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Audiolab M-DAC DAC

Enquiry/price check? Click here SKU: 5618
Ex VAT: £457.50

RRP: £599.00


A multi award winner, M-DAC excels as a DAC, headphone amplifier and optional pre amplifier. A perfect desktop "hub" for listening to music from your Mac, PC and other sources.
We bought the last available stocks of M-DACs from Audiolab and can pass a special saving onto you. Your last chance to order a brand new M-DAC complete with a full 2 year warranty.

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RRP: £599.00


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Product Video


Warranty length 2 Years
Brand Audiolab
Product Award What HiFi Award 5 Stars, EISA, HiFi World 5 Globes

Tech Specs

- Type: Digital-to-analogue converter
- DAC: ESS Sabre32 9018 chip
- Resolution: 32 bits
- Maximum Sampling Frequency: 84.672MHz
- Digital in: 2x coaxial, 2x Toslink optical, USB
- Digital output: 1 x coaxial, 1x Toslink optical
- Output volt: RCA: 2.25V RMS; XLR: 4.5V RMS
- TH Distortion RCA: <0.002%; XLR: <0.0008%
- Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz (± 0.2dB)
- Dynamic range RCA: >115dB; XLR: >122dB
- Crosstalk RCA: <-120dB; XLR: <-130dB
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 59 x 250 x252mm
- Power: 220--230V /100-120V (50 ~ 60Hz)
- Colour (Aluminium): Black and Silver


What's in the box?
- Audiolab M-DAC DAC
- Remote control (and batteries)
- Power cable
- User manual

Product Description

The Audiolab M-DAC is a multi award-winning DAC and a perfect choice for enjoying better quality audio from your Mac, PC or other digital music source. Often cited as one of the best DACs under £1000, the M-DAC is the best value desktop audio hub we've heard for headphones listening. 

For usability, a fully featured remote control is included along with high quality OLED display (clear enough to read from a distance) that shows your current input, volume level, DAC mode, sampling rate, and also shows digital level meters with dB and peak hold, making it as much a pleasure to use as to listen to.

Class Leading Sound Quality

Every aspect of M-DAC's design has been optimised for the best possible sound quality. At its core is a 32-bit DAC from ESS Technology, an extremely high resolution DAC that resolves outstanding levels of detail and definition. With extremely low loss, polypropylene film/foil capacitors, ultra stable resistors and a four layer PCB board, there is very minimal signal loss so you'll hear more subtle details and nuances that you may not have noticed before. All of this is matched with ultra low noise regulated power supplies for a clean and dynamic sound.

High Res Music Support

Smartly designed, the M-DAC is designed to improve the sound of your digital sources and will play high res 24-bit/192kHz files via coaxial input (optical and USB carry 24-bit/96kHz).

As such, it's a perfect choice for enjoying high res FLAC, WMA lossless or WAV files from your computer alongside the ability to improve the sound of your CD, DVD or Blu-Ray player and other digital sources.

As stylish, impressively specified and even more impressively sounding DAC, the M-DAC is your window into a world of high res audio.

Dedicated Headphones Output

In contrast to some amplifiers that feature a basic headphones output, the M-DAC has a dedicated internal headphones stage designed to drive proper hi-fi headphones, allowing you to enjoy the best possible sound quality via headphones from your digital sources. 

Selectable Audio Filters

The M-DAC also features a selectable filter system, allowing you to select from seven different audio filters to find the ideal sound. We usually recommend going "straight through" but you may find one of these filters slightly adjusts frequency response to sound better with your headphones or speakers. The filters software is also fully upgradable ( via the USB port).

Various Connections Options

A high performance design, the MDAC includes asynchronous USB, 2 x optical and 2 x coaxial digital inputs, giving you a range of input options for Mac, PC and digital sources. The Class A J-FET outputs stage includes RCA and balanced XLR connections, allowing you to also use the M-DAC as a pre amplifier with a suitable matching power amplifier (to use with passive hi-fi loudspeakers) or to connect directly to a pair of active speakers as a desktop set-up.

This means the M-DAC is more than just a stand alone DAC, it can sit at the very heart of your audio system as your hub to a world of music.

