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New Audiolab DAC - Page 32

post #466 of 857
Quote:
Originally Posted by elnero View Post

 

I'm a bit confused by what it is you're thinking of getting at a 20% discount or waiting for a rumored upgraded version?

 

I can get a 20% discount on a new MDAC if I buy one this month. There is a revised MDAC due before the end of the year. So I am evaluating my options: buy now or wait for the revised one. I normally keep my stuff for at least 3 years, so waiting for a few months is not a long wait.

post #467 of 857
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baxide View Post

I can get a 20% discount on a new MDAC if I buy one this month. There is a revised MDAC due before the end of the year. So I am evaluating my options: buy now or wait for the revised one. I normally keep my stuff for at least 3 years, so waiting for a few months is not a long wait.

 

There's no revised M-DAC due out that I know of. I frequent the Pink Fish forums where John Westlake, the M-DAC's designer, is a frequent poster. He and his partner Dominic are no longer employed by Audiolab, they are working on a few projects of their own which includes a separate upgraded power supply for the M-DAC and they are also working on a DAC for another company.

post #468 of 857
Quote:
Originally Posted by threed View Post

Anybody able to compare it to the Rega DAC? Or any links to existing post doing such comparation.

 

I am unable to find such.

 

I own a Rega Dac and currently demoing the MDac.

 

The majority of my listening has been through these setups:

 

Laptop USB -> Rega Dac -> Rega Brio-R -> Monitor Audio Rx1

Laptop USB -> MDac -> Rega Brio-R -> Monitor Audio Rx1

 

Sources include JRiver CD ripped flacs and Spotify. 

 

I have tested with both Dacs plugged so I can instantly switch between them on my PC and change the input on the Brio-R. This way I can seamlessly go back and forth for comparison.

 

My impressions are as follows:

 

After unboxing the MDac I have to say that it looked a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be, one of my worries was that it would look a bit ugly compared to my Rega Dac, but this is not the case.

Initial impressions after plugging in the MDac were that the soundstage was more pronounced than the Rega, but everything sounded extremely harsh to my ears and overly digital. I spent about 1 hour flicking between the 2 dacs and at this stage the Rega was the clear winner to my ears. 

 

Later I tried disabling the MDacs digital pre-amp. This seemed to change the sound considerably and flicking between dac outputs I could barely tell the difference between the 2, in fact at that stage if it was a blind test I doubt I would have been able to tell them apart. I found this quite on considering the MDac pre-amp is digital, so turning it off should have effectively been the same as having the pre-amp volume set to 0db (Which it was). So I contacted the dealer to let them know my findings and to my surprise this demo unit was actually brand new and as such the sonic differences I was hearing could in fact be down to the burn in.

 

With this new knowledge after the last few days I've noticed the MDac really start to change. The Rega definitely sounds more analogue and smooth than the MDac, a couple of days ago when the MDac was really started to sound different to the Rega I actually started to wonder whether I preferred this analogue sound. Perhaps the MDac was too clinical for me?

 

Comparing the 2 last night I can clearly say that I now prefer the MDac sound. The soundstage is much larger than the Rega, there is a lot more detail and to me the sound is more exciting. Switching from the MDac back to the Rega it almost feels like their is a very slight veil over the speakers. The MDac no longer sounds overly clinical to me.

 

Another thing I noticed last night is that performance from my TV to the MDac via optical sounds superior to me. With all this in mind I've almost made up my mind to replace my Rega with the MDac and I'm also toying with the idea of replacing my Brio-R with a power amp as recommended by the MDac designer.

 

I'll be having my final day of listening today where I will make a final decision on which dac to keep - but right now I'm thinking MDac.

 

One more thing of note - On the first day of testing I did try the headphone out to my HD650s and thought the sound was OK, but my old Essence One sounded better to my ears in this instance. I'll do some more headphone tests today as the burn in will have likely changed this also.

 

Hope this helps.


