Musical Fidelity X-DAC v3: First Impressions
Aug 8, 2007 at 2:13 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

Jay B

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I just got a brand new Musical Fidelity X-DAC v3 to add to my system. It feeds my X-CAN v3 headphone amp, which powers my HD 650's. The fact that the X-DAC is in the same case and style of my X-CAN is great. They look sexy together and that's important to me. I think to truly be happy with your gear, it has to look good too. The DAC replaced the analog output of my mid-grade USB sound card. It runs off the sound card's RCA SPDIF out. The following impressions are based on the DAC straight out of the box, without any burn-in time.

So how does it sound? Much better than my sound card! This is no surprise, because it costs much more, but how much better?

Well the first and most obvious difference is the volume. I don't have to turn my amp up as high. This probably provides for the biggest improvement because when the sound is louder, it follows that it is clearer and more detailed/defined, as is the case here. There is definitely more clarity and detail.

The next thing I noticed is that the trebles hit harder, louder, and are more defined. This provides a great synergy with my 650's since they are quite warm and the trebles are rolled off. So a big plus there. These two differences alone made it worth the money for sure. Which was $1000 CAD btw.

Another great improvement is that the music is much more engaging. You 'feel' the music, as opposed to just hearing it. The best way I can describe it is that it makes you want to close your eyes and become immersed in the music.

Soundstaging. This topic seems to be talked about a lot on Head-Fi, so I think I'm obligated to mention it. I noticed a slight improvement, but nothing as major as the other differences I've already mentioned. The difference definitely isn't as big as when I switch between my HD 280's and HD 650's. But that's not a fair comparison because that is quite a large difference. I would say the soundstage is better, but not wider.

So, I'm quite happy with the purchase and it's not even burned in. That's the type of purchases you want to make. This is my first DAC, so unfortunately I have nothing to compare it against, but I can tell you that an external DAC would definitely be a great upgrade from a sound card analog out.
 
Aug 8, 2007 at 2:17 AM Post #2 of 11

NoPants

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you should definitely upgrade the psu, I wasn't a believer at first, but it really tightens up the bass and creates a better sense of air (when air is present)
 
Aug 8, 2007 at 2:35 AM Post #3 of 11

Jay B

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Quote:

Originally Posted by NoPants /img/forum/go_quote.gif
you should definitely upgrade the psu, I wasn't a believer at first, but it really tightens up the bass and creates a better sense of air (when air is present)


Already on order
eggosmile.gif
. Thanks for the tip because I was kind of weary about the purchase. It's good to know that it does make a difference. And now that's two people that have told me that it tightens the bass, which is a big plus for me because I listen to trance which has plenty of bass
tongue.gif
.

What do you mean by 'air'? Could you elaborate a little.
 
Aug 8, 2007 at 3:12 AM Post #4 of 11

Sinwerm

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If your looking for a little "boost" for even more bang for the buck than check out Pink Floyds site if you have not as of yet. It has all things Music Fidelity. A custom made PSU should be available. I have an X-Can V2 with just about all of the mods and it sounds fantastic give it a look. http://www.rock-grotto.co.uk/xcanpropage.htm
 
Aug 8, 2007 at 8:25 AM Post #5 of 11

NoPants

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by air I mean there's a greater sense of soundstage, like music is more accurately placed and there's the notion that it's travelling through space. I think it might be just something with the DAC being "properly" powered, so the clarity shoots through the roof.
 
Aug 9, 2007 at 3:04 PM Post #6 of 11

sejarzo

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I still would like to see some reasonable explanation as to why the X-PSU should do anything at all to improve the sound of the X-series components, because all it contains is a larger AC toriodal transformer.

All of the rectification and regulation of the AC to DC will still be done by the exact same components that are inside each individual X-series component.

Unless the wallwarts that MF supplies are really crappy, there should be no difference. As long as they can put out the wattage required by the downstream component, though, there would be no advantage to using the X-PSU.
 
Aug 10, 2007 at 7:35 AM Post #7 of 11

kool bubba ice

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Jay B /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Already on order
eggosmile.gif
. Thanks for the tip because I was kind of weary about the purchase. It's good to know that it does make a difference. And now that's two people that have told me that it tightens the bass, which is a big plus for me because I listen to trance which has plenty of bass
tongue.gif
.

What do you mean by 'air'? Could you elaborate a little.



The PSU should be mandatory.. Really takes the performance up a notch or two.. The walwart is a huge bottle neck..
 
Aug 10, 2007 at 7:40 AM Post #8 of 11

kool bubba ice

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sejarzo /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I still would like to see some reasonable explanation as to why the X-PSU should do anything at all to improve the sound of the X-series components, because all it contains is a larger AC toriodal transformer.

All of the rectification and regulation of the AC to DC will still be done by the exact same components that are inside each individual X-series component.

Unless the wallwarts that MF supplies are really crappy, there should be no difference. As long as they can put out the wattage required by the downstream component, though, there would be no advantage to using the X-PSU.



Have you compared the two? Or are you just assuming?
 
Aug 10, 2007 at 1:17 PM Post #9 of 11

sejarzo

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It is a theoretical question, not based on personal listening tests....but one that has also been raised by several people who design power supplies for high end amps.

I'm an engineer, so I analyze everything from that viewpoint--if there is a meaningful difference, it must be due to a real and identifiable reason.

And the overwhelming (some designers would go so far to say "virtually only") difference in the quality of power supplies is in the rectification and regulation portion of the PSU.......and using the X-PSU does nothing to change that aspect.

Please note that I stated that if the wall warts are really terrible, then there could be some difference in using the X-PSU. But it begs the question........why wouldn't MF simply supply slightly beefier wall warts?

And I hate to be blunt about it, but MF's claims for the unit on their web site now include a signficant misstatement of what the unit does. Under the "Features and Benefits" here:

http://www.musicalfidelity.com/produ...suv3_feat.html

this claim is made:

"Excellent regulation.........Better sound quality."

But look at the picture that mrarroyo posts here:

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showpo...94&postcount=6

The unit contains a toroidal transformer, a terminal strip to connect the leads from the mains input to the inputs to the transformer, and a PCB that connects the output windings to the output jacks and what appears to be just a dropping resistor and maybe a diode to power the front panel LED.

The evidence is plain to see......there is no regulation in the unit!

So their claim as to why the sound quality is better is, frankly, bogus.

That's not to say there is no difference.......just that their representation of why it is better is clearly an, umm........lie.
 
Jan 29, 2011 at 1:49 PM Post #11 of 11

jsturess

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Quote:
Has anyone ever gotten a chance to compare the X-PSU and Pinkie PSU, in particular, with the X-Dac V3?

 
I wonder the same?

 
 

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