Our search for affordable gems in the wonderful world of hi-fi takes us today to Switzerland, the land of Weiss Engineering, Stenheim and Nagra. East of Bern, Daniel Frauchiger works on several high quality audio products that he markets under the collective name Dafraud. The d/a converters are under the wings of Merason Audio and they currently have two devices in production. One of them, the Merason Audio Frérot, we would like to introduce to you.
The Merason Audio Frérot (little brother) got its name because there is already a more expensive dac in the Merason family, the DAC1 (4500 euros). The cute name initially put us on the wrong track because this is a serious d/a converter that is largely balanced and built completely discreetly. The Frérot comes in a nice package with a simple adapter to provide power.
The Frérot is a small box (22.5 cm x 5 cm x 18 cm) of galvanized steel and weighs just under one kilogram. That everything is ingeniously put together and beautifully finished should not come as a surprise; it’s Swiss made… The front is very clean despite the fact that the brand name is visible in large print letters on the right. It does not bother us. In the middle you can use an Elna switch to choose the desired input. The active input is indicated by a light green LED. On the left we see the same green light that indicates when the dac is powered
At the back we see no less than five inputs (2 times optical, 2 times coax, 1 time usb) and we get both single-ended and balanced connections. That’s nice. The Frérot can handle samplingrates up to 24bit/192kHz. In addition to the standard socket for the power supply, we see another five-pin socket for a custom-made power supply that is available at the time of writing.
By applying the trickle-down principle you will find a large part of the DAC1 back in the modest Frérot. Unlike the mono version in the DAC1 where two dac chips supply each channel, the Frérot is built around just one Burr Brown chip (type 1794A).
The power supply is not built in as with the DAC1 but once open we are extremely pleased with what we see. Starting with the Class A output stage, the completely discreetly built converter itself and the neat layout inside. It looks super sleek. The Frérot does not get hot and of course easily finds a place in the rack or on the furniture.