Very odd, indeed...taking into account that M-DAC is a great-sounding DAC with discrete Class A headamp in one nice package at very nice price.
The M-DAC alone is a bit underpowered for the HE-500, though I didn't try driving them using the XLR outputs. The built-in amp is rather good, slightly below the Lehmann Black Cube Linear in performance. If you power the M-DAC with a high powered headphone amp it should let the HE-500 shine a bit more. I found the M-DAC a bit too aggressive sounding and lacking in bass, but that was more than a year ago when I sold my M-DAC so my memory might be out of tune.
if MDAC, Wadia 121, Teac UD-501, YULONG D200(DA8), mytek stereo192 and Audio-GD NFB1 are the same price, which one(or two) would you choose for 80% USB 44/16 and 20% new experience in hi res audio?
Only the USB sound quality have matters. I love old(jazz rock) LP and CD records before loudness.
Other equipment that I use at the moment Beta22, HE500,HD600, AKG701
I like M-DAC digital filters, use 3 of them quite frequently to slightly alter sonic signature, when I wish. Kind of "3 DACs in one".
It also handles Hi-Res up to 24/96 via USB flawlessly.
BTW, regarding Hi-Res Audio bandwagon - to my ears it's mostly marketing bluff.
I do hear differences (using ABX plugin in foobar2k) between different masters of same 16/44 album (MasterSound or MFSL releases vs 'regular' ones, for example).
Although there is no audible difference to my ears to Hi-Res vs 16/44, there are cases, when better quality master can be found only in Hi-Res format nowadays - in that case, don't bother above 24/96, it's just a waste of HDD space.
I recently picked up the M-DAC and am using it to feed my Bryston BHA-1. I noticed that the M-DAC could be used as a "stand-alone DAC" by setting the "Internal Preamplifier" in the options to "Disabled". Once in this mode, volume and balance functions are disabled and obviously, because the volume control is disabled, the decibel (volume) indicator disappears from the LCD screen. I was just wondering if this is how M-DAC owners who are using it strictly as a DAC to feed a headphone amplifier have their options set as.
I've looked at some of the pictures from this thread and I was seeing the decibel indicator on their M-DAC even though it was connected to an amp so I was a little confused as to why they chose not to set the M-DAC on "Fixed Volume" mode.
I've had my M-DAC for just over two years and still love the sound it produces. I do however want to see if the sound can be improved a little for my HD800/Alpha Prime cans by adding an amplifier. I've actually ordered two this weekend (Burson Soloist SL and Icon Audio HP8 MKII upgraded) both of which are single ended and do not have a remote. For that reason I would ideally like to retain use of the M-DAC remote control although I'm concerned that the sound would be negatively affected if I don't "set a fixed output level" (as described by Namkung above).
Any thoughts? I presume I can't harm the amps or my beloved M-DAC either way??
Sorry for the very "newb" question
Thanks for taking the time to reply. It shocked me slightly ...
Having been brought up to always ensure that audio sources earlier in the audio chain are at their strongest signal this concept seemed very strange to me. If the second amp in the line is amplifying a "weak" signal as loud as it possibly can wouldn't this produce poor sound quality or at least negatively affect the sound by some margin?
After a little more reading around pre-amps/power-amps tonight I totally see the point you are making but doesn't the presence of two pre-amps (one in the M-DAC and the other in the headphone amplifier) create my perceived problem? Particularly as the second pre-amp is set to max gain.
Once I receive one of the amps (hopefully this week) I will certainly test this myself anyway and I really hope you're right and I can't hear the difference . I would be delighted if I could use the remote on the DAC as I can't quite reach the amp from my chill out recliner!
I've obviously got a lot to learn about amplification and how it all works.
Thanks again for the reply.
I perceived deterioration when the attenuation value exceeded -40db. This was during a trial for the audio lab power amp designed to be used in this way. The dealer was not able to confirm the manufacturers position when I returned the power amp.