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"Editors' Choice" Award Winner 2012 The Absolute Sound Magazine
Listed in The Absolute Sound 2012 High-End Audio Buyer's Guide
Now with Asynchronous USB Input
Musical Fidelity was one of the first audiophile companies to offer a DAC. Since then, the company has established a solid tradition of creating top performing, top value digital products. A perfect case in the point is the M1DAC A, which is the culmination of over 23 years of experience design superb sounding DACs.
The M1DAC A gives you plenty of input format choices with four digital inputs: coax, optical, balanced, and USB. Versatility accompanies the connectivity. The M1 DAC will lock on to any S/PDIF signal at 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88 kHz, 96 kHz, or 192 kHz. The input sampling frequency is displayed on the front panel.
The new M1DAC A version of the M1 DAC now incorporates an asynchronous USB interface plus an upgraded power supply.
The M1 DAC won an "Editors' Choice" award for 2012 from The Absolute Sound. "The M1 DAC looks to be an exercise in simplicity, but its performance will strike fear into the hearts of prices USB DACs everywhere," notes the magazine.
The Musical Fidelity M1 DAC was also honored by being included in The Absolute Sound 2012 High-End Audio Buyer's Guide. "When compared to a far more expensive DAC, such as the Weiss DAC 202, the M1 proved to be remarkably close in performance. Both produced equally large soundstages, solid palpable images, and fast transient attacks for a wonderfully compelling and involving experience."
Asynchronous USB Connection
The M1DAC A includes the same critically acclaimed 24-bit, 96 kHz asynchronous USB interface used in Musical Fidelity's V-Link.
In the April 2011 issue of Stereophile, John Atkinson calls the V-Link "a well-engineered solution to get USB audio from a PC with minimal jitter." John says, "V-Link should justifiably sell like hotcakes to those with legacy DACs who want to use a PC as a server."
"The Musical Fidelity V-Link and M1 DAC certainly changed my opinion of what level of performance can be expected from a budget DAC and converter box," raves Steven Stone in The Absolute Sound magazine for May/June 2011. "While on the subject of USB and the V-Link, I can almost without reservations recommend it to anyone with a high-end DAC that lacks USB capabilities."
"I was impressed by its detail retrieval and vivid sound character," observes Hi-fi News magazine in a June 2012 group test report. "Hearing it in this test group made me appreciate just how distinguished it really is compared with other models in the field, its crisp and lucid sound quality often showing some more expensive DACs here a clean pair of heels."
"Delivers Great Performance"
"It’s simplicity itself to install and delivers great performance," reports Keith Howard in the February 2011 issue of England's Hi-fi News magazine, which awarded the V-Link its coveted "Editor's Choice" designation. "The V-Link is quickly recognized by the computer’s operating system once connected and offers compatibility with 16- or 24-bit files of up to 96 kHz. Moreover, it offers completely jitter-free conversion from one interface to the other."
"It was pretty easy to hear how much improved the sound was when the V-Link was in place," observes a ComputerAudiophile.com review for January 22, 2011. "The whole image tightened up immediately with the V-Link."
The Asynchronous USB Advantage
The theory behind asynchronous USB is that when a computer is transmitting data via USB to another device, the computer determines the data rate parameters. The theoretical consequence of using a standard USB interface is that it is impossible to guarantee accurate data transfer, because the computer will alter the data rate to suit its internal workload. With asynchronous USB, however, the receiving USB controls the computer’s data rate. Jitter and data compression just will not happen. The asynchronous USB interface instructs the computer that it has priority on the computer resource allocation, thus guaranteeing a continuous high resolution data stream.
"Consider the Bar Raised"
"Unlike budget components of yore, where pleasant 'grayish' sound was the best you could reasonably expect, the M1 is musical, arresting, and involving in the way a good audio component should be, regardless of price," reports Steven Stone in The Absolute Sound magazine for May/June 2011. "Consider the bar raised."
"The M1 DAC's explicit sound should certainly breathe new life into aging CD players," notes John Bamford in his October 2010 review for England's Hi-Fi News magazine. "It delivers distinguished audio with superb detail retrieval and a broad, deep soundstage."
"It has been nearly six years since I enjoyed a Musical Fidelity system as much as the M1DAC, M1HPA, and V-Link," observes a ComputerAudiophile.com review for January 22, 2011. "In an industry with six and seven figure audio systems it's hard to believe three zeros can be removed from the end of the price tag and still allow someone to put together a really good system."
Oversampling 24-Bit DAC
The M1DAC A consists of a top quality over sampling 24-bit digital-to-analog converter circuit which upsamples all incoming data rates to 192 kHz. This is genuine true upsampling and moves the digital artifacts to well outside the audio band, allowing their easy removal without detriment to the top end of the audio band.
The well-tuned filtering circuit results in immeasurably small jitter, noise, and distortion, allowing astounding imaging, detail, and transparency, to deliver all music types exactly as the artist originally intended.
The M1DAC A has been carefully designed to be partnered with M1 series, and also matches well with M3 and M6 series products. These combinations will yield one of the best high-fidelity systems available at any price.
Performance Rivals Any DAC
According to Musical Fidelity's Founder and Managing Director Antony Michaelson, "The M1DAC A's technical performance is, pretty well, as good as any at any price. We know this sounds like an incredible claim but it's true." And the company has the track record to back him up!
Musical Fidelity's state-of-the-art circuit design and PCB layout with the use of premium quality digital components gives state-of-the-art performance. "Unsurprisingly, the result is state-of-the-art performance," says Antony. "It's just that the price is competitive so many people find it hard to believe."
Vanishingly Low Distortion
The M1DAC A has vanishingly low distortion, typically less than 0.005% across the band. Frequency response is ruler flat. Jitter is extremely low. The noise ratio is outstanding, making it one of the quietest DACs in the world regardless of price. "Looking at the M1 DAC's total measurements and comparing them to any DAC up to ten times its price you will see that, on balance, the M1 DAC is equal to or better than any," Antony concludes.
Choke-Regulated Power Supply
The M1DAC A has a high quality power supply featuring choke filtration on the mains input. This effectively acts as a an AC line conditioner which increases the performance and value of the M1 to even greater heights.
The choke regulation is derived from the massive Titan power amp and is used throughout the M6 and M3 product lines. As far as we know, the use of a choke filter is unique in a DAC. It filters out unwanted noise from the mains and allows the M1DAC A to work properly, regardless of AC power line irregularities. It makes a huge difference in the sound quality.
Typical choke designs can end up causing as many difficulties as they solve, because they create a magnetic field that has deleterious effects on the musical signal. But the bifilar choke regulation system used by Musical Fidelity cancels out the magnetic fields that other styles of chokes generate. The circuit takes advantage of a tried and true design. The company has been using this technology since 1987.