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