So VERY early assessment. It been powered on continuously for a week now, and overnight just firing up a random 8 hr playlist to break it in. May need 300-500 hours to settle in, but...... Wow, for the money will be tough to beat. Since it’s not roon certified yet (maybe a few weeks or a month before it’s official, fingers crossed), I’m using my old opp udp-203 as the roon renderer, and my Mac as roon core hooked up over toslink to the MA3. I had to run it like this even though roon saw it as an endpoint, can’t stream to it until it’s been certified. Not ideal but I’ll tell ya this thing is smooth. Zero digital etch, bass response is fantastic, and sounds remarkably better than my Aurender a10, which it replaced. Large scale orchestral and female vocals are spot on and have that sort or ‘rightness’ that MSB and DCS can deliver without spending gobs of money. The unit sounded a bit flat when first powered on, which was totally expected and didn’t get much better for the first few days then bam. First step function cleared. I suspect there are more to be had. I have a window of 3 hours while the family is out of the house Saturday morning, I’ll have more to report in then.
Okay, using qobuz/tidal direct with the unit produces some fine sounds and is quite the experience. Have to use this off the shelf crappy app called M connect. Makes the UI/UX on Aurender seem like a pinnacle of good design ;-( The unit is still awaiting its roon certification so I can’t use it as intended yet. I hooked up my old oppo-203 which can become a roon ready endpoint but I have to run toslink out and to the MA3. When doing so, it all sounds kinda flat and thin if I can beat describe it. It sounds like a piano, and is recognizable but it’s far far from the real thing. So I just queued up some fat playlists in quobuz and letting it rip and sure is sweet. The Brandenburg concertos are 300 years old this week so that’s sure been in heavy rotation!
Liking what roon did for classical music and compositions,conductors, etc. LOVE what the MA3 has done to the overall playback. Best I can describe without all those stupid metaphors or sounding snooty is the thing just kinda gets out of the way. It’s rather strange. It’s got detail, gobs, but subtlety is there too. No ringing, no fatigue. It’s rather laid back but still quite detailed. I’d put it up against the Bartok any day of the week. I stumbled across a qobuz playlist by Optimal Enchantment today and had it on while on the screens for work. About two tracks in I sat on the sofa and just chilled. 40 minutes later I got direct reports Slacking me on why I wasn’t in the meeting I scheduled! I hav.e had it continuously powered on since it hit the rack, maybe have 300 real hours on it. Long break in, but wasn’t like driving it off a cliff, was gradual, but took a while to get here. Running Nordost a Frey 2 xlr to the xp30. Seems to match up great.
So in the final analysis, was a great purchase so far. No regrets, everything that the Aurender a10 was, and then more, and ROON!
maybe it was last weekend but was listening to a Channel Classics LP by Rachel Podger doing Vivaldi la stravaganza. A wonderful piece. A wonderful performance and recording and just has that rightness that brings out the best in the system. Then I found it on qobuz in hi-res. It’s close... LP will win every time, but I’ll tell ya, I don’t feel I’m missing much on digital. Got find that recording and give it a whirl on your respective systems. Now I got a boat load of money in the TT rig and some fantastic tubes but if wasn’t already a total degenerate there, I’d be more than smitten with the Meitner MA3.
No issues, not one. The interaction between core, remote and MA3 has worked flawlessly. I’ve taken all the point release updates from roon on day 1, no issues there. I’m running defaults everywhere except I popped in a 500ms delay when switching formats so you don’t get a click. I haven’t done any MQA, gonna re-enable my Tidal subscription this weekend and play around. I do like me the Qobuz though, like redbook but on steroids.
Good review so far, and looking forward to hearing more about it.
I'm also a turntable first kind of guy, and recently bought an EMM Labs DAC2X V2 and NS1 Streamer (the two units connected by Meitner's Optilink). His stuff is just special, probably because he gets that the "A" pat of the D/A process is essential.
Since you have Qobuz, here is a track to try - Snarky Puppy's "Sintra." Listen when the woodwinds come in after the intro. Listen for the small percussion instruments in the background. If you A/B between a lesser DAC and the EMM, the differences are just unreal. Another track that I noticed wholesale differences (and don't laugh) is Taylor Swift's "August" from her Folklore album. There is so much going on in that track...low fi, high fi, layered vocals...and as much as I heard through my system both through my prior Lampizator DAC and on the vinyl version, the EMM took things to a whole different level, especially with the NS1 in the chain.
