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Review Merason Audio Frérot NOS d/a converter

Pros

  • Refined playback
  • Excellently made
  • Plenty of connections
  • Great price

Cons

  • Limited specs
  • Price: € 999

    Build quality
    Usability
    Sound
    Price
    Merason Audio Frérot

    Sound

    Switzerland is originally a neutral country and the Frérot also has little or no color. Because the Frérot has inherited a lot of elements from its big brother, this results in a particularly high level. How much better the DAC1 is we do not know (yet) but that does not matter because the Frérot itself is very good even with the standard power supply. Importer Live Fidelity states that there is still more to come from the Frérot with a better power supply, something we will test anyway when the new POW1 power supply arrives.

    How does it all sound? Very refined, elegant and airy. Lively and fresh. No warmth or darkness here. This dac has a sense of rhythm and is also fast. The placement of instruments and voices is above average and very precise. This dac is completely balanced as far as we are concerned and leaves very little to be desired. At the top it is a little rounded but that works very well in our neutral and precise system and slightly fresh room. Prolonged listening is assured anyway and we never have the urge to switch to another dac.

    Listen

    When we begin our listening session, the little Frérot has been playing in the set for about a month

    We pull out some CDs and start with the album “Heathen” by David Bowie. On the song “Afraid” the guitars on the left pop out of the speakers quickly followed by the drums on the right. Then Bowie’s voice is tight in the middle. A nice start. The songs on “Heathen” are quite busy and complex but each element can be followed individually. “Timing is everything” and the Frérot does an excellent job of this

    More rock music with ‘Americana’ by Neil Young & Crazy horse, a cover album full of American classics. For this album you have to be in a certain mood. It is full of swinging songs propelled by Young’s legendary band. Again, there is a danger of everything becoming mush and bogged down but that is never the case with the Frérot. At the end of “Travel On” we clearly hear what Young is saying in the background.

    The Frérot lets a lot of info through and handles tempo changes excellently We take Nathalie Merchant off the shelf and opt for the great “Maggie Said”, a wonderful song that we are touched by again and again. We, at Alpha Audio, love this American singer, former frontwoman of 10000 Maniacs, immensely.

    The unforced midrange is enough for us to choose this dac. It is typical of most NOS dacs but the Frérot also sounds open and clean with lots of dynamics. The Denafrips Ares II for example sounds a lot darker in NOS mode. We listen to the rest of the album and enjoy it to the fullest because everything really comes through amazingly well. The s-sounds are audible but do not plague the ear. The soundstage is spacious and the placement is almost perfect. This is simply very good. 

    Finally some electronics with ‘Not for trees’ by Plaid, a personal favorite. Great beats with vocals from Björk and Nicolette, among others. This album has no more secrets for us and although we hear nothing new, everything sounds fresh and coherent. Every element has its place and every detail is effortlessly audible. The soundscapes make us dream away and the Frérot keeps everything under control and is not bothered by the overtones and fast breakbeats. There is no coloration on the reproduction and sharpness is absent.

    Compare

    Merason Audio Frérot

    There are not that many discreetly built d/a converters in this price range, and certainly not if you want to listen to them in store beforehand. The only, closest competitor we can think of is the Chord Qutest (1400 euros). In addition, you have the Denafrips Ares II (820 euros), Audio-GD R1 (989 euros) and Shiit Bifrost 2 (849 euros) but you have to order them online. So it is nice that this dac has a Dutch importer and already in some stores to admire.

    The Frérot belongs to the best in class and offers much of that addictive NOS playback of the big boys. In terms of playback, we would even argue that the Frérot has little or no competition. In any case, it doesn’t fall short of the Denafrips Ares II, Mytek Brooklyn (1999 euros), Metrum Acoustics Onyx (2499 euros) and Benchmark Dac3 (2599 euros). Dacs that we know very well and have had in our set for a long time. The Chord Qutest we do not know so well but it will certainly not have it under the market either

    The Lab12 Reference, which we still have standing, and our Sonnet Morpheus do reach a higher level. If we compare with the Sonnet Morpheus we hear in the low end clearly more authority and control and the Morpheus brings over the whole line more insight and resolution. The Frérot we therefore see as a Morpheus ‘Light’ and that is a compliment. The Frérot is a bit lighter and softer across the board but that doesn’t have to be considered a disadvantage. You can hear the typical NOS signature, a combination of silky high and refined tonality but the Frérot plays a fraction smaller than the Morpheus although there is not much difference.

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