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post #46 of 51

Well, I just got the DAC, and I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed. 


In terms of quality, the sound is very good. Everything sounds tighter, the bass sounds great, and the mids sound really, really good.


However, in subjective terms, I'm finding the sound signature is not quite my cup of tea. I should have known this was going to be a warm DAC, given that the M-Stage amp is a warm amp, but having the two together seems to compound the warmth, and consequently makes the sound a bit stuffy.


It's just a little [i]too[/i] intimate. The sound is restrained, but to the point that I'm just not feeling that excitement with music, that alas, I even had with the motherboard onboard audio. Yes, the sound quality is terrible with the onboard audio, but for some reason I can feel more excitement listening through that. There is just more air in the sound that lets me just listen to the music.


I was looking more for an airy sound, with clarity. Whereas this DAC, as the review at headfonia suggests, is a bit darker.


Of course, I'm a novice to this whole audiophile thing, especially when it comes to DACs, so my observation may be wrong.


These are just my initial impressions, and may change over time. It could very well be the "intimacy" is just more an issue of the Matrix DAC being able to process more, while what I believe to be the "airiness" of the onboard DAC could be the onboard DAC producing a thinner and weaker sound. Or, I might just prefer the sound of the Matrix DAC over time. We'll see!

Edited by fuzzybaffy - 2/17/13 at 3:17pm
post #47 of 51

Well, after having spent some time with this, I must say I've grown to like it, a lot. 


What I didn't mention was that this DAC has two filter options: "sharp" and "slow." 


At first, I preferred the "slow" option, because I thought the "sharp" was a little too, well, sharp, in the treble. And so my complaints with the DAC being too intimate was based on that "slow" filter. 


I've also been pairing the DAC with a Sennheiser HD-650, so you can see why I'd have such an issue with the "slow" setting, when the Sennheiser HD-650 is already a kind of laid-back headphone. 


So, after having spent some time with the "sharp" filter, I'm beginning to like it much, much better. Admittedly, it is still just a tiny, tiny bit sharper than I'd like, but it's nothing like the Asus Essence STX which I tried a couple of months earlier. While the Essence STX isn't necessarily "sharp", its treble was definitely a little more rough and "hard"? I don't know if that's the right word to describe sound... but, that is definitely what it felt like to me. 


That said, yes, I'm hearing more details in music than I have before with my onboard audio (can't say I've done extensive and long enough testing with the Essence STX to truly compare; just enough to know that the STX's treble was a little rough and hard tongue.gif). Guitars are silky, silky smooth, and colorful. Songs like "Already Dead" by Beck, are just absolutely beautiful with this DAC. 


Which brings me to another point. Another word to describe this DAC, in either setting, is "smooth". Everything sounds super, super smooth, but not necessarily washed out. Whenever I think I'm going to get hit hard by a passage in a song, it just comes in really, really nicely and smoothly, without being too "in your face". Yet, it still keeps you engaged musically. Melodies and instruments are still colorful and beautiful. 


But I must warn, that the last paragraph sounds a lot like people's praises of the HD-650 in general. So the smoothness I'm talking about may simply be a characteristic of the HD-650. Comparing the DAC versus the onboard audio, though, yes, the Matrix DAC definitely is MUCH, MUCH smoother. 


Well, I hope this helps. Again, my impressions may not be the best, as I don't have much experience with DACs, but I am definitely very, very happy with this. 

Edited by fuzzybaffy - 2/26/13 at 5:43pm
post #48 of 51

Thank you fuzzybaffy.

post #49 of 51

How does it compare to Schiit's modi?

post #50 of 51

I'm considering getting one since the dac on the M-stage Amp is not that great but there are so few reviews. Thanks to all that have given your thoughts so far on this thread though! 

post #51 of 51

Has anyone heard about an update to the M-Stage Dac?  Since the release of their HP-2 I have been waiting to see if a Dac-2 would be released. 


Anyone have some insider news?




Thanks OOK

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