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Multitest d/a converters – 1500 – 2500 euro

Pros

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Cons

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  • Prijs: € 1500 - 2500

    Part two!

    Contents

    Time for the second half. The last five. Now MOON, Musical Fidelity Mytek and Weiss are connected. Where the Weiss is definitely the oldest of the couple. But it’s still for sale! Are we going to hear wrinkles, or is it still a star in the field of dacs?

    MOON 230 HAD and 280D

    MOON we know from the beautiful amplifiers. A while ago we did an amplifier multitest with the MOON 340i. The amplifier sounds very well balanced and has quite some balls. In short: great choice. But we’re not gonna look at amplifiers here. This is a d/a converter test. Time to take a look at the MOON 230 HAD and 280D – both equipped with the ESS SABRE32 9018K2M dac-chip

    We’re gonna be very honest. Almost immediately after connecting the MOON 230 HAD we hear that this test is not going to be fair. The MOON headphone amplifier, pre-amp, DAC just won’t make it. This all-rounder is a great device for those looking for a headphone amplifier with a dac function. But as a pure converter in this test it falls short. Fast forward to the MOON 280D.

    Since a while MOON only delivers this converter with a MiND-2 streamer on board. That makes the MOON a bit more expensive than the rest. But know that a MiND-2 streamer just doesn’t come cheap. And that the system works particularly well… In short: in this context we make an exception. Please note, however, that we are not testing the streamer in this test. Of course we played with it afterwards for a complete image.

    The MOON 280D looks robust and very well made. Together with the Kinki it is the best made product in this test. Especially in dual-tone, the MOON is a beautiful device. When it comes to connectivity, we’re not short of anything either: twice optical, twice coaxial, usb and AES. And of course, Ethernet – wired and wireless – for the MiND streamer. The output offers cinch as well as balanced.

    The sound of the MOON 280D we all think is rather good. It’s very neat and controlled, but we may be missing some involvement. Now, don’t confuse that with that we’re looking for spectacle. Because we are not. Spectacle gets boring in the long run: everything is going to sound the same. And it gets tiring.

    What we mean is we don’t feel a real connection with the music. Even though Pariah by Steven Wilson comes through very nicely. There, control and calmness are welcome. Via the MiND streamer, the whole thing is a little more balanced. That’s the power of integration.

    What we’re guessing is that the 280D will fit very well into a complete MOON system. I’m sure that’s nicely matched. In our system, with our music, it is a match that may be possible, but for these three authors the magic dust is missing.

    Musical Fidelity M6 SDAC

    We don’t test Musical Fidelity very often at Alpha Audio. What’s that about? I don’t know, honestly. A long time ago we tested the M6 converter. That wasn’t disappointing, but it wasn’t a complete success either. Now the M6 DAC was based on two TI 1796 DAC chips. The Musical Fidelity M6 sdac – 1500 euros – has a Sabre 9028pro dac chip. That’s a fundamentally different chip.

    In terms of housing, we see a neat cabinet that is completely in line with the rest of the M6 line. That’s a good thing. On the front we don’t see a display anymore, in contrast to the M6 DAC which had a display. Though that wasn’t a very good one. So we don’t miss it. Furthermore we find a few buttons: power, two input buttons and a volume button (for headphones).

    On the back we see three optical inputs, three coaxial inputs and a micro-usb input. Why microusb Musical Fidelity? This is really bad for several reasons: the plug breaks much faster (you warn for this in the manual!) and there are very few good cables available.

    Time to listen. That’s all right with this British creation. It’s a converter with a pretty high fun factor. Is it all equally precise and neutral? No. But it’s fun. We hear a lot of energy and dynamism in our test tracks. We’re getting involved again. And that’s what it’s all about: commitment.

    At the end of the line the Musical Fidelity is doing well. However, all three of us are of the opinion that the Atoll DAC200 gives a cleaner, more neutral presentation for the same money.

    Mytek Brooklyn Bridge

    A Swiss army knife from the USA. That’s the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge. The Mytek Brooklyn Plus and the Bridge both have a Sabre 9028pro chip. DAC-technically, the Bridge is the same as the Plus. So it’s just whether you want an internal streamer (fully ROON and MQA compatible) or not. It will save you 1000 euros. So now you know…

    The Mytek is a dac with studio roots. We immediately notice this in the way we operate; it’s all very technical. This makes the dac extremely flexible. After all: everything can be adjusted: filters, gain, input-gain, up- and oversampling… you name it. This also makes the product less suitable for less technical users. If we can get lost in the menu structure of the Mytek. Than probably you will get lost too.

    Speaking of flexibility: that’s really a strong point of the Mytek. We see phono inputs, usb, coaxial, optical, analog and in case of the Bridge also a network input that allows streaming via UPnP and Roon. A nice point about the Mytek is that you also have a nice headphone output.

    Conversion is based on a Sabre 9028pro. A chip you’ve seen pass by here a lot. But what you’ve also been able to read is that the chip doesn’t say everything by a long shot. The Atoll sounds different from the Benchmark which sounds different from the Mytek. The Mytek doesn’t sound very nice of itself at all. We can hear some sharpness and roughness if we connect it directly with the integrated power supply.

    We decide to attach a Sbooster. And yes, boom… there it is. Smoothness, definition, space. That really makes a difference. In short: do you have a Mytek… try a nice power supply! We did a multi-test a while ago.

    In the end, the Mytek is a fairly dry sounding device. Real studio, shall we say. Do you like a dry, pure sound… then the Mytek could definitely be your ‘thing’ The Benchmark gives a little more ‘smoothness’ without really coloring. That makes it a little more suitable for the living room.

    The Mytek with power supply is a nice device. Very versatile, fine, fast sound and fully MQA compatible if you choose the version with streamer.

    Weiss DAC2

    Weiss is a well-known player in the pro-industry. Daniel Weiss has been working on digital audio since the 1980s and has worked on, among other things, the Sony high-res A/D converter for studios. Right: high-res (24 bit / 96 kHz) in the ’80’s. Unbelievable.

    However, Weiss also makes converters that are of interest to consumers. Take the Weiss DAC2 – 2500 euros. This is a model that’s been around for years. It is a design based on a Texas PCM 1792: a well-known chip. It’s not a multibit-chip (we said that in the video, we were wrong) – the chip accepts both DSD and PCM – but it tends to do so soundwise in some areas: punch, energy and a lot of PRaT. And Weiss has retained those characteristics and added some extra Swiss Precision. This is partly due to the current-output of the dac-chip.

    If we look at inputs, we see SPDIF (optical and coaxial), AES and – yes! – Firewire. By the way, there are two; that makes daisy chaining possible. You can also choose USB, Thunderbolt or a professional optical standard. By default, you get Firewire anyway.

    It is also possible to add a streaming module. It is then possible to stream via UPnP. Rudimental, yes… but it works. And it sounds very good. Speaking of rudimentary, the controls are… basic. No remote control, just a few buttons. Let’s call it clean.

    Despite its age, the Weiss DAC2 still produces a particularly good sound. In fact, it plays very well! Powerful, open, fast, detailed… very engaging. We’re hearing some similarities with the Atoll DAC200. And that’s in a positive sense. The Weiss does play a little further forward. That may be a little more tiring in the long run. That will be a matter of finding a good match.

    The Weiss DAC2 surprised us quite a bit. Where the MOON with the ESS SABRE32 9018K2M does show some wrinkles – lacks energy and commitment – the Weiss shows that a solid design with an old chip can sound just right. Is it the top-of-the bill right now? No. But it does play (very) musically.

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