Grace Design x Massdrop m9XX DAC/Amp Review: First Impressions
Dec 18, 2015 at 6:36 PM Post #856 of 2,148

StolenToast

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Posts
44
Likes
17
  Hey guys/gals,
 
I have a strange problem with playing music via my m9xx, could you help me out?
 
As I am still waiting for my CIEMs to arrive, I was impatient and wanted to test the m9xx out, I decided to try it with the only headphones I have here, which is Bose QC25. So I connected m9xx to both USB and power outlet (using provided cables), plugged in headphones (using 6.3/3.5mm adapter), fired up settings and selected m9xx USB as the source.
 
Now the strange part, I can hear music playing, but I cannot hear vocals. For example when listening to Daft Punk "Get Lucky", music is really nice and spacious, but I don't hear anyone singing. Then when I tried to play Armin Van Buuren's SoT, the music was completely distorted. I've also tried Audirvana Plus, Decibel and BitPerfect, all playing DSD64/128, FLAC, ALAC from 44 to 352kHz.
 
Higher I go, better it sounds - but still unusable. I should also state, that I am using 12 inch MacBook, you know the one with USB-C, while running OS X El Capitan 10.11.2
 
I read that currently El Capitan has problems with USB DACs, but it was always mostly about not hearing any audible output, or having disconnections, not hearing music without vocals.
 
What do you think could be the problem? Is it the new MacBook's USB-C and using USB-C to USB adapter, or is it this weird El Capitan DAC support?
 
I've tried both USB Audio Class 1 and 2, Crossfeed ON and OFF, all DAC filters, running on low and high power modes, but nothing helps.
 
I could try to ask someone in the office who has MacBook Pro to try it directly with USB 2, but I know for sure that they are also running El Capitan.
 
I am thinking about booting up some Linux distro, but that wouldn't be a long term solution for me.
 
Last thing to add, I've also tried basic Apple EarPods, but result was the same.
 
Thanks guys/gals for any help.


This sounds most like a poorly connected phone jack to me.  I've found the strangest subtractive audio glitches with headphones that were slightly loose, including disappearing vocals.  Those particular ranges must get filtered out in the weird, cross-contacted state that could happen (or whatever it is, I did no science).  Also distortion. 
 
It seems like you know how to trouble-shoot so I think you can figure out what to do, but it may also be a manufacturing error.  You'd need to verify if it happens for any headphones in either port, I think. 
 
Dec 18, 2015 at 11:28 PM Post #859 of 2,148

Magick Man

Daddy Warbucks
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Posts
6,465
Likes
588
I did it with linear USB power supply. Better then the filmsy stock power adapter:

http://m.aliexpress.com/item/32553584631.html


Derp, I just realized my UPS has a pair of linear 2.1A/5V USB outs, "Pure Sine Wave" supposedly. That should be fine, I guess.
 
Dec 19, 2015 at 7:19 AM Post #861 of 2,148

mammal

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 18, 2015
Posts
1,526
Likes
2,806
Location
Switzerland
Guys thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.
 
I've just bought another 6.3/3.5mm adapter, to try whether this link was the problem. Sadly, it is still happening - tried both gold plated and regular adapter.
 
Also went to the office to try another MacBook, which now is regular Pro, therefore has USB 2 port (no need for my USB-C to USB adapter). Again, output sound is exactly the same, watered/distorted vocals, as you could hear in the audio recordings I attached in my last post.
 
~~~BUT~~~ when I connected Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, everything was great. Finally music sounded as expected, nice vocals, quality I am used to, plus something on top of it.
 
Does this mean that m9xx does pair well with medium and high-end headphones, but not with ****ty low end? Honestly, I don't care if m9xx won't work with Apple's EarPods, as I am not going to be ever using this combo together (I use them only for running). Also, I use Bose QC25 only at work, where I don't intend to use m9xx either.
 
The most important thing for me is that m9xx pairs well with my Custom Art EI.XX CIEMs, or later with some high-end headphones, or even planar magnetic headphones (I would consult and re-read this thread before buying to see whether proposed combo pairs well and can be driven without another powerful amp in the chain).
 
So if you personally think and believe that my m9xx is not defected and works as intended, than I am good. I will have to wait till my CIEMs arrive anyway and until then I can use coworker's Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, as they work nicely with m9xx.
 
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
 
Dec 19, 2015 at 7:48 AM Post #862 of 2,148

sheldaze

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 13, 2014
Posts
2,727
Likes
987
Location
USA
  Guys thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.
 
I've just bought another 6.3/3.5mm adapter, to try whether this link was the problem. Sadly, it is still happening - tried both gold plated and regular adapter.
 
Also went to the office to try another MacBook, which now is regular Pro, therefore has USB 2 port (no need for my USB-C to USB adapter). Again, output sound is exactly the same, watered/distorted vocals, as you could hear in the audio recordings I attached in my last post.
 
