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    McIntosh D1100 Digital Preamplifier DAC Review - Part  Two

    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. 

     

     

    Wrap Up

     

    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 Information:

     

    • 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):

     

     

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    Associated Music:

     

     

     

     

    Associated Equipment:

     

     

     


    User Feedback




    That's funny because McIntosh (Ron) told me to either use JRiver only and double click the pause button or not play DSD256 files at all because they are too big when I reported the near speaker damaging popping on playback stop or start with my C47 preamp.

     

    Apparently you have to be a reviewer before they will treat you as anything more than an idiot.

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    4 minutes ago, Dr Tone said:

     

    Apparently you have to be a reviewer before they will treat you as anything more than an idiot.

     

    I hear your frustration but it not the case at all. McIntosh actually fixed this issue due to customer feedback, long before I found the issue. 

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    9 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

     

    I hear your frustration but it not the case at all. McIntosh actually fixed this issue due to customer feedback, long before I found the issue. 

     

    I guess my C47 isn't high enough up the food chain.

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    Being the nudge that I am, where's your review of the dCS Network Bridge?  I see it's still on your Associated Equipment list (though the Rossini seems to have disappeared).  And I recommend that if you've not already done so, install the Berkeley Ref. firmware update.  Does great things for PCM, and it offers up MQA rendering as well (though I've yet to bother with that aspect; happy enough with redbook and high res. on from my NAS box).

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    I am glad to hear this.  I am really considering one of these as a DAC only and getting rid of one of my Luxman DA06s.  I have to admit the looks of the thing alone are tempting, but to hear it also sounds great is nice too.  I think this and the MP1100 would look nice in my system!

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    16 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

    I think I know why you had the reaction you did.

     

    How long ago did you ask them about this?  Was it before they had a fix?

     

    Mar-Apr.  What fix?  As far as I know there is no fix for the C47, C52 or C2600 Native DSD popping issue.  From Chris's review it sounds like they implemented some type of fade in and fade out to reduce it with the D1100.

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    17 minutes ago, Dr Tone said:

     

    Mar-Apr.  What fix?  As far as I know there is no fix for the C47, C52 or C2600 Native DSD popping issue.  From Chris's review it sounds like they implemented some type of fade in and fade out to reduce it with the D1100.

     

     

    Ah, so your problem isn't with the D1100 being used with your pre-amp...  Hmmm.  Did you see the part in Chris's review where he said every DAC on the planet has that same problem, but different ways of dealing with it?

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    22 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

     

     

    Ah, so your problem isn't with the D1100 being used with your pre-amp...  Hmmm.  Did you see the part in Chris's review where he said every DAC on the planet has that same problem, but different ways of dealing with it?

     

    I'm not trying to find a solution as I've moved on and this is all getting way off topic.  I was just reacting to his praise of Mcintosh's support with the D1100 when I've had the exact opposite experience with them.  That's all.

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    Anyone know Macintosh's position on MQA? I have a D100 and really like it with my WA5 headphone amp. My main system right now is using a Brooklyn Dac with Pass .8 amps and it's kinda so-so to me.

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    On 8/31/2017 at 8:48 AM, Dr Tone said:

     

    I guess my C47 isn't high enough up the food chain.

    HI Dr. Tone

     

    I had a problem with an evaluation C47 in December, 2015.  Lots of static and noise on the USB connection.  When I asked the dealer about the problem, he said he had an older C47 and that McIntosh was sending a new evaluation unit with the fix in place.

     

    We haven't had any problems with the unit we purchased.  I notice that it takes a second for the first song to start but there aren't pauses after that - I don't even notice a pause on format/sample rate transitions.  I have a Mac Mini and use Roon almost exclusively for playback and occasionally JRiver (version 21).

     

    Sorry you've had such a different experience.  

     

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    12 hours ago, markwb said:

    Anyone know Macintosh's position on MQA? I have a D100 and really like it with my WA5 headphone amp. My main system right now is using a Brooklyn Dac with Pass .8 amps and it's kinda so-so to me.