Press Reviews

  • 'The new age of USB computer audio has rekindled the flame of the outboard D/A converter (DAC). Among this new breed of USB DACs few are as simple to implement or as versatile in use as Audiolab’s fabulous little M-DAC. It works directly with virtually all PCs and Macs without special USB drivers while its bold display shows a wealth of information about the incoming music data. An onboard volume control lets the M-DAC do the job of a preamp just as the choice of seven digital filters allows fine-tuning of its sound. And what a sound – powerful, insightful and delicate, it cuts to the heart of the music while remaining faithful to its soul. This is a very high performance product that’s perfect for both the computer audio novice and seasoned enthusiast alike.' (EISA Award 2012-2013)

  • 'With excellent sonics across a wide range of sources, fine build, superlative ease of use and a vast feature count, it's very difficult not to rave about the new Audiolab M-DAC. It's a landmark product, just like John Westlake's original DacMagic was all those years ago. If you're looking for a digital-to-analogue converter at or anywhere near this price, you surely must hear this.' (Hi-Fi Choice Magazine June 2012)

  • 'Like: Beautifully clear and detailed sound; strong on rhythm; impressive feature set. Dislike: Frail power connector; that's all! Raises the bar for what an affordable - or in some ways any - DAC can achieve.' (Hi-Fi Choice Magazine June 2012)

  • 'Solid build, smart styling; supports 24-bit/192kHz; thorough selection of connections; sounds superb...well worth the wait, the M-DAC has raised the performance bar with apparent ease...hugely capable. We urge you to find out what it could do for your system.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine November 2011)

  • 'The real talking point here is just how good this unit makes your music sound. Like a sportsman at the top of his game, this Audiolab makes the job in hand seem easy. There's bags of detail, stirring dynamics and an exciting agility to the delivery...A WAV file of Hans Zimmer's Time from the Inception soundtrack delivers masses of information to process, but the sound remains precise and controlled.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine November 2011)

  • 'This is one of those products that has you reaching to play all your favourite tracks to hear just how good they can sound.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine November 2011)

  • 'For features and sound, the M-DAC is clearly excellent value. Partnering it with power amplifiers of this quality makes for an extremely capable combination.' (Hi-Fi News Magazine)

  • 'Presented an impressively wide soundstage with plenty of detail, that was easy on the ear.' (Hi-fi News Magazine)

  • 'Combines real musical power, control and clarity in a smooth sounding package.' (Hi-fi News Magazine)

  • 'It's an absolute delight [...] which will hold its own against DACs costing almost double its asking price.' (What Hi-Fi Ultimate Guide)

  • 'Listen through a pair of cans and you'll discover that the M-DAC is a superb headphone amp, too.' (What Hi-Fi Ultimate Guide)

  • 'Excellent sound, a comprehensive feature count and impressive flexibility make the Audiolab a stand-out product at its price.' (What Hi-Fi Magazine)

  • 'Out of the box the the M-DAC is impressive, but tweaking the settings to your personal tastes is akin to sprinkling your preferred seasoning over an already appetising meal, to make it really delicious' (What Hi-Fi Magazine)

  • 'This is a very high performance product that's perfect for both the computer audio novice and seasoned enthusiast alike' (Hi-Fi News Magazine October 2012) 

  • '...powerful, insightful and delicate, it cuts to the heart of the music while remaining faithful to its soul'  (Hi-Fi News Magazine October 2012) 

Customer Reviews

  • Graham

    22 Nov 2019

    Can't say how pleased I am with this unit, which I'm using as a desktop USB-dac/headphone amp, with the superb Focal Clear headphones. Prior to getting the M-DAC, I was using a lowly £50 Cambridge Audio Dacmagic XS - the Focals still sounded good with this, but there was clearly something of a mis-match in terms of quality level, and the sound a bit brash and fatiguing after a while - I would say somewhat brittle and cold in nature. The M-DAC just fixes these issues completely - beautiful and liquid sounding, more detail, and just a sound with way more scale, authority and sophistication. Imaging and soundstage is all there - it's just lovely, and I can listen for hours. I'm liking the "Optimal Transient DD" filter setting at the moment, but it's interesting and useful to have the range of seven filter options. This is really my first foray into higher end headphones and dac-headphone amps, so I can't claim to have tried many other setups to compare - but I can certainly hear a big difference compared to the CA Dacmagic XS (it's an unfair comparison given the price difference I know), and it does seem to me from the sheer absolute level of sound quality, that the M-DAC is both a superb dac and also has a really excellent headphone amp to boot. The unit has a very high quality of build and finish (I have the silver option), a really nice display, and it just looks great. It may be a concern for some, so I will also report that I've had absolutely no compatibility issues whatsoever using the M-DAC with my laptop running Windows 10 64-bit (you will need a suitable USB A to USB B type cable as one is not provided). As instructed, I simply connected the computer to the M-DAC, switched on the M-DAC, and the computer immediately detected and installed the device, and I was away - fantastic. Highly recommended from me anyhow, a superb bargain in my opinion, and great service from Audio Affair too.
  • reinier