~~~BUT~~~ when I connected Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, everything was great. Finally music sounded as expected, nice vocals, quality I am used to, plus something on top of it.
 
Does this mean that m9xx does pair well with medium and high-end headphones, but not with ****ty low end? Honestly, I don't care if m9xx won't work with Apple's EarPods, as I am not going to be ever using this combo together (I use them only for running). Also, I use Bose QC25 only at work, where I don't intend to use m9xx either.
 
The most important thing for me is that m9xx pairs well with my Custom Art EI.XX CIEMs, or later with some high-end headphones, or even planar magnetic headphones (I would consult and re-read this thread before buying to see whether proposed combo pairs well and can be driven without another powerful amp in the chain).
 
So if you personally think and believe that my m9xx is not defected and works as intended, than I am good. I will have to wait till my CIEMs arrive anyway and until then I can use coworker's Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, as they work nicely with m9xx.
 
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Wait - does your Bose headphone have the TRRS connector, for use with iPhone?
 
My friend wanted to try his in-ear Bose. He had no adaptor, but tried to use my adaptors (from AKG K7XX and Sennheiser HD650 - I was using my HD600 cable at the time). No bueno! Nothing worked, and everything was distorted.
 
There is nothing wrong with my m9XX or my 3.5mm to 6.5mm adaptors, which work perfectly fine with the original headphones. But neither adaptor worked with his Bose in-ears.
 
P.S. I recommended against it the whole time, once I found out he had the TRRS 3.5mm connector. But he insisted it would work - no bueno! Not workee! Not going to allow anyone to try this again, for fear of what is happening in my coveted m9XX. If you have an adaptor approved by Bose, try it. I've no clue how the TRRS is supposed to be converted, both in size from 3.5 mm to 6.5mm and in behavior from TRRS -> TRS.
 
Dec 19, 2015 at 8:09 AM Post #863 of 2,148

fjrabon

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 1, 2009
Posts
3,996
Likes
1,100
  Wait - does your Bose headphone have the TRRS connector, for use with iPhone?
 
My friend wanted to try his in-ear Bose. He had no adaptor, but tried to use my adaptors (from AKG K7XX and Sennheiser HD650 - I was using my HD600 cable at the time). No bueno! Nothing worked, and everything was distorted.
 
There is nothing wrong with my m9XX or my 3.5mm to 6.5mm adaptors, which work perfectly fine with the original headphones. But neither adaptor worked with his Bose in-ears.
 
P.S. I recommended against it the whole time, once I found out he had the TRRS 3.5mm connector. But he insisted it would work - no bueno! Not workee! Not going to allow anyone to try this again, for fear of what is happening in my coveted m9XX. If you have an adaptor approved by Bose, try it. I've no clue how the TRRS is supposed to be converted, both in size from 3.5 mm to 6.5mm and in behavior from TRRS -> TRS.


was just about to post the same thing.  This has to be a case of a TRRS termination not properly connecting to a TRS connector.  As soon as he said the HD280 pro worked fine, that was the tipoff.  Has absolutely nothing to do with the m9XX
 
Dec 19, 2015 at 8:41 AM Post #864 of 2,148

mammal

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 18, 2015
Posts
1,526
Likes
2,806
Location
Switzerland
Amazing community, one can learn new things every day.
 
Yes, both Apple's EarPods and Bose's QC25 have TRRS connector.
 
Mystery solved, thanks guys!
 
Dec 19, 2015 at 12:30 PM Post #865 of 2,148

Magick Man

Daddy Warbucks
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Posts
6,465
Likes
588
I hope it's not "Pure Sine Wave" since USB is 5V DC (Direct Current) only and not AC (Alternating Current) so check that it says 5V DC.


Yeah, it's a 5V DC-out USB port on the front of the UPS.
 
Dec 19, 2015 at 8:14 PM Post #868 of 2,148

ViperGeek

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 2, 2015
Posts
230
Likes
52
Location
Merrimack, NH, USA
How much of a gap is there between m9xx and the m920 out of your hd650?

 
The way I've described it in the past is that the m9XX gets you 90% of the performance for 25% of the
  • price of the m920.  Now the m920 has lots more features like balanced inputs/outputs, RCA, AES and S/PDIF inputs, IR remote capable, etc, but for standard DAC/HPA duties, the m9XX is a hard deal to beat.  That's why I ended up with one of each.
     
    - Dave
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top