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Article: Review | Crane Song Solaris & Forssell MDAC-2a


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On 9/30/2020 at 4:44 PM, billg said:

After teaching modern politics I'd need 2 cats too.


Given my stress level these days, I could use a few dozen more.


On 10/1/2020 at 12:51 AM, bbosler said:

Yes sir, pro audio hardware is a wonderful sounding, often ignored  bargain in high end. Think about it,, the recordings you are listening to are created, mixed, mastered, using these devices. How can they make excellent sounding recordings if the hardware can't keep up. I've used various models over the past 10 years or so, switching more just to try something different than being displeased with any. Many (most?) pro audio interfaces have built in analog to digital too if you want to digitize your Vinyl. A few I can recommend in no particular order


Linx Hilo

Apogee Symphony

RME various models


and my current favorite.. Antelope Eclipse 384. Why


-inputs and outputs up to 384K over USB, 192K other digital ins/outs

-Accepts a 10 MHz reference clock

-has very high quality clocks built in, something Antelope is known for

-high quality relay controlled step attenuators for volume control on line level outputs so also a high quality preamp

-same volume configuration on dual headphone amps with a low enough output impedance (.3 ohms) and a few watts of power that will drive my horns directly = no power amp needed

-being a DIY guy .. it also has separate power supplies for digital and  analog that I replaced with high quality external linear DC supplies, but sounds great with stock supply.



This was an $8K unit when new but last years model so goes for around a third of that. A real bargain,,, no DSD if that is important to you , or convert to PCM in software like HQplayer






The Hilo will be an upcoming review!


7 hours ago, audiobomber said:

Thanks Josh, great review. Comparison with a well known favourite like the Yggdrasil is highly informative. Too bad you won't be able to do so in the future.


I looked at the Solaris when I was shopping for a DAC recently but I needed both XLR and RCA outputs. 


You should fix this sentence:

> Those horns also sound slightly deeper (yet flatter) on the Crane Song and slightly closer (yet more 3D) on the Solaris. 


Thank you. I just fixed that sentence. 


Getting rid of the Yggy was a tough call. I'm debating picking up one of the "GS" Yggys at some point, particularly if I can find a used one. I suspect the A1 analog stage with the updated A2 firmware might be the best sounding model. 

But there are logical and financial limits to DAC hoarding. Haha.

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16 hours ago, matthias said:


Thanks for the review.


The Solaris wrung more detail out of the recordings than the Yggy but lacked its slam. The Forssell was even smoother than the Yggy but didn’t have its front-to-back depth.


Sorry , but it is not clear to me in which points the Yggdrasil lacked in comparison to both. Can you please shed some more light on this?

And was your Yggdrasil equipped with Unison?




Hi Matt,


My Yggy had the Gen5 USB, though I often used it with various USB to SPDIF converters. 

The Yggy did front-to-back depth better than either DAC. Likewise with bass slam, though its edge over the Crane Song was relatively slight. However, I think both the Crane Song and Forssell out-resolved the Yggy, the former by a bigger margin. Being perhaps the most “analog”-like DAC I’ve heard, the Forssell is smoother than the Yggy. The Forssell also had a wider soundstage than the Yggy, though not by a lot. 

To be clear, each of those three DACs are excellent. I could be happy with any one of them as my only DAC. Comparing the Crane Song and Forssell to the Yggy was meant to convey just how good they are, in that I still preferred the Yggy to the previous DS DACs I reviewed. It wasn’t meant to be a criticism of the Yggdrasil. 

I’d never tell someone to throw out their Yggy in the expectation of the Crane Song or Forssell being a knockout upgrade. Differences between good DACs just aren’t that big. However, for someone shopping for a DAC, I’d advise checking out the Solaris and MDAC-2a, and I’d personally take either over the previous DACs I’ve reviewed here, such as the RME ADI-2 DAC, which I found to be substantially worse than either the Crane Song or Forssell.

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  • 1 month later...
10 hours ago, mForMusic said:

Hi @JoshM
Thanks for this very informative review. Did you compare the Solaris' own USB against SPDIF/AES via the Matrix or Mutec converter? Some people seem to hate the internal USB implementation while others actually prefer it over the other inputs. So I'm curious what your impression is.

I find the USB for the Solaris to be flat dynamically and slightly more “digital” than when the Solaris is fed through an external USB to SPDIF converter. Schiit’s now-defunct Eitr, which can often be had for around $100 used, sounds very good with the Solaris, IMHO. It gives it a somewhat rounder presentation without sacrificing detail. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/9/2020 at 6:41 PM, mav52 said:

Has anyone compared these dacs to the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2 with the Alpha USB.  I'm looking at adding the newer Yiggy or the Solaris or a used Berkeley.  I've heard the newer Yiggy but never heard a Solaris and Ive only heard the Berkeley Ref dac.,  All are nice sounding and meet my needs.

I’m actually working on a review comparing the Alpha to these two DACs!

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  • 1 year later...

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