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Audiolab MDAC


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Anyone had a chance to hear the Audiolab MDAC? on paper it looks very promising. WhatHiFi gave it an amazing review. For the price, seems too good to be true :)

Wonder how it compares to the Weiss's and Ayre??

 

Roon  |  Metrum Acoustics Ambre Streamer & Onyx NOS DAC  |  Nakamichi BX-300  |  Technics SL-1210GAE & Ortofon 2M Black  |  Yamaha T-7

McIntosh MA352  |  JBL L82 Classic  |  Inakustik Interconnects & Speaker Cabling  |  IsoTek Power Management

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With respect to Audiolab; I think it's more a competitor to Arcam rDAC and Musical Fidelity M1 DAC than trying to beat Ayre and Weiss...

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I've got one on pre-order, and hope I made the "cut" before the initial shipment sellout. As for the 96 kHz limit with USB, John Westlake says they spec'd it conservatively. It does 192 via digital coax, which is how I plan on using it (with my Squeezebox Touch and Oppo BDP-95). John's candor in the Pink Fish Media forums "sold" me on trying one.

 

Squeezebox Touch/Benchmark DAC-1 and Oppo BDP-95 > Conrad-Johnson CT5 preamp and Premier 350 amp > ML Summits. Member of the Suncoast Audiophile Society.

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Hi sleepysurf - Using the Touch 192 via coax won't matter.

 

From my review: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Logitech-Squeezebox-Touch-Review

 

I was able to verify the following sample rates are completely bit transparent through the Logitech Squeezebox Touch.

 

16 bit / 44.1 kHz, 16 bit / 48 kHz, 16 bit / 88.2 kHz, 16 bit / 96 kHz

24 bit / 44.1 kHz, 24 bit / 48 kHz, 24 bit / 88.2 kHz, 24 bit / 96 kHz

 

When sample rates above 24/96 are passed through the Touch they are halved by the unit. 176.4 kHz material is output at 88.2 kHz and 192 kHz material is output at 96 kHz.

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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Correct Chris, hence the Oppo BDP-95 for streaming higher res (via DVD or DLNA). Will be interesting to compare the Oppo vs. M-DAC, as both utilize the same Sabre 9018 chipset. I'm hoping the custom filters of the M-DAC, along with it's Class A analog output will be even more "musical" than the Oppo.

 

Squeezebox Touch/Benchmark DAC-1 and Oppo BDP-95 > Conrad-Johnson CT5 preamp and Premier 350 amp > ML Summits. Member of the Suncoast Audiophile Society.

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Please ignore what i wrote below... I read your post backwards...

 

According to Audiolab's website the MDAC has a Class A output stage...

 

• High current, high linearity RCA single-ended & XLR true balanced with fully discrete J-FET CROSS* Class A output stages and built-in headphone amplifier

 

Where the MDAC may be limited is (AFAIK) it has an external wall wart PSU. Audiolab have also a 8200DQ DAC which has a larger case and inbuilt PSU (along with analogue capable preamp).

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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The Mdac doesn't use a wall wart, it actually uses a pretty damn hefty in line transformer to feed the internal rectification and smoothing stage. The transformer is as big a hunk of metal as you'll see in a dac, certainly it's twice the size and VA rating of the one inside my Weiss 202.

 

In fact the entire PSU section inside the Mdac is twice the size of what exists inside the Weiss, more low ESR smoothing caps, more diodes, more individual power rails, it's just more.

 

I'm fortunate enough to know John the designer and I actually have 'his' pre-production unit sat in my rack alongside my Weiss. Up until a week or two ago I also had the Young with an upgraded external PSU to compare the Mdac with.

 

The comment that the Mdac might be closer to the Arcam rdac than the Weiss is seriously wide of the mark, the Mdac is snapping at the heels of Weiss in terms of sound quality and in terms of functionality, interface and VFM simply wipes the floor with the Weiss at about 1/8 of the cost.

 

Compared to the Weiss the Mdac lacks a little in microdynamics, it's not quite as real sounding, but only marginally so, and it's a little darker sounding. But it loses very little to the Weiss and is a huge step up for the sub £500 usual suspects. I haven't heard the Ayre in my system but I did hear the Mdac and Young back to back and the Mdac was cleaner and less abrasive at the top end.

 

It's actually a very good dac, if you like the sound it makes then given the features there's nothing else at up to twice the price that I would consider serious competition. Of course there's no accounting for a preference for older multibit and NOS dacs so YMMV.

 

 

 

17\"MB-Pro-Weiss 202-Muse 200- NS 1000M

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This is what i thought after small reveiws, the specs, and seeing the insides of the new line of audiolab CD/DAC in-one players. I think it would be more comparable to the Weiss DAC2 and Ayre QB-9 than the arcam and MF dacs. The MDAC looks very special. it's an insanely good price from i see.

