• Musical Fidelity M1DAC, M1HPA, and V-Link Async USB Converter Review

    The year was 2005. I had just sold my first "real" audio system as I moved into an apartment before beginning law school. My Nelson Pass designed Adcom GFP-750, GFA-5802 and GCD-750 and B&W Nautilus 802 loudspeakers were of little use to me with neighbors inches away on all sides. Needing to scratch the audiophile itch I purchased a Lexicon RT-10 universal disc player, Musical Fidelity X-CAN v3 and X-PSU v3, Sennheiser HD600s, and Grado RS-1 headphones. This small relatively inexpensive system was my first introduction to United Kingdom based Musical Fidelity. I enjoyed the whole system tremendously until I replaced it with a MacBook Pro and Benchmark DAC1 USB a couple years later. Near the end of 2010 the new Musical Fidelity North American distributor reintroduced me to the brand and sent the M1DAC, M1HPA, and V-Link here for review. These two M Series components combined with the V-Link asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter are far better than my original X-v3 Series system and in the same league as the one-piece powerhouses from Benchmark, Grace Design, and Lavry Engineering. A great feature of the Musical Fidelity system, that none of the aforementioned single units offer, is its modular approach separating the DAC, headphone pre/amplifier, and the asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter. This flexibility combined with very good sound at a reasonable price should place these components on many reader's audition lists.



     





    The Pieces



    A. M1DAC Digital to Analog Converter (MSRP $699)

    Digital to analog conversion is nothing new to Musical Fidelity. The company has been designing and manufacturing DACs for 23 years. The new M1DAC is the newest member of the Musical Fidelity family. The ˝ width M1DAC chassis has a plethora of digital inputs plus both balanced XLR and single ended RCA analog outputs. As every Computer Audiophile reader knows these features alone have nothing to do with sound quality but are a good start to a versatile system. The digital inputs consists of AES/EBU (XLR), electrical S/PDIF (Coaxial RCA), optical S/PDIF (TosLink), and USB. Sample rate support on these inputs is not equivalent across the board. The TosLink S/PDIF input supports music from 16 bit / 32 kHz up through 24 bit / 96 kHz while the built-in Adaptive USB input only supports 16 bit music from 32 kHz to 48 kHz. A nice feature of this USB input is its ability to support audio coming from an iPad using the iPad's camera connector kit and a USB cable. Audio input via AES/EBU and Coaxial S/PDIF is supported at all sample rates from 16 bit / 32 kHz through 24 bit / 192 kHz. Astute readers will notice the M1DAC does not have a 176.4 kHz indicator on the front panel. In the Usage Notes section below there are more details about 24/176.4 playback through the M1DAC. This sample rate support talk gives rise to the question of what "support" for a sample rate actually means, especially when the M1DAC upsamples all incoming audio to 24/192. In this case "support" means the DAC will lock on to the incoming digital signal, upsample it to 24/192 (ASRC), and convert it to an audible analog signal. Support for all relevant resolutions is very nice when using a playlist that contains music from 16/44.1 to 24/192. Without high frequency support the music simply stops. Using the M1DAC all playlists roll right on through from start to finish. Upsampling in the M1DAC is carried out through Asynchronous Sample Rate Conversion (ASRC). This is not the same as asynchronous USB transfer mode that is supported by the Musical Fidelity V-Link. Musical Fidelity's Antony Michaelson is a strong believer in ASRC and has done a very nice job of implementing this on the M1DAC.



    The front panel of the M1DAC has a nice incoming sample rate indicator. One beauty of this indicator is it enables the user to identify if his computer is outputting the sample rate of the music he is playing. This may sound trivial, but a massive number of audiophiles are sending their music through software sample rate conversion accidentally. Without an incoming sample rate indicator these users have no clue if something is amiss before the audio even leaves their computers. A sample rate indicator is certainly not a guarantee that one's music is entering the DAC bit transparently. Rather it's a step in the right direction that can identify at least one of the known issues associated with computer playback.



