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post #61 of 80
Interesting... I've never heard any Grace Design gear, but Sennheiser seems to think highly of them as the m903 seems to be their current demo source fotm smily_headphones1.gif
post #62 of 80

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post

The m903 is currently with a reviewer for Hi-Fi World in the UK.

 

So, expect a new review in print shortly.

 

The reviewer has already had a trans-Atlantic phone call interview with the designer, so I expect an interesting review.
 

 

Hopefully that will give us a more accurate summary of the improvements over the M902.

post #63 of 80

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vrln View Post

Interesting... I've never heard any Grace Design gear, but Sennheiser seems to think highly of them as the m903 seems to be their current demo source fotm smily_headphones1.gif

 

Certainly Sennheiser UK use a Grace, so it seems Finland do as well, then....

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

 

 

Hopefully that will give us a more accurate summary of the improvements over the M902.

 

I know the reviewer had a long interview with the designer.

 

I understand it will have a 5* (5 out of 5) rating and is due to be published in the next issue (July 2012, which be out late May/early June - I assume, as I already have the June issue).

 

 

Some of the improvements I know - the USB is vastly better (it was not good on the 902), the X-feed has been improved, there is no +10dB boost anymore and the amplifier is better and now goes all the way without the boost.  They also took the opportunity to make small improvements all round.

 

 


Edited by John Willett - 4/28/12 at 12:50pm
post #64 of 80

I've been using the m902 and then m903 since launch and I'm overall pretty happy about it.

 

Compared to the m902 the USB sounds much much better (the m902 sounded rather dull and lumpy) and the HPA output is also richer and denser than the old model.

 

I also use Lehmann BCL and that sounds very dry and sharp, so compared to that m903 often feels overly rich and energetic, which is not a bad thing, depending on the source. I personally end up using the m903 more often rather than the Lehmann because it does great in all inputs (line, SPDIF, USB) and has IR remote control.

 

One problem with m903 is that it uses a USB mini-B connector rather than the standard B type, and it's rather wobbly and dodgy. I had occasional dropout issues and it turned out that if I gently wobble the USB cable the sound drops out. I had to try a bunch of different cables to find a good tight fit but it still feels insecure. It would've been a whole lot better if they chose to use standard B type like Benchmark DAC1.

 

Also, balanced out is TRS rather than XLR so it might annoy some people.

 

Another possible problem is that the chassis gets pretty hot...

 

post #65 of 80

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandalaudio View Post

One problem with m903 is that it uses a USB mini-B connector rather than the standard B type, and it's rather wobbly and dodgy. I had occasional dropout issues and it turned out that if I gently wobble the USB cable the sound drops out. I had to try a bunch of different cables to find a good tight fit but it still feels insecure. It would've been a whole lot better if they chose to use standard B type like Benchmark DAC1.

 

 

I have never had a problem with the mini USB - the trick is to use a flexible cable and keep it loose so as not to strain the socket (the same as you would do with a 3.5mm mini-jack).

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandalaudio View Post

Also, balanced out is TRS rather than XLR so it might annoy some people.

 

 

Not a big problem - they are 3-pole standard jacks because there is no room to put on XLRs.

 

I just have special leads with Neutrik jacks on one end and XLRs on the other.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandalaudio View Post

Another possible problem is that the chassis gets pretty hot...

 

 

It gets warm, but I have never found it too hot (I have had the 902 for 8 years or so, had it converted to the 902b and got the 903 in February).  The case is basically the heat sink to take the heat away from the amplifier.  It's the same as quite a lot of top end professional gear works (eg: Sound Devices 700 series recorders).

post #66 of 80

Terrific points you're sharing!

Regarding the mini-USB, I don't like USB and has used optical connection for my 902B and now two 903 units.  The cheap Monster's optical Apple cable works incredibly well even when compared with my $500+ Nordost Blue Heaven USB2.

 

IMHO

 

Paul

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by sandalaudio View Post

I've been using the m902 and then m903 since launch and I'm overall pretty happy about it.

 

Compared to the m902 the USB sounds much much better (the m902 sounded rather dull and lumpy) and the HPA output is also richer and denser than the old model.

 

I also use Lehmann BCL and that sounds very dry and sharp, so compared to that m903 often feels overly rich and energetic, which is not a bad thing, depending on the source. I personally end up using the m903 more often rather than the Lehmann because it does great in all inputs (line, SPDIF, USB) and has IR remote control.

 

One problem with m903 is that it uses a USB mini-B connector rather than the standard B type, and it's rather wobbly and dodgy. I had occasional dropout issues and it turned out that if I gently wobble the USB cable the sound drops out. I had to try a bunch of different cables to find a good tight fit but it still feels insecure. It would've been a whole lot better if they chose to use standard B type like Benchmark DAC1.

 

Also, balanced out is TRS rather than XLR so it might annoy some people.

 

Another possible problem is that the chassis gets pretty hot...

 

 

 

 

post #67 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulchiu View Post

Terrific points you're sharing!

Regarding the mini-USB, I don't like USB and has used optical connection for my 902B and now two 903 units.  The cheap Monster's optical Apple cable works incredibly well even when compared with my $500+ Nordost Blue Heaven USB2.

