Pros - -Very good sound quality - Excellent construction and design - Excellent USB input -
Cons - Only XLR output with rca adapter, Sibilance problem in a very brilliant setup
I always love try Italian products, especially when they have just come out and are entirely Made in Italy, This is the first review based on translation for new Young DSD DAC/Preamp combination product from Italian manufacturer M2TECH from my site, www.stereo-head.it .
The DAC under test is the successor to the previous Young from M2Tech and introduces substantial changes such as the functions of a preamplifier, DSD and DSD X2, (Both supporting DoP) a fully balanced design and a new analog output stage.
Along with the new DAC, M2Tech also presented a fully balanced headphone amplifier for our consideration called Marley (review coming soon), which uses the same high grade tooling. Put together as source devices these units can go a long way to making a great setup for high-level headphones, digital audio and high resolution PC audio, in both in desktop or listening room environments.
Here's the test setup:
Source: PC with JRiver Media Center software and the M2Tech Young DSD.
2.7Vrms @0dBFS (single-ended with adaptors, “normal”)
5.4Vrms @0dBFS (single-ended with adaptors, “high”)
Line Output Impedance:
200 ohms (balanced) 100 ohm (unbalanced)
(W x H x D):
Construction and ergonomics
M2Tech for its new line has chosen a very minimal and simple design that makes the Young DSD an extremely elegant device to own and to use. As mentioned before the size of the casings are very small, just 200x50x200mm, which makes it perfect to be positioned on a desk next to a PC, perhaps combined with Marley or a nice pair of active monitors, as well as in the classic rack or cabinet or larger room enjoyment.
The exterior case is made entirely of aluminum, in a silver color produced by the extrusion of a single bar, and offers excellent shielding due to its thickness. The top of the case is engraved with the traditional brand logo for M2Tech.
The main body measures only 165 x 55 x 175 mm with a weight of 0.86 kg.
The front is very clean, no-frills and covered with a black Plexiglas plate which is fixed with four hex screws that makes it almost invisible when the screen is switched off. During operation, the blue screen is very clear and displays all relevant information such as the sampling frequency of the running track, the selected input and volume, as well as allowing you to navigate within the menus. You can also select the level of backlight based on personal preference. In addition to this, there is only a small button used to turn the unit on or off and activate and release a mute function. A rotary knob with push button function control allows you to adjust the volume and select options from within the systems menus. As a volume control, the turning knob provides good resistance and rotates with small steps that correspond to a step of 0.5 dB in volume.
The rear on the other hand is much more crowded to allow for an array of inputs and outputs.
The input selection is very comprehensive and consists of a USB port type B, an input for AES / EBU, two coaxial (one RCA and one BNC) and a Toslink input.
Fully balanced outputs are provided for AES cables and include highly counter-balanced XLR connectors. The M2Tech Young DSD also provides two high quality signal adapters for switching the outputs from XLR to RCA. These adapters also provide the output path to raise the output voltage of 5 V to the value of 10.0 V, providing ample power to drive most amplifiers directly, bypassing the need for a system preamplifier.
On the back we find the input for an external power jack (5.5 / 2.1 mm), for the standard power supply that is provided with the Young DSD.
The power supply is a switch mode 15V/1A that can be easily replaced even after considering the dimensions of the standard power jack.
In the box you will find a great remote control for controlling the Young DSD from the couch.
The remote control is an example of how a remote should be made as it is extremely clear and immediate, with a button dedicated to the most useful functions. From the remote you can also invert phase for those recordings with phase inverted with respect to the standard.
Remote control was also implemented for the HID interface that allows you to control many software based music players in use on your PC, by allowing you to change tracks and select play, pause and playback modes.
The Young DSD DAC works very well as pre amplifier, using an analog control in the field based on the Cirrus Logic CS3318 chip which is digitally controlled by the knob on the front (and has now replaced the classic potentiometer). The chip in question is basically a scale of resistors on a chip; it offers excellent matching of the channels and does not suffer from loss of resolution working in the analog domain. It is well known that digital control of an analog volume circuit provides a warmer and smoother output experience for the listener.
The Young DSD is able to provide a maximum voltage of 10.0 V and 5.0 V XLR out on RCA in normal mode, but can be doubled by setting the output to "high" from the menu allowing you to saturate even the final amplifier demands that require higher voltage to make full power.
Another interesting feature included is the "balance" control that allows you to adjust the balance of the two left and right channels in order to better adjust the response in irregular environments.
From the menu you can also set the timer off (For meeting ZEU requirements of inactivity), and the brightness of the display.
After removing the screws hidden beneath the feet we were able to remove the card from the case of the Young. Digital to analog conversion is performed by a PCM chip (BB-TI-1795), as was used in the previous Young.