    Powering the M1DAC is a high quality linear power supply with choke filtration on the input. This conditions the signal and increases overall performance. The M1DAC houses an IEC 60320 C14 male power inlet that accepts an IEC 60320 C13 female connector (example)link. In other words the M1DAC uses a regular detachable power cable that can interchanged with any number of high-end or low-end cables should the user so chose.



    USB Input on M1DAC
    Audio Class Specific Audio Data Format
    Audio Stream Format Type Desc.

    • Format Type: 1 PCM

    • Number Of Channels: 2 STEREO

    • Sub Frame Size: 2

    • Bit Resolution: 16

    • Sample Frequency Type: 0x03 (Discrete)

    • Sample Frequency: 32000 Hz

    • Sample Frequency: 44100 Hz

    • Sample Frequency: 48000 Hz

    • Endpoint 0x02 - Isochronous Output
    • Address: 0x02 (OUT)

    • Attributes: 0x09 (Isochronous adaptive data endpoint)

    • Max Packet Size: 192

    • Polling Interval: 1 ms


     




             
     



     



    B. M1HPA Headphone Amplifier (MSRP $799)



    The new M1HPA pure Class A headphone amplifier from Musical Fidelity is sophisticatedly simple and understated. The M1HPA resides in the same ˝ width sized chassis as the M1DAC. The unit is more than a headphone amplifier but not a jack of all trades / master of none. First let me get one gripe out of the way. The M1HPA has an Adaptive USB input identical to the M1DAC. This input on both units is equally underwhelming in terms of performance. Using the V-Link or a different input on the M1DAC solves this issue entirely.



    Readers who attended CES this month in Las Vegas may have seen the Musical Fidelity pure Class A AMS100link stereo amplifier paired with the Verity Audio Lohengrin II loudspeakers. This amp is a monster that sounds as good as it looks. In an adjacent room five steps away Musical Fidelity displayed the M1HPA and M1DAC with V-Link. The two systems couldn't appear more antithetical in size, cost, and performance. Fortunately size and cost are not directly proportional to performance. The 7.5 lbs. M1HPA headphone amp contains the same pure Class A technology that's in the 240 lbs. AMS100 stereo amp. The performance benefit of this pure Class A circuitry is terrific whether connected to $80,000 loudspeakers or my pair of Sennheiser HD600 headphones. The often overlooked output impedance of the M1HPA is below a single ohm. This allows the unit to drive nearly any headphone with excellent linearity and low distortion. According to Musical Fidelity a majority of headphone amplifiers have a much higher output impedance subjecting them to less linearity and greater distortion.



    In addition to the headphone amplifier capability the M1HPA can operate as a very nice preamplifier. Sophisticated simplicity repeatedly comes to mind when using this unit. A single pair of RCA analog line in, line out, and pre outs contributes to the understated look of the M1HPA. Readers should not let this lack of input options fool them into thinking this unit isn't capable of high performance. More inputs can equal more issues. Many computer audiophiles only have one analog source anyway and that's the analog feed from a DAC. In addition to using the headphone amp on the M1HPA I setup the unit as the preamp in my main system. I connected the dCS Debussy analog output to the analog input of the M1HPA and the M1HPA's pre out to my McIntosh MC275 amplifier. The M1HPA fit in this system wonderfully without adding easily audible coloration. My only wish was for a remote volume control. I also use the complete Musical Fidelity system, M1DAC, M1HPA, and V-Link, paired with my amplifier and loudspeakers with much success. Well design, high performing components don't have to cost an arm and a leg. Musical Fidelity's M Series with V-Link is one great example.



    USB Input on M1HPA
    Audio Stream Format Type Desc.

