Summary: I've had this forever, but never thought about writing a review for it.
I came to the Mdac via the Young and the Weiss 202, both which i still had when the Mdac first landed. it saw the Young off with its pre-amp functionality, remote control, headphone out and better treble. The Young sounded a touch coarse in the upper register compared to the Mdac.
Pros: Compact, high VFM, good functionality, designer has provided many feature updates in firmware
Cons: lack of 192 on USB, and nobalanced headphone out from the front panel.
Summary: Fantastic half width DAC that features 5 inputs, a remote, an OLED display, a pre-amp and a headphone amp.
Based around the transparent ESS Sabre 9018 chip, this box of tricks can transform your listening experience.
Bit-perfect playback of your music is guaranteed if you pass the units testing procedure as the M-DAC can check your digital audio chain and will report failure when testing via two test files (44khz and 96khz) that have known values.
Pros: Sound Quality, Ease of Use, Fantastic Support including firmware requests, Features
Cons: Requires galvanic isolation on USB input through additional device
Summary: I love this DAC - it really sounds fantastic and is packed with features, inputs, outputs and great looks. Designed by arguably the best engineer working in this field - John Westlake (Google him if you're not familiar with his work) - I knew it was going to be good even before hearing it.
John provides support over on the Pink Fish Media forums and has released firmware updates and fixed customer's units if faults arise.
Pros: Feature packed, great sound, balanced outs, preamp mode
Cons: Parent company (IAG, China) not providing support, weak power connector
Summary: First of all, I have to say this is a pretty good product, though I'd say if you want great sound from your laptop, it's a bit overkill - go for an Audioquest Dragonfly instead, much easier, just a USB stick-sized DAC, and you're set. But if you've got a desktop set-up with a good amp and speakers or a set of expensive headphones, the M-DAC is an interesting device to have. It's certainly won a large share of What Hi-Fi awards, so why not get it?
Summary: This dac will dramatically improve the sound quality of your system whether you use a cd player and a digital out or connect your computer through a USB cable. My portable system consists of a laptop, a 1 TB external hard drive on which is stored a large collection of classical music in flac (I have been slowly converting my personal cd collection into flac using EAC) connected to the audiolab m-dac through a USB cable which in turn is connected to the Focal XS book.
Summary: It's really a fine piece of equipment. I would say it would be very hard if possible at all to find better sound for this price. The rate is not only for the sound quality, but also for the support we can get from John Weslake himself (the product designer). As a bonus we get a class A amp for the headphones.
Summary: Bought this as a step up from a Beresford 7520 (which was already very good). Used mainly in combination with Sennheiser HD650s and is excellent. Sound is well rounded but with bags of detail. Highly recommended.
Summary: Pure and pleasant sound. It is simple to use, well built, looks nice. For the price, this is a great product. There are a few 'could be betters'.... Sometimes, you don't get sound through the USB until you have switched to another input and back again. It would be nice if you could configure the inputs with your own text or select from pre-entered text such as 'PC', 'TV', 'Media Centre' and so on.
Summary: This DAC needs at least a week for the sound to settle in - straight out of the box, it can sound a little "thin". After being run-in, its sound is amazing - fabulous imaging: deep as well as wide with some height to the soundstage. Bass is deep & well defined, mids have great detail & the treble is very well defined without being edgy. The sound is also very "agile" so transients are very noticeable.