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Thread: Audiolab MDAC

  1. #1

    Audiolab MDAC

    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??
    Win 8 64 JRMC19/ASIO/Lossless | Mytek Stereo192 DSD | Rega RP6 + Nagaoka MP-150 | Luxman L-505u | PMC TB2i + Skylan stands

  2. #2
    Trouble maker... Audio_ELF's Avatar
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    Apples and Oranges

    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...
    ...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.

  3. #3

    It's limited to 96K, which is

    It's limited to 96K, which is a shame. The designer talks a good talk however.

  4. #4

    I've got one on pre-order,

    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.

  5. #5
    Site Founder The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
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    Hi sleepysurf - Using the

    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.


    Chris Connaker

    Founder
    Computer Audiophile

    Listening Room | System Details

  6. #6

    Correct Chris, hence the Oppo

    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.

  7. #7
    Trouble maker... Audio_ELF's Avatar
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    MDAC output stage...

    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
    ...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.

  8. #8

    Wall wart PSU

    I think the designer John Westlake has an optional PSU upgrade for the M-DAC in the making.

  9. #9

    Correct re upgraded power

    Correct re upgraded power supply option. If the M-DAC lives up to expectations, I'll likely get the upgraded power supply when available (sometime next year), and which I believe will also provide analog inputs.
    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.

  10. #10

    The Mdac doesn't use a wall

    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

  11. #11

    This is what i thought after

    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.
    Win 8 64 JRMC19/ASIO/Lossless | Mytek Stereo192 DSD | Rega RP6 + Nagaoka MP-150 | Luxman L-505u | PMC TB2i + Skylan stands

  12. #12

    Hopefully the production

    Hopefully the production version is as good as the prototype!
    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.

  13. #13
    Senior Member firedog's Avatar
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    Audiolab 8200DQ DAC

    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?
    System (in small home office): GIK Acoustics Room Treatments>Tranquil Fanless PC with Windows 7(Sonore External PS, Dual Core Atom Board)>JRiver MC >FW to Mytek 192 DSD Stereo DAC >Odyssey Audio Kismet Stereo Power Amp (Khartago Case) >Devore Gibbon Nines. Also own: ClassDAudio SDS-470 Amp; Squeezebox Touch slaved to an Empirical Audio Pace Car; a standard SB Touch; Squeezebox Boom. Dual 506 TT, Ortofon M20 (used only for recording vinyl) MF X-DAC3; MF X-150 Amp;Goldpoint passive pre.

  14. #14

    oooo yes, the 8200DQ DAC also

    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.
    Win 8 64 JRMC19/ASIO/Lossless | Mytek Stereo192 DSD | Rega RP6 + Nagaoka MP-150 | Luxman L-505u | PMC TB2i + Skylan stands

  15. #15

    How can one spec 96K or 192K

    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'.

  16. #16

    Tag

    Hi,

    I know nothing about AudioLab but I loved my Tags back then.

    If this product comes close to, or is even better than, my previous av32r, then it will be an overall bargain.

    Can't wait to read from owners

    Elp

  17. #17

    I think it will be quite

    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.

  18. #18

    HiRes

    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

  19. #19

    Oops! I guess I was thinking

    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.

  20. #20

    I also have the M-DAC (black

    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

  21. #21

    I agree, the small amount of

    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

  22. #22

    M-DAC or Wavelength Proton

    Hi

    I'm looking at one of the above for my Grado RS2i's.... would the M-DAC or the Wavelength Proton offer the best results ? or are they apples and oranges... sorry if my post is naive...

  23. #23

    I'm one of the lucky few that

    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

  24. #24

    I have an Audiolab 8200CD

    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.

  25. #25
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    Galvanic isolation

    The usb inputs on the Mdac and 8200 are not galvanically isolated so crud/noise can be transmitted from the computer, you need to buy a usb isolator http://electronics-shop.dk/galvanically-usb_isolation
    Mac Mini>Chevron Audio Sabre UV player/Dac>Chevron Audio Paradox Pre>Leema Hydra 2>Leema Xavier speakers.

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