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Hugo M Scaler by Chord Electronics - The Official Thread

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by ChordElectronics, Jul 25, 2018.
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  1. kelly200269
    M Scaler is on its way! Yahooo!!
    Ciggavelli likes this.
  2. zenlisten
    Exactly. In the past the difference between normal 16/44 CD-quality and high resolution music made me search through different online shops until I found the album I wanted in high resolution. High resolution sounded so much nicer, smoother and clearer. (I ended up buying many albums multiple times just because I found a higher resolution version later.) With the M Scaler these seeking became unnecessary, CD-quality sounds like high resolution. (An even MP3s get way better.)

    When I had to send the M Scaler to the service the change was painful: 16/44 quality music sounded "digital" again. Not unlike when you are used to high resolution screens and then you go back to a screen where you see the individual pixels that make up the image. It somehow destroys the illusion and you realize you see a screen rather than what it shows. Some screen areas are nice, like a colorful rectangle. But some details, like fine curves and small print become rather ugly. It's like when you listen to solo violin without the M Scaler and you hear the imperfections instead of the music. :)
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
    Aslshark, JM1979, HumanMedia and 3 others like this.
  3. Christer
    Hmm...your mentioning Aida makes me a bit curious to know which recording of Aida you played?
    There is as far as I know only one recent native 24/96 hi res,sound only, recording of Aida available.
    The Pappano .
    That recording has got quite an impressive dynamic range.
    Very good material to test how good one's system is at reproducing both VERY VERY low level ppp music and BIG climaxes.
    In my system my HEKV2 resolves the very low level ppp parts a wee bit better than my HD800 does.
    Cheers CC
    thomaskong78 likes this.
  4. Christer
    So you've got your Mscaler back from service again?
    Good to hear.
    I also listen to a LOT of rbcd material since getting my HMS. And in some cases I am not even sure I would be able to hear much/ or any difference if I played the hi-res version of some recordings.
    It is more question of how good the actual recording is for me in most cases now.
    Before HMS I bought ONLY hi res recordings.
    A remarkable example of rbcd at its best via HMS, is the harmonia mundi recording of Handel's early Opera Agrippina which sounds stunningly realistic in rbcd format via HMS.

    But since you mention the violin,I wish I could say the same of some of Ann-Sofie Mutter's recordings for DGG.
    I prefer her early recordings of Mozart's Violin Concertos on LP over her more recent rbcd set.
    Her rbcd Korngold/Tchaikovsky Concertos for the same company sound better to me though.
    But not even those come close enough to how warm and full her violin tone really is live.
    And in an interview she admitted that when listening to recorded music at home, she often preferred to spin an LP over playing a cd.
    I don't think she has got an HMS though?
    Cheers CC
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
    wswbd and blueninjasix like this.
  5. thomaskong78
    I also include my subjective grading of Dac that I had auditioned from 2018 to present.

    I had given 85 points to Dave and Mscaler.

    Without Mscaler, Dave would get just 75 points.

    My first serious audio system was Garrard turntable, Fisher Int(SS), ADS bookspeaker bought on 1978.

    I bought Technics CD player on 1984.

    It sound harsh and bright compared with vinyl.

    I gave up vinyl when I moved from Berkeley to Chicago on 1988 since I had no room to carry in my small car.

    I upgraded to California Audio Mark2 on 1989.

    It was way better than Technics CD player with refined treble and better dynamics.

    I had used passive pre, Krell KSA 150 to drive Apogee Duetta Sig.

    On 1999, I upgraded to DCS Elgar and upsampler using CEC Tl0x transport.

    Wow, I got the feeling that it could match good vinyl system.

    But after using DCS Elgar for 6 years, it got out of order and I gave it up with uncertain repair cost and shipping to UK.

    CEC Tl0x transport also had kept failing to read some CDs.

    Thus I had changed to Accustic Arts CD transport and Dac which was a downgrade from DCS Elgar and upsampler using CEC Tl0x transport…

    On 2010, I had got EMMLab Dac2 to replace Accustic Arts Dac.

