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Grace Design m903, reference headphone amplifier, DAC, monitor controller

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 

From http://www.gracedesign.com/products/m903/m903.htm

 

It seems like a m902 update with better USB support, otherwise the specs are very close to the m902.
Price point: 1700/1800 $

 

m903_main.jpg

 

  • Balanced and unbalanced analog inputs
  • 24bit/192kHz digital stereo inputs- AES3, S/PDIF, TOSLINK and USB
  • High speed USB interface - completely asynchronous transfer mode allows for bit-perfect playback with zero interface induced jitter
  • Driverless operation on Windows & Mac up to 96kHz/24bit
  • Supports USB Class 2 audio specification for 192kHz/24bit operation on Windows & Mac (drivers needed for 192kHz operation under Windows)
  • New generation DAC's and ultra low noise balanced current to voltage converter yields more musical performance compared to the m902
  • Mono mode for checking mix phase issues (or listening to Pet Sounds)
  • s-Lock™ phase lock loop sample clock regeneration for ultra-low jitter and rock solid digital stability
  • High-current transimpedance headphone amplifier circuitry built to effortlessly drive low impedance headphones
  • Balanced and unbalanced variable level analog line outputs
  • Improved power supply architecture isolates headphone power amplifiers, line amplifiers, DAC's and digital logic
  • Precision level control with a 99.5dB range in 0.5 dB steps
  • Channel level matching accuracy of 0.05dB
  • Improved x-feed circuit eliminates perceived loss of low frequency content
  • Optional infrared remote control available
  • Internal linear power supply with custom wound toroidal transformer
  • Sealed gold contact relays used for all signal switching
  • Five year transferable warranty on parts and labor

 

m903_rearpanel.jpg

 

Updated Specs from m903_manual_RevA.pdf

 

SPECIFICATIONS ANALOG IN

Gain – Balanced Input

Headphone output, volume at maximum 0dB

Balanced Line output, volume at maximum +4dB

Unbalanced Line output, volume at maximum -8dB

Frequency Response – Unbalanced In > Unbalanced Out

@ 0dBu out +/- .25dB 27Hz – 54kHz

@ 0dBu out +/- .5dB 18Hz – 80kHz

@ 0dBu out +/-3dB 6.5Hz – 226kHz

Maximum Input Level

Balanced Input +22dBu

Unbalanced Input +16dBu

Maximum Output Level

Unbalanced output @1kHz, 100k Ohm load +21.5dBu

Balanced output @1kHz, 100k Ohm load +27dBu

Headphone output @1kHz, 50 Ohm load +20dBu

Impedance

Balanced Input 106K Ohms

Unbalanced Input 53K Ohms

Balanced Output 95 Ohms

Unbalanced Output 47.5 Ohms

Headphone Output 1.2 Ohm

Dynamic Range

@ 0dB gain, Balanced In > Balanced Out 117dB

@ 0dB gain, Balanced In > Headphone Out 116dB

THD+N Balanced Input

Headphone Out @ +10dBu, 50 Ohm load, SMPTE 4:1 <0.020%

Headphone Out @ +10dBu, 50 Ohm load <0.0060%

Unbalanced Line Out @ +10dBu, 100k Ohm load <0.00026%

Balanced Line Out @ +20dBu, 100k Ohm load <0.00036%

Attenuator

Channel matching <0.05dB

Attenuator Range 97.5dB

Output Noise Floor, Balanced Input

Balanced Output, volume at maximum, 22-22kHz -90dBu

Balanced Output, volume at minimum, 22-22kHz -103dBu

Unbalanced Output, volume at maximum, 22-22kHz -101dBu

Unbalanced Output, volume at maximum, 22-22kHz -105dBu

SPECIFICATIONS D/A CONVERTER

Input Sample Rate 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192kHz

THD+N

44.1kHz, 24bit, 1kHz, -1dBFS, Unbalanced Out @ +15dBu <0.0009%

44.1kHz, 24bit, 1kHz, -1dBFS, Balanced Out @ +15dBu <0.0006%

Output level

Unbalanced Output @ 0dBFS, Volume at maximum, trim at 0 +9dBu

Blanced Output @ 0dBFS, Volume at maximum, trim at 0 +21dBu

Power Requirements

120VAC 0.16A

230VAC 0.08A

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT

Dimensions H1.7” x W8.5” x D8.25”

Weight 5 lbs (2.2kg)


Edited by khaos974 - 2/8/11 at 4:00pm
post #2 of 79

price?

post #3 of 79
Thread Starter 

Pre-order at 1795$ at rmcaudiodirect, I suppose it's close to the MSRP.

 

So as far as USB pro DAC/Headphon monitors, we now have:

Grace m902/3

Benchmark DAC1 ./USB/Pre/HDR

Lavry DA11

Antelope Audio Zodiac +

 

Am I forgetting anything?


Edited by khaos974 - 11/3/10 at 9:59pm
post #4 of 79

Oh sorry I see you already mentioned it in your post.  There's much more competition in the USB DAC/Amp market then there was when the m902 came out (although theres also more people in the market for them.)  Red Wine, Luxman, Burson, Meier,Headamp, Violectric, the list goes on and on... Is there room for Grace anymore?  (especially at that price point?)

post #5 of 79
Thread Starter 

Nah, I just edited the post afterwards.

 

I mentionned pro gear; as I understand, Burson, Meier, Luxman, Red Wine are targeted towards the audiophile market rather than the pro one.

