Meitner MA-1 DAC

March 30, 2012

Srajan Ebaen has posted a review of the Meitner MA-1 DAC ($7000) at 6moons. His conclusions:

“With its readiness of DSD64 over USB and 24/192 PCM, the Meitner MA-1 allows music lovers to explore ‘studio master’ files. Because of their data density, high-resolution playback of such files becomes the audiophile’s reason to embrace PCfi beyond its sheer convenience. Transcend ordinary 16/44.1 CD limits is the motto. But not only will the MA-1 process hi-rez PCM files (FLAC, WAV, AIFF), it can access the online DSD catalogues to natively play back dff/dsf files without format conversion. Meitner’s asynchronous clocking scheme creates complete independence from the send clock of any input. Remaining quality offsets between its 2 x Toslink, 3 x S/PDIF, 1 x USB inputs are much minimized and mostly due to the user’s cable interface and how well a source component implements its various digital outputs. Sonically the Meitner aces the same bases the very best of the $3-$4K converter club do. The decisive difference for those in sync with it will be the DSD128 processing of all PCM data via a true 1-bit converter.

That design choice has a subtle but consistent impact on how one perceives music relative to recorded space. This is likely a function of time-domain behavior. It is marked by words like liquid, elastic and supple to distinguish it from presentations that appear more damped, dry, taut and rigid. The effect is minorly soft and lightly sweet. Importantly those qualities are utterly unrelated to how these terms are usually applied to describe high-THD valve sound. Here they have no impact whatsoever on tonal balance or resolution. It’s simply about something a bit gentler, easier and more pliable than the crystallized needle-point high-resolution digital sound the vast majority proposes. Once I got my ears wrapped around the Meitner aesthetic, I found it exceedingly persuasive. It’s one of those things one can’t speculate about. One must experience it to understand this small but big difference. Reactions to it should vary. But just as SETs and widebanders ought to be rite of at least audition passage for those who embrace multi-ways and massively paralleled transistors, so this particular DSD-für-alles approach should be mandatory hearing for all digiphiles just so one learns about this unusual digital option and how it can affect our perception of musical flow.”

You can read the full review here.

You can read my review of the Meitner MA-1 DAC here.