This M2Tech DAC’s headline-grabbing 32bit/384kHz capability is, at the same time, deeply impressive and rather pointless.
It’s hard enough finding standard (up to 24bit/192kHz) high resolution files we want to listen to, let alone ones at that resolution. We suspect it’ll be a long time before such files become widely available, if they ever do. Still, it’s future proofing all the same.
And, anyway, this DAC performs very well with more common files such as
16-bit/44.1 kHz WAVs or 24-Bit/96kHz high-res material.
Fed with a mix of material from our Apple MacBook and Naim’s NDX streamer the results are uniformly pleasing.
There’s an impressive degree of insight into recordings as varied as Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You, the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Dynamics are strong, and the leading and trailing edges of notes defined with precision.
A full range of inputs
We’re particularly taken with the punch and power on show. With a touch more rhythmic fluidity and a little less electronic edge at the very top-end this DAC could dominate this class, sonically.
This DAC is well specified. There’s a full range of inputs including rarities such as
AES/EBU and BNC alongside the standard complement of coaxial, optical and USB.
The highest resolution (32Bit/384kHz) is accepted only through USB, with the electrical inputs taking 24bit/192kHz and optical 24Bit/96kHz files.
This is a fine performer for the money. We like its look and that massive display. We also approve of the future proofing – though its fine performance with commonly available file formats is of more importance to us.
Our main reservation is that Audiolab’s M-DAC delivers an equally convincing, though differently balanced performance at around half the money; and it has headphone and digital preamp capabilities too.