Enjoy the new toy!
Agreed, there's just something about his stuff that just seems to work. I was looking to see if I could score one on the used market, but they don't come up often and when they do, they're gone like beer in a college fridge.
I have hear the Bartok and Vivaldi, and the Select version of the MSB in other rooms but also with wilson front end and while very nice, i actually prefer the MA3. it's apples/oranges, but I'm not going to get on the DAC merry-go-round. At that level they are all of similar cloth, and you'd have to spend a ton more to get 'more', whatever that is. I'd rather save the cash and pay for a Qobuz subscription for the next 350 years or every last subscription that acoustic sounds puts out between now and my death bed!
A quick post here to echo the thoughts from @73cuttysupreme - very few mentions of the Meitner MA3 on this board, or in the press generally. I had the chance to home audition it this weekend and it is stellar. 100% engagement with the music -- I forgot about lunch it was so good. Not warm, not cold, just right and natural -- great dynamics, timing, timbre, transparency, linearity and whatever other category you care to name. Not quite as alive as the $50k analog setup I A/B'ed it with, but close enough that I suspect many folks wouldn't care about the difference in exchange for the convenience.
It's the only DAC in the ~$10k range that made me seriously consider selling my current DAC. If you're looking for a network-capable DAC and it's in your budget, I'd highly recommend a home audition.
Agreed. I’d be hard pressed to find something more engaging for less than twice that price. Maybe the Nagra Tube DAC, at 4x the price including PSU, but then you need a streaming box too. I’ve had mine for what, 10 months now, been flawless, hasn’t even been powered off, it’s been converting bites every day. I’m sure you’ll end up holding onto it for a longer period of time if you end up writing a check for it. No plans to look elsewhere anytime soon.
To echo your original post, the MA3 is simply an amazing accomplishment. Many have been in the hobby for years…always chasing the next upgrade. For alot of years with digital, the last upgrade was good enough until such time as the next performance benchmark is introduced. The MA3, however, to my ears has introduced a benchmark performance level at a price that is simply unbelieveable. Demo’d Bartok, previously owned Chord Dave, Lampi Golden Atlantic, Nagra Classic Dac, Aqua, etc, etc. I have recently purchased a second MA3 and I also currently own a Totaldac d1 tube streamer. For those considering driving an amp direct, the MA3 is up to the task although I havepreamps in the chain.
Seek it out, go listen and decide for yourself…the MA3 is way too good to be priced at $9,500 retail and my guess is that it won’t be for long.
Just picked up a lightly used MA3 on Audiomart. Arrived today but I am still waiting on my new integrated and speakers so all I can do for now is put some “settling hours” on it and watch it stream.
I am wondering if anyone is using the MA3’s internal network streamer directly via Ethernet from your router/switch, and if so, your opinion on the sound quality and also vs using an external server/renderer/streamer via USB into the MA3?
@ghasley Thanks for the reply. The rca outputs of the DAC are connected to my TV to serve as an output load for now.
I appreciate your guidance on the internal streamer. I am surprised that the half dozen or so reviews I could find on the MA3 never discussed listening impressions through the internal streamer and I can’t really find anything useful on the web re: listening impressions for the EMMlabs NS1 streamer (similar to the internal streamer in the MA3) either. This feature is, to me, a big selling point for the MA3, providing that it sounds comparable to a good external streaming device.
Agreed above. I run roon, and it is perfect in every way. Use both Tidal and Qobuz, but TBH, while MQA is kinda neat and can have a small measurable difference, still prefer the higher bitrate flat files from qobuz, plus the Tidal API times out from time to time.
What streaming platforms are you guys running?
Truly great to hear that the internal streamer is so good and really stoked that it is on par with the NS1.
Can’t wait to get the new system set up and hear this bad boy. Hoping to make that happen in two weeks, the critical path being delivery of the Nenuphars which have to ship by truck freight.
mConnect is free and uses any NAS or streaming subscription you have. Roon though is top flight, and really great for meta data and music exploration. it's 20/month or something, a pittance really for what it brings to the table.
