Anyone upgrade to the Merason Dac1 mkii?


I was wondering if any Merason Dac1 owners have upgraded to the Mkii version? 
 

If so, I’d love to hear your impressions. How would you describe the audible differences? Would you recommend doing it? Was it an improvement or simply “different?” 

128x128bluethinker

Fellow Audio Fanatics... I know some Merason DAC1 owners are out there! 

Would love your feedback on whether upgrade to the mkii version is worth it! 


Thanks! 
Bluethinker

I am considering this DAC as well, would be interesting to get some feedback.

@bluethinker 

Just saw your post and will post some of my thoughts tomorrow and think the upgrade is worth it.

Wig

@bluethinker

The MKII background is much blacker and low level detail, spatial cues and space are more apparent as well as nuance and shading.

The soundstage is more defined and vibrant with a tighter/ more focused image but with more body to the sound and dimensionality. Bass is tighter and more refined, but I think in a nutshell that the MKII upgrade has better cohesion and sound more effortless...

I was quite happy with the MKI but the MKII is indeed better and more musical 🎶🎵 and replaced my tube SW1X Dac III+ DHT.

Wig

@wig Thank you! I think I'd also sent you a private message a few months back, which you'd also responded to. 

I think I'm going to plan to upgrade the Merason to the MKii version some time in 2024. 

@zlone - Not sure if you already have a Merason Dac1, but I can attest to it's sound quality. Not that I've heard a ton, but I would describe the Merason as just being highly musical. The word "relaxed" seems to get used a lot in the reviews. I would concur - it's a relaxed and musical sound. 

@bluethinker I do not have one right now, a friend of mine has the Mk1. What I am reading about says it might be a fit for me. I like the terms 'musical' and 'relaxed', much as they are overused, they do connote a certain type of sound. Thanks for the comment.

@zlone - I have my primary system in my living room. My evening pleasure is to relax and listen to music so those qualities are important to me. To me, music is a bit of an escape from the rigors and pace of our frenetic and over stimulated world...

As I thought about different upgrade options, I started exploring the world of Dacs. 


Through my research, I went back and reread reviews on the Merason Dac1, including the more recent reviews of the MKii. By revisiting those reviews, it struck me that "relaxed and musical" were adjectives typically used in reference to the Dac1... 

It sort of reminded me that the sound I love in my living room could be altered - and possibly not in a good way - by going in a different direction with another Dac. 

Anyways, if you want to listen to music - and have somewhat relaxed (versus in your face and/or edgy) presentation, I can't recommend the Merason enough. I sort of feel lucky to have arrived at such a fitting device without having to have gone through a rigorous search. 

BTW - What Dac are you using now? And what do you like/not like about it? 

@bluethinker thanks for the additional comments, your listening habits and preferences sound similar to mine. I am currently using a Schiit Gungnir Multibit which is certainly a decent unit, but I am looking for the next step up. 

We carry the Merason DAC's - the difference between the Mk1. and Mk.2 are pretty big - as soon as I put the Merason Mk.II in the system it was a big change. Dynamics and sound stage were noticeable/remarkable. Even my wife said, what did you change? 

@choiceaudio - thank you for that! 

Two questions for you: 

1. How would you compare the Merason Dac1 mkii to the Mola Mola Dac? What are their respective strengths head to head? 
 

2. Can we upgrade to the Merason Dac1 mkii through you if our Dac1 mkii was purchased somewhere else? 
 

Thanks in advance! 
 

Hi Bluethinker,

I just replied to you in a private message. 

Thanks!

Choiceaudio 

 

@choiceaudio - Thanks for providing the information. Will reach out to you when I have the discretionary funds for the upgrade! 

Today is still possible to find Merason DAC1 mk1 brand new. Is it a worth purchase? I ponder between the DAC1 and the Aqua La Scala. How much would it cost upgrading the DAC1 to mk2 specs? Thanks a lot.

@ricco275 - I have the Merason Dac1 Mki. It’s a fantastic Dac, to be sure. I recommend it. I think the reviews are pretty spot on. 
 

@choiceaudio - You have the experience with both dacs in question. How would you compare the two? 

@bluethinker thanks a lot! are you familiar with the Aqua La Scala? It seems is appreciated for being relaxed and musical too. It has the advantage of having tubes. I don't like the aesthetics of it so I'm naturally for the Merason if the SQ is not too far from the Aqua.

