Hi pkerai, agree with most of what you say but completely confused about the experience you had where you found the Rega DAC to be have bass distortion as haven't found this to be the case at all myself and listen to a very wide range of music from large scale classical pieces to trance and techno with pretty much everything inbetween apart from heavy metal. I listen at various listening levels including loud.
The Rega DAC has 10 filter settings (5 for hi-res music and 5 normal resolution) although you'd need a very keen ear and very revealing system to hear more than a very subtle change between them.
As you say, it comes down to personal findings, perceptions and preferences which are what matters, I hope Jimmy enjoys auditioning them both, I certainly did.
MacBook Air (iTunes/BitPerfect) > Chord Company USB Silver Plus > MF V-Link II > Chord Optichord > Rega DAC > Tellerium Black I/C > Rega Brio-R > Tellerium Black S/C > Rega RS3s
iTouch > Graham Slee Novo > Grado SR80is
Needed to buy the massive attack album to do the side by side test for the bass distortion you experienced.
Played the track angels on both dacs the rega and the Mdac, both sounded very good rega as normal warmer and the Mdac accurate and more punchy I don't know where the bass distortion was coming from but based on the test I have done here I don't think it was from the rega dac.
Just shows how we all hear different things, I guess it shows the importance of home auditions to test the equipment in the actual set up you will use it in. Personally still think both Dacs are great and there is not a bad choice between them just different.
Classe CP800 - Classe CA2300 - Cyrus CDT SE Transport - B&W 802D - Cardas Clear Beyond Speaker Cable - Rega RP8 - Apheta cartrige - Graham slee Elevator - Graham slee Reflex M - Denon AVR3312 - Apple TV - Sonos ZP90 - B&W 685 theatre - Panasonic tx50gt30b - Pioneer bdp320 - Sonos 2 x zp 120 - B&W 686 2 x Sonos s5's
In the bar:- Roksan Caspian M2 Amp - Audiolab MDAC - B&W 685
I love my rega Dac but the lack of a remote is a pain sometimes.
I totally agree with you Stig!
I've the SBT, tv box and bluray through the Rega DAC, it's a real pain... If only...
Rega RP3 / Goldring 1012gx > Rega Fono MM V2
Synology DS213 > QED Performance USB > Rega DAC > QED Performance RCA
Pathos Classic One > Inakustik LS 1102 cable > Dynaudio Excite X12 and some times BK XLS200 MK II
SBT > G&BL teflon line RCA > NAD 3020i > Supra Classic 2x4mm > Monitor Audio RS1
I have read a lot about the Rega Dac and the Audiolab mDac, but suprissingly, never found a thread where someone had used both and compared how it felt with each of them.
So...anyone who has tested these two and want to share some knowledge?
I've tested both and prefered Rega BUT I've tested Exposure 2010s2 DAC also. IMHO Exposure is better than Rega and Audiolab.
Why don't you give the 2010s2 a chance?
I have been off-the-grid for some days. During this time, I had the chance to audiotion at home the Audiolab mdac, Rega DAC and the NAD m51. I was a bit skeptical to the NAD m51 as I haven't found much about it on the net.
Here are my impresions, I was quite surprised! (I have to admit that initially, I was somewhat biased towards the MDAC):
Audiolab MDAC: Very clean and smooth. In my system I did not experience any harsh top-end or similar. However, I found the bass quite polite...yes deep and detailed but too subtle for my taste/with my system (Naim Nait XS-2 + Naim NAC5 +B&W CM7). It was borring to listen to any kind of rock/pop music. Honestly, I would not trade the bass presence of my cheap dacmagic for all the detail/imaging that the MDAC could produce. Actually, I hav read a lot about this dac being too analytical...to me the word would be "too polite".
Rega DAC: As it is usually mentioned, quite polite in the top end and an analogue touch to the music, also very smooth and easy to listen. The bass presence was nice, but it was hard to discern details in the very low end. I assume that this would not be a problem with stand speakers, but I think my floorstanders could go a bit deeper. Very tempting!!
NAD M51: this one got me unprepared Just amazing!! the scale of the sound was way better than the previous two. The bass has a powerful presence, but it goes much deeper than in my dacmagic and/or the Rega. The top end was very natural and I never got any hint of brightness. A lot of fun to listen to music, very engaging. I also realized that I could listen to music at higher volumes easily.
