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Alternatives to Audiolab M-DAC? - Page 2

post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by amanp View Post

So I thought I'd start a new thread about getting a DAC, but hijacking threads is more fun :D (and stops the crap threads).

 

I am looking for something sub £400, preferably about the £225 - £300 mark. Possibly £350 if its v.good.

My requirements are:

  1. Audio from my PC Via S/PDIF/Toslink/USB to a DAC.
  2. I have no requirement for DAC to have a built in headphone amp (nor do I want one) but if it comes with it - bonus feature.
  3. Output via Phono and balanced output (I will sacrifice balanced if DAC is very good)
  4. Multiple inputs as I have a few sources
  5. One of the options below :D

 

My current options are (by what I've read and availability in UK):

  1. Matrix Mini-i - £225
  2. Peachtree DAC•iT - £285
  3. Arcam rDAC - £300
  4. Cambridge Audio DACMagic Plus - £350 (Seems ideal - I know system matching can be tricky but I've got a decent kit to match)
  5. Musical Fidelity M1 DAC - £400- Ideal but out of my price range? Unless someone wants to sell me one.

 

In terms of sound - any of these are better than what I have but I'm tempted by the DACMagic plus the most as it looks the best (personally) and I would like a fair bit of detail from my setup. Warmth is not neccessary as I have my HK to do that for me.

 

Setup will be: Source -> DAC-> Fiio e9 -> Headphones or Source-> DAC -> HK Amp -> Mordaunt Short MS902i's which match very well with the amp I have.

 

Looking to buy ASAP so help please. Thanks. bigsmile_face.gif

 

have a read on rockgrotto forum about latest musical fidelity kit. i think you will then remove it from your shortlist.

i was reading about the latest headphone amp, and it dont appeal to former MF fans.

 

having said that, i did like my v-dac. so maybe a v-dac2 would be worth consideration

post #17 of 36
Quote:

have a read on rockgrotto forum about latest musical fidelity kit. i think you will then remove it from your shortlist.

i was reading about the latest headphone amp, and it dont appeal to former MF fans.

 

having said that, i did like my v-dac. so maybe a v-dac2 would be worth consideration

I dont know any of these DAC's sound :( Secondly I'm not looking to get a V-DAC (though they seem to be excellent value) I now want balanced outputs!

 

Do you guys know any sites where I can see a comparison between the Cambrigde audio dacmagic+ and the MF M1Dac? I'm down to these 2 and the DacMagic+ is edging it due to asynchronous USB.

 

Does anyone know which gives a more detailed sound? I would prefer something with good highs and not too warm but if it is borderline warm - i dont care. This is only due to system matching with a warm musical Harman Kardon 3480.

post #18 of 36

I have had a DacMasgic Plus for a few months now and am nearly very happy with it.  I think it sounds fine (through Genelec speakers and Grado RSi headphones).  It has however, an awful volume knob.  It is too smooth to the touch and not free turning.  It is crazy for me to dislike this so much but there it is - indeed, so much do I dislike it I bought an SPL Volume2 volume controller to use with the Genelecs.  The SPL is wonderful - expensive for what it does, but it does what it does very satisfactorily.  The DMPlus replaced a DacMagic and I use it with its volume controller disabled.  I don't notice any difference in the sound produced by these dacs.  Some people have said the top end is a little harsh but I have not noticed that.  The great thing about them is their connectivity - really well equipped for connections. Sorry - I can't compare the DMPlus to other dacs.

post #19 of 36

The input is appreciated davidc2.

I read that most people hate the volume control but when i used it i quite liked it haha, Either way i will be connecting it to external devices and so the volume control will be disabled. I think you went wwaayyyyy over the top with the SPL Volume thing but it does seem like a n nice bit of kit!


Thanks for the reply again, the comment is appreciated :D


Edited by amanp - 10/17/12 at 9:51am
post #20 of 36
We compared the MDAC and Schiit Gungnir at the Dallas meet this weekend and everyone chose the Gungnir but difference was slight. Mostly less detail and some smeared highs.
post #21 of 36

Do you mind telling me which had more detail?

Also, which had smeared highs?

 

The reason I ask is because the Schiit with the brilliant name and aesthetics is over £100 more and that is excluding the USB connection and shipping. Adding the USB it is £150 more.

 

I can get a brand new M1Dac new model with Async USB for £350 from a specialist store (Bartletts HiFi in London).

I can also get the Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus for the same price (£350) which has the upscaling ability which is edging it personally, but richer sounds is turning me off! haha

In terms of value per pound by brief reading; I don't think the Schiit wins. Also my main system isn't nice enough to appreciate those differences (YET tongue_smile.gif) but I'm happy to spend £50-100 more to future-proof myself.

 

The Rega DAC is the outsider but it's spec is tempting me (and not so much it's price!) and with my work being too busy - I haven't had the chance to check very much so I am grateful for the replies!

post #22 of 36
The MDAC is certainly a more complete kit, but I don't need a subpar amp, a flashy screen, and many filter settings. We compared them as just dacs and the Gungnir won. The MDAC had the lesser detail and smeared highs.

Regarding price and value, only you can make that judgement. Over here the opposite is true, the Gungnir being $850 and the MDAC $900 when both USB equipped, making the Gungnir the better performer and cheaper, especially if you don't need USB like I don't.
post #23 of 36

I just picked up the M1 Dac yesterday - WOW

 

Massive improvement. I am still messing with setting for foobar but it works via USB, optical via 96kbps and upsamples to 192 on USB and optical. coax (need a sound card with an out) so is untested but apparently this is the best (via reviews)?