    • Format Type: 1 PCM

    • Number Of Channels: 2 STEREO

    • Sub Frame Size: 2

    • Bit Resolution: 16

    • Sample Frequency Type: 0x03 (Discrete)

    • Sample Frequency: 32000 Hz

    • Sample Frequency: 44100 Hz

    • Sample Frequency: 48000 Hz

    • Endpoint 0x02 - Isochronous Output
    • Address: 0x02 (OUT)

    • Attributes: 0x09 (Isochronous adaptive data endpoint)

    • Max Packet Size: 192

    • Polling Interval: 1 ms


     




           
     



     



    C. V-Link Asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter (MSRP $169)

    Musical Fidelity's new V-Link asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter is the newest product in the V Series lineup. I've long been a fan of MF's small size, small price, large performance products and the V-Link is no exception. In fact it's my favorite small component Musical Fidelity has ever made. The V-Link is designed to connect a computer with an available USB port to a digital to analog converter with an available electrical Coaxial S/PDIF or optical TosLink input. The unit is then powered by the computer's USB interface. There are other products on the market that transfer music from a USB port to an S/PDIF port but the pool of devices that use asynchronous USB transfer mode, support up through 24 bit / 96 kHz high resolution music, don't require additional software installation, and cost as little as $169 is currently very small.



    The V-Link asynchronous design is based on the TAS1020B USB controller. This in-house, ground-up converter design and specific async USB implementation are exclusive to Musical Fidelity. The V-Link was designed with a high precision clock that sits nearly on top of the critical internal components. Two fixed oscillators, one for rates based on 44.1 kHz and the other for rates based on 48 kHz is also the hallmark of a smart design. MF set its sights on designing this converter "right" and hit its target dead center. The V-Link requires absolutely no manual software or device driver installation. This is a big deal. No matter how often manufacturers suggest that software installation isn't an issue, they never seem to provide evidence supporting that claim. A few minutes spent browsing the Computer Audiophile forum should provide enough information to the contrary. Every audio device I know of that requires software installation to function has had issues with that software. Period. I'll even provide evidence so readers can check for themselves. Simply browse the websites of any manufacturer that offers a product requiring software/device drivers. Look for the software download section or for information about obtaining this software. Take note of how many updates there have been to each software package. There is a reason for new software versions beyond 1.0. If something isn't broke don't fix it. If something is broke …



    In previous product reviews and forum comments I've discussed the importance of galvanic isolation[1] between the computer and audio system. Without this isolation audio systems are prone to significant amounts of electrical garbage flowing from a commodity powered computer. Galvanic isolation is not a 100% must have feature of a converter, but purchasing a unit without this may be problematic in some systems. The new V-Link is somewhat "ambidextrous" when it comes to isolation from a computer. The electrical Coaxial S/PDIF output is not isolated and the optical TosLink S/PDIF output is isolated by the nature of the optical connection. Like the Creepy Kinglink says, "Have it your way." Isolated or not each user can identify the connection type that works best in his system.

    USB Input on V-Link
    Audio Class Specific Audio Data Format
    Audio Stream Format Type Desc.

    • Format Type: 1 PCM

    • Number Of Channels: 2 STEREO

    • Sub Frame Size: 3

    • Bit Resolution: 24

    • Sample Frequency Type: 0x05 (Discrete)

    • Sample Frequency: 32000 Hz

    • Sample Frequency: 44100 Hz

    • Sample Frequency: 48000 Hz

    • Sample Frequency: 88200 Hz

    • Sample Frequency: 96000 Hz

    • Endpoint 0x01 - Isochronous Output
    • Address: 0x01 (OUT)

    • Attributes: 0x05 (Isochronous asynchronous data endpoint)

    • Max Packet Size: 582

    • Polling Interval: 1 ms


     



    1. Galvanic isolation is the principle of isolating functional sections of electrical systems preventing the moving of charge-carrying particles from one section to another, i.e. there is no electric current flowing directly from one section to the next. Energy and/or information can still be exchanged between the sections by other means, e.g. capacitance, induction, electromagnetic waves, optical, acoustic, or mechanical means. Galvanic isolation is used in situations where two or more electric circuits must communicate, but their grounds may be at different potentials. It is an effective method of breaking ground loops by preventing unwanted current from traveling between two units sharing a ground conductor. Galvanic isolation is also used for safety considerations, preventing accidental current from reaching the ground (the building floor) through a person's body.
    Source - Wikipedialink



     



