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New: MATRIX M-STAGE DAC - Page 2

post #16 of 55

any reviews in progress on this yet? rolleyes.gif

post #17 of 55

gave up waiting for reviews on this unit and got myself a bifrost -_-

post #18 of 55

I'm interested in a review too, hopefully someone will get it and write impressions soon. 

post #19 of 55

It's on sale on the official Tam Audio website: http://tamaudio.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=35&product_id=125, priced at $300.

 

Based on the specs from tamaudio website, it shares some features with the Matrix Cube DAC (similar inputs, up to 192 KHz, USB rate limited). But there are a few differences:

 

- First and obvious: the form factor. The case is designed to match the m-Stage amp. As it is bigger than the Cube, the board seems cleaner and more "roomy", with the components more separated. The Cube board seems a little crowded in comparison, with the transformer very close to the circuitry.

- It is based on the "top grade" (as advertised) PCM1792 DAC chip (also used on the Asus Xonar Essence One)

  The Cube Dac is based on the Wolfson WM8740 instead (also used on the Cambridge Audio DacMagic).

  I haven't found any performance comparisson between this two chips.

- No mention to ASRC (major feature on the Cube).

- Three filter settings: sharp/mute/slow (none on the Cube). Reminds me of the filter settings of the Cambridge Audio DacMagic.

- $30 pricier than the Cube. Not such a big difference, though.

 

I haven't found any detailed review or comparison yet for the new m-Stage DAC.

 

To add more confusion, there is a new version of the m-Stage amp integrating an onboard USB dac (likely a low-end DAC, not on pair with this dedicated m-Stage DAC). Some people seems to mistake these two models.

post #20 of 55

The Matrix M-Stage USB amp is with PCM1793 chip, which is considered inferior to PCM1792. It would be great if someone with the M-Stage amp pair it with this DAC, if the pairing is good and the reviews are positive many people will consider this DAC. A smart move from Matrix, hopefully they have done their job well.

post #21 of 55

As an M-Stage owner this is the wrong side of £150 for me im afraid.  Looks nice though.

post #22 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtam View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by GaToMaLaCo View Post

 

I though it will cost about 250 :(

 

Free Shipping included :)

Any possibility of shipping from / within EU?

post #23 of 55

Someone got it already?

post #24 of 55

Here are the google-translated specs from the matrix site, haven't found a review anywhere yet.

 

 

 

Quote:
MATRIX M-STAGE DAC is designed for the audio decoder with M-STAGE AMP headphone amplifier design. Top PCM1792 D / A conversion unit can support the highest 24Bit/192kHz digital audio signal playback, sophisticated design, the M-STAGE DAC has the following features:
 
    • professional digital receiver chips with ultra-low-Wow and flutter and independent clock. 
    • fiber optic, coaxial, USB variety of digital signal input mode. 
    • optical fiber, coaxial interface supports highest 24Bit/192kHz digital signal playback. 
    • USB interface support the highest 24Bit/96kHz digital audio signal playback. 
    • analog op-amp dedicated audio op amp OPA2134 to get the best signal playback. 
    Boot and enter the channel switching automatic volume fade to prevent excessive volume caused by the shock and hearing damage. 
    • The high quality sealed audio power transformers, circuit unit with independent multi-stage regulated power supply. 
    • High quality gold-plated connection terminals.
 
    Machine sound performance of the natural texture, ultra-high resolving power and signal to noise ratio for you to explore the tiny details of every music, to meet your demand for high-quality Hi-Fi sound source.
 
 
● Technical Specifications
 
    Digital interface: 
              optical interface: sampling rate 16 ~ 24Bit/44.1kHz 192kHz 
              coaxial interface: support for sample rates the 16 ~~ 24Bit/44.1kHz 192kHz  
              the USB interface: support for sample rates 16 to 24Bit/44.1kHz ~ 96kHz (windows7, Vista, , XP, 2000, Mac OS X)
 
    Analog Interface: 
              RCA interface output level: 2.0VRMS
 
    Frequency response: 20Hz 20KHz 
    SNR: 120dB 
    Dynamic Range: 119dB 
    Distortion: <0.0008% (1KHz)     Power Requirements:               Power Supply: AC 220V 50/60Hz (AC 110V 50/60Hz)               power consumption: <15W
   
 
 
 
    Other Specifications: 
              Operating Temperature: 0 to +40 ° C 
              Weight: 1.2kg 
              Dimensions: 260 x 105 x 48mm (L × W × H)

Source: http://www.matrix-digi.com/english/cpshow.asp?pid=36

post #25 of 55

I've had this DAC for a couple of days now and thought I'd share some early impressions.

That is, if you're willing to read the opinion of a complete noob splashing around and struggling terribly in ankle-deep audiophile waters.

 

I paired the DAC with the M-Stage amplifier & Beyerdynamic 80ohm DT770's, with a collection of FLAC's & MP3's from various genres.

 

 

Appearance

The build quality is identical to the amplifier, same enclosure, same materials, it's the same. It came with a power cable, but no USB cable.

I suppose this makes sense, otherwise next you'd be expecting them to throw in interconnects as well.

 

The LED's are a softer intensity this time, they are very much the same blue and they light up instantly. Where as the power LED on the amplifier tends to fade in slowly, and shines at this arrogant intensity. It seems strange to have the M-Stage duo, each with their lights shining at varied intensities, though it's negligible and purely cosmetic. There an LED's for the power and sample rate indicators (44.1, 96 and 192). When no source is attached, the lights toggle in succession to indicate that it's "searching" for an input.

 

There's also a filter and input switch, which snap just like the input on the M-Stage amplifier. After an little while the unit warms up, but runs much cooler than the amplifier. To the touch, it's about halfway between dead cold and amplifier hot, so I stack the DAC on top.

