Edited by Stereolab42 - 8/17/14 at 5:12pm
My impressions are done and as soon as the LA meet is over, we should be able to get the review up pretty quickly. Short version is: Great sounding unit, significant upgrade over m903 (as a DAC only) - more extension on both ends, bigger sound stage, more weight. No need to use the dedicated "brick" remote anymore, Apple remote works. Improved crossfeed section on headphone amp. Highly recommended, especially if needing a unit that has this level of functionality (running headphones, monitors, etc.)
Sure thing! Grace are exhibiting this weekend at the LA Meet so there should be a lot more impressions coming in.
Still LOVING mine! This is truly an amazing DAC. Makes me extremely happy that I started collecting DSD files. Have'nt experienced any hiccups or miscues yet. GREAT PODUCT Michael. Still don't listen to headphones much...but I would honestly recommend this DAC/Amp to anyone who is seeking superior reproduction of their digital files!
After reading Stereolab's experiences, I would like to chime in, as a very happy m903 owner, and say that the tech support and service of Grace Design is superb. I had a problem with my unit a long time ago, ultimately caused by faulty fuses I got locally for converting the m903 for 230V operation, and Alex was very quick to help and make arrangements for repair with the local distributor.
I must say I'm tempted by the new m920, although I'm wondering whether or not the upgrade from the m903 would be incremental at best. I'm using the m903 as a dac/preamp only, with an external (electrostatic) amp, so the internal amp and crossfeed are of no concern to me. Furthermore, does anyone here really have that many DSD recordings or 32/384 material to justify an upgrade..? I think not. Thus, the question is how much of the improvements are to the d/a conversion of 16/44 material and/or the analog stages. Opinions on these matters are most welcome and IMO more relevant than 'omg it does dsd' and the like.
At least the m920 looks better overall, and we all know better looking equipment sounds better.
The m903 at home has worked faultlessly at home for the last three years, now feeding a local amp and HP when the desire suits, listen to HP in bed. I still need a HP amp on the road, and it must play DSD and battery driven devices don't cut it, sorry, need power! It was a no brainer to order the m920 (yet to arrive) for this very purpose.
Yes there are many DSD recordings now, and for the rest Jriver transcodes any PCM to DSD128, that's how I listen now, definitely takes the digitalis out of PCM music. HP paired with the m903 are Denon DH7000, Beyerdynamic T1 and Audeze LCD-3.
Hmm" takes the digitalitis out" ... Could it be because DSD can not match the high rise times of PCM? And the digital artifacts we dislike have fast rise times.. either way..who cares??... if it sounds closer to real life ..I'm taking that route... I just object to the storage requirements of DSD...but then again.... that's like saying you would rather listen to MP3 files because they are smaller than CD ... so on to DSD I go if it does indeed sound much better. My experience with DSD is limited as I heard a few files when I was using a Light Harmonic Davinci + cookie M's files, and the MSB Analog DAC plays them too. I never cared for Sony's SACD sound... but in all fairness I have yet to hear a Sony Amp that I truly thought was great (though my moms 1960's Sony integrated Amp wasn't so awful compared to other solid state of the time).
So far I seem to like 24/96 (off of DVD for some odd reason) and 24/88.2 more so than 24/192 and 24/384 not sure why this would be- but I would need the same recording to be able to judge. I just need more exposure to higher bit rate well recorded files....I often get so into the enjoying music even on Redbook that I just don't bother hunting much for higher res...which to me still has the same audible digital artifact...just slightly lower in amplitude... though for 24/192 it seems like some recordings are "overly airy".
Still just about to pull the trigger on a M920 from Sweetwater to see if it floats my boat.
Curious why Grace would not take back your 920 to check out if any damaged resulted from the "screw" incident. Seems to me that would not be a great cost and they would be interested in understanding the mechanical clearance issues and your experience. My experience with Alex was more than satisfactory (he sent me a new USB board when the trouble turned out to be with my PC). BTW, my 903 is still providing many hours of pleasurable music. I find the choice combination of HP and amp to far exceed any DAC differences with today's modern chips and circuit designs. I can easily tune the SQ of my 903 or Benchmark DAC2 HGC with choosing between Senn 800, Audeze LCD-X, Hifiman 500, Grado and my Woo or Shiit (insert any brand you prefer) amps. I can't imagine an update to the 920 will make as much difference.