ConclusionThe Metrum Acoustics Onyx is a fantastic D/A converter. Album after album we are impressed by the naturalness with which the Onyx sends every type of music into space. He actually does everything right. It is fast, loose, fluent and rich in detail. The stereo image is very wide and his timing is amazing. Everything is just right. Digital at its best. Pure, pure, Onyx!
Do we still have to listen? Sure it is. Because there’s still a lot to tell about this little miracle. Above are a lot of adjectives with which we have described the Onyx, but by listening to certain albums and tracks we can make an even deeper analysis.
What immediately catches the eye with respect to the Dion is the blacker background of the Onyx. This allows small details to come through better and we look deeper into the recording. We notice that we have to turn up the volume a bit less because everything comes through so clearly. The new album “Assume Form” by James Blake is an example of this. The Onyx brings this album with more dynamics and even better timing than the Dion. When you just listen to the Dion, you’ll notice it right away. But then the Metrum goes loose. The beats and hi-hats have more impact and the instruments resonate longer.
We’ve been fans of Portishead for a long time but less known is that Beth Gibbons released her only solo album “Out of season” in 1994. The music on this album is a lot less experimental than Portishead’s, but her characteristic voice provides enough excitement and listening pleasure. The stream via Tidal is anything but perfect, but as the Japanese have known for a long time: real beauty can be found in imperfection. The song “Romance” sounds conjuring and restless at the same time. The Onyx gets to the heart of the song and creates a baking atmosphere. With quiet music the difference with the Dion is less, but with the Onyx we feel more involved with the music. There is a higher urgency, which keeps prompting us to listen further and further.
The biggest difference we hear with more complex music, like the last of Bon Iver. “22, A million” is not an easy record and with the Dion we always ignored this album. The Onyx is a lot better at pulling out the different layers in the music. The songs never clog up and the complex rhythms come through crystal clear. For the first time we listen to the whole album and understand the genius of Justin Vernon and his team.
When we put the CD “Divers” of Joanna Newson in the slot we really realize what the Onyx is capable of. This album is beautifully recorded and we are rewarded with a truly unparalleled playback. All instruments, and there are quite a few of them, are easily distinguishable from each other and Newson’s atypical voice occasionally cuts through marrow and leg. The absolute purity of the Onyx in combination with the enormous authority ensure an unforgettable listening experience.
|Amplifier||Arcam SA20 – Bryston B60R|
|DAC||Metrum Acoustics Onyx, Dion Audio NOS-16|
|Speakers||Audio vector QR1|
|Cables||Grimm Audio TPR, Van den Hul, Audioquest|