    It had excellent dynamics, details and soundstage which made me enjoy the music again with Lansche 4.1 speaker and Silbatone 300B SET amp.

    On 2018 I had got Jay Audio CDT2 and Lyngdorf 2170 to use it as Room correction, Dac.

    But after using it for 4 months, I found that Lyngdorf 2170 falls slightly short of EMMLab Dac2 on bass slam and details.

    Thus I had auditioned several Dacs to upgrade from EMMLab Dac2.

    Point 100
    There is nothing to criticize over MSB Select II except its high price around 100K$.
    It has magical relaxed texture similar to top grade vinyl.

    Dynamics, details, soundstage are all excellent.

    Point 95
    Kalista Dreamplay transport and Dac
    It is excellent matching MSB Select II on almost every aspects.

    The only down side is that it does not have relaxed texture similar to top grade vinyl although it still sounds silky.

    Point 91.
    Trinity Dac
    This one is also all round player with hard to criticize.
    But it falls slightly short of MSB Select II on details and relaxed texture.

    Point 90
    Lampiziator Pacific Dac
    I had auditioned this Dac with same setup with MSB Select II.

    This one is also all round player with hard to criticize.
    It falls slightly short of MSB Select II on dynamics and relaxed texture.
    But this one has a nice bloom and full bodied sound,
    which make some people prefer this one to MSB Select II

    Point 85
    Chord Dave and Mscaler(or Blue II transport)
    This one give transparent and 3D soundstage with excellent details.
    But it need good system matching.
    It could sound analytical or hot coupled with bright combination of speaker and amplifier.
    Without upscaling using Mscaler, its sound is mediocre around 75 points.

    Point 84
    MSB Premier with one more basic power supply
    I had auditioned this one side by side with Lampiziator Pacific Dac.
    It matches Pacific Dac with Dynamics, details, soundstage but fall short of Pacific Dac in magical bloom and full body.
    With improved power supply or clock, its performance have room to improve further.

    Point 80
    Formula XHD Dac
    I auditioned this one side by side with Trinity Dac
    This one is a very musical player with full bloom.
    But it falls short of Trinity Dac by one notch in dynamics and bass slam.

    Point 79
    TotalDac 6 tube version
    This one is also a very musical player.
    But from the point of audiophile, its dynamics, details, soundstage are all one notch below the standard set by MSB Select II.

    Point 78
    MSB Discrete Dac with one additional basic power supply.
    This one has similar sound signature to MSB Premier
    But it is half notch below MSB Premier on dynamics, details, soundstage.

    Point 75
    EmmLab Dac2
    I paid 9K$ for this on 2010.
    It matches Chord Dave and Mscaler on dynamics with slightly more bass slam.
    But Chord Dave and Mscaler give more transparent and deeper soundstage than EmmLab Dac2 while soundstage width are comparable to each other.
    This one has slightly fuller sound than Chord Dave and Mscaler.
    It is still working fine after 10 years of use.

    Point 73.

    Lyngdorf 2170
    This one has Dac, pre and power amp, active crossover and room correction functions.
    It’s Dac sounds very similar to EmmLab Dac2 but with slightly less details and bass slam.

    There are many Dacs to audition but I could not audition all of them.

    I had bought Chord Dave and Mscaler late May.

    Recently I play musicals and operas very often enjoying excellent 3D soundstage.

    But I do not believe that I can live with Chord Dave and Mscaler for my life.

    If some innovative Dac better than MSB Select II come out under 50K$ in the future, then I will upgrade to it.

    Otherwise, I expect to use Chord Dave and Mscaler for 3 years or longer.
    HumanMedia, kyle1010, sonics and 2 others like this.
  6. rkt31
    Nagra dacx is currently the best of the best and even that does not have the timing of tt2+ HMS. Making sound musical is not the trait a dac should have. A dac should make things life like and only way to do it is timing. I am afraid msb select falls short in that area.
  7. thomaskong78
    Brigitt Nilsson sings but it is ripped in the music server without more information.

