Thanks to its compact dimensions and a beautiful display, but above all enormous possibilities, excellent sound and build quality, M-DAC has from the start been very popular and raised a lot of dust in audiophile circles, but from today’s perspective can be said that has redefined the category D/A converters middle class. Therefore, as we have already mentioned, before the new model is a thankless task of achieving and, ideally, overtaking the popularity and sales success famous predecessor.
Visually, the M-DAC + is very different from the M-DAC, and the only similarity can be seen in a compact format housing. In all the rest, it is clear that the new model is designed on the model of the new 8300 series devices on the front panel, centrally positioned, there is a large display curved frame, which is – as well as two large circular controls – taken from this series. Circular commands are used for volume control and source selection, and besides them, the front-panel button to standby, 3.5-millimeter headphone output and LEDs that indicates the status of the device. Overall, in terms of design we can say that the M-DAC + pre discreet than attractive, especially in black finish, a large part of its beauty comes from the use of quality materials, impeccable finishing and general impression of exceptional quality.
Like most Audiolab devices, the back of the new D / A converter is a paradise for the eyes of any audiophile. On the position of the digital inputs are two coaxial and optical connectors, and one AES / EBU, USB-B and USB-A, the latest of which is scheduled only for connecting portable Apple device. In the central part are situated analog RCA and balanced XLR output as well as coaxial and optical output for forwarding the digital signal, while the left side is a socket for the detachable IEC-type power cable with fuse and switch. Finally, there are two trigger outputs, as well as an IR output for remote control. All connectors are gold plated and very hard.
Inside, the M-DAC + presents itself as one of the “most complete” devices of this type that we had the opportunity to test. In the front right part, magnetically shielded toroidal transformer housed the renowned Norwegian producer Noratel, which represents a large of differences compared to its predecessor, which had an external power supply. The rest is covered by blue printed circuit board, on which is located a few tens of electrolytic capacitors, whose total capacity reached an impressive 140,000 microfarads – M-DAC + in this sense is a true Audiolab, worthy of their ancestors. The manufacturer did not want to change a winning team, and is, like in the M-DAC and the 8300CD and used herein converter wheel ESS Sabre32 9018. This powerful chip Reference series is set on a separate, elevated PCB, along with digital signal transceiver.
Great precision in the display continues with the highest tones, which represent a great blend perfectly clear presentations and noble musical reproduction. Those qualities are even more evident in the use of high-resolution files, for which the reproduction of M-DAC + more than qualified and supports PCM to 192 kilohertz and 24 bits via coaxial, optical and AES / EBU inputs, while the USB connection is accepted 384 kHz / 32-bitrate PCM (DXD) and DSD with a sampling frequency of up to 11.2 megahertz (DSD256). For better equipped D / A converter of the new generation, for mild tone correction characteristics include different digital filters, a M-DAC + has seven filters for PCM and DSD for an additional four format. Impressions are the same as for the 8300CD, which means that our most tasteful filters Optimal and Optimal Transient Spectrum.
AUDIOLAB M-DAC +
D / A converter: ESS Sabre32 9018
Frequency response (+/- 0.2 dB): 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Distortion THD <0.002%
Digital inputs: 2x coaxial and optical, AES 1x USB-A and USB-B
Digital outputs: 1x coaxial and optical
Analog outputs: 1x RCA and XLR
Remote Control: yes
Headphone output: yes
Dimensions (WxHxD): 247x114x292 mm
Weight: 3.7 kg
Price: 1,095 euros
In addition to a really great sound and a large number of options,should be mentioned the possibility of attenuation of signals in the digital domain. This is very important to audiophiles who use digital resources just as it eliminates the need for standard preamplifier or integrated amplifier and provides that all funds directed towards the purchase of a quality output amplifiers. Also, M-DAC+ is equipped with a very good integrated HEADAMP, which is quite sufficient for occasional enjoy sound through headphones. Are there any disadvantages? In terms of price, quality of reproduction and finish certainly does not, however, believe that the new M-DAC + represents a worthy successor to the famous ancestors.
The quality embedded components.
A large number of options and filters.
Precise and Elegant sound.
Significantly more expensive than its predecessor.