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Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

Stereo digital-to-analog converter with asynchronous USB input

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  • Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

  • Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

  • Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

  • Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

  • Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

  • Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

  • Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

Item #: 778M1DACAB
 

Review Summary

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Original price $799.99
 
 
 
 

Our take on the Musical Fidelity M1DAC A

by Dave Bar
frontview

Stunning realism from your digital music sources

When was the last time an audio component transformed the sound of your system? This one will! Simply connect Musical Fidelity's M1DAC digital-to-analog converter between your digital music source or computer and your receiver or amp, then sit back to experience a sonic thrill ride. This little beast of an outboard DAC (digital-to-analog converter) takes the place of the DAC inside your player or PC, and precisely transforms those digital zeroes and ones into rich, densely layered sound. Your music will emerge from a dead-silent background with startling realism. Instruments gain harmonic complexity and vocals spring to life with the dynamics of a live performance. In other words, this thing sounds huge. How did Musical Fidelity achieve such a feat? Good old fashioned engineering and plenty of experience.


Now with the asynchronous USB technology advantage

Standard USB outputs from most computers pose a serious limitation to sound quality. That's because while you're trying to listen to music, your PC is busy performing virus scans, data backup, and other background tasks that may take priority over your tunes, causing it to alter the data rate to suit its own needs. Unfortunately, this situation results in timing errors within the digital data stream — known as "jitter" — that adversely affect sound quality. Jitter can make your music sound harsh and edgy, and smear subtle details.

The newly re-designed M1DAC neatly solves this problem by reaching out to your computer through the USB interface, and instructing it to relinquish control of the data stream timing. In its place, the M1DAC inserts its own separate, or asynchronous, clock to precisely control the timing of the data rate, reducing jitter to the vanishing point. You'll hear a stunning improvement in low-level ambient detail along with a wider, deeper soundstage.

And for all you high-res music lovers...

Along with all the sonic benefits the M1DAC provides for your compressed and CD-quality music files, it also has another trick up its sleeve — it decodes high-resolution data streams with up to 96kHz/24-bit resolution through its USB connection, so you can enjoy better-than-CD audio quality. If you download high-res music files from HDtracks and other audiophile sources, this DAC will ensure that you hear them in all their glory.


A beefy build for better sound

Musical Fidelity was one of the first companies ever to make outboard DACs, so they know what it takes to create a great one. The M1DAC's thick, extruded aluminum faceplate and heavy-gauge steel casework provide a strong frame to help eliminate vibrations that can adversely affect sound quality. Its state-of-the-art circuit design uses top-quality components carefully laid out to maximize performance and minimize interference. A filter-choke regulated power supply on the DAC's main power input blocks out unwanted noise from the AC line. All of this goodness is contained in a beautifully built half-width component you'll be proud to display on your shelf.

Advanced circuitry ensures precise detail

The M1DAC upsamples all incoming digital audio to a 192kHz/24-bit signal to resolve extremely fine detail, even from compressed music sources. Its digital-to-analog converters are used in a dual differential configuration to cancel out noise and distortion while providing excellent stereo imaging. The end result is reduced distortion, ruler flat frequency response, an extremely low noise floor, and dramatically improved sound from every digital source in your system.

back_view

The M1DAC sports multiple inputs to handle your digital sources.

Versatile connections for your system

The M1DAC A gives you four ways to connect your digital source components to your home audio system:

  • coaxial digital input is ideal for connecting a CD or DVD player, Logitech Squeezebox™ Touch, Sonos® ZonePlayer™ 90, or any other digital audio component with coax out, and taking advantage of the M1DAC's high-performance processor for better sound.
  • optical digital is ready to take on most HDTVs, a set top box, game console, Apple TV, or other digital sources with optical digital output, and feed a high-quality audio signal into your stereo system.
  • Type B USB jack feeds the output of your computer into the M1DAC A's onboard digital-to-analog converter, bypassing your computer's sound card to yield much higher quality sound with stored music files and Internet radio.
  • balanced digital XLR input provides a pro-quality, ultra-low noise connection from a compatible high-end CD transport.