 

 

 

 

When using with a computor I used the optical cable with my old m902b (as the USB on that was a bit pants)

 

On the m903 I use either the USB or the Optical equally (whichever cable I pick up first) as the USB on the 903 is a complete new circuit.

post #68 of 80

I started a separate thread on the Norwegian forum Hifisentralen for "Grace Design m903" on 17 January 2011. It is now part of the forum's new headphone section. I think we've collected most of what we've written regarding Grace Design m903 in the thread even when first published somewhere else, although it steadily keeps being mentioned in replies in other threads as well.

 

The early adopters have had Grace Design m903 since 3 March 2011 when the first batch arrived in Norway.

 

Several owners have posted listening and other impressions, user tips etc. using different headphones and also as a DAC. We consider it very good.

 

We write in Norwegian, but we quote text and link to web pages in other languages. Norwegian is also readable for those that read Danish (very similar) or Swedish. The rest will (probably) have to use Google Translate or something similar. If you visit, feel free to write a reply in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish or English.
 


Edited by CDWMcInSpots - 7/18/12 at 6:51am
post #69 of 80

Just got my Grace m903. Now to decide whether to use it purely as a USB DAC w/ my Audio-Technica AT-HA5000 amp + W5000/AD2000 or to use it as a USB DAC AND amp and sell the HA5000. 

post #70 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenErik View Post

Just got my Grace m903. Now to decide whether to use it purely as a USB DAC w/ my Audio-Technica AT-HA5000 amp + W5000/AD2000 or to use it as a USB DAC AND amp and sell the HA5000. 

I've looked at both the m903 and HA5000, and they are both very good in design, not one is superior over the other.

m903 is very professional and high-tech as you would expect, whereas the HA5000 has a more DIY approach in which the designers tune the sound signature by picking the right brand capacitors, resistors, etc to some degree. They are both good value for money and not some branded junk with fancy casework.

 

I'm sure the HA5000 sounds fantastic, but I would feel a bit silly using the m903 just as a DAC, because the biggest sales point of the m903 is the "all-in-one" value for money and the powerful pre/headphone amp section. There are many other good separate DACs around on the market for the same price.

post #71 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandalaudio View Post

I've looked at both the m903 and HA5000, and they are both very good in design, not one is superior over the other.

m903 is very professional and high-tech as you would expect, whereas the HA5000 has a more DIY approach in which the designers tune the sound signature by picking the right brand capacitors, resistors, etc to some degree. They are both good value for money and not some branded junk with fancy casework.

 

I'm sure the HA5000 sounds fantastic, but I would feel a bit silly using the m903 just as a DAC, because the biggest sales point of the m903 is the "all-in-one" value for money and the powerful pre/headphone amp section. There are many other good separate DACs around on the market for the same price.

Thanks for the input. I actually decided pretty quickly to sell the HA5000. It is an extremely nice amp, but the m903 does just as well.

 

My only complaint about the m903 is how warm it gets. I hope that the longevity of the device is not compromised because of that.

post #72 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenErik View Post

Thanks for the input. I actually decided pretty quickly to sell the HA5000. It is an extremely nice amp, but the m903 does just as well.

 

My only complaint about the m903 is how warm it gets. I hope that the longevity of the device is not compromised because of that.

 

Yes I also felt that the m903 does get quite warm, but the only likely thing that might fail would be the four Panasonic electrolytic capacitors, and they are fairly generic industrial type, so shouldn't be a problem even out of warranty.

 

I don't know what Grace's official view would be, but it might actually be better to have the unit turned on all the time to prevent solder cracking from repeated heating/cooling cycles, as opposed to the capacitors dying by heat. I think the USB DAC technology is advancing so fast these days that it will probably get outdated before it dies by thermal issues.

post #73 of 80

Hi All,

I just wanted to comment on the m903 and its operation temperature.

The normal temperature on the top cover of the m903 operating at 120VAC or 230VAC is about 15 degrees C (27 degrees F) above ambient.  So if the room temperature is 75F the top of the m903 will be 102F.   While this may feel "hot" to the touch it is actually pretty cool as far as electronic components are concerned.  Interestingly, the m903 only runs 10F warmer than the m902.  The difference is that it's temperature is a little above body temperature so the perceived temperature is considerably higher than the m902 which ran a little below body temperature.  

The electrolytic capacitors used in the power supply of the m903 are long life types rated for 5000 hours at 105C with 2.5 Amperes of ripple current.  At the operating conditions inside the m903 (50C and 0.25Amperes) these capacitors should last a very long time.

In fact, the m902 used the same capacitors as the m903 and in eight years we have had no age related failures.

Cheers,

Michael

post #74 of 80

Thank you for the info. Much appreciated. As long as it lasts me until a Grace m904 is released I will be happy. :) For me the search for amps/DACs is over. Well, unless I invest in another HD800. In which case I will get the upcoming amp/DAC designed for the HD800. ;D But for low impedance/high sensitivity headphones the search is over. biggrin.gif

post #75 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbgrace View Post

The electrolytic capacitors used in the power supply of the m903 are long life types rated for 5000 hours at 105C with 2.5 Amperes of ripple current.  At the operating conditions inside the m903 (50C and 0.25Amperes) these capacitors should last a very long time.

In fact, the m902 used the same capacitors as the m903 and in eight years we have had no age related failures.

Cheers,

Michael

 

Thanks for the detailed info. I think it's these kinds of personal support and genuine comments that makes me keep buying Grace designs products.

High-end audio is a business where a lot of manufacturers can get away with dodgy inadequate implementations, so it's reassuring to be informed about these technical matters.

I fully believe in your approach to sound and quality designs, so keep up the good work.

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