    Usage Notes and Sound Quality

    Most of the review period I used a pair of Sennheiser HD600 headphones connected to the M1HPA. The V-Link connected my computer to the M1DAC which connected to the M1HPA via single ended Kimber Select RCA cables. This combination proved really resolving and pleasurable when listening over long periods. Music servers used were 1) MacBook Pro (5,5) running OS X 10.6.6 and Amarra 2.1.1 and 2) MacBook Pro (5,5) running Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-bit and J River 15. All music was stored locally on an OCZ Vertex Turbo Solid State Drive (SSD). I used a single AudioQuest Diamond USB cable throughout the entire review period. Using OS X and Amarra 2.1.1 I had no issues connecting to or playing music of all supported sample rates through the V-Link. In Windows 7 the best J River configuration was with the WASAPI - Event Style output mode and the hardware buffer set to 100 milliseconds. I was unsuccessful using Kernel Streaming with the V-Link.



    Over 90% of my listening was done via the V-Link's electrical Coaxial S/PDIF connection as opposed to optical TosLink S/PDIF. Using my MacBook Pro I heard no negative effects without the galvanic isolation an optical connection would have provided. I usually don't switch back and forth quickly between components or inputs on a component when conducting listening tests but the simplicity of the dual output V-Link and front panel M1DAC input switching button sucked me into the A/B game. The overall sound of the complete Musical Fidelity system was very good, especially for a three component total of $1,667. The sound when using the optical connection seemed a bit smoother compared to the electrical S/PDIF interface. However, I had a difficult time identifying the specific input whence conducting a blind A/B listening test. This is a good thing because the sonic impact of the TosLInk interface is usually detrimental because of much higher jitter than a coaxial connection. Users requiring the galvanic isolation provided by an optical connection shouldn't fear the V-Link's optical output combined with the M1DAC's optical input. Musical Fidelity's Asynchronous Sample Rate Conversion plays a major role in bringing the sound of both S/PDIF interfaces to nearly identical levels. Comparing the Musical Fidelity modular system to my Benchmark DAC1 PRE the major sonic difference is the Benchmark is much more forward and in one's face while the MF system is much more laid back and delicate sounding. I'm really looking forward to comparing the new Grace Design M903 to both the Benchmark and Musical Fidelity components. This is a very competitive segment of the market where wonderful sound can be had for a very reasonable price.



    At CES this year Musical Fidelity put on a very revealing demonstration of the V-Link. First music was played directly from a MacBook Pro to the input of the M1DAC and out to the rest of the system. Then the V-Link asynchronous USB converter was inserted and the same music played for the audience. It was pretty easy to hear how much improved the sound was when the V-Link was in place. The whole image tightened up immediately with the V-Link. I sat through the demo one additional time as I wanted to see the reaction of two people from a very large online retailer. These two people identified the same benefits I identified in the previous demo. Listening a second time for me was equally enjoyable and more revealing of the built-in M1DAC's shortcomings. Without the V-Link in place the sound was very sloppy, all over the place with no focus. This was easier to identify because I had previously heard how much better the V-Link can make the M1DAC sound. LIstening to the adaptive input followed by the much better asynchronous input then the adaptive input one more time made it much easier to recognize how subpar the adaptive USB interface can sound. The V-Link's superior asynchronous USB interface plays a major role in the sound quality of this Musical Fidelity system.



    More on 24/176.4 playback. During the review period I talked to John Quick the Musical Fidelity distributor for North America who is no stranger to computer audio. We've often discussed the merits of different USB approaches, FireWire, AES/EBU etcetera. John assured me the M1DAC fully supports playback of 24/176.4 even though there is no light on the front panel for this frequency. I'm satisfied that this is really the truth as I sent a couple Reference Recordings 24/176.4 HRx tracks to the M1DAC's coaxial input and the DAC did play each track without a hiccup. During playback the 24/192 light did illuminate, but considering the 24/176.4 input is upsampled to 24/192 at the DAC I'm not sure this light was meaningful. As long as the M1DAC locks on to the incoming signal all audio appears to be treated the same. On a similar note when I sent 24/192 tracks to the coaxial input the Upsampling indicator still illuminated. John Quick relayed to me that the sample rate converter circuit does not perform upsampling on 24/192 material but the playback of these high resolution tracks, "Will benefit from the Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter's break in clocking between the computer and the M1DAC."