XMOS (so dear to M2Tech), is also used for USB while the SPDIF receiver is based on a Burr Brown PCM9211 chip.
The PCM1795 is able to reproduce (without converting the files), in DSD up to a sampling frequency of 5644 kHz (DSD128, then 44.1 kHz x 128) than the classic file in PCM. The Young supports USB pathway files up to a resolution of 32 bits with sampling frequency of 384 kHz, while the coaxial and optical inputs are limited to 24-bit files.
Alongside the converter chip is present a Xilinx Spartan II FPGA chip that is used for DSP up sampling. Obviously the code has been completely rewritten from the old Young providing numerous improvements to support DSD64 and DSD128 (Both are DoP compliant).
The analog output stage is symmetrical with the DAC chip.
The clock used by M2TECH is custom made specifically for the Young DSD and with extremely high precision.
The analogue output stage is totally symmetrical with the DAC chip and balanced as you can see from the photo.
How it sounds
As in almost all the tests with the Young DSD, we mostly will use the USB input given that now with the adoption of receivers such as XMOS, we allow this input to surpass others in quality (And this is the only to support the DSD format because of the limitations of other protocols).
Starting the test as a pure DAC we immediately realized that the Young DSD has brilliant character and highly detailed, very transparent dimensionality.
The strengths of the Young DSD are definitely the high range of detail that we can guarantee, as well as the yield of the scene, truly three dimensional, extensive and precise.
For this reason, however, the Young is unforgiving on files of low quality (No YouTube or MP3 please), and recordings done poorly, while files with high quality achieve high peaks and superb imaging with the playback of high resolution PCM and DSD files truly sounding more “analog” than any other DAC we have used.
The bass is certainly noteworthy and without being overstated or inflated, really comes down quite a bit, not losing articulation and precision, resulting in an always fast articulation.
The midrange is more geared to an upper-middle that makes it a little bright, maybe too much if, for example, combined with the Questyle CMA800R with the HD800. The result is very good with headphones a bit darker as the HE500 or HD650. The instrumental performance is excellent and shows an excellent realism with a yield of violins and acoustic guitars that is truly wonderful to hear. Vocal performance is good, natural and vivid, albeit with some combination a bit open (and with bad recordings the unit presents some hissing as part of the weaker recording process that was applied).
The high range is very extensive and very detailed, not resulting in any case of biting or fatigue caused by long hours of listening.
Excellent dynamics also allow the Young DSD to work very well also in more complicated set-ups.
As you may have guessed the DAC is more suitable for those who appreciate the sound as brilliant, fast and detailed, and less for those looking for musicality at all costs. We, as you'll see from the reviews, belong to the first category (Woo Audio WA6 beats WA2 If for instance).
For those who are concerned about the presence of adapters for the RCA outputs I would like to clarify that this is not a problem since the yield is practically identical with the adapters XLR output and you do not notice any loss of quality. Furthermore, the quality of these adapters is outstanding.
How conceivable is also excellent synergy with the amp's home, Marley, but we will return to this in the live tests while reviewing Marley at a later date.
We also tried to connect it directly to our EAM Young Lab To3.8 and KEF LS50 to test the characteristics of the pre-amp to tell if it was able to replace a classic preamp (and the answer is definitely yes).
With analog attenuation the Young DSD does not suffer any loss of resolution even at very low listening levels (volume control works for digital compression and loses 1 bit for every 6 dB of attenuation), and with the ability to go out at a voltage twice as the standard (selectable from menu) is able to send full power as required for a wide selection of amplifiers.
The Young DSD is extremely transparent and maintains the sonic characteristics of the DAC with the same results and brilliant detail.
The Young DSD has proved to be a great DAC with very good performance as well as a preamp and packed with features..
The best characteristic of the Young DSD are his has brilliant character and great detail., but it don’t reproduce a fatiguating sound. There is sibilance problems only if you put it in an already briliant setup.
The construction is excellent and the minimalist design is truly elegant and lends itself very well for any listening environment. The only flaw that we can see or experience is the presence of balanced XLR outputs only, (although to remedy the problem the high quality balanced to unbalanced adapters are provided.
Review in brief
Rating: 9 out of 10
- Selection of input configurations and connections
- Excellent construction and design
- Excellent USB input
- Yields excellent Sonics with detailed brilliance and a naturally wide soundstage.
- Packed with useful features, such as the excellent preamp section, analog output stage and balance control
- Full function remote included
- Outputs for RCA unbalanced connections required the supplied adapters
- - Sibilance problem in a very brilliant setup with poorly recorded digital files or other inferior recordings.