ConclusionWith the new DAC3 modules, Metrum Acoustics really puts down another solid product. More tranquility, blackness and detail. An even more neutral result. But it is more than that; it extends the life of the Metrum line-up. And that is what we call an excellent, special service. Awesome! Alpha Approved.
What we noticed pretty quickly with the DAC3, is that the signature is the same in terms of transparency and speed. But that the low end is even more powerful and easier to follow. The punch is clearer than with the DAC2 modules. Perhaps this is also why the midrange is a bit nicer to the foreground without it being immediately warm. The DAC3 is not warm. It has body. And power in the bass. That’s something else if you ask us.
What also stands out, apart from the somewhat more robust foundation, is the intelligibility. This was already not bad with the DAC2 modules; the DAC3 goes one step further. We can more easily understand what artists want to tell us. Even if their articulation is less good, which often happens with hip-hop and metal. And yes: we also play that at the office, to the displeasure of some authors.
If we go listen to some acoustic work and some of our own recordings of the live streams, we hear especially in acoustic guitar work that the DAC3 brings out a little more structure from the strings and guitar casing. This makes it a bit more ‘real’ in the overall picture. Sometimes you just feel you are more convinced that something is right than that it is immediately obvious what is exactly is.
Note: it is not a night and day difference what we are talking about: it is and remains a Metrum Acoustics Pavane dac. The signature is the same; however, the modules go a little further in terms of getting closer to the source. A little more detail, a little more silence and a little more dynamics. But for critical listeners; overall this does ensure that a (good) audible step is made; provided your system can grow with it.
In short: the better your system, the more obvious these differences are.
Finally, the stereo image. We mainly hear slightly tighter focus. Not directly a bigger picture or more 3D imaging. However, it is slightly better ‘edged’ than the DAC2, which makes sense, given the 4 ladders per chip and as a result a lower noise floor and slightly more precision.