    One final note: I'm still searching for that elusive 16 bit / 32 kHz content so I can illuminate the 32 kHz indicator on the M1DAC :~)





    Conclusion

    It has been nearly six years since I enjoyed a Musical Fidelity system as much as the M1DAC ($699), M1HPA ($799), and V-Link ($169). My old X-v3 Series was great back in the day, but really no comparison to the this M / V system I've been using for a couple months. Musical Fidelity's Antony Michaelson has managed to squeeze every last ounce of engineering possible into the ˝ width M Series chassis and the even smaller V-Link. At the same time the company has managed to keep the price down to a very reasonable $1,667 for the complete system. Plus, one doesn't even have to buy all three pieces to start a nice Musical Fidelity system or add to an existing audio system. The modular approach provides consumers with options. It's hard to argue against options. In an industry with six and seven figure audio systems it's hard to believe three zeros can be removed from the end of the price tag and still allow someone to put together a really good system. I applaud Musical Fidelity for producing such good sound at such good prices. I can easily recommend all three Musical Fidelity pieces and sleep very sound at night.















    Product Information



    • Price - M1DAC ($699), M1HPA ($799), V-Link ($169)

    • M1DAC Product Page - Linklink

    • M1DAC Manual - PDF Link

    • M1HPA Product Page - Linklink

    • M1HPA Manual - PDF Link

    • V-Link Product Page - Linklink




     



     



    Associated Equipment:



