks prefer this sort of presentation and to them this represents musicality when comparison is made to equipment that are more transparent and revealing in nature.

 

Although the retail price of the Rega DAC is a smidgen higher than the Musical Fidelity M1 DAC, it appears that the M1 is capable of a higher level quality of playback in the right systems and circumstances.

 

The W4S and Benchmark DAC-1 should be in another league as they cost almost twice as much as the MF and Rega units.

 

Any thoughts from those who have compared both the Rega DAC and MF M1 DAC? I am able to acquire either one at the same price and will be picking up the M1 this Saturday morning.


Edited by ryder78 - 5/17/12 at 12:28am
post #60 of 63

Just got this DAC. It plays music. :-)

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