|Warranty length||2 Years|
|Product Award||What HiFi Award 5 Stars|
Type: Digital-analogue converter
DAC: ESS Sabre32 9018 chip
Sampling Rate: 24-bit/192kHz
USB Sampling: 32-bit/384kHz
DSD (64/128/256): 2.8/5.6/11.2MHz
THD: (1kHz 20Hz-kHz A wtd) <0.002%
Freq response: 20Hz - 20KHz (±0.2dB)
SNR: (RCA) >-115dB, (XLR) > -120dB
Dynamic: (RCA) >115dB (XLR) >120dB
Crosstalk: (RCA) >120dB (XLR) >130dB
Coaxial: 2 x 24-bit/192kHz
Optical Tos: 2 x 24-bit/192kHz
AES/EBU: 1 x 24-bit / 192kHz
USB: 1 x 32-bit/384kHz
Digital Coaxial: x 1
Toslink Optical: x 1
RCA voltage: 2.25V RMS
XLR voltage: 4.5V RMS
RCA Impedance: 10Ω
XLR Impedance: 20Ω
Dimensions (HWD): 114 x 247 x292mm
Net Weight: 3.7kg
The Audiolab M-DAC+ (Plus) is a step up from the globally acclaimed M-DAC offering the same award winning technology with significant enhancements for a superior performance.
The new M-DAC+ is based firmly on the classic M-DAC, with carefully targeted improvements in key areas – a logical move, given the original model’s sustained popularity over the last four years.
The M-DAC built a peerless reputation with press and public alike since its launch in the autumn of 2011, scooping multiple Product of the Year Awards from the likes of What Hi-Fi?, Hi-Fi Choice and EISA to make it arguably the most critically acclaimed DAC component ever made.
Finest DAC Circuitry
Like the M-DAC, the M-DAC+ incorporates the ES9018 Sabre Reference 32-bit DAC chipset, still widely regarded as the finest available. This is surrounded by exceptionally well-specified circuitry that puts other similarly priced DACs to shame.
It includes a proprietary, discrete master clock to minimise jitter, coupled with extensive time domain isolation. A JFET Class A output stage ensures that the audio signal, following conversion from the digital domain to analogue, is of the highest quality.
Under the hood lie a number of performance-related enhancements. The M-DAC+ now processes audio data up to 32-bit/384kHz via USB; this is a far higher specification than that required by current hi-res music formats, ensuring this new, premium-quality addition to the M-DAC family is fully equipped for future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound.
The USB input now also accepts DSD files (the digital audio system originally developed for Super Audio CD), offering compatibility with DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256. This is a significant addition, as DSD has an important role to play in the developing high-resolution digital download scene.
As digital audio technology has progressed, the importance of the characteristics of reconstruction digital filters has become more appreciated. Like the classic M-DAC, the M-DAC+ features user-selectable filters for optimal listening and measurement modes, in addition to more conventional types for easy comparison.
These filter settings allow the user to tune performance to suit his or her preference, depending on system configuration, digital file quality and musical taste. The M-DAC+ inherits seven filter settings from the M-DAC for PCM files and adds four more for DSD playback, allowing the user to optimise the noise floor to suit the performance of the source file and the bandwidth of associated equipment such as amps and speakers.
Another important change relates to the power supply, which has been upgraded and is now incorporated within the M-DAC+’s chassis (hence its slightly taller and deeper case compared to the classic M-DAC). A precision-wound toroidal transformer uses multiple windings to feed separate analogue and digital rectification stages.
From there, multiple power supply sections feed the necessary voltages to each area of the DAC, keeping any crossover interference to a minimum. The result is the highest performance power supply Audiolab engineers have yet specified for a DAC, and its contribution to the M-DAC+’s enhanced sonic performance is significant.
'Its strengths are many, its shortcomings very few. For: Extensive spec, Fine build and finish, Organised, tidy and expansive listen. Against: A touch more attack would make it even better.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine June 2016)
'Apart from the additional bulk, the M-DAC+ doesn’t stray too far from the build-quality and finish template established by the original M-DAC – which can only be a good thing. The M-DAC+ is smoothly and sturdily constructed, impeccably finished and comes complete with a very acceptable remote control – palm-sized but robust and responsive.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine June 2016)
'Like the M-DAC, the + has seven distinct filter settings for PCM files and, as with the M-DAC, we find we favour the Optimal TransientXD option – it offers the best balance between timing, organisation and attack. Unlike the M-DAC, however, we also are impressed by the sound via the Minimum Phase setting – it’s a smaller, tighter-knit presentation than Optimal TransientXD but offers a little more attack and dynamism. In any event, we are unable to find a genre or source of music that isn’t best suited to one of these two filter positions.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine June 2016)
'It’s an overtly neat and tidy listen – not quite OCD in its fanatical delineation of the soundstage but nevertheless very concerned with making sure it’s as explicit as possible. That’s a trait we wholly admire, and few other comparably priced DACs describe a stage quite as explicitly as the M-DAC+.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine June 2016)
'The more information-rich the file, the more information the Audiolab M-DAC+ hands over, combining authority with fluent musicality in a way that encourages further listening. It’s a similarly confident, authoritative performer when listening via the headphone socket. This Audiolab’s talent for staging, focus and detail retrieval is even more apparent when using an appropriately capable pair of headphones.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine June 2016)
'The Audiolab M-DAC+ gets an awful lot right – so much, in fact, it comfortably justifies its ‘+’ designation. Lavishly detailed, fastidiously organised and elegantly straight-edged in its sound, it absolutely demands an audition.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine June 2016)