    No headphone can beat my 2 channel system in dynamics but I found hd800s very good at imaging and soundstage enough to enjoy opera.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
  8. thomaskong78
    I heard good things about Nagra dacx. but I had not heard it myself yet.

    I am not in a rush to find other Dac since I am happy with Dave and Mscaler as Dac and Dap
  9. Amberlamps
    Brigitte Nielson, Rambo's ex husband ?

    Singing ?

  10. zzhi36
    May I ask if anyone has ever had any problem when you added ifi igalvanic in between PC and M Scaler?
    I am using my PC for work and listen music, there's a lot of noises while I am working or using other applications, so I decided to add igalvanic for reducing the noise. It really works, but the bad thing is, it's really unstable and always disconnected after running for every 10 to 15mins.
    So feel a bit frustrated now...
  11. miketlse
    One thing to check is whether the mscaler is deactivating the input signal processing if it detects no usb 5V signal for 15 mins. Maybe the ifi is blocking the 5V power bus.
  12. zzhi36
    Thanks for that, I just checked the igalvanic spec and stated that the output is 5V. So maybe my PC's problem...
  13. zenlisten
    Yes. Here's the full story in bullet points:
    1. After purchasing and using M Scaler and TT2 I noticed infrequent subtle crackling, mostly on the right-hand side. A single subtle noise, not unlike a little electric spark. Was present in all headphones.
    2. Tried switching off every other electric device (including wifi router, computer, even lamps), only left the music related devices running, sent music from my mobile phone. The problem was still there.
    3. Changed wall outlets. The problem was still there.
    4. Bought a power conditioner. The problem was still there.
    5. Bought a pair of shielded and ferrite-equipped BNC cables. The problem was still there.
    6. Bought an USB → Toslink converter. The problem was still there.
    7. Exchanged every component one by one. If M Scaler was removed (even if the music was upscaled to 700+ kHz via software to make up for it) the problem was gone.
    8. Someone in another country told me they had a similar problem which was admitted by the repair center and subsequently fixed by installing a new motherboard from Chord.
    9. In the hope that the same will happen to my device I brought it to the dealer who sent it to the official repair center. My instructions were included.
    10. The repair staff could not reproduce the problem for weeks (during which they asked me additionally what BNC cables I used).
    11. After 5 weeks they sent the device back to me, unchanged.
    12. I put back the M Scaler exactly where it was: same cables, same position, same hardware and software.
    13. I haven't been able to reproduce the issue ever since. The M Scaler now works as it should, free from the occasional crackling.
    I cannot explain why this happened and what the root cause was. Maybe there was something inside the M Scaler which moved as the device was transported in a vertical position? Some people in this thread mentioned "loose screws" in their Chord devices, maybe something similar happened here?

    Anyway, it was not nice to spend the first month experimenting and buying additional equipment, then another 5 weeks waiting for the repair, unnecessarily.

    And although it seems to be working now, maybe the next time the device will be transported the issue may reappear. :/
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
    Progisus and blueninjasix like this.
  14. Progisus
    It was lucky I heard the loose screw and was able to remove it before powering up. Unfortunately I had to wait a few weeks for the three different security screwdrivers required to get past the rfi shield to replace it. I am disappointed in Chord’s quality control at this price point. The distributor did offer to exchange but at my cost.
  15. Christer
    Thanks for your response.
    If you have a recording with Birgit Nilsson singing Aida it is most probably an early 60s Decca recording.
    The only official recordings of her in Verdi and Puccini operas like Aida and Tosca and the classic Strauss roles Salome and Elektra were mainly conducted by Solti and recorded either in Rome or Vienna in most cases.
    Nice old analogue DECCA recordings. But limited in dynamic range especially, compared to the recent Aida I mentioned.
    Another very good classic Birgit Nilsson DECCA recording is Verdi's A Masked Ball from Rome.
    Last but not least her Wagner roles in the classic DECCA Wagner Ring and Isolde still stand the test of time as models of their kind.
    A truly unique voice.
    Cheers CC
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