First, a little recap of where we are and how we got here. During my review of the McIntosh D1100, I ran into some issues with the USB interface. I documented these issues in Part One of the review. At the time of publication, McIntosh told me it had resolved all the issues with a hardware update released after the D1100 was shipped to me for review. Unfortunately, I discovered these issues during some last minute testing and I had a publishing deadline to meet. I had to go forward with the review, warts and all. Shortly after publication, I sent the D1100 back to McIntosh for the update. I received the unit back here on Friday August 25, 2017 and have been testing it extensively this week.
After extensive testing with the updated McIntosh D1100, I am very pleased with results. All of the instability with the Windows operating system and playback applications has been resolved. I wish I would have found the initial USB issues earlier and had the D1100 updated before the review but, it wasn't meant to be.
This week, I sent the updated D1100 right into the fire. I followed the same testing procedure that previously produced all the issues. I figured, why beat around the bush rather than try to break it right away. I connected the D1100 to my MacBook Pro running Windows 10 and opened JRiver Media Center 23. No issues. I played PCM audio up through 24/352.8. No issues. I switched to DSD, up through DSD256. No issues. I disconnected the D1100, reconnect it, restarted it, restarted my laptop, and tried to get the unit to make my laptop freak out. I couldn't do it. Period.
That was my main gripe with the D1100. It caused my laptop to freeze and give me the blue screen of death. The update to the D1100 has resolved all of those issues, without any negative side effects. Sound quality through the USB input is identical. I should also mention that HQPlayer upsampling any audio to DSD256 or 24/352.8, works flawless and sounds fantastic. Roon users will want to know that Roon has issues playing DSD256 to the D1100. I couldn't reproduce these issues with any other software. Playing DSD256 through Roon, the audio is very distorted and played in slow motion. I adjusted all the settings, but had no luck getting Roon to function like all the other applications at my disposal.
I think McIntosh deserves much credit for accepting that there was an issue with the D1100 and resolving it very quickly. Unfortunately many manufacturers are stuck on denying there's a problem or don't have the wherewithal to implement a solution. HiFi, with parts that are more computer than traditional audio, can be vastly different for manufacturers. Companies like Apple and Microsoft have been dealing with these issues for decades and still have plenty of problems. It isn't rocket science, but it isn't as simple as the old days of setting a CD in the drawer and pressing play. The number of hardware and software combinations that HiFi components must now work with, is exponentially greater than in the past.
Again, thanks to McIntosh for realizing there was an issue, and not telling its customers to use macOS or a Linux music server or some other "solution." That would've been like telling someone to stop driving if they want to avoid a car accident. It sounds funny, but it's what many manufacturers do now days. We've all experienced the hassle of a manufacturer pushing blame onto the customer or another manufacturer. It's no fun and shouldn't be a part of high end audio. Thankfully McIntosh continues to live up to its reputation as an American Classic with great service.
Before concluding Part Two of this review, I'd like to remind readers of what I said about the D1100 in my conclusion to Part One:
"Listening to my favorite music through the McIntosh D1100 digital preamplifier / DAC for the last several weeks has been wonderful. McIntosh as a company is an American classic. The D1100 as its reference digital component is also a classic in another sense. Its fit and finish are pure McIntosh through and through. Blue meters and illuminated green lettering are an unmistakable combination that hundreds of high end companies would die for and music lovers from all over the world enjoy on a nightly basis.
The sound quality of a wide range of music played through the D1100 was rich, vibrant and lush, yet incredibly detailed given the right recording. My favorite rock and roll was reproduced in all its grungy glory, with power and fullness. At the same time, more traditional audiophile recordings, played through the McIntosh D1100 DAC, still displayed extreme detail and provided x-ray like information about each performance.
I recommend the McIntosh D1100 very highly, as it deserves all the praise it will receive in the coming months and years."
These statements are as true as ever, especially since the USB issue has been resolved. I'm happy to place the McIntosh D1100 Digital Preamplifier DAC on the Computer Audiophile Suggested Hardware (CASH) List.
- Product - McIntosh Labs D1100 Digital Preamplifier / DAC
- Price - $7,000
- Product Page - D1100
- Owners Manual - PDF Link (4.9 MB)
Where To Buy (CA Supporter):
- Source: Roon ROCK, MacBook Pro Running Roon, JRiver (Windows 10 and macOS Sierra)
- DAC: Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2
- D-to-D Converter: Sonore microRendu, Sonore Sonicorbiter SE, dCS Network Bridge, Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB
- Amplifiers: Constellation Audio Mono 1.0 / Monoblock Power Amplifiers
- Preamplifier: Constellation Audio PreAmp 1.0
- Loudspeakers: TAD Labs CR1 Compact Reference
- Remote Control Software: Roon Remote
- Remote Control Hardware: iPad Air 2
- Playback Software: Roon, JRiver
- Network Attached Storage (NAS): Synology DS1812+, CAPS v4 Cortes Server
- Audio Cables: Wire World Platinum Eclipse 7 Interconnects (XLR & RCA), Wire World Platinum Eclipse 7 Speaker Cables, Wire World Platinum Starlight 7 Digital Cables,
- USB Cables: Wire World Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0, AudioQuest Diamond USB 2.0, Nordost Purple Flare USB 2.0
- Power Cables: ALO Audio AC6 Power Cables
- Ethernet Cables: AudioQuest Vodka, Wire World Starlight and Chroma
- Network: Cisco SG200-26 Switch, Baaske MI-1005 Ethernet Isolator, ASUS RT-AC3200, Calix 716GE-I Optical Network Terminal, ZyXEL C1100Z modem / router, CenturyLink 1 Gbps download / upload