Musical Paradise M2-D2 AK4490 Balanced Dac Reviews?

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by stuart1927, Mar 22, 2016.
  1. john8105
    Hi Guys

    Im about to push the trigger and buy the MA2 but I wanted some advice on which upgrade would make the most improvement to the sound quality.
    I can only afford to make one upgrade at the moment so which one should it be?
    I was thinking of choosing to upgrade the DAC to the ES9038PRO as this is the heart of the DAC and surely would make the biggest improvement.

    So to make it easier I have gone through all of the posts and picked out the upgrades that most of you have made. So which one would you pick if you could only make one upgrade? And if you decide the biggest sonic improvement is delivered through the rectifier, then which rectifier would you pick?

    The list below seems to be the common upgrades that have been made:


    Tubes
    NOS Amperex 6DJ8 orange globe A frames
    iFi NOS6922 (5670 with attached adapter
    6np1-ev
    Reflektor 6h23p silver shield 75's
    Sovtek 6H30Pi ***
    6h30Pi (Electroharmonix ARC
    WE 422a
    EH 6H30's
    telefunken e88cc
    Shuguang GZ34
    gold lion e88cc
    Radiotechnique 12au7's
    Amperex Bugle Boys

    Caps
    Mundorf GSO 2,2uf
    Mundorf S/O's
    Russian KBG PIO
    0.47 x 2 (630v) Clarity MR
    1uf 630V Jenzen Copper foil (PIO) Copper tube capacitor
    Jupiter copper

    Rectifier
    Psvane WE 274B **
    Brimar 5Z4G
    Sovtek 5AR4
    Bendix 6106
    RCA 5U4G
    Electric 422A
    USAF 596
    USAF 360
    NOS bugle boy rectifier
    RCA 5R4GY
    JAN Syvanlia 6x5gt
    Fivre 5R4
    RCA 5Y3GT

    DAC
    4497
    4990
    ES9038PRO

    Does anyone have a view on what is the best combination of Tube, DAC, Rectifier and Capacitor?

    The system I have is Audio Note AN-E speakers and Audio Note OTO SE Signature amp. The source will be a dedicated music server. I will be playing a selection of DSD and flac files.
     
  2. akltam
    I only speak for my experience and YMMV.

    For the DAC, I only tried out the ES9038pro (as this is the hottest chip in the market right now). According to Gary, AK4497 is good for violin type music, female vocals. ES9038pro is getter better on classical music, rock. I treated this least concern and I just get the most expensive one.

    Output tubes. This is a main player. I have Mullard E88cc, Valvo188CC. But immediate you feel it is better than the stock. Comparing the E88CC/6dj8 to the 12V tube like the 12au7, 12bh7, E88cc family tube sound more lively where as the 12AU7 family is general and not as sharp as E88CC in the treble area. Also the E88CC family tube has a higher gain than the 12AU7 family. In the first listening you will feel immediately E88CC outperform the 12AU7. But if you find E88CC too forward, you can revert back to 12AU7.

    Output capacitor. This is just as important as the output tubes. The Russian KBG is no good. It cannot even out perform the stock cap. For the Clarity Cap, I suggest you can get the CMR which is an upgrade version of the MR. As the name imply, the MR make the music so clear. CMR 2.2uf 630V is about 60 dollars earch. The Jenzen copper tube copper foil is a good one. Music is presented warmly and openly. A step above the MR that I tried. It is very musically. Soundstage is wide and deep. This is about USD 120 a peice. (for a 1uf 630V)

    Rectifier tube. I found the rolling this rectifer tube give me more subtle changes. They are there but you need to pay attention to find it. One important thing is any NOS rectifier tube will outperform the stock Chinese tube. As I start, just spend 50 dollars to get a NOS tube from ebay and you can use that as a starting point.
     
  3. gkr7007
    John 8105
    There is a good and a bad about having such a plug and play unit like the MP3. It can be a dream and a nightmare with all the possibilities of tube rolling, cap changing, and chip choice.
    My suggestion is to change out the stock tubes first and take a listen. I wouldn't give you a nickel for the chinese tubes, remakes or not. And the Russian stuff doesn't float my boat either. As a matter of fact there is only one factory that is making the various models of 6H30's and they are fair at best for longevity and clarity. The getters are cheap and the wiring is not much better. I've seen them come new out of the box with 10 to 20% of recommended readings. Regardless of the chip you choose, I happen to like the 4497 instead of the 9038. It has a smoothness that is to my liking and it takes the edge that I hear on digital. But like everyone says, its all system dependent and what your own tastes are. Some folks just say go with the most expensive. I say go with what you like best. Most money isn't always the "best". Hell, if it was you wouldn't own the MP to start with. It just happens to be a great buy. You're going to find that each change will alter the unit, yes including caps. I changed out the output tubes first along with the rectifier. I simply tried a couple NOS Mullards and RCA / Sylvanias. They certainly added a nice dimension over the stock Chinese rectifier. I ended up with a combo of telefunken e88cc outputs and a rather inexpensive RCA rectifier from 1958. After that I tried a few cap changes and just kept going back to the stock caps. Some caps were ear piercing bright, and others put a veil on the music. Again, I tried very expensive mundorfs and others, including jupitor, let them cook a while, but I ended up going to the stock obliggatto gold with the Russian TP cans as a bypass cap hooked in parallel. It was what I enjoyed the most. Expensive doesn't mean better, although you may like some of the more expensive stuff. If you have a pocketful of money to burn you can try a thousand combinations. But for me I settled on what I have. I will say that the change of power cord and fuse was a nice obvious and immediate change that gave the music a nice sparkle on the top end and great bass slam. I literally had to turn my sub down by half after this mod. Anyway, all the best to you and happy hunting.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
    djd17 likes this.
  4. aneep