Even Violectric is the "audiophile" division of Lake People, besides, the Vxxx series is more a headphone amp with USB DAC added while the example in the post above are more DAC first, headamp second.

 

I could add the Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC, but it was supposed to be out by Q1 2010 and is still in the works.


Edited by khaos974 - 11/4/10 at 12:12am
post #6 of 79

Any idea what the "new generation DAC" chip is?


 

post #7 of 79
Thread Starter 

No idea, the specs are very close to the m902, same chip but slightly different implementation, who knows?

post #8 of 79

From Grace m902 with uber modification: DO WHANT!!! ( WHAT+WANT)

 

Today's lesson: Do not mess around any product from company that hasn't forsaken it from product line eventhough it hasn't been updated for over 5 years.....yet T_T


Edited by Windows X - 11/4/10 at 10:40am
post #9 of 79

Well the original used the discontinued pcm1730 but the specs are very similar so I assume they are just using the replacement from TI ?  Who knows though, never really been a huge fan of the 902.

post #10 of 79


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by khaos974 View Post

Pre-order at 1795$ at rmcaudiodirect, I suppose it's close to the MSRP.

 

So as far as USB pro DAC/Headphon monitors, we now have:

Grace m902/3

Benchmark DAC1 ./USB/Pre/HDR

Lavry DA11

Antelope Audio Zodiac +

 

Am I forgetting anything?



  From that bunch probably the DA11 is the most equilibrated combo, but not asynchronous USB. Probably a DA10 with a modern usb transporter such as the Halide Bridge would be the best option.

 

  - Grace m903: no sure whether this DAC will be at the level of the competition

   - Lavry DA11: good combo, with great DAC. But currently no the best USB technology

  - Antelope Audio Zodiac+ : 6moon review of it says all. A good DAC with a crappy Amp. 

  - Benchmarks: I think Lavry's are better

   - One could consider also the combo Bel Canto e.one DAC2.5, but not reliable review out there. 

  - Luxman DA-200: just lunched in Japan, no reliable reviews yet. 

 

   Summing up, in the price range <$2000  I don't see any winner for a compact USB/DAC/AMP solution as of yet. A little depressing landscape 

post #11 of 79


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by khaos974 View Post
I could add the Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC, but it was supposed to be out by Q1 2010 and is still in the works.


that's funny, i was about to add that immediately after looking at your original list.  i kinda feel obligated, since i run a Mytek 8x192 for pro work. 

 

back to Grace-land (couldn't resist), the 903's USB DAC is supposed to knock the 902 out of the water.  this coming from a friend at the AES convention who spoke with Mr. Grace directly. 

 

right after this, said friend offered me his 902 at a heavily reduced price so that he can turn around and buy a 903.  seeing as how i would use it mainly for USB, it's going to be a tough decision.  decent sound i can afford or amazing sound i cannot...

post #12 of 79
Thread Starter 

How's the Mytek 8x192 compared to its usual contenders, ie. Lavry, Apogee...

And How's the service? it seems to be a smaller company compared to the others.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlienyc View Post

that's funny, i was about to add that immediately after looking at your original list.  i kinda feel obligated, since i run a Mytek 8x192 for pro work.

post #13 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaos974 View Post

How's the Mytek 8x192 compared to its usual contenders, ie. Lavry, Apogee...

And How's the service? it seems to be a smaller company compared to the others.
 

i like the Mytek.  it's been very stable and sounds incredible.  i haven't performed direct a/b shootouts with the others, but i've certainly heard enough from the Benchmark DAC1 to know i prefer the Mytek.  i got mine directly from Michal (the Mytek designer who happens to have an office in nyc) as an upgrade to my 8X96 ADC and 8x96 DAC combo.  my 8x96 ADC had problems - inputs were cutting out randomly and i guess it was not easily repairable. 

 

apparently the company earned a poor reputation (particularly amongst classical engineers) because of reliability problems from this earlier generation of converters, understandably.  the 8x192 has been great though.

post #14 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaos974 View Post


And How's the service? it seems to be a smaller company compared to the others.
 


This is the one thing I can speak to in this thread. I've dealt with Grace Design for 901 work, and used their V series of pre-amps. I'd rather send my stuff back to Grace Design then to say Apogee any day of the week. Not many companies reach that level in my mind (Sound Devices is the only other audio one that comes to mind).

post #15 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cortes View Post
From that bunch probably the DA11 is the most equilibrated combo, but not asynchronous USB. Probably a DA10 with a modern usb transporter such as the Halide Bridge would be the best option.

 

  - Grace m903: no sure whether this DAC will be at the level of the competition

   - Lavry DA11: good combo, with great DAC. But currently no the best USB technology

  - Antelope Audio Zodiac+ : 6moon review of it says all. A good DAC with a crappy Amp. 

  - Benchmarks: I think Lavry's are better

   - One could consider also the combo Bel Canto e.one DAC2.5, but not reliable review out there. 

  - Luxman DA-200: just lunched in Japan, no reliable reviews yet. 

 

   Summing up, in the price range <$2000  I don't see any winner for a compact USB/DAC/AMP solution as of yet. A little depressing landscape 


Depending on your definition of "compact," the Wyred4Sound DAC-2 could also be in that list. Well it doesn't have a headphone output either, but it does have 24/96 async USB.


Edited by Asr - 11/7/10 at 10:54pm
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