CONCLUSIONS: I know this is a very hot topic, and people seem to be quite polarized towards one DAC or the other. I have tried to find the best option for MY SYSTEM. I expected that most of the differences between the 3 dacs would be in the treeble, however, all of them showed a smooth behaviour in the top-end. However, the largest differences appeared in the bass response. I listened to Hans Zimmer - Time (suggested in the review of the mdac) and the NAD sound gave me goosebumps. I got pretty much the same impressions going through my whole collection of music: Eric Claptions Unplugged, Dire Straits, VAST, Loreena Mckennitt, etc... Perhaps this is not a fair comparison because the Rega DAC and Audiolab Mdac are quite cheaper, than the NAD, but the sound difference was larger than I could expect!
I hope this experience is of any use to someone else, I am now saving my money for the NAD.
Too true. When the retail price of the Nad Dac is around £1500, approx 3 x the cost of the Rega and almost that for the Audiolab. For an extra £500 the Naim Dac is available. How tempting is that?
Amp: Leema Pulse; Source: Naim CD5i-2, Denon 260MKII, Pro-ject XP I; Speakers: PMC TB2i
Formerly known as plastic penguin
For some reason (that I cannot understand) the Naim dac retails much more expensive than in the UK and the NAD much cheaper...in Sweden.
NAD m51: 12990 SEK
Rega DAC: 6000 SEK
Audiolab mdac: ~7000 SEK (very rare to find)
Naim DAC: 25000-26000 SEK
(The exchange rate is 1GBP = 11 SEK)
The Naim is pretty much a factor 2 more expensive :'(
Have to admit that when I had the Rega Apollo on home dem the bass didn't seem quite as chunky as my Arcam. A lot of the purists would suggest that the Rega has tighter bass, hence the slight descrepency. To me, although slightly smoother in tonal balance, the Arcam seemed more fun because of the extra bass extension.
By the way, I forgot to mention that I used the Optical interface in all cases to compare the DACs.
I understand that optical has less signal loss then coaxial, so why is it that coaxial is used for higher resolution tracks then.
It would be more sensible to allow the optical port to transmit the higher resolution files to the DAC?
Furthermore, It should be stated that the Audiolab products have more frequent updates ie. firmware.
Finally, I have recently seen a site or company advertising upgrades to the Audiolab 8200CD.
This upgrade includes an overhaul over the internal electronic components with two price options and even includes a short description of what it means sound wise. It has to be pointed out that the cost of the pricier update is the same as purchasing the product!
There is even a claim that after the upgrade, the unit can compare to CD players of £4k+............
Although its alot of money to fork out without being sure of the sonic improvements. And nothing to say over DAC improvements?
Here's the link, your views............
Audiolab 8200CD, NAD C355BEE amp, Sonos Connect, Sony bdp-s380 bluray player, Revo Heritage, Monitor Audio BR5 floorstanders, Q Acoustics 2010, Chord Company Carnival Silver Screen, Audioquest 14/4 flp Speaker cable, Audioquest 0.5m interconnects, Ipod touch 8BG 4G, Sony Tablet S.
The last time I listened to NAD was 20 years ago, and it sounded really dull. It was always advertised with 'we've put all the money on the inside'. Has the brand sound changed, how many years ago did that happened?
Nad have produced some very musical amps, certainly wouldn't describe them as "dull". My only gripette is the bass, to my ears, is a little overbearing.
Guess that etched and detailed is more my kind of bag, evert since I first heard the Acoustic Energy in Bournemouth, mid 90's.
I've recently swapped out my Rega DAC and Rega Brio-R for the Audiolab MDAC and 8200P Power Amp. My speakers are Monitor Audio RX1s.
I did enjoy the sound from my Rega DAC, but I felt some detail was missing and was curious if I could achieve a larger soundstage - which is when I started looking into the MDAC seriously.
First I home demoed the MDAC alongside the Rega (Both with the Brio-R), switching inputs instantly gave a very clear indication difference in sound quality. At first I found the MDAC increadibly harsh on the top end and lacking considerably in bass, but I later found out that this was because it was a new unit and had no been burned in. The sound changed considerably over the course of just a couple of days listening, the treble became clear, crisp and detailed. The bass tightened and there was no distortion.
After a couple of weeks comparing both dacs I was struggling to make a decision. I felt that the Rega dac added slightly more emotion to the music and the MDAC was more clinical, at least in most instances. I think at that stage I prefered the sound of the Rega over the MDAC, but the extra MDAC functionality really made me want to investigate further, so I requested an in store demo of the Rega Dac vs the MDAC with different amp combinations.
I very quickly discovered that I was no longer interested in the Rega Dac and Brio-R, compared the the MDAC paired with other amps it sounded distored and a bit fuzzy. I tried 3 other amps with the MDAC and settled on the 8200P for the time being with the intention of upgrading to the lakewest MAMP and MPAX on release.
good point...there is a very high chance that the MDAC unit I borrowed was not properly run-in, but I could only haveit for one night :-/
I will try to borrow it again...
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