    1 Jul 2017

    My setup is DELL XPS15, WireWorld - Starlight 7, M-DAC and SH HD800 First Generation, Audio source FLAC 24/96. This setup is the top of the line, no way to beat it. Sound is unreal, you are immerse in a real HiFi Experience, true audiophile setup. Love it.

    2 Mar 2013

    Bought a customer return M-DAC from Audio Affair for £499. It arrived in original unopened and undamaged packaging, so I got a brand new unit for £100 less. I'm already happy. Ran the unit continuously 24/7 for a week from my media pc then sat down one quiet evening for a good listen. Wow! It beat my expectations immediately. I have a Roksan Caspian setup through MA GR20 floor standers and chord chorus/epic cables and I must say that the M-DAC more than does them justice. I have moved to pc based music for convenience and wanted to be able to at least match the quality of the Roksan CD player and the M-DAC does not disappoint. It is easily the best £500 I have ever spent on hifi kit. Would recommend using the USB input with a decent USB cable (mine is Vertere) and the Optimal Transient filter settings.
  • Peter

    15 Aug 2012

    M -DAC and Sennheiser HD 700 first day sound was a not very good but i know it needs time to warm up. after 4 days the sound was very good and i was getting more detail from my music. the M -DAC is very well made the only thingi i dont like is the power lead fiddly to connect and big power brick. 10 days of playback on the M - DAC and it just went from very good to amazing the sound is fantastic from my cd rips on my mac mini i use AIFF uncompressed from original cd i listen to linn records 24/96 tracks sound is amazing. one thing you need to know if you are playing music at 16/44 then you set it to 44.1k if you want to listen to 24/96 tracks you need to change it in midi settings on mac's to 96k everytime you want to listen to 24/96. the M-DAC is the best dac you can get for the money better than dac's costing more than double its price. 5 stars. go get one amazing sound and price.
  • Rick

    26 May 2012

    I was convinced the waiting list for the M-DAC was a good sign and paid extra for a Saturday morning delivery when mine arrived. I sat like a kid on christmas morning waiting for the delivery and on opening the box couldn't be more happy with the look and feel of the unit. Like many I suspect though I bought this firmly with sound in mind to get the very best from high res audio files. I was expecting an improvement over my Musical Fidelity VDAC but not by this much! The M-DAC gets into the music in a way I've never heard before but its not all about detail and resolution, it has an eerie ability to bring out the real emotion in the music and make it sound REAL.. and for that, it's worth every one of the 5 stars.
  • Cans

    18 Mar 2012

    I have owned an m-dac for a month now. I use it mainly through my laptop and audeze lcd2 headphones. I use foobar and wasapi through windows 7 and play music through the usb connection. USB supports up to 96 khz on the m-Dac so a fair proportion of my hi res music won't play ,for instance I have Tusk by Fleetwood Mac thru hdracks which is a stunning 192khz. That won't play thru usb , it might thru spdif but I haven't tried.
    So what does it sound like? It has the Audiolab trademark of sounding slightly harsh but beautifully detailed. There are several filters which can tailor the sound to one's individual taste. The headphone output is excellent and will run any headphone on the market. The power supply is a quiet performer it can be upgraded but I shan't need to I don't think. I have an hrt headstreamer which is no match for the m-dac and a m2tech young slee novo and linear psu an -dac
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Contact Details

UK Local Rate Number
0844 50 403 50

Sales Landline
0121 224 7300/7401

Customer Services Landline
0121 224 7350/7351

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