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jimmy.cross's picture
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Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Hi,

I still haven't decided what to do with my dacmagic. For some time I have not been satisfied with the sound of my system (Naim XS-2 + dacmagic + van den Hul Snowline + B&W CM7 ), but I couldn't really point what was failing. I decided to upgrade the cables for the Naim NAC5, and that brought A LOT of character and dynamism to the bass and made the top end less harsh.

Since it seems that I'm using my computer as only source, I thought that an upgrade of the dac would not hurt. 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.

I don't think that I would buy one or the other without, at least, having an audition at the shop. However, I usually find other users comments very informative and perhaps, sometimes can hint problems with certain equipment (and both are out of stock were I live).

So...anyone who has tested these two and want to share some knowledge? Smile

Cheers

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

I had B&W CM7. Still have Audiolab M-DAC. Heard DacMagic as well as Rega DAC.

If I have to change one component in your system, then it would be CM7. Please do not get me wrong her but the metallic tweeter in CM series is a bit too metallic and reacts violently to many electronics. Knowing DacMagic which IMO is slightly harsher top end (but a great Value for Money), I would say M-DAC might help a little not just top end but over all. Be prepared to have only a slight change as there is CM7 in the equation (great speaker for the first 30 minutes but longer hours, I am not too sure)

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Having owned the DacMagic* and RS6s which have a hard domed tweeter, a change to either Arcam rDac or Rega. According to many on here Rega and Naim is an excellent match.

 

*The DacMagic lasted 3 weeks, too mechanical IMO.

Amp; CDP; Turntable; Tuner; Speakers

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

plastic penguin wrote:

Having owned the DacMagic* and RS6s which have a hard domed tweeter, a change to either Arcam rDac or Rega. According to many on here Rega and Naim is an excellent match.

 

*The DacMagic lasted 3 weeks, too mechanical IMO.

I run Rega Dac and Naim Nait 5i and work very well together. Rega brings even greater Dymanics and timing, better imaging over my ancient DAC magic 1 and little more detail I would say. I found the presentation of Rega much more to my liking over Dacmagic 1.

Heck, my friend tried rega dac on his PC - Sony ES1200 av amp - B&W CDM 7NT speakers and these really showed greater agility / timing and rather wonderful considering the source and amp. Alot to do with speakers as well as Dac I would say.

I have no comparision to MDAC however.

Ambrose

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Have heard both and thought there was very little between them, I will be getting the Mdac, has a headphone socket and display, fits better with my other equipment.

Also have a dacmagic thru my 'old' system, any harshness I feel is negated by the Arcam and older speakers.

Good Luck

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Hi,

 

I have both and happy with both sound different but both sound great.

 

I auditioned both a while ago and could not decide between the 2 so I bought both I have 2 listening rooms.  I have the Mdac in my main listening room as I wanted a head phone amp in that room.  The rega is in the second room purely because the kandy K2 already has a headphone output.

 

I think there both great and would struggle to pick between the 2.

 

Lee

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Thanks for those valuable comments!

@Shanka,Leehallam: How does the response in the top-end of the two dacs compare?

I got to audition the Rega at the shop and I quite liked it, but as usual, they didn't have my speakers (although they did have my amp), so it was kind of a blind test. They haven't got the mdac yet Sad

 

 

 

Anonymous
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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

hi all,
i am thinking of upgrading dacmagic as well, does anyone use the headphone output
on the mdac and is it any good, how will it drive my senny 650s and how will the headphone out compare
to my musical fidelity x-can v3 headphone amp.

Anonymous
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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

I love my rega Dac but the lack of a remote is a pain sometimes.

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Jimmy.cross,

Your questions have had me busy this morning.  But I am pleased I did this before responding I normally have my Mdac connected to Caspian m2 then to PM1 so naturally the top end is far superior to the second room rega dac to kandy k2 then to 685s. This morning I have put both Dacs on the Caspian and the PM1's true side by side both been running for a few months now so well runn in.  Remember this is just my opinion for my ears. I used the same 3 songs on cd spinning in a Sony BDP390 1. Adele, someone like you, Elbow, Jesus is a Rochdale girl & Birdy, Skinny love

Rega DAC:- musically very accurate, instrument placement great, mid range warm natural, top end clear consise sounds real.

Mdac:- sounds faster and more punch if that makes sence, mid range not as warm as the rega but I would describe as more accurate but less natural, top end again clear consise sounds nice.