    Verity Audio Fidelio loudspeakers, McIntosh MC275 amplifier, Richard Gray's Power Company High Tension Wires, Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC, C.A.P.S. server, dCS Debussy DAC, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable, Kimber USB Ag, Benchmark DAC1 PRE, Kimber Select KS1011 Analog Cables, Kimber Select KS2020 Digital Cable, Kimber Monocle X Loudspeaker Cable, ASUS Xonar HDAV 1.3 Slim, Apple iPad, Sonic Studio's Amarra.
    Comments 95 Comments
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      Chris, like Firedog I think some comparisons would be useful especially with the DAC portions. How does M1DAC compare with Arcam rDAC (and others)? How does the V-Link compare with M2tech HiFace and Asus HDAV 1.3 Slim (both price comparable)?<br />
      <br />
      A couple of thoughts... <br />
      The fact you saw little difference between optical and co-ax can infer two things. (1) despite no galvanic isolation on the output of the V-Link isolation on the inputs of the DAC may be good and (2) MF have paid attention to both outputs and (maybe) TOSLink doesn't have to be inferior. It may be interesting to see similar comparisons with other DACs. <br />
      <br />
      Also you mentioned 16/32. I believe that DAT in LP mode used this. <br />
      <br />
      Eloise
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      Chris-<br />
      <br />
      I'd be interested in comments on the DAC as a standalone DAC, as compared to other recent DAC's on the market: Arcam r,Benchmark, etc. Many of us already own USB>SPDIF or FW>SPDIF converters and probably wouldn't buy the V-link also.<br />
      <br />
      I have the older X-DACV3, which IMO stands up pretty well with other DACs near it's price. I'd like to hear what you and others think of the M1DAC and if it's a value for the money player in the DAC marketplace.<br />
      <br />
      Just an additional thought. Kudos to MF for the Headphone Pre that is also useful as a high quality - if basic - system preamp. That's the second model like this they've come out with in the past few years. While $799 may not make it an "inexpensive" component, it certainly isn't very much money for an audiophile quality pre/headphone amp. And it gives audiophiles on a budget a good alternative until they can afford something in the more extreme high-end.
    1. bottlerocket's Avatar
      bottlerocket -
      "I'm really looking forward to comparing the new Grace Design M903 to both the Benchmark and Musical Fidelity components." <br />
      <br />
      I can't wait for this comparison either. This market segment is my price point and I use headphones a lot so am attracted to all of these products. <br />
      <br />
      I wonder when the M903 will start shipping...<br />
    1. netchord's Avatar
      netchord -
      nice write up Chris. i would be interested in comparisons of the V-Link to both the HiFace, and the Halide Design USB-->SPDIF converters. once you add cables to the HiFace and MF, the costs is comparable to the Halide.<br />
      <br />
      also, has MF stated why the persist in Adaptive USB technology on their other products, when they have superior Async technology available?
    1. davidR's Avatar
      davidR -
      bottlerocket, Sweetwater.com has the M903 shipping from Grace Designs the week of February 6. Another pro audio website has it available for late March so hopefully within the next month.
    1. Richard Dale's Avatar
      Richard Dale -
      I've just ordered a V-Link and Black Cat Veloce cable to go with it - I can't see how I can go wrong at the price (100 UK pounds). I'm really looking forward to trying it out with my CD player, as I wonder how much difference using a computer as a transport will make. I've preferred listening to my HRT Streamer recently and it will be interesting to see how the sources compare when they are both being driven by asynchronous USB off my MacBook.
    1. Krisbee's Avatar
      Krisbee -
      I'm a little confused, is the V-Link truly an asynchronous USB device as per example the rDAC USB input which is built with dcs technology? My understanding is that the TAS1020B USB controller only works at 24/96 when it's used with CEntrance firmware, and that is is still adaptive mode USB. Or has MF really developed their own custom solution? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      I think Gordon Rankin (the pioneer of Async USB DACs) Streamlength code runs on tha same TAS1020B USB controller. It's just about how it's programmed. <br />
      <br />
      Eloise
    1. almaatakz's Avatar
      almaatakz -
      Do I get it right? - <br />
      <br />
      If I have a Benchmark DAC1 HDR (fed from MacMIni optical), by adding a Vlink (macmini usb out - vlink - optical - dac) I can have the benefit of asynchronos USB, i.e. lower jitter?<br />
      <br />
      Or, same question split in 2:<br />
      <br />
      - does the vlink remove/reduce jitter (vs other non-asynchronos impelmetnations)<br />
      <br />
      - if so, should I expect a noticeable improvement in sound if I add it between the mac and the dac? <br />
      <br />
      Can the vlink be a '100GBP asynchronos upgrade to the Benchmark"?<br />
    1. Richard Dale's Avatar
      Richard Dale -
      <p><b>Krisbee: </b><i>"..Or has MF really developed their own custom solution? Please correct me if I'm wrong.."</i></p><br />
      <br />
      <p>Yes, Musical Fidelity have developed their own implementation of Asynchronous USB for use in the V-Link. Unfortunately the link in the review to the V-Link on the Musical Fidelity website doesn't work, and I found that info while searching and deciding whether or not to order a V-Link. I haven't been able to find out exactly which website it was on though. I've no idea what USB controller chip they are using, but I trust MF to deliver something that will work well.</p>
    1. netchord's Avatar
      netchord -
      where did you order the v-link? it's still not listed on the MF (US) Site, and doesn't show up on Amazon.