 

Roon  |  Metrum Acoustics Ambre Streamer & Onyx NOS DAC  |  Nakamichi BX-300  |  Technics SL-1210GAE & Ortofon 2M Black  |  Yamaha T-7

McIntosh MA352  |  JBL L82 Classic  |  Inakustik Interconnects & Speaker Cabling  |  IsoTek Power Management

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How does the MDAC sound compared to it's big brother? Or is the 8200 the same DAC with a pre added? How's the pre?

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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oooo yes, the 8200DQ DAC also seems promising, I didn't see that one. going by reviews of their 8200CDQ cd player, the 8200DQ DAC is the same? but without the cd transport. the CD transport has excellent reviews so far.

 

Roon  |  Metrum Acoustics Ambre Streamer & Onyx NOS DAC  |  Nakamichi BX-300  |  Technics SL-1210GAE & Ortofon 2M Black  |  Yamaha T-7

McIntosh MA352  |  JBL L82 Classic  |  Inakustik Interconnects & Speaker Cabling  |  IsoTek Power Management

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How can one spec 96K or 192K 'conservatively'?

 

As I said, JW talks a good talk.

 

Their stuff had a good reputation when it came out in the 1980's, but it has changed hands twice since then, was called 'TAG McLaren' for a while. and the original designers that were responsible for that reputation have had nothing to do with it for years. Now it is owned by a company that collects dead or dying audio brands like GM once collected car brands, and makes them all in the same factory. But again, I have read good reports on it.

 

Re price, we did that on another forum which got rather heated. We get one firm we never heard of suddenly springs onto the home audio market at very high prices so everyone starts to use it as some kind of 'reference'.

 

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I think it will be quite good. Looked at it briefly to replace my Cambridge Dacmagic, but the 96K USB limit puts me off. Although I don't have any 192K files yet, we are all likely to have them eventually. Also, if price does equate to performance, which I don't generally believe, it is not a big enough step for me to bother with.

 

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He Mark,

 

just my experience, but most hi-res stuff I have tried are totally boring and uninvolving.

I wouldn't rule out the dac for that reason (but that's me).

 

If you want to conduct a test with 'low-res' fantastic material, try this :

Album : The Edges of the World

Artist : Composer

Resolution : 24/44.1

 

Not really a hi-res stuff, right, but play this with Windows 7 sp1 and Jplay (very important) and I bet (hope) you will reconsider this.

 

IOW : 24/192 won't help if the music or the recording is crappy.

 

Cheers,

Elp

 

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Oops! I guess I was thinking about his comments re TOSlink being limited to 96 kHz. Here's what he actually said...

 

Are you referring to the MDAC? The optical does function to 192kHz, its just most optical sources and Cheap Plastic Fiber are so bad that its not a reliable connection - so rather then having to constantly field customer complaints that the MDAC’s Optical connection does not work at 192kHz (due to no fault of our own) - we have just rated them to 96kHz.

 

USB is limited due to the USB1.1 hardware Spec. Our hardware is designed using the TAS1020B which is a USB 1.1 device (A maxim of 12Mbps, which is just a tad too slow for 192kHz Audio Streaming).

 

Squeezebox Touch/Benchmark DAC-1 and Oppo BDP-95 > Conrad-Johnson CT5 preamp and Premier 350 amp > ML Summits. Member of the Suncoast Audiophile Society.

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I also have the M-DAC (black) on pre-order through Planet of Sound Distribution out of Canada. Been trying to minimize/simpify my system for a while. Feature-wise the MDAC was one of the few DACs I have found that fits the bill for me at a price that won't send my wife packing. Preamp w/ good volume control, balanced outputs, good jitter control, digital input switching, remote. I was lucky and got in on the first shipment which is supposed to go out around the first of the year. I'll let you know if the sound lives up to the hype. Many of the reviews filtering in on the pink fish media forum our quite positive.

 

cpalcott

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I agree, the small amount of genuine 96K stuff I have purchased, only out of curiosity, has not been impressive. There is a link on another thread to an article called 'The 'Emperors new Sampling Rate'. It is amusing that the researchers deliberately did not reveal the equipment used so they would not be subjected to the usual 'Your equipment is not good enough...' BS

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I'm one of the lucky few that actually have the MDAC in my system, and its been in use for a couple of months now, and I must say that all the hype is justified. I feed it coaxial SPDIF from a Linn DS. I use the variable output directly into an EAR890 power amp, and into ML Summits. Its a very revealing system. We are hearing things on albums we have never heard before, so the detail rendition is way better than before, and the overall sound quality is stunning. The total retail price of my system is now much lower than before, it takes up much less space and it sounds better. The only DAC I've heard that is more expensive than my MDAC is the Naim DAC, which, of course, needs a preamp and power supply as well. the MDAC is definitely better than the Naim DAC and NAC82 and 2x HICAP. Its also cheaper than 1 HICAP.

 

Jem

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which sounds excellent in my system. However, I found its async USB implementation is mediocre (Even just a V-Link to coaxial sounds way better than its USB input). Since MDAC is a standalone DAC, I would only expect it shall be better than 8200CD. With a good USB to SPDIF converter, I suspect it could be further improved. ESS DAC chips are really good, very detailed.

 

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