Edited by Mutsu - 6/5/12 at 5:48am
post #469 of 857

Thanks everyone who replied my post! Maybe I will invest in a Amp too. I made some research and liked the Talisman T-33H. Have someone heard it? Do you guys think it would be a nice pair to the M-Dac? Another one I liked was the Meier Corda Classic, but I am leaning more to the Talisman. Any suggestions and comments will be very appreciated. Thanks a bunch!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by avl06 View Post

It can drive my T1. But, speaking entirely personally, the sound, though detailed, felt thin and underpowered, and benefits hugely from a separate amp. I decided to use it as a DAC, and invest in an amp.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe-Siow View Post

 

 

I once owned a M-DAC and used the built in Class A amp to drive an LCD-2, HD600 and HD800 without breaking much sweat, so you should be fine there.

 

But do remember that it is a manufactured as a DAC with built in headphone amp, so the amp performance might not be as good as a dedicated desktop amp.


Edited by rixlbg - 6/8/12 at 8:29am
post #470 of 857

I just bought a pair of Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV's recently and have some interesting findings that I felt I should mention here. While the W3000's are fairly sensitive and seemingly an easy drive, I've found them more amp dependent than I would have expected. The internal amp of the M-DAC does an ok job but either of my vintage amps does a better job of controlling the bass with more heft and extension. So in the last few weeks I've come to the conclusion that the internal amp of the M-DAC, while decent, it isn't quite as good as I initially thought when I was just using it with the LCD-2's.

 

For reference, with the LCD-2's I tended to use the internal amp of the M-DAC although I felt the Pioneer SX-650 was at about the same level just a different flavor. The Harman Kardon 730 seemed too dark and murky with this combo.

 

With the RS-1's I also quite liked with the M-DAC's own amp, the SX-650 became a bit overwhelming in the bass.

 

The M-DAC's own amp with the HD650's wasn't bad but the Pioneer SX-650 seemed to have better control and finesse.

 

I didn't try either the HD650 or RS-1 with the HK730 as it was in a different room at the time.

 

The W3000's seem to change the most with different amps. The M-DAC's amp does an alright job but the bass feels a touch lightweight and the sound is a bit congested. With the SX-650 the sound becomes more focused, the bass is punchier, treble is more upfront yet more articulate. With the HK730 there's more weight and extension in the lower registers although it takes a step back from the SX-650 in punch. The HK730 is smoother and tonally seems more correct. It's less focused than the SX-650 and the treble isn't quite as sweet but the 730 has a broader and deeper stage than the others. At this point although the SX-650 has some nice points I find my preference is for the Harman Kardon as it seems to sound more natural.


Edited by elnero - 6/8/12 at 8:39am
post #471 of 857
Quote:
Originally Posted by elnero View Post

 

Great write-up on the MDAC's internal headamp. I think that while it's close to impossible to put a first-class headamp into a DAC, these amps do tend to have a sweet spot. It sounds like the MDAC's is for high-sensitivity, low-impedance headphones. My current unit OTOH sounds best with high-impedance headphones that are reasonable efficient like my HD600. I am shopping for a DAC upgrade, but I am shying away from combo amp/DAC units. They all tend to market themselves as being able to drive "virtually any headphone well" or something along those lines, but to me that means that they won't drive anything really well.

 

Having said that, I wouldn't mind finding a combo unit that was upfront in its description regarding what kind of headphone it works best with. For instance if there was a combo unit out there with an internal amp that is optimized to drive IEMs (while having balanced outputs for a real headamp), that would be ideal for me. But since I haven't found anything like that, I will keep looking for a stand-alone DAC.

post #472 of 857

Saying it performs best with high sensitivity, low impedance phones may be a bit too much of a generalization, in my experience it's been at it's best with the LCD-2's and it's worst with the W3000's which is fairly high sensitivity and low impedance. And I should note that when I say it's at it's worst with the W3000's it's still pretty darn good, just that the vintage receivers I have here show a more distinct advantage with the W3000's over the other phones I've tried.

 

Personally I didn't buy the M-DAC with the intention of using it's headphone amp, I had a heck of time finding a mid-level amp I liked with the LCD-2's, it wasn't until I stumbled on the vintage receiver thread last summer that I settled down with the two vintage receivers that I have now. I had no real expectations for the internal amp on the M-DAC, that it has performed as well as it has is a real bonus.


Edited by elnero - 6/8/12 at 6:12pm
post #473 of 857

My DOA M-DAC saga has ended well, Planet of Sound's Michael has courteously and quickly offered a replacement (the last one) after I ship mine back. Which I did, and the replacement arrived yesterday and is working fine. Upgraded to the .99 firmware without a hitch (using my Windows 7 VM), ran the bitperfect tests, everything's accurate, whether via USB, Optical or coaxial.