 Wow both sound great don't think there is a right ir wrong choice. Big question if I could only have one what would I do I would choose the rega for the way it sounds but the Mdac for the looks and the headphone amp even though the Mdac is more expensive it is better value with the head phone amp as in my opinion the head phone amp is as good as anything you would get for £250.

 

Jimmy.cross if you are local enough to me you are more than welcome to come around and have a listen and a play for yourself.

 

Lee

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

I did a similar test like this last year.
Although I cant claim to have had the opportunity as the previous person on this thread.
I tested: Audiolab 8200CD DAC against the Rega DAC with the following setup:
Monitor audio RX6, cant remember the speaker cables, Atlas Equator interconnects, Cant remember the digital cable, and then used the Audiolab as the CD transport for both the DACS.
It could be said that the Audiolab DAC has an advantage in relation to using its own CD player as a transport, but anyway....
The rega is not quite as detailed as the audiolab, but can sometimes sound more musical.
One major difference was the bass when listening to: 'Massive attack' track 'Angel'.
The rega had significantly distorted bass, and doesnt cope with the wide range of frequencies.
However, it can be more musical then the audiolab, and takes some of the edge of music.

I personally dont like this as I want clarity, detail and soundstage.
If you can, test out this track with differing amps, speakers and cables.

Also the rega doesnt have a remote control, no display (not really important), has 32 bit DAC, and USB input is of much higher quality on Audiolab.
Whether these factors matter to you depends alot on what kind of music you listen to.
I prefer large orchestral classical with strings to be the decider.
Complex music like this should have a 3D soundstage, as if you were in the audience.
Other kinds of music are easier to satisfy with other equipment.
Bt it depends on digital quality of music input into the DAC also.

Is that any good to you?

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Pkerai,

You have me intrigued.  I am going to set the 2 dacs back up now and have a listen to massive attack angel now!

 

I will let you know what I hear.

 

Lee

Anonymous
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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

This thread may help too http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/rega-quality-control-slipping

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

@Lee: I appreciate the most your detailed description and comparison, thank you! It was a pleasant surprise for me to read that you took your time to do an A/B comparison of the 2 dacs! I live in Sweden, therefore it is hard to accept that invitation! Wink

@pkerai: Interesting, I think today I read in another forum someone mentioning the same experience with the bass. I will try to borrow the Rega to test synergy with the rest of my system.

 

Cheers!

Anonymous
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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Hi, haven't heard the M-Dac but did audition the Audiolab 8200CD against the Rega DAC using in each case the Rega Brio-R, Audiolab 8200A and Naim Nait 5i amps into Rega RS3 speakers.

 

I liked the Audiolab/Nait 5i and Audiolab/Brio-R combinations but was won over by the Rega DAC/Brio-R combination, perhaps because of the synergy between the Rega components.

 

For me the Rega put the biggest smile on my face and had plenty enough neutrality, detail, soundstage and bass accuracy for what I want.  I also listen to large scale classical pieces such as 1812 Overture and many others and have never found the Rega wanting in any respect that I could detect.

 

I'm also entirely confident that Rega do not have any significant quality issues you should worry about (re the link to is Rega quality control slipping).

 

It will be close and come down to your personal preference and what you will be playing the DAC through.

 

Have fun with the auditioning. 

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RE: Rega DAC, Audiolab mDac

Hi steve,
It seems as though you have tried out a few more components then I have.
The are more expensive...and hence of better quality.

Comparisons depend on source of music too.
I should think that testing complex music at the very best quality would be a good determinant.
There are just too many variables that could change sound.
It requires time, which most of us havent got.
But more importantly is that there are masses of people who just go along with what hifi awards or ratings, with disregard to pairing and other factors.

They should be the one's who run detailed tests around the equipment in question, varying all other connected equipment including music source and music genre.

This is the point of reading the magazine.
What is sonetimes a 2 star can sound suitable then a 5 star.
And Im not just talking about it on a value basis.

Its the reviewers who should be doing more hard work, to save purchasers time and money.
I mean that it what they are meant for!

Back to Steve's observations:
I also tested the audiolab 8200A and wasnt impressed, although a interconnect change made all the differences.
Another factor when making the decision, is the use of tonal controls on the amp as well as filter types on the DAC.
This can greatly enhance tweaking posibilities, which do make a difference.

But distorted bass at medium/high volume on bassy tracks, with tonal bypass shouldnt happen with equipment such as this.
Try it out on the Rega DAC, and see what you get.....

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