A pair of gold-plated RCA outputs lets you connect the M1DAC to your home audio system's amp or receiver. You can also feed a set of amplified speakers or headphone amp for a compact, high-end desktop stereo. Musical Fidelity includes a pair of balanced XLR outputs for an even higher-quality hookup with compatible audio components.


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Highlights:

  • 192kHz/24-bit Delta-Sigma digital-to-analog converter in dual differential mode for precise stereo imaging and low noise
  • all incoming signals upsampled to 192kHz/24-bit for smoother, more detailed sound
  • asynchronous USB technology for reduced timing jitter and better sound on USB input
  • high-quality built-in power supply with choke filtration reduces unwanted AC noise for a low noise floor and greater dynamic range
  • incoming sampling rate indicator 44.1kHz/48kHz/88.2kHz/96kHz/176.4kHZ/192kHz helps verify source quality
  • 4 digital audio inputs: optical, coaxial, USB (Type B), and XLR (AES)
  • supported sample rates:
    • USB: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, and 96kHz (16-24 bit)
    • optical: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, and 96kHz (16-24 bit)
    • coaxial: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, and 192kHz (16-24-bit)
    • XLR: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, and 192kHz (16-24-bit)
  • RCA and balanced XLR audio outputs
  • built-in driver for USB connection
  • frequency response: 10Hz to 20kHz (-0.1 dB)
  • signal-to-noise ratio: greater than 119 dB (A weighted)
  • THD: less than 0.0025% (10-20,000Hz)
  • channel separation: greater than 105 db
  • total correlated jitter: less than 12 picoseconds peak to peak
  • weight: 7.5 lbs.
  • 8-11/16"W x 3-15/16"H x 13-5/8"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
  • If connecting to a TV, please make sure you can select "PCM" output in its audio menu. This DAC is not compatible with multi-channel Dolby® Digital signals.

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • External DAC (digital-to-analog converter)
  • 7' AC power cord
  • Instructions
  • "Thank You" letter

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features

Overview: The Musical Fidelity M1DAC is an external digital-to-analog convertor with true 24-bits/192kHz up-sampling. The Music Fidelity M1DAC has vanishingly low distortion (typically less than 0.005%), ruler-flat frequency response, extremely low jitter, and high signal-to-noise ratio. The M1DAC digital-to-analog convertor will make substantial sonic improvements to almost any CD player, computer, or other digital source. Simply connect the M1DAC between your digital audio device (via optical, coaxial, AES, or USB) and your home stereo receiver (via analog stereo RCA or XLR).

State-of-the-Art Circuit Design and PCB Layout: The Musical Fidelity M1DAC's state-of-the-art circuit design and PCB (printed circuit board) layout with the use of top-quality digital components gives high-end, audiophile-grade performance.

24-bit/192kHz DAC: The Musical Fidelity M1DAC features a 24-bit/192kHz Delta-Sigma digital-to-analog converter in dual differential mode for precise stereo imaging and low noise. All incoming digital signals are up-sampled to 24-bit/192kHz for a smoother, more realistic sound. The M1DAC provides lower noise, better linearity, a ruler-flat frequency response, excellent stereo separation, ultra-low distortion, and incredibly low jitter compared to most integrated DACs found in today's CD/DVD players, game consoles, computers, and other digital audio sources.

Low Jitter: Jitter blurs the timing information of reproduced audio signals between your digital audio source and your amplifier (especially music stored on a computer) resulting in degraded audio quality. The Musical Fidelity M1DAC virtually eliminates jitter by re-clocking the audio data from your digital audio source to your amplifier. As a result, your music sounds warmer, precise, and more realistic - without the harshness and distortion caused from jitter.

Asynchronous USB Port: The Musical Fidelity M1DAC external digital-to-analog convertor features a rear-panel, asynchronous USB (type-B) port for the connection of your Windows PC or Mac computer, so you can listen to your stored compressed music files (CD, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, FLAC) with high-quality sound. The M1DAC's USB port supports 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz sampling rates (16-24 bit). The M1DAC lets your compressed music files sound like a high-quality CD player.

Note: The M1DAC's USB (type-B) port supports Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7; as well as MAC OS X.

Asynchronous Digital Control: The M1DAC utilizes Musical Fidelity's unique proprietary asynchronous digital control system feedback technology software for precision playback of your compressed music tracks stored on your computer, via USB. This unique proprietary technology offers completely jitter-free conversion between your computer, your DAC, and your home receiver.