     

    I contacted them about MQA upgrades for the C47.  McIntosh replied that they would not.  Here is the rationale...

     

    Any device that received MQA will send unit to the DAXC as PCM, as happens on all data compression schemes like FLAC and what not.

     

    Signals up to 24.96 fully unpack from the playback software in your computer, 24/192 would require a hardware change in the DAC to ‘fully’ unpack.  There are not even that many files out there in 24/192 and I guarantee you Tidal is not

    streaming 24/192 at all.

     

    Here is some different information about MQA from a DAC manufacturer:

     

    This is from 6 months ago, but still interesting.

     

    http://schiit.com/news/news/why-we-wont-be-supporting-mqa

     

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    "Signals up to 24.96 fully unpack from the playback software in your computer, 24/192 would require a hardware change in the DAC to ‘fully’ unpack.  There are not even that many files out there in 24/192 and I guarantee you Tidal is not

    streaming 24/192 at all."

     

    At least according to my DAC, the MQA file from Tidal for Hotel California is playing at 192/24.

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    I am glad to hear this.  I am really considering one of these as a DAC only and getting rid of one of my Luxman DA06s.  I have to admit the looks of the thing alone are tempting, but to hear it also sounds great is nice too.  I think this and the MP1100 would look nice in my system!

     

    I just ordered the recently announced MAC7200 Receiver today with the DA1 DAC module.  It will be interesting to hear the differences between that and the D1100 when, or if, I compare the two at a later date.

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    On 9/7/2017 at 4:11 PM, markwb said:

    I'm also sure I've seen Supertramp and Cars at 24/192 via Tidal.

     

    Ive seen much higher than that.  Go play some 2L Classical MQA.

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    On 9/7/2017 at 10:53 AM, markwb said:

    "Signals up to 24.96 fully unpack from the playback software in your computer, 24/192 would require a hardware change in the DAC to ‘fully’ unpack.  There are not even that many files out there in 24/192 and I guarantee you Tidal is not

    streaming 24/192 at all."

     

    At least according to my DAC, the MQA file from Tidal for Hotel California is playing at 192/24.

     

    Now that's interesting.

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    I've had mine for 3 weeks and it is amazing.  Stereoplay a German magazine review it last spring and here's what caught my eye!

     

     

    "At the very latest, the proverbially serious suspicion in the room is that McIntosh might have set the bar higher with this new device than the potential competitors from his own product range might be fond of. For us it is certainly true: this is the best McIntosh we have ever had before our eyes."

     

     

    "The D1100 is the sound surprise even with "simple" 16-bit / 44-kHz data, which is probably the best news to the newcomer. This is highly recommended as a pure DAC and as a preamplifier simply fantastic."

    '

     

    i''m stunned how good simple internet radio sounds playing through Sonos.. It is an amazing DAC.  Hooked up the C1100 it's Mcintosh at its very BEST.!


    McIntosh_D1100_stereoplay_2017-05.pdf

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    17 hours ago, JBT said:

    I've had mine for 3 weeks and it is amazing.  Stereoplay a German magazine review it last spring and here's what caught my eye!

     

     

    "At the very latest, the proverbially serious suspicion in the room is that McIntosh might have set the bar higher with this new device than the potential competitors from his own product range might be fond of. For us it is certainly true: this is the best McIntosh we have ever had before our eyes."

     

     

    "The D1100 is the sound surprise even with "simple" 16-bit / 44-kHz data, which is probably the best news to the newcomer. This is highly recommended as a pure DAC and as a preamplifier simply fantastic."

    '

     

    i''m stunned how good simple internet radio sounds playing through Sonos.. It is an amazing DAC.  Hooked up the C1100 it's Mcintosh at its very BEST.!


    McIntosh_D1100_stereoplay_2017-05.pdf

     

     

     

    Damnit you guys, I am trying to save money... ;)

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    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    You can't take it with you when you die :~)

     

    Thats true, but I was hoping to live a bit longer than tomorrow... ;)

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