I think you have perhaps missed the whole point of the Quad and Octave designs, which is to provide very high quality Musical performance at reasonable cost. This I believe has been achieved is spades!
The design is deliberately simple, no analogue output stage as such for example, and as I often find in audio less is more. Yes it does have some compromises as does most audio kit, unless you have very, very deep pockets. The power supply IMHO is as good as if not better that similar products costing 4 or 5 times it's €800 price.
I agree the digital input could be improved upon and its input and output facilities are limited. I have personally found the SPDIF input very cable sensitive and needs to be a certified 75 Ohm cable. Also it would have been better if it had been fitted with a BNC plug rather than the RCA.
DIY using comms based silicone is very different from commercially marketed products. Often buyers look for well know chips or manufacturers like Woolfson, TI etc
Originally Posted by qusp
TBH I cant say I was very impressed with the design for the octave, the digital input and power supply is pretty ordinary IMO. hes hardly the first, comms instrumentation amps, comms logic chips, coms low noise jfets etc have all been used for many years, certainly in DIY. 'made for audio' is not always an endorsement of quality.
Edited by complin - 2/22/13 at 8:48am
Yes the implementation is novel as are other aspects of the design, simplicity, simplicity, not using components just for the sake of it
I have to disagree here regarding performance, as do many other seasoned commentators.
Perhaps you are in the upsampling and oversampling camp regarding digital? Well I've been there and have never found it satisfying or natural so I much prefer the simpler NOS approach. To me its like all good audio equipment, at first hearing not immediately impressive. Unlike the in your face hifi stuff which you get tired with very quickly.
I'm always very cynical about the latest and greatest and prefer to form my own opinion from longer term listening and evaluation. I have had the opportunity to compare the Metrum to several well known upmarket DAC's costing 5 or 6 times its price and in all cases I found it either comparable or preferable. If you can live with the limited inputs and outputs, and you like the NOS approach, IMHO it offers fantastic bang for the buck.
I'm normally very sceptical about magazine reviews but I do hold the opinion of some who are seasoned audio professionals in high regard like Martin Colloms of hificritic. Martin's reference system is the hugely expensive $23,000 MSB Platinum and he says "Compared with truly exotic stuff like the MSB Platinum IV Signature there’s a tinge of extra sibilance and a slightly lightweight bass. Tune-playing is a shade less clear in the bass, and it also sounds a little ‘forward’ in the upper range, but without a trace of hardness or ‘filter’ type ringing, and with only slightly less than excellent depth and focus. However, micro dynamics are excellent, as is the low level detail, and it consistently sounds natural and musical. Better mains cable, and pointy rigid supports for the power supply and DAC, bypassing those little rubber stick on feet (which I increasingly regard as a menace to sound quality), and you would be forgiven for thinking that it was now perfected. The big MSB still has the dynamic and rhythmic edge, but the gap had certainly narrowed. What an amazing result."
octavehificritic.pdf 833k .pdf file
[Review] Metrum Acoustics Octave DAC - [English].pdf 2,388k .pdf file
The new upmarket Metrum Hex as been on the market for several months now. It offers much greater choice of inputs and outputs SPDIF, RCA, USB (Xmos), Balanced, and has optional transformer based output. It costs over 4 times as much as the Octave but offers much more flexibility. However; we are into the realms of diminishing returns as although it does sound better, some would find it difficult to justify the premium.
Originally Posted by qusp
I did think it was a bit novel, I just didnt think it was all it was cracked up to be. I guess we'll see what he does with the high end model