The Aqua La Scala is a wonderful DAC.  Both the DAC1 and LaScala check that musical foot tapping, get lost in the music box.

If you want my opinion of the differences, feel free to email me or PM me.  james@choiceaudio.com They are both great, a lot depends on your associated equipment, if you have tubes already, you might want to lean towards the DAC1, if you are 100% solid state and want a little tube feel sprinkled in, then maybe the La Scala.

Here is a quote about the DAC1 mk1 from one of my customers in MN.

 

“I sold my mojo audio mystique v3 over a year ago and have been on a constant search trying to replace it. I’ve tried many dacs, many more then I care to admit and finally found a dac that just plays beautiful music. No fatigue, no bloat, no fireworks, just good warm and at the same time detailed and dynamic music. No MQA, no DSD just 16/41 to 24/192. It’s the Swiss built Merason Dac1.

The dac has a huge soundstage deep and wide, never ever bright with the perfect amount of detail. Bass is full sounding which helps to provide a great foundation of the music. This dac is very large sounding with plenty of meat on the bones.

If anyone is shopping for a dac in the $5000 to $6000 range this is a great very musical fun dac to audition and own.

Some of the dacs I’ve tried are the Denafrips Terminator, Holo Audio May kte, Sw1x tube dac, Sonnet Morpheus, Metronome Le Dac, Aqua La Scala Optologic, and a couple more lesser dacs.

The Merason Dac1 is a better fit in my system to my ears than any of these and of course others mileage may vary.

Blaine”

Cheers,
Choice Audio

@ricco275 - Unfortunately, I've never heard the LaScala dac. I've had a sense that it might be one of the dacs suited for me, though. At least based on what I've read about it. 

I'd recommend taking Choice Audio up on his offering to provide his personal opinion on both dacs via PM. It turns out he carries a lot of the gear I own (Audio Hungary amp, Innuos products, Merason DAC1, and QLN and Dynaudio Heritage Speakers) so he was able to give incredibly useful advice with knowledge of my components. All my interactions with Choice Audio have been superlative. 

I have bought a DAC1 demo from a retailer in Paris. They say it’s a mk1. I think it’s a mk2 since it has the aluminum chassis in brushed grey. 
the sound is as widely described by user and reviewers. 
I had read the DAC1 was superior to the MSB discrete, which I own. Unfortunately that’s not the case. The comparison is not apple to apple as my MSB has the streaming renderer module and the DAC is connected to the router via Ethernet and talking to the Nucleus without usb. The Merason is connected straight to the Nucleus via usb. 
it may be the reason for my disappointment, however, details, clarity, precision, soundstage width are much lower vs the MSB Discrete. It is like the typical feeling of a blanket thrown on the speakers. My speakers are TAD ME1 and the amp is a Vitus RI101mk2.

will a dedicated streamer make such a big improvement to deliver results equivalent to the MSB discrete? Obviously a richer and fuller sound won’t easily bring a precise and detailed sound presentation with strong dynamic. Or so I thought. 

I have the La Scala in my system now for an audition and it's an absolutely spectacular DAC. I have an MSB discrete for 4 years and this is better by a good margin...I've also heard the Merason (not in my system) and I don't think it compares to the La Scala, different flavors and to me I pick the La Scala all day over the DAC1. 

Dynamics and voices, musicality and the overall tone is dead on to the real thing. 

 

@ricco275 

It's not really a fair comparison until you get a decent dedicated streamer.  The renderer module from MSB is quite good for the price tag.

You would probably need a streamer the quality level of the Innuos Pulse, Aurender N200, etc. to make a fair comparison.

The streamers make a big difference.  We carry MSB, so I'm familiar with their renderer module, but I have never compared the DAC1 to the Discrete DAC.  I have vs the Premier DAC and the DAC1 holds it ground vs the Premier DAC, but the Premier DAC is better in every facet of comparison.

 

I have added a passive preamp to the chain and it was a metamorphosis. I like very much the DAC1 now. And the MSB discrete sounds over detailed and too brilliant, fatiguing to me. The magic of changing pieces in the chain. 
I just wonder if I actually own the DAC1 mk1 or mk2. The dealer swears to have sold me a mk1, however it has the full aluminium look vs the glossy faceplate and metal chassis of what I have always seen. 
 

@ricco275  Maybe you can call or email Merason with the serial number to get the ID sorted out

@facten yes that’s what I intend to do. Maybe it’s an mk1 and they were already releasing new chassis.