The new M-DAC+ is a high-performance, multi-purpose audio DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter) for home use, designed to sit on a desk or table, or integrate into a hi-fi system. It incorporates a highly specified, audiophile-quality digital preamplifier and Class A output stage for connection to a power amp and speakers (the output can be fixed for those who wish to use an existing preamp or integrated amp), in addition to a high-quality output for headphone use.
Redefining a ClassicThe new M-DAC+ is based firmly on the classic M-DAC, with carefully targeted improvements in key areas – a logical move, given the original model’s sustained popularity over the last four years. The M-DAC built a peerless reputation with press and public alike since its launch in the autumn of 2011, scooping multiple Product of the Year Awards from the likes of What Hi-Fi?, Hi-Fi Choice and EISA to make it arguably the most critically acclaimed DAC component ever made.
The Finest DAC CircuitryLike 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
High Performance with DSDUnder 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.
Ajustable sound for all sources and tastesAs 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.
Enhanced Sonic PerformanceAnother 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.
General description Digital-to-Analogue Converter DAC ESS Sabre32 9018 chip Sampling Rate 24-bit / 192kHz (Optical, Coaxial, AES)
32-bit / 384kHz (USB)
2.8MHz (DSD64), 5.6MHz (DSD128), 11.2MHz (DSD256)
Digital Input 2 x Coaxial, 2 x Toslink Optical, 1 x AES/EBU, 1 x USB for PC USB, 1x USB for iPod/iPhone/iPad Digital Output 1x Coaxial, 1 x Toslink Optical Output Voltage Balanced: 4.5V RMS
Unbalanced: 2.25V RMS
Output Impedance Balanced: 20Ω
THD (1kHz 0dB 20Hz - 20kHz A wtd) <0.002% Frequency Response 20Hz - 20KHz (± 0.2dB) Signal to Noise Ratio RCA: > -115dB, XLR: > -120dB Dynamic Range RCA: > 115dB, XLR: > 120dB Crosstalk RCA: > 120dB, XLR: > 130dB Dimensions (mm) 114mm x 247mm x 292mm Net Weight 3.7kg
What can I plug into my DAC?
DAC's will usually have a number of inputs. Coaxial and Toslink Optical are the most common, while USB is still also very common.
The Optical and Coaxial connections can have a CD player, network streamer, television, dvd/blu-ray disc player, game console, and some computers.
The USB input can handle pretty much any kind of computer, or a phone with the appropriate adapter (OTG for android, Camera Connect Kit for iOS devices).
- What is a DAC?
Every digital device with an analog output has a Digital to Analog Converter of some kind. In the case of phones, televisions, and computers, they are usually stuck on as an afterthought, or just to do the job of creating analog sound to be amplified and played through speakers.
Having a standalone DAC is a worthwhile investment in any modern Hi-Fi system, essentially all the circuitry involved in creating that signal you can hear from the 1's and 0's is housed in its own box, with usually a much better design than what you would find in your television or computer.
A DAC can be useful to connect digital devices to an analog amplifier if the amplifier doesn't have digital inputs. Or if you are after a cleaner, more refined sound.
Things to listen for in higher quality DAC's are separation of sounds (how well you can hear a single voice or instrument in the mix of all the others), "textures" of sounds (raspyness of a bow being drawn across the strings of a double bass), or the clarity of echo's and quiet noises among loud instruments.