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MDAC first listen (part IV)

Discussion in 'audio' started by adamlau, Feb 5, 2012.

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  1. jon l

    jon l pfm Member

  2. TimR

    TimR pfm Member

    I was unaware of this John - in fact reading your post got me a bit excited!

    Having had a quick look, you need one of the original SACD capable PS3s (yep, got one of those) with system software no newer than v3.55 (hmm... let's see... doh! I've got v4.0). Apparently there's no way to downgrade the firmware .... damn.

    Edit: I see Plutox beat me to it!
  3. Plutox

    Plutox Registered Abuser

    There are, broadly, two routes to listening to SACD
    • the player's analogue outputs
    • HDMI into a receiver that includes the necessary licensed chip to decrypt the DSD data stream. You are entirely at the mercy of the receiver's internal DAC system because no decoded digital output (above 48kHz) is permitted.
    To add to the complication, the discs - which are otherwise broadly similar to DVDs, have an added physical protection in the form of variable width of the "pits" in which the data is stored. Availability of drives capable of reading this additional watermarking is highly restricted.

    The consolation is the increasing availability of 24/96 files, because while SACD was (potentially) a big improvement over Red Book when it came out, there is little to choose between DSD as used by SACD and 24/96 PCM.

    It's interesting to note that there is no absolute mathematical conversion from DSD to PCM so there will always be those who claim that native DSD must be better than a conversion to 24/96 PCM but such variances are, in all likelihood, well below the threshold of audibility.
  4. Plutox

    Plutox Registered Abuser

    To play SACD you still need a transport with a suitable non-encrypted DSD output. I doubt such a beast is legally available because you could easily convert the DSD to PCM...a crack!

    I wonder how many purchasers of this DAC realise that this is not an easy route to SACD...or am I wrong?
  5. Neil Gilbert

    Neil Gilbert pfm Member

    Yes, I currently use anthem mrx 300 receiver for bluray/DVD/satellite
    When I use the squeezebox touch I connect it to the mdac via optical and swop the two front channels from the receiver and use the mdac as preamp
    Sounds great but an annoying faff. I am sure the power supply will make life a lot easier
    I have a Sony bluray player which also plays SACD and I was hoping I could use the two channel layer to play through the mdac. I have via coax but as you already know even though it is playing the SACD layer it outputs at cd quality
  6. mattski

    mattski pfm Member

    bit-off topic Neil but how do you get on with the ARC on the Anthem?
  7. strocky

    strocky pfm Member

    I use this de-embedder to pass 2 channel SACD via the M-DAC ;)


    Although it's only passing PCM, not DSD :(
  8. Neil Gilbert

    Neil Gilbert pfm Member

    If you mean did I find it difficult to use, no, but I am not a tweeker and have just gone with the results.

    If you mean did I like the results, then yes

    I run a 4:1 system with the anthem doing rears and a meridian 557 the fronts

    Sounds great and I have previously had some half decent processors, tag 32, naim av2, Bryson sp1.7
  9. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    Hi Arthur,

    Its most likely the CDQ upgrade will include the DSD support over USB...

  10. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    MDAC Filter Load BUG with SPDIF Inputs with production release Software Revision v0.90/v0.90

    Hi all,

    While testing the replacement MDAC for Chronic I'm very sorry to say I've found a nasty software bug with Digital filter selection while using SPDIF inputs (Digital filters load correctly while on the USB input).

    While on SPDIF inputs (Coax or Optical) you cannot not be guaranteed to be loading the indicated Digital filter.

    Until we have released a software patch there are two methods to insure the correct Digital filter is loaded (as indicated by the MDAC):

    1. Switch to USB input and choose filter - then return to the SPDIF input

    2. Slowly cycle though filters - insuring audio returns between each selection (the MDAC mutes while it loads the new filter coefficients) .

    To 100% confirm which filter is loaded, power cycle the MDAC and press the Filter button ONCE - this will show the filter loaded upon power up.

    I'm really sorry for the Bug - the root cause is due to a design Bug in the ESS DAC - Filters can only be loaded with valid "Lock" (the ESS DAC's internal Clock must not be interrupted while updating the Digital Filter coefficients).

    Unfortunately, with the ESS DAC there is no way to confirm the filter has been correctly loaded - i.e the ESS does not allow to readback the internal filter coefficients.

    The Digital Filters always load correctly on the USB input as the ESS DAC is ALWAYS locked to the ASync USB (ESS DAC is Clock Master) - so there can be no locking errors, thus the Digital Filter cannot be incorrectly loaded while on USB inputs.

    Note - If the Filter was selected while on a SPDIF (which might have incorrectly loaded) - then the incorrect filter will still be in use when switching to the USB input - unless you cycle though the filters while on USB (Cycling filters while on USB input will insure the correct filter is loaded / reloaded).

    I will now REALLY push Dominik to release the software update ASAP - this is a horrid Bug, I'm very sorry...
  11. strocky

    strocky pfm Member

    Just pushed the button on a MRX 300, should be picking up next weekend, how does the Anthem compare to your other Pro's?
  12. kx32

    kx32 Member

    Hi John
    Will the CDQ have the same problem ? I've got the cdq connected to my media centre with an optical cable due to the distance. Seams to work well.
  13. arthur

    arthur Banned

    Aha! Better news for me then. Although to date I only have one ( Linn Mozart) sacd. I'll buy more if it ends up being worth it.

    Bummer about the software. I do hate software, It's the evil notion of Satan, after a bad curry, I'm fairly certain.
  14. Neil Gilbert

    Neil Gilbert pfm Member

    Difficult to compare directly as I had a much better source (Arcam 139)
    and much better, well certainly more expensive amps, naim 300/200/145

    It's not as good but it's better value
  15. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    No, its quite different at the digital hardware level - the Digital filter load issue only effects the MDAC.
  16. Plutox

    Plutox Registered Abuser

    DSD support alone does not an SACD player make...you need a suitable transport to read and decode the highly protected and encrypted media.
  17. travelfotografe

    travelfotografe pfm Member

    Same here, enjoying my SACDs (i.e. PCM and not DSD) at 23bits/88.2kHz through the MDAC!

    The nice thing with this de-embedder is that it does not need a AVR, TV, or any HDMI device connected to its output for it to work. I just have a HDMI cable from my OPPO 93 connected to the de-embedder and a coaxial cable from the de-embedder connected to my M-DAC.

  18. travelfotografe

    travelfotografe pfm Member

    Just thought to share that I A/B'ed the following:

    Touch -> MDAC -> Rotel RC-1580 -> Rotel RB-1582 -> B&W 804D
    Touch -> MDAC ------------------> Rotel RB-1582 -> B&W 804D

    Conclusion: The pre-amp is going on sale. M-DAC direct to the power amplifier gives clearer highs, more detailed mids and lower lows. There is a lot more ambiance or "air" in the sound, more trailing details from instruments and voices. Also, the pace or timing of the music/song is much more engaging with the M-DAC direct to my power amplifier, and this is something that I felt whenever I switched to this combination, without the need to critically listen!

    I wished I had the M-DAC for consideration when I was buying my system; I could have use the $ for the pre-amp and got a better power amp!
  19. strocky

    strocky pfm Member

    Thanks for your reply, I was more wondering about it's performance against your Tag 32, naim av2, Bryson sp1.7 ;)
  20. Neil Gilbert

    Neil Gilbert pfm Member

    What are changing for the mrx 300?
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