 

It will be a while before I can really comment on the sound quality, but it's obviously a high-end product so it will be great. Mainly I'm curious if I'll be able to tell any difference between the various filter settings...

post #474 of 857

Very nice DAC for the price.  The headphone output is pretty good and can drive all my cans and iems well.   Anyone looking for an all-in-one at this price point should try it out.   I am also using it balanced out to my RX Mk3 and the sound is definitely better than the default hp out.  

post #475 of 857

I'm not very impressed with headphone out. It's not really powerful obviously since my K701 doesn't have solid foundation in bass like it has with Shanling Ph100 or even with h/output out of my NAD C375bee. Sound lacks sparkle and has too soft transients. It also sounds bit congested in upper mids. Its somewhat better with HD600 but i'm not using them except for poor classical records.

 

Reading the forum I expected much more from headphone out but now I'm sure I need standalone amp to complement this otherwise excellent DAC.  

post #476 of 857
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dexon View Post

I'm not very impressed with headphone out. It's not really powerful obviously since my K701 doesn't have solid foundation in bass like it has with Shanling Ph100 or even with h/output out of my NAD C375bee. Sound lacks sparkle and has too soft transients. It also sounds bit congested in upper mids. Its somewhat better with HD600 but i'm not using them except for poor classical records.

 

Reading the forum I expected much more from headphone out but now I'm sure I need standalone amp to complement this otherwise excellent DAC.  

Hi Dexon, I think for an all-in-one at this price point, the headphone out is decent though i agree that it lacks power and sparkle for critical listening.  I basically max out the volume knob for my LCD-2 and wish it has a bit higher gain though it does the job decently well.  I guess the DAC section is its strength and I am also considering to get a dedicated amp to pair with it.   Maybe the Violectric V200.....


Edited by evolutionx - 6/18/12 at 7:21am
post #477 of 857
Quote:
Originally Posted by evolutionx View Post

Hi Dexon, I think for an all-in-one at this price point, the headphone out is decent though i agree that it lacks power and sparkle for critical listening.  I basically max out the volume knob for my LCD-2 and wish it has a bit higher gain though it does the job decently well.  I guess the DAC section is its strength and I am also considering to get a dedicated amp to pair with it.   Maybe the Violectric V200.....

 

Wow, you must listen loud, my typical listening level with the LCD-2 was between about -25 to -15 although I did have a few albums that got closer to 0. Personally I thought it worked quite well with the LCD-2 although I'm sure there would be better standalone amps. The RS-1's faired well but the HD650's and W3000's less so. I'm not really sure what to make of that because there doesn't seem to be rhyme nor reason to it.

 

I guess for me I wasn't expecting much from the headphone amp, it wasn't why I bought it so I was pleasantly surprised when it performed as well as it did with the LCD-2's.

post #478 of 857

I didn't really plan on using mine as a stand-alone, but I think I could live with it in a pinch (ex. after moving) It is a bit challenged by the LCD-3 but considering the headphone it is, that's not half bad... and I also never got to the point of maxing out the volume either.

 

I've tried the W3000 as well and I think it's OK. A bit harsh perhaps compared to the iNova with the tube stage on but still pretty good (from either the Macbook via USB, or the iPod via dock + optical)

 

P.S.: I think it's quite neat that you can control the M-DAC's volume with the standard Mac volume keys in a pinch (when using USB)

 

P.P.S.: I asked the question on another forum, didn't get an answer yet: I was disappointed that the included powersupply is region-specific despite the website making it sound otherwise. Has anybody tried to get ahold of the european powersupply (or if in Europe vice-versa)? Or can anybody recommend a 3rd-party alternative? I may need one after moving back to Europe...

post #479 of 857

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fully balanced sound from the RX Mk3.  Probably the best portable amp at the moment for me.  

post #480 of 857

Hi All

 

Couple of questions - 

 

Any advantage in using XLR out over RCA to connect to a headamp (V200)?

 

How do you upgrade firmware on the mdac? I can't find reference to how to do this anywhere in the manual or audiolab website

 

Thanks!

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