MQA-capable DAC?

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by thyname, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. Dr. Ameet V Joshi
    Now the $100 Dragonfly black supports MQA with firmware version 1.06!!!
     
  2. watchdog507
    One more piece to add to the puzzle. The PS Audio Bridge II for the Directstream DAC is MQA and Roon ready. Mine is on order. I should have it next week, if the Gods of Audio are cooperative.
     
  3. thyname
    Lumin T1 rocks!
     
  4. DelsFan
    I emailed TIDAL with some questions about how to stream their service, leaving my laptop and desktop out of the music chain. Their "help" was useless - cut and paste something from their FAQs which I'd already read twice. The guy did say these are the current (October, 2017) partners. TIDAL knows squat about MQA, at least anyone you can find on the phone or in customer support knows nothing. They had to have spent tens of thousands, at the least, on their TIDAL Masters "program"; they sure seem disinterested in explaining it. Or, maybe there are 10,000 kids streaming with their portable system for every one of "us", so who cares.

    MQA partners they offered:
    * Bluesound/NAD
    * Cary Audio
    * Aurender
    * Meridian
    * Bel Canto
    * Auralic
    * Audirvana plus
    * Roon
    *Lumin

    INSERT: I am trying to assemble what I thought would be a high-end system (started in complete ignorance with a budget of $3000, moved to $7000, now expecting $10K won't get the job done). I realize $10K is the rock bottom floor for "high-end"! My rig might look something like LCD-4 or HE-1000 headphones, (add a cable); microZotl MZ2 tube-based amplifier (add a LPS and 110v and 12v cables); DAC to be named later, with BNC input and MQA compatible (add power cord and potentially another LPS, and analogue interconnect); streamer (add yet another LPS, power cord, USB cord if BNC out is not an option, USB conditioner and LPS and another USB cord, tablet to control the streamer). $2K for headphones, $1.5K for amp, $1.5K for DAC, and $2K for streamer = $7K (which really equals $11K, hopefully). I already have a (Isotek IVO3 Polaris) power conditioner and fortunately it will be easy to install a 20 amp dedicated circuit with a hospital or audiophile grade outlet in my study/listening room.

    That being said, I looked at (and called some of the following manufacturers; pricing of their least expensive MQA DAC in parenthesis.

    Audirvana is a software supplier
    Auralic (changed their minds about MQA),
    Bel Canto ($14K),
    Bluesound is lower quality than I/we need
    Berkeley ($20K),
    Cary DMS-500 seems to be a streamer with DAC ($5,000)
    Meridian (the Prime is $2K plus LPS, their LPS is another $1,750. In addition, it is a USB only DAC/amp, I need a DAC with a BNC coaxial input)
    The Prime might work for some people here though.
    Krell ($3750 but no mention of MQA), and
    Mark Levinson ($21K)

    I don't think Roon nor Lumin make DACs.

    For $900 it seems one can add a Ethernet Bridge which is MQA compatible to your existing $5K PS audio DAC. Actually a superior option for a few people.

    NOW, Bel Canto may be coming out with a new line of DACs soon (2-6 months?) which "will" be MQA compatible. Might be $3K and might be $6K - I'm just guessing. There seems to be a market (of at least me) for a DAC only, that is MQA compatible - in the $2K range though. I'd think the Bel Canto might be more but maybe they will make an announcement in Jan.

    As far as I can tell, if you have a personal audio system there are a couple of options for large improvements, like the Dragonfly Red and Black.
    Otherwise, doesn't it seem the Mytek Brooklyn, with, for me, the unnecessary headphone amp, is the only game in town?
     
  5. thyname
    I appreciate you replying my OP from February.

    Just to let you know, I got myself a Lumin T1 a few months back, and very happy with it. It checks all the boxes (and yes! it has DAC built in), Roon Ready, MQA first unfold, even through Roon, etc. It retails for $5,000 but I got it used for less than half that. I think you can buy it new for $4,000 at Ciamara and other dealers though.
     
  6. watchdog507
    I've ordered a Bridge II for my PS Audio Directstream. I ordered it primarily for Roon and MQA from Tidal. I'll be able to bypass a computer and work directly from the DAC with the Bridge. It was ordered a week ago. I'm counting the seconds.
     
  7. DelsFan
    Thanks for the update; in the time between when I posted and now I've read a little about Digital Audio Streamers. $5K seems (seemed) like a lot, $4K sounds better. I think Cary audio and PS Audio make something in this price range too; the Cary (DMS-500) having some appeal to me because my old (Linn) CD player only has one digital out - BNC coax - and the Cary allows for a coaxial digital input. Alternatively, the Lumin has no coaxial input provision, but does offer an HDMI output; and I think and HDMI cable will function will up to 30' or more - allowing one to watch youtube or Netflix or Amazon Prime on their television, maybe in another room, with good picture and superior sound quality?

    HOWEVER, when you compare a Digital Audio Steamer to the separate components required to replace it, the $5K DAS (with DAC) calculates to be extremely reasonable.
    Streamer ($2000)
    Power cord for streamer ($200)
    USB cord ($150)
    USB conditioner ($650)
    USB cord to DAC ($150)
    Linear Power Supply ($900)
    Power cord for LPS ($200)
    DAC ($2000)

    $6200 compared to even $5000 plus a really good power cord and no more digital interconnects; hmmmm, seems $5300 is less than $6200, and the DAS is all in one box too.
    A little flexibility is lost, but surely sound quality should be improved by not having all those extra interconnects and devices in the chain.
    Your solution seems like a good one.


    I want to like/own a Lumin product just because for months I've been asking questions about how to stream without the audio signal going through one's computer; here is the only complete explanation I've ever seen:
    http://www.luminmusic.com/quickstart.html
     
  8. thyname
    That’s exactly right! Your math is 100% correct.

    However, that’s on my speakers setup. On my headphones, I still have the “spaghetti “ solution, as you can see from my signature, along with several expensive cables from Wireworld and XLO
     

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