 

 

Filter

There's a switch for 3 filters on the front of the panel, "Sharp", "Slow" & "Mute". Out of the box, it was set to slow. Sharp makes the highs sound the slightest bit clearer, though the DT770 isn't renown for it's detail. I found the difference especially noticeable on José González's album, Veneer, where the acoustics sounded a bit flabby on the slow filter. Slow seemed to suit metal and electro genres. The mute setting just zeros the volume (which is nice instead of reaching for your volume or source if the situation calls for it).

 

The volume fades in when you turn the DAC on, for around 1.5 seconds, enough to avoid any unexpected "pop" of ear bashing, headphone damaging noise. I suppose it's a nice feature which some DAC's could tend to skip.

 

 

Listening

I don't have enough equipment to make comparisons, or the adequate experience to provide a review, but to sum up my own experience; the bass has this glorious resonating, deep-and-powerful, one-flavour-of-kickass to it, while the rest of the spectrum seems to take a backseat, occasionally sounding inadequate. I'm sure this is the telltale story of the the DT770's, and although I haven't tried other cans, I'm having lots and lots of fun with this powerful sound. I'm thinking about trying out the HE-400, or saving up for the Schiity LCD-2 combo.

 

One thing I will mention, and perhaps someone can point out why; for happy listening levels, I'm needing to apply gains to the amplifier.

This seems strange to me, I mean, my amplifier is paired with a DAC that was designed to be it's companion... I have the opinion that the gain switches exist purely to save your sanity should you end up with high-impedance headphones. It seems unnatural to set them at anything besides 0dB.


Up until now I was using the DAC within the amplifier (USB version), and I could happily listen with the volume at about 10 o'clock.

With this DAC in the equation, achieving that same level of happiness involves turning the volume all the way around to about 5 o'clock.

So instead, I've applied the first step of gain (10dB), and now the volume I'm seeking can be found around 12 o'clock.

 

I sincerely hope the gain doesn't affect the sound signature, if it does, this oversight is just absurd.


Admittedly, I'm not sure what to expect here. Maybe the output through the amplifier's DAC was unusually loud, or maybe there's an impedance factor when interconnecting the DAC. Regardless, and although I don't have another DAC to compare, it just seems unusual to have the amplifier turned up to 11 before my face features a glimpse of a grin or raised eyebrows.

 

Seemingly, sticking with the 10dB gain makes everything normal, and I'm really enjoying the sound as it settles in. It sounds much smoother than the amplifier's DAC, which sounded harsh in comparison.

 

Noob tip: At first I was a bit concerned that the USB input lacked 192KHz. However, I learned that upsampling from 44.1KHz to 96Khz makes the sound very different. It's a surreal, unnatural sound, but an interesting one. Sometimes I prefer upsampling if the sound needs to be livened up a little, but in most cases the sound is better without conversion. Just a general consideration I suppose, since most music played with this source (MP3, FLAC) is encoded at 44.1KHz, so when you see those inputs with the big numbers, you should really only be considering one thing.

 

 

Op-amps?

The DAC appears to not only have the same form factor, but the same op amps as the amplifier.

I wonder if upgrading the op amps in this DAC would have the same effect as it does in the amplifier? There are 3 OPA2134's on the board (I'm presuming one for each input) (picture), though I have no idea which one is which. Food for thought I guess.


Edited by JosephsART - 8/24/12 at 3:37am
post #26 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by josephsart View Post

I've had this DAC for a couple of days now and thought I'd share some early impressions.

That is, if you're willing to read the opinion of a complete noob splashing around and struggling terribly in ankle-deep audiophile waters.

 

I paired the DAC with the M-Stage amplifier & Beyerdynamic 80ohm DT770's, with a collection of FLAC's & MP3's from various genres.

 

Thanks for the review. I have the DT-990's (Premium version) and I ordered an M-Stage amp yesterday.

 

Willing to read your opinion? Yes, and gladly.

post #27 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by HamilcarBarca View Post

I ordered an M-Stage amp yesterday.

 

I upgraded the op-amp on my M-Stage with the dual OPA627AP, and the difference in sound is very noticeable. I highly recommend it.

 

Though I don't understand what role the OPA2134 plays in the M-Stage DAC; if replacing the op-amp (on my preferred input, since there are three op-amps) improves the sound, I absolutely want to do it.


Edited by JosephsART - 8/29/12 at 5:00am
post #28 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by josephsart View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamilcarBarca View Post

I ordered an M-Stage amp yesterday.

 

I upgraded the op-amp on my M-Stage with the dual OPA627AP, and the difference in sound is very noticeable. I highly recommend it.

 

Though I don't understand what role the OPA2134 plays in the M-Stage DAC; if replacing the op-amp (on my preferred input, since there are three op-amps) improves the sound, I absolutely want to do it.

Thats because the opa2134 are very cheap for the sound they deliver. They are good, not as good as the opa627 but better that any others in the same price. You could bias into class A the opa2134 tho. That might improve the sound for you. 

post #29 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by GaToMaLaCo View Post

Thats because the opa2134 are very cheap for the sound they deliver. They are good, not as good as the opa627 but better that any others in the same price. You could bias into class A the opa2134 tho. That might improve the sound for you. 

 

This is in the DAC?

 

I mean, for Matrix, the M-Stage was one of their first amplifiers which featured a dip switch for the op-amps, replacing them is easy for any consumer. From what I can see, they've applied the same design to the DAC, so I can only assume that replacing the op-amps with class-A biasing should work?

 

I'm not sure if anyone else has done this.. and I don't want to put dual OPA627AP's on my DAC to find that it'll blow it sky-high

 

basshead.gif

post #30 of 55
Thread Starter 

In the DAC I will probably try some AD797 instead. 

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