    Here's a combo based on my experience -
    WE422 rectifier
    6h23n 1975 silver shields
    Audio magic fuse
    Dueland or Audyn caps
    Less Loss power cord

    Cheers
     
  5. djd17
    For me I've settled on :

    Ak 4497
    shanguang WE 274B or psvane { still dont know who makes what for whom just that 200 $ difference in price and the Shaggy blowes away the Nos Mullard bugle boy!
    Clarity CMR caps { not willing to drop $300 bucks each on Dueland caps } sorry .
    Telefunken E88cc
    upgraded Powercord .

    Hey Aneep : what size of fuse does one need to order from Audiomagic ?, and what series of theirs do you have ? Not that i need more bass response!

    Thanks in advance
     
  6. gkr7007
    Hey djd,
    Bugle Boys are Amperex, not Mullard so not sure which one you mean that got blown away. And Shuguang makes the PSVane tube. PS will tell you it's a remake of a NOS tube but it is simply a branded Shuguang.
    As for the AK4497, I LOVE that chip with the "velvet filters". To me that's the top line piece right now, but those two companies are really stepping up the competition for DAC chips right now.
    Problem with that is they come out with a new and improved every 6 to 8 months or so.
     
  7. aneep

    Heres the thing about the fuse. I have heard the audio magic at a friends but didnt have the budget to go for it at the time. So I got a bunch of schurters and got them cryoed. Work just fine in my system. I use a 5 amp fuse but wont recommend that.
    I think you mean the Mullard metal base.
    Audyn copper max is an excellent cap for the money. Goes for the same money as the mundorf but is extremely neutral with a natural tone.
     
  8. aneep
    Hey gkr7007 - they may be the same company but Psvane is the premium brand. I have both 274b's and the Psvane We274b replica is way better in every way.
     
  9. djd17
    Im comparing the rectifer tube shuggy we replica to the matsusta mullard tooled gz34 .Shuggy blows it away .
    OK so now your telling me the psvane we 274 b blows awaythe shuggy replica.. So it's the battle of the replicas!
    OK so for 300 bucks I'm going to be amazed ? And yet another fine hobbiest says the rectifer tube changes offered up subtle changes .
    Don't we just love this hobby!
    In the end I just should have bought a more expense dac . Lmao
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
  10. Dave 868
    Some of the Audin capacitors used in the DAC ? Because of the large size of 2.2 uF is unlikely to fit .
     
  11. aneep
    I use Jupiter caps which are pretty big but fit. I think Audyn should fit.
     
  12. aneep
    Perhaps. But like you say, to each his own in this hobby. To me the advantage of a dac like the MP D2 is the customizability, not to mention that this is a fantastic value for the money.
     
  13. m-i-c-k-e-y
    Have anybody compared to other top DACs like Yggdrasil, Holo Spring, Benchmarks, Myteks etc. etc.?

    Because MP-D2 Mk2 + upgrades will lead me to R2R 7 / Holo Spring Level 3 / Denafrips Venus category...
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017
  14. akltam
    I want to talk about the USB XMOS input interface of the MP-D2 Mk II. Here is only my experience and YMMV.

    The USB XMOS input of the MP-D2 is my primary input that I use. I use a normal PC running Win7 using Foobar using the XMOS Windows driver. I have an Intona USB adaptor in between the PC and the MP-D2.

    In my previous DAC (DIY nature), I have used XMOS and Amanero USB interface. I have also tweaked these standalone interface card such as adding power supply capacitors or separate feed power to the USB interface card. And somehow I am not satisfied with the sound quality from these USB interface.

    When I look at the USB XMOS interface of the MP-D2, it is much bigger in size compare to the Amanero user interace card. (4x as big). The extra space goes to a number of voltage regulators that I seen on the board. (This is a very good sign). Also I found that this user interface is completely powered by its own power supply without using any dirty power from the PC.

    After using the MP-D2 MkII for the last 4 weeks, I am indeed satisfied by the performance of this USB interface. It provided a very musical listening experience unlike other standalone USB interface I have used.

    The only issue I have with this USB interface is that, when using the supplied Windows driver, it does not support 384KHz sampling. (Apple and Linux with native UAC2 driver does support 384KHz). Window does not have UAC2 native driver until the latest Win 10 version. So I use another Laptop with the latest Win 10 using the native UAC2 driver and it plays 384KHz without problem.

    I am thinking to get the MP-Berry with linear power supply. If any user has used the MP-Berry, please let us know your experience on it.

    Alan
     
  15. motberg
    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the USB XMOS comments, this is good news... I am very interested in this DAC (I have a bunch of nice 6922's already) but still on the fence, especially since with the caps and rectifier rolling cost this will be a substantial investment.
    I cannot help with you MP-Berry question, but can comment that I am also using an Intona and in my system it was greatly improved by following the Intona with a W4S Recovery reclocker.
    If you have not tried this and want to test with a Recovery - send me a PM, I have an extra one here I can send you if you like to try..
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017

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