Non Oversampling DACs

 This isn't a new topic, but it's pretty new for me. I've been using an Ayre QB9 DAC for years and am very happy with it. The only problem is the hanfshake between my Innuos Server and the DAC, there isn't one. Can't explain it but turning on the Server doesn't switch the DAC out of standby. I've had to unplug and reinsert the USB cable for two years, to do that, very annoying.

  Yes I know a powered USB gadget might work, but it's another link in the circuit to mess up the sound. Well. I've been looking for a new DAC and had more or less settled on a Chord Qutest, but looking around online, I came across Metrum, the Octave DAC in particular. It was hard to find any criticism at all, very simple, just plug it in and play. The Mark 1 version has no USB input and the Mark 2 only has USB as an optional extra. No headphone output, no volume control, no display, no digital filters to obsess about, just plug in and play. Over in Europe it's available for around $500 second hand.

 The Octave is just wonderful. is it better than the QB9, no just different. Comments on NOS DACs have suggested they are smooth, lacking in dynamics and detail. Not so, this DAC is fast, has good base and detail and yes, it is Analogue Like. An abused term, but the DAC sounds like a good vinyl rig or tuner. Listening to an old favourite "Silver Lining" by Bonnie Raitt last night, you can hear deep into the musicianship of her great backing players, the rise and decay of each note.

 The moral of this story? If you're thinking of a new DAC, perhaps try and listen to at least one NOS DAC and no, I can't give a list of DACs using that topology. Perhaps try Metrum's current crop of DACs




I recently purchased the Metrum onyx dac and have a fairly good resolving audio system including the Pathos Twin Towers integrated amp, Green mountain audio speakers and two REL subwoofers.  I can attest to what David said in that this DAC sounds very full bodied, natural yet retains excellent transparency.  I was also very surprised at the bass control and dynamics which I wasn't expecting.  The highs are not rolled off in my opinion. I've been an audiophile for many years and have listened to many dacs and can highly recommend this.  My last DAC was a modified Dodson DAC 217 which I've preferred to newer designs until I purchased the Metrum.

I was looking to try a NOS as I've never heard one in the past and was definitely surprised on how good it sounded.  There is a 30 day return window so I tried it and kept it.  It did sound better to me after being plugged in for one week, after that I didn't notice any change in sound.

@mrotino +1 for the Metrum Acoustics Onyx... I have one as well, and been running it since early spring.  I agree with all you say above.

Some other observations to add... I like the AES/EBU input the best (I'm using the excellent Snake River Boomslang digital cable), with the SPDIF input next, and USB came in last to my ears as far as sound quality went (from a MacBook Pro).  Secondly, I leave my Onyx on all the time, unless I won't be listening to the system for more than a few days.  It likes to stay powered on, and when turned off for a period of time, it takes a day or so to get back to sounding great again.
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@1markr @mrotino  I just purchased the Onyx as well and it appears you both have way more experience than I do. My journey has just started and my setup is: Rotel 1572, Rotel 990bx, B&W 683S2. I originally had the bluesound node 2i and did enjoy it, but I had picked up an IFI idsd for my computer and got curious about what I might be missing in terms of SQ. Long story short. I ended up with Metrum Ambre/Onyx after chatting with Anjo on Facebook. Only DACs I have to compare it to are the internal Wolfson in my Rotel 1572 (which i think sounds pretty good) and the DAC in the Bluesound. I’ve had the Onyx running all week and it is obviously in an entirely different league compared to bluesound and the rotel DAC, but that is what I was expecting. I’m also using the I2S connection. Cheers!

@justjames72  Congrats on your Onyx! I have not tried an Ambre yet, but seems people like it.  From what I hear, the I2S input is ideal for Metrum DACs and others; too bad there isn't an I2S standard across the board!  For now, as I mentioned earlier, I use the AES/EBU input coming off of a Matrix X-SPDIF2 DDC which converts the USB out from my MacBook to AES.  Lovely streaming music!
Slightly diverting the subject - but DCS upsample and Bryston oversample. One does not necessarily help the other in the same system. I was told it would take too long to explain to me!

I don't think anyone is saying it is bad, just that NOS DACs seem to have a warmer sound, with less digital grain. So as I said with the original
nal post, it gives a different sound, your choice which you prefer.
I guess I don’t know what digital grain sounds like.  I sure know what analog schmutz sounds like and love digital for the absence of it.  I also know that DSD tends to sound as natural as any sound reproduction can, and DSD samples a pulse about 2.6 million times vs the 44K sampling of PCM.  I also know that when I burning CDs, dbpoweramp beats the pants off of iTunes, and one feature of that program is that it oversamples before making the rip.  I also remember my first over sampling CDP, the Rega Apollo, sounded much smoother than any previous CDP.
I also remember my first over sampling CDP, the Rega Apollo, sounded much smoother than any previous CDP
Probably because those earlier ones had "brickwall filters" which were soon exposed for their bad sound.
There's plenty on the net, here something I googled, I didn't read it though, maybe it will explain.
Cheers George