 

I'll post some pics in a few hours of the new rig and it is one hell of a good looking kit. VERY musical yet filled with details I never picked up on my speakers.

post #24 of 36

You made a good decision, especially regarding that you bought it 50 pounds less than the retail price. 

I think it exceeds the DACmagic Plus sound wise by a small margin.

post #25 of 36
Thread Starter 

just ordered the Dynaudio DBM50s off Amazon a few minutes ago for $420/each:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Dynaudio-DBM50/dp/B008COELY2/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1345100118&sr=1-1&keywords=DBM50

 

the DAC hunt is rekindled.

 

spent some time checking out the Schiit site in the last few days.  wondering how the Schiit Gungnir and Lyr would pair....

post #26 of 36
I'll be comparing the Gungnir and new PS Audio Nuwave (similar feature set) on Dec 2nd. I'll let you know how that turns out.
post #27 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

I'll be comparing the Gungnir and new PS Audio Nuwave (similar feature set) on Dec 2nd. I'll let you know how that turns out.

sounds good.  i look forward to your impressions, Maxvle.

 

as opposed to an all-in-one DAC and headphone amp, i'm open to separate components nowadays.  MDAC is a convenient all in one though and i could add on a headphone amp down the road...

 

+ my EMI 26 is getting a lil long in the tooth:

 


Edited by aphinity - 11/24/12 at 1:15am
post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by amanp View Post

I just picked up the M1 Dac yesterday - WOW

 

Massive improvement. I am still messing with setting for foobar but it works via USB, optical via 96kbps and upsamples to 192 on USB and optical. coax (need a sound card with an out) so is untested but apparently this is the best (via reviews)?

 

I'll post some pics in a few hours of the new rig and it is one hell of a good looking kit. VERY musical yet filled with details I never picked up on my speakers.


I note from earlier posts you had a VDAC 1. I have one currently and like it but wonder if spending a couple of hundred £ makes that much. Appreciate you havent got the VDAC still to compare to the M1 DAC but do you think that there is a major improvement? Other potential options for me are the Rega DAC. Not sure the audiolab MDAC is worth the money over the other 2 as I have a Heed headphone amp so wouldnt need one built in.  I am also drawn to the multiple optical in on the Rega- I am right in thinking the MDAC only has one of each?

post #29 of 36

Hi Bud,

Sorry about the late reply. I've been busy and up to no good. New Amp/Dac hehe.

 

A couple of hundred is relative and very hard to answer; I'll try help. Basically the M1 Dac is SUPER dynamic and the highs are reeallyy exciting. They take you to the edge but not quite over it.

I fell for it, no regrets. Play with the output settings (96/24 or 192/24 etc. but I found that even though it upsamples, 96/24 was the sweet spot UNLESS you actually have 192k music as it will reveal artifacts in music at higher volumes and windows EMI/dirty power/whatever u wanna call it!)

 

Through dumb luck, I was trying my motherboard's built in Dac (Gigabyte UP7 hehe) into the amp and after 5 minutes of listening, the M1 Dac came straight back on (tried on Leema + Harman kardon for amp and the onboard dac sucks on the UP7 compared to a dedicated one).

 

*Slightly off topic but to put the M1Dac in a bit of perspective: I purchased a Leema Elements Integrated Amplifier (With the £300 Dac upgrade). *THIS WAS A 30 min - got sidetracked test*

I was interested in Leema Amp W/Dac VS Leema AMP but using the M1DAC as dac.

Basically; what does £300 350 or whatever get you from Leema as an upgrade.

 

Test: Using my M1Dac as the Dac to RCA -> Leema Amp -> Focals. They are very close. The general sound characteristic is similar; great highs. Bass was good; very cohesive sound, didn't sound separated. Slight hiss when I used M1Dac -> Leema, but that could be cabling, too much volume, interference; I havent bothered to diagnose.

 

The M1Dac as a dac is glorious and beats the Leema Dac upgrade in terms of high clarity. Amount of detail from Leema dac and M1Dac was close.

 

Using PC -> AudioQuest USB -> Leema Amp+Dac -> Focals:

Now the Leema dac upgrade is a similar beast but MUCH higher spec. does 192/24 natively on all inputs. DAC picked it all up. I must admit that the scale from the M1Dac was MASSIVE but the Leema's separation is better with equal scale, no background noise i.e. black background. Highs were not quite as exciting as M1Dac but still very good, say 5% worse than M1.

 

IN MY VERY PERSONAL OPINION: The AudioLab MDac's great convenience is a headphone amp section; You have a Heed. I wouldnt bother with it and suggest an M1Dac, Arcam Rdac (which is cheap now) or even the Cambridge audio dac which has a headphone section for convenience and is quite well rated. I've seen it and it defo feels well built. Rega was built like rubbish when I saw it, but they are releasing a V2 of the Rega Dac; keep an eye open for a cheap V1. Remember, no one ever said the Rega Dac was crap (They have a rep & respected sound sig for a reason) if there is a reason for a price drop *cough Rega Dac v2 soon cough* I think you might need to scour the interwebs for a cheap deal on the v1.

 

Yes, spend up to about £400 on a dac, just remember to have enough for cables good enough to bring it out. YES upgrade the stock ones, run it in for a week and they will sing.

post #30 of 36
Thanks for the comprehensive response bad glad you are enjoying the M1 DAC. Funds have run dry so I am parking the DAC upgrade for the moment but thanks for the tip on the Rega. I will keep eyes peeled on the usual sites for discounted ones.
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