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Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking
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Im discussing the compnent that does so much and is top for buck.... Audiolab MDAC.
I just wanted to know if there are any problems (or not!), experiences, pairing, tweaking, upgrade and all others that can be shared on a dedicated thread..........................

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

Here are a few comments to get started...
Audiolab MDAC vs. 8200CD
After having owned the 8200CD non-OLED version (which was bought before the MDAC was around). I kinda felt gutted when it arrived.
I wont go into the obvious difference in spec, unless it changes the sound experience in comparison.
Some people say there is a huge difference, others disagree (I mean through experience, we can all point to spec differences).
This is just one of the points of discussion about this excellent product.

There is just so much to say.... so I will try to be concise yet comprehensive (if that makes sense!).

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

After gaining so much information through reviews, experiences and advice, I thought I might post some of my findings.

The problem with (music in particular) is that it is subjective.

This is often brought up in many reviews, much of the time to present the image of knowing the limits of their experience(s!).

An overused admission of contraversy. But something that full time commercial reviewers do not spend enough time analysing and improving upon. Given that many people have only this to go on, to make a purchase, its daunting.

To explain this part is fairly simple.

Anything from lacking time to demo appropriate equipment, to not knowing what they want, not knowing what is out there and factoring other factors into the purchase decision which can distort a review of the sound experience without a frame of reference that can be measured.

We often find reviews which constantly switch between a setup's sound experience (which is more perceptually difficult to measure) to its price/quality ratio which they then relate back to their experiences (how ever exhaustive that is) and rank accordingly.

This is nothing new, and has been around for ages. I shouldnt even post this part in the MDAC appreciation thread, but I feel it is important is understanding how someone arrives at a product, with all the accumulated bagguage.

 

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

Following the scientific method would mean constant testing, filtering data and re-testing in order to gain what could be said as a more statistically accurate conclusions. Something anyone who went to school should understand.

PLEASE NOTE: I am assuming that a decision is solely down to perceptual sound experience of the product at a point in time.
As a scientist we should acknowledge that measurement is important.

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

I dont want to write a phd thesis, what I have said shouldnt be difficult to follow yet.

So the most accurate method would be to include as many variables into analysis while isolating and retesting as appropriate to identification, and finally measure. When I say measure, it is just how we label our experience given a set of identical stimuli.
For example, words such as warm, clinical etc....

Ok, for the contraversial variables (for example, using a digital interconnect lead over short distances) can then be measured to personal preference, and so on.
I have found that most of the confusion arises when some people claim A makes a difference, while B disagrees, and what we have is an argument which has no clear solution. Alot of this is due to the differences in Personality: experience, ability to detect specific stimuli, attention to detail etc... I dont buy into the argument of superhuman difference, although there can be clear differences between any two people.
For those who do not agree, I think a repeated and statistically verified experiment can show otherwise.
There is much subtlety in sensation depending on biological differences, experiences, nature vs. nurture etc...

So far, we can try and explain the differences in opinion through these methods, otherwise what we get is one party claiming the other has had some sort of hallucination.
So, how does this apply to me the buyer. Stick with me........
Ok, it helps in:
Identifying variables that may have not been considered or been overlooked.
Providing a perceptual experience from which to decide priorities (remembering its a matter of taste combined with ability to recognise stimuli differences which can be tested- ie. not a hallucination).
[This is where the problems start........]

People begin their listening as a combination of this nature and nurture factors and have a conditioned response which varies with time.
So its not simply a matter of gaining analytic skills over time, but having been conditioned to your experiences.
Why, this is the very nature of music, its about taste which is accumulated over time.

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

In summary....
fancy digital cables, digital signals, and all other controversial factors do make a difference, depending on the person at a point in time ie. they may get more/less sensitive to this over time.
But understanding how much of a difference could be better explained depending on partnering equipment, music choice, music recording, experience etc....
AND,
Many reviews do not include sufficient information for the reader to be able to simulate even the conditions the reviewer experienced, never mind the buyer experiencing it in an identical setup elsewhere!
Im sure these people could put more detail into their reviews. (By the way, identification of detail in music is a very good (if not only) indicator of sensitivity). This is something What Hifi reviews are (I think) awful at in particular.

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

Im gonna be writing some more on this, its just that it needs to presented in a manner you understand.

Then I can go back to discussing the MDAC, (which was what this thread was originally for!)

