"Lavishly detailed, fastidiously organised and
in its sound, it absolutely demands an audition."
'What Hi-Fi 5 Star Review - June 2016'
Digital to Analogue Converter - Audiolab M-DAC +
Our Opinion - Its a daunting task trying to improve on something so highly praised as the Audiolab M-DAC, daunting but not impossible as the M-DAC + proves. The ESS Sabre32 9018 Reference chipset allows the DAC to give a performance that is unrivalled at this price point. The adjustable filters allow you to tailor the music to your taste although we prefer the Optimal Phase setting. The M-DAC is so adept at its job that it even makes a budget CD Player or low res phone audio sound phenomenal. Add the fantastic build quality, compact size and vast array of inputs and you have something remarkable. All in all we believe that the M-DAC Plus should be part of every Hifi or PC based audio system, in fact its that good that we use it in our demo room along with our Innuos Zen Music Server so that we can enjoy every detail in glorious Hi-Res Audio. On Demo In-Store
The Finest DAC Circuitry
Like the M-DAC, the M-DAC+ incorporates the ES9018 Sabre Reference 32-bit DAC chipset, still widely regarded as the finest available. This is surrounded by exceptionally well-specified circuitry that puts other similarly priced DACs to shame, including a proprietary, discrete master clock to minimise jitter, coupled with extensive time domain isolation. A JFET Class A output stage ensures that the audio signal, following conversion from the digital domain to analogue, is of the highest quality. Under the hood lie a number of performance-related enhancements. The M-DAC+ now processes audio data up to 32-bit/384kHz via USB; this is a far higher specification than that required by current hi-res music formats, ensuring this new, premium-quality addition to the M-DAC family is fully equipped for future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound. The USB input now also accepts DSD files (the digital audio system originally developed for Super Audio CD), offering compatibility with DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256. This is a significant addition, as DSD has an important role to play in the developing high-resolution digital download scene.
Your Sound, Your Way
As digital audio technology has progressed, the importance of the characteristics of reconstruction digital filters has become more appreciated. Like the classic M-DAC, the M-DAC+ features user-selectable filters for optimal listening and measurement modes, in addition to more conventional types for easy comparison. These filter settings allow the user to tune performance to suit his or her preference, depending on system configuration, digital file quality and musical taste. The M-DAC+ inherits seven filter settings from the M-DAC for PCM files and adds four more for DSD playback, allowing the user to optimise the noise floor to suit the performance of the source file and the bandwidth of associated equipment such as amps and speakers. Another important change relates to the power supply, which has been upgraded and is now incorporated within the M-DAC+’s chassis (hence its slightly taller and deeper case compared to the classic M-DAC). A precision-wound toroidal transformer uses multiple windings to feed separate analogue and digital rectification stages. From there, multiple power supply sections feed the necessary voltages to each area of the DAC, keeping any crossover interference to a minimum. The result is the highest performance power supply Audiolab engineers have yet specified for a DAC, and its contribution to the M-DAC+’s enhanced sonic performance is significant.
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