    1. Richard Dale's Avatar
      Richard Dale -
      <p><b>netchord: </b><i>"..where did you order the v-link?"</i></p><br />
      <br />
      <p>From Audio Affair in the UK, and so I hope they've actually got them in stock.</p>
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      I was told by a (UK) dealer the V-Link should be available in February. I think Chris got a demo from Musical Fidelity's US importer. <br />
      <br />
      Eloise
    1. Krisbee's Avatar
      Krisbee -
      Richard et al ..<br />
      <br />
      I did a bit more web searching and found that the new MF V_link has been reviewed in UK's Hifi News. Which apparently states :"The V-Link is 24 BIT 96 kHz asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter. It is an exclusive in-house, Musical Fidelity development. The V-Link offers perfect performance from USB. Jitter is eliminated. Data transfer is perfect. It really, really does the job." and "The V-Link has been designed from the ground up to offer perfect and consistent performance. It will work with a huge range of computers and operating systems. Extreme attention has been paid to all the detailed programming to ensure rock solid consistency. The low jitter power supply feeds an ultra high precision clock which is positioned almost on top of (in PCB terms at least) the V-Link’s vital components. This achieves extremely short tracks and ultra accurate clocking.<br />
      <br />
      Our selected I2 Bus to S/PDIF converter ensures jitter free precision conversion.<br />
      <br />
      The V-Link has Musical Fidelity’s unique proprietary asynchronous digital control system feedback technology software. When added to all the other elements, it produces virtual perfection. The V-Link (24 bit 96 kHz) produces performance equal to the most expensive and the most exotic on the market. It’s true!"<br />
      <br />
      So I guess it does have a custom implementation of Asynchronous USB.<br />
      <br />
      As to availabilty in the UK, the best I can find out is that it is due for relase on 4/2/2011 in the UK. It's definitely one to watch, and with no OS drivers needed, it is Linux compatible.<br />
    1. wgb113's Avatar
      wgb113 -
      I'm curious as to why MF followed up the relatively recent release of their M1DAC with the V-Link (a completely different line) and didn't implement the async USB into the M1???<br />
      <br />
      Bill
    1. Mike Gillespie's Avatar
      Mike Gillespie -
      Unfortunately, a lot of people had trouble with the OCZ. 8/31 on Amazon gave it terrible marks.<br />
      <br />
      http://www.amazon.com/OCZ-Technology-Vertex-2-5-Inch-OCZSSD2-2VTXE120G/product-reviews/B003NE5JCO/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filte rBy=addOneStar<br />
      <br />
      Comments mention poor tech support and customer service.<br />
      <br />
      Who's had a really reliable SSD? And, if needed, good customer service? <br />
      <br />
      Anybody using Kingston? I had great service in the past with their flash drives, RAM, etc. but never tried SSD.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks.<br />
      <br />
      Laurence<br />
      <br />
    1. labjr's Avatar
      labjr -
      <i><br />
      "My understanding is that the TAS1020B USB controller only works at 24/96 when it's used with CEntrance firmware"<br />
      <br />
      Where did you hear this?<br />
      <br />
      Since everyone(except Benchmark)knows adaptive USB transfer doesn't perform as well as async I don't understand why any company would even make a non-async DAC. Not like it's rocket science anymore.<br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Krisbee - I believe all the questions about the USB implementation and others are answered in the V-Link section above within the review. Let me know if you think otherwise. It's entirely possible I wrote it awkwardly. <br />
    1. Krisbee's Avatar
      Krisbee -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      You are right. I'm guilty of skimping when reading your review having discovered the new V-Link was based on the TAS1020B USB controller and spending more time looking at the chip's datasheet and thinking that MF would have licensed someone else's firmware to run on it, like Bel Canto's USB link device (the MF product even has a similar name). <br />
      <br />
      There's nothing wrong with your write up. Once the V-link hits the retail channels I'm sure more reviews will soon surface, hopefully with a side by side comparison to some of the other popular USB audio interfaces. <br />
      <br />
      I'd had to give the hiface a miss as they did not (nor will they, as far as I can tell)develop Linux drivers for it. MF's V-Link device is attractive as it can function without OS drivers and using it with Linux is no barrier. So we effectively get an external USB sound card with the benefits of asynch technolgy for getting audio out of a laptop to an external DAC at a reasonable price.
    1. rancew's Avatar
      rancew -
      The obvious comparison at the V-Link price is the hiFace. But to go a step further, how does it compare to even more expensive converters? This is the context in which the hiFace was reveiwed here on CA a few months ago.<br />
      <br />
      In his review of the hiFace Chris subjected this device to extended listening and scrutiny with the ultimate conclusion based on how it performed relative to much more expensive converters. Chris felt the hiFace fell short because it was noticably inferior to the Lynx card, Halide Design Bridge, and perhaps others (as his review stated there were "several asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converters" that he used for comparison).<br />
      <br />
      But there's no such comparison or reference point for the V-Link. The conclusion seems more along the lines of simply "I liked it alot and plus there's no software". <br />
      <br />
      How does the V-Link stack up against the competition?