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

The applications of these changes can be good too.
For example, the relationship between music and musical reproduction is interlinked.
Much of mainstream music (if you can call it that) is conditioned by the equipment we hear it from.
Just imagine a world where certain qualities were more prominent then less desirable ones.
This would then have a circular effect on the type of equipment that is manufactured and more importantly, advertised to listen to it from.
Many audiophile's complain and often feel great virtue in discarding the mainstream views or sales figures for a reason.

Most importantly, sound reproduction can be more accurate to what the artist has chosen, or so we believe.

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

All those wasted natural resources on inefficient design and production could be saved, as well as giving the consumer a more accurate review and better testing/comparison methods for themselves.

Back to the MDAC.

I havent tested it as much as I would have liked. And as the number of changes in setup increase, the number of permutations of possible testing increase many fold.

Furthermore, it needs to be tested many times over to get a more statistically accurate conclusion.

An important point I read elsewhere is how the filters for the MDAC are better/worse for certain recordings for a track.

I could hear exactly what was meant to the point at which this became apparent when listening to any DAC.

Once I developed this attention to certain frequencies and suppresion/reduction in others, I could then use detail as a clearer descriminant in comparing DAC's (given a certain recording and output equipment is fixed). This is where the issue of synergy between equipment occurs.

I also think this is a clearer definition for what is meant by 'Synergy' when using it to describe an appealing combination of equipment in space/time experience.

The crucial difference being that synergy retains detail while providing an appealing sound to the listener, as apposed to just sounding good.

Once you have an understanding and ability to differentiate between meanings, alot of equipment that is highly rated no longer meets this criteria and vice versa. Whether or not the total sound observed is preferable is a matter of choice.

For example, when comparing the MDAC headphone amplifier with Musical Fidelity HPA1 Headphone amp (keeping the headphones and music source fixed) I was suprised.

The MF HPA1 on close inspection, does not reproduce certain details in comparison to the MDAC. But instead places emphasis on certain sounds/freqeuncies. Not only this, but nearly all DAC's provide a different signature when reproducing sound. Sometimes its easier to identify by changing around partnering equipment in accordance to something like the scientific mathod previously described in this thread.    

In summary, Its a combination of accuracy, personal preference and how much you can identify.

  

This is an important point in itself. Understanding that certain frequencies on the hearing spectrum can be produced (not necesarily emitted) means that the environment of testing is as important as the output.

 

 

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

Alot of this is to ensure that people understand the background to their own listening experiences.

An error checking process to methodically identify variables to price cost, in making a relative purchasing decision.

And to to appeal to those who claim to be able to hear these subtle differences as a method of guaging their experiences for further personal use.

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Firmware version

I've got the Audiolab M-DAC, fantastic product, adds great improvements to any mid level or low end HiFi system.

Just in case people don't know or have forgotton in the excitement of using this product, you can update the firmware from Audiolab's website.To tell what version firmware you currently:

From the Audiolab M-DAC being powered off, keep the the control knob pressed and power it back on. Firmware version is displayed.

If you bought it anytime before October 2012, the chances are you have older firmware.

http://www.audiolab.co.uk/Downloading.aspx?Lang=En&Tab2=Software

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

I think this goes someway to explain why the MDAC sounds so good - the ESS DAC seems to have some pretty neat design ideas in there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYjHKv2_OqQ

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

Btw, much more recent firmware updates are here: http://wikkii.org/wiki/M-DAC

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

I'm saying goodbye to my trusty MDAC tomorrow.  :wave:

It's heading off to the Czech Republic to have a level 2 upgrade from the maestro himself, John Westlake. The fortnight's absence will be tough.  :boohoo:

As for the outcome ...  :pray:

Matt

This train … carries saints and sinners / This train … carries losers and winners / This train … carries whores and gamblers / This train … carries lost souls.

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

Ive got a Audiolab M-DAC Regulated Linear PSU fitted on mine made a nice upgrade as i got tired of waiting for JW to bring out his Mpax.

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RE: Audiolab MDAC Appreciation and tweaking

john dolan wrote:

Ive got a Audiolab M-DAC Regulated Linear PSU fitted on mine made a nice upgrade as i got tired of waiting for JW to bring out his Mpax.

John,

I'm sure the PSU was a good idea. How has it worked out?

I think John W has an awful lot on his plate, what with his design work for Creek, the new Lakewest products (MIMP etc), and the MDAC upgrades.

I'll let you know how the upgraded MDAC sounds once it's back in London.

Matt

This train … carries saints and sinners / This train … carries losers and winners / This train … carries whores and gamblers / This train … carries lost souls.

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