Metrum Acoustics owners experience

When looking for quality dac’s in the NOS category, the dutch brand Metrum Acoustics always appears as one of the best sound components, but there are not as much reviews as other companies models.

The way I perceive it is that this dac’s have something special about the way they sound, in a relaxed and organic way, that it is very interesting to me, at least when thinking about it...

Does anyone have experiences to share about the Metrum dac’s?


The Metrum Acoustics DACs are R2R non-oversampling DACs and although that is not a new way of doing things, Metrum were somewhat early to visibly market that format when, at the time, a primary goal of DAC designers was to make a DAC that didn't sound "digital."  Their designer, Cees Ruijtenberg, used paralleled industrial DACs and their early model Octave received a bunch of reviews in 2011/2012.  They kept upping the number of DACs used in their models and the sound kept getting better and then they began using DACs that Cees designed and that the company (All-Engineering) manufactured in-house.  They spent good effort on the power supply to keep noise low in their DACs and boasted very high S/N ratios.  Their latest innovation was an internal volume control that did not throw away bits but rather adjusted the reference voltage, thereby not affecting the quality of the sound.  They also designed and manufactured an amplifier.

A few years ago, Cees left Metrum over business disagreements with ownership and started a company called Sonnet Digital Audio, which has a couple of well-regarded DACs on the market currently.  Metrum Acoustics, the company, went through an iffy period where customers were not sure whether the doors would stay open or not.  Cees (who was always excellent to work with) offered to repair equipment for his former Metrum customers and those who tried to reach a human being at Metrum, including myself, were mostly frustrated.  At this time, Metrum Acoustics seem to be still in business as there is a website where they are selling products.

Regarding the products, I have owned their Adagio, Pavane, Jade and Hex DACs, and their Ambre and Baby Ambre endpoints.  I still own and use the Jade, Ambre, and Baby Ambre.  I have never had any problem functionally or sonically with any of their products, so have never needed service and would say the products are well-constructed.  My favorite sound was from the Pavane and the Adagio was close. IMO, the sonic signature is organic and natural, while being rather "clean" sounding and maybe leaning more toward detail than a tonally full sound, if that makes sense.

Do your research as there are many other R2R style DACs available that also offer their own organic, natural sound.  Two companies that come to mind are Sonnet Digital Audio and Mojo Audio

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I've owned the Onyx and the Ambre for about three years now and have had no issues and the sound is as described above.  The I2s connection sounds best to me.  Very Organic and detailed at the same time.  I recently upgraded the four modules in the Onyx to their latest DAC 3 modules which doubled the number of DAC chips to a total of 16 now.

Cees mentioned that now my Onyx is on par with the Sonnet Morpheus and to my ears it was a very nice improvement.   More open and a little more detailed sounding.  The Onyx without these DAC upgrades was a bit warmer and laid back which is good as well but I do prefer the extra detail and openness.  I read a review a year or so ago regarding the Morpheus and the reviewer stated that it sounded like a cross between a traditional NOS sound and the more common sabre type DAC sound which to me is exactly what I want and a compliment to the Morpheus.  

@mitch2 wow! Thanks for sharing all that information, it really helps. I will look the Sonnet products for sure.

@mrotino ​​​​@dalims4 thanks for sharing :)

Any experience with the entry level Octave II dac?

I don't but maybe others do regarding the Octave II dac.  I know once you move up the line it gets a bit more expensive as is the case with all products.  

I actually owned the Octave II, and forgot because before the trial period was over I purchased the Hex from the same dealer and returned the O2.  With those earlier DACs they just got better as you moved up the line - better tone, body, dynamics, punch.  I could not really recommend those earlier DACs compared to what is out there today.

There are probably quite a few DACs in the same sonic ballpark as the Octave II.  If you can swing it and have a preamp, and if you want Metrum, I would start with the Onyx then you wouldn't need to look at anything else for a while. I use the Jade in my outdoor (second) system and it is basically an Onyx with their volume control and it sounds fine.  Or, keep you eyes open for an earlier Mojo Audio DAC or for a Sonnet Morpheus in your upper price range.  There are some others to look at like something in the Denafrips line, but I cannot vouch for them one way or another except that people seem to like them.

I have enjoyed a Metrum Pavane for several years. I upgraded to the DAC3 Modules when they were available. I've never had any problems and even when company was in distress I was able to get good customer service. I think Cees returned for awhile because when I purchased the DAC3 modules he personally replied to a few of my questions. I'm sure there are better DACs but I have never felt any dissatisfaction. I always preferred analog (vinyl) until the Pavane when I realized it would cost many times more (more than I could afford) to find a cartridge and turntable equal to the enjoyment of the Pavane. It is never fatiguing.