Digital Inputs (optical/coaxial): The Musical Fidelity M1DAC is equipped with a optical and coaxial digital input for connecting your CD player, DVD player, game system, or other digital audio device. The M1DAC's surpasses most digital-to-analog convertors found in your digital audio source device. The M1DAC's digital inputs supports 32-192kHz sampling rates (16-24 bit).

  • Optical: supports sample rates of 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96kHz
  • Coaxial: supports sample rates of 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz
Note: If connecting to a television set's optical output, please make sure that you are able to select PCM as the default optical out audio format from your television's Audio menu. This DAC is not compatible with multi-channel audio signals and will not work with televisions that do not output PCM.

AES Balanced Digital Input: The M1DAC's AES balanced digital input lets you connect a high-end digital audio source, such as a SACD player, via XLR. The M1DAC's AES balanced digital input supports 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz sampling rates (16-24 bit).

Balanced & Unbalanced Outputs: The Music Fidelity M1DAC is equipped with both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) audio outputs to connect your home receiver or amplifier. These audio outputs are located on the rear-panel.

  • Unbalanced RCA Outputs: The M1DAC is equipped with a gold-plated, unbalanced stereo RCA output for connecting the device to your home stereo receiver.
  • Balanced XLR Outputs: The M1DAC features true balanced XLR analog audio outputs to connect high-end home receivers and amplifiers. XLR is a higher-quality output that can reject noise and interference with equipment with balanced inputs.

High-Quality Power Supply: The M1DAC features a high-quality built-in power supply with choke filtration to reduce unwanted AC noise for more consistent performance and outstanding reliability.

 
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Musical Fidelity M1DAC A Reviews

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5 out of 5

Finally after years

Written By Mark, Maryland on Monday, January 28, 2013
 
So,you buy one of these and a M1CDT.Sounds really good.However,do you settle for really good?Now add a AES cable to couple both.Now,you will hear it all....Not just a big improvement but incredible sound.Yes,the very best!
Pros:
Brings out all the best!
Cons:
None
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Love it !

Written By Bonnie, East islip, ny on Friday, November 23, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Excellent product
Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
 
5 out of 5

M1DAC-A musical digital reproduction

Written By BillVan, San Antonio, TX on Saturday, September 22, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I decided to move my extensive collection to an audio server. While it sounded good, it didn't approach the reference equipment I have been using for the last several years. Only one word is necessary to describe the experience with the M1DAC-A..... WOW! I have a vintage Sony ES CD transport that actually measured better than published specs and was heavenly in performance. I thought I'd run the coaxial out into the M1DAC-A just for kicks and was pleasantly surprised with the new sound! Upsample from a near perfect 44.1 on the inboard DAC to the outboard M1DAC-A brought a 20 year old piece of equipment up to date with a musicality the exceeds all expectations. Sound stage is wider, layering nows seems limitless. Resolution and detail are now over the top. Had I known this kind of sound was possible froma computer, I'd had made the change a lot sooner!
Pros:
Sound is quite warm and accurate. Setup is so easy it can be performed by a caveman LED indicators on front panel are nice to verify that the conversion is taking place at proper rate. RCA and balanced XLR outputs super convienent in mating with both consumer level and pro level components. Substantial shielding and enclosure construction is exceptional for a modern component. No plastic all metal. Helps shield against RFI. Performance is equal to more expensive DAC's currently available.
Cons:
At this price point, really no cons on the M1DAC-A
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Impressed

Written By Rich, Salt Lake City, UT on Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I'm new to the world of DAC's. I've only compared this with the PeachTree DACiT. While Peachtree is okay, the difference between it and the Musical Fidelity are vast. The Musical Fidelity DAC covers the high end with pristine clarity, revealing elements to my music that I'd never heard before. The only negative I've experienced is the Musical Fidelity DAC is somewhat lacking in warmth when listening to CD quality (or below) music. However, the right computer audio player can fix this. I listen through my Mac and find the Channel D Pure Music player to be a perfect companion to the Musical Fidelity DAC.
7 out of 7 people found this helpful
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