Roon guys iirc are originally the Meridian Sooloos software guys, and implemented a similar system decoupled from Meridian's hardware. It's like Apple OS without the Apple hardware tax. They have a 30 day trial. you can run the roon core on your mac, it's lightweight. it then pumps a stream losslessly to the MA3 which is roon ready.
not sure if you are bitrate or resolution capped using apple music over network. it used to be streaming using airplay was basically 320kbps max
anyway, check it out, takes all of 3 minutes to set it up and start playing through your MA3. i went to the MA3 not only cause it was a superior DAC, but due to the software interface offered through roon. it replaced my Aurender a10 which had an UX i would recommend for enemies. it's the worst. good sound, but interacting with the aurender just took what joy i had using the A10. with MA3, great hardware, great software, and I'm not looking to change anything until i get Wadax money.
Still in the rack, never been powered off, has performed flawlessly. It just gets out of the way. No issues with any Roon compatibility issues, even with all the the various updates, and now Roon 2.0 or whatever incremental build it is on. Hi res streaming from Qobuz beats the snot out of Tidal. Some of the MQA titles are great, but Qobuz is the defacto source provider. This thing really excels at classical and Jazz. Been going through the Naive label's Vivaldi project and I'll tell ya it sounds about as good as one can expect at double the price point. No digital etch, great tone color, decay is 'just right'. Just get one and don't look back. If you are a snowflake and decide it's not for you, you can flip it in a single day on 2nd hand market for almost what you paid for it.
i spent some time with a buddy's DCS in the rack for a few months while he was out of country on job assignment. I'll take the MA3, thanks! and then go spend the 40k i saved on LPs. The DCS is so nice, but the MA3 is about 95% of the way there for 1/8th the cost. Head to head, unless you have a pair of XVXs and it's all VAC statement and Valhalla cabling, you're gonna be hard pressed to tell the difference. Seriously.
I spent a week with the MA3 but ended up buying the Bricasti M3. I felt it sounded better and more natural. Make sure you get a long demo of the MA3 before thinking of replacing your Bricasti.
I've owned both the M3 and MA3. I sold the M3 after a few months but still own the MA3. Personally I find the MA3 another level up on the M3, it is also a lot more expensive too and I've experienced that the differences between DACs relative to cost isn't always worth it, at least to me and my ears.
I liked the M3 but found it too similar sounding to the RME ADI2 FS DAC I also owned at the time to justify its price, relatively speaking. I will say its ability to drive an amp direct is the best I've tried at home (I've not tried the digital volume control yet on the MA3 but I will be surprised if it beats the Bricasti).
I replaced the M3 with a Mojo Audio R2R NOS DAC (and Bricasti M5) and thought it was a big improvement for the sound I was looking for, and now I've replaced the Mojo with the MA3 and think that offers another big improvement. Unfortunately I find the M5 with AES sounds slightly better to me than with the built in streamer in the MA3 which is unfortunate since I was hoping to apply the M5 sale onto the cost of the MA3.
I will say bang for buck the little RME is the best sounding DAC I've owned and I sometimes think what I could do with that difference in price if I swap the MA3 for the RME... It's a crazy hobby for sometimes such small differences compared to price.
I currently own MA3, but there is a clearance sale at the dealer Dac2X V2 +NS1 at an excellent price. Do you guys think I should keep MA3 and goes with Dac2X V2+ NS1, or will MA3 outperform them? AFAIK Dac2X V2 is DSD512 and 8xDSD compared to MA3 DSD1024 16 x DSD. Has anyone ever compared them side by side? Thank you.
well, it'll sound different, but not necessarily better, or worse than what you have now in the context of your system. you could always just buy it, and if you want to keep the MA3, take a $1k loss on it and flip it on Audiogon here, but then you'll know. I just got a long demo on a Linn Selekt DSM with the Organik DAC architecture, minimal build, no bells and whistles, and man...it's pretty sweet. If you are looking to change up, might wanna take a hard look at that if you have a dealer in your area, plus that thing is upgradable forever just about. Kinda like my old workhorse Theta Digital Casablanca.