Thursday, 21 October 2010

Arcam rDAC vs MF M1 DAC

Could not wait till weekend and since I am still jetlagged from the trip. Here goes my review of 1 hour listening to janet seidl, celine dion and metallica black on rdac after running in for 24 hrs.

Set up used:

1. MF xray v3 to rdac via coaxial
2. Marantz CD6000 to rdac via coaxial
3. Sony MD player to rdac via optical

Repeated the above with M1 DAC.

Coaxial and optical cable used - QED
IC used from dac to amp - QED

So the only variable in any set up above is the dac itself.

First 10 minutes with celine dion - Big contender to M1

Spacious and airy soundstage. Detailed stereo imaging with defined bass but a bit harsh on the high pitch vocals.

Switched to metallica enter sandman. Solid bass. Very convincing guitar riffs can be heard.

Overall, it can match M1 in terms of soundstaging but unbalanced with treble or high pitched vocals.

Swicthed to MD via optical. Used Gypsy Kings version of Hotel California. Unfortunately, rDac is no match to the M1. maybe because of the upsampling done by M1. The rdac produced a muffled sound. Only listened for 3 mins.

Now the more unfortunate review. The rdac is giving me a cracking sound on my right speakers in between songs when the CDP is changing track. I have changed the IC, coax and even tried it on optical but the cracking sound is still there. Very dissapointed on this. Even tried changing the input from aux 1 to aux 2.

Build wise, of course the M1 has a better and solid finish. Even power supply is much better. The input switch on the rdac is also a bit noisy compared to M1 silent unit. However it does cost 100 pounds more than rdac.

So there you go. 1 hr review of rdac unit. Given the head on challenge with M1, i must say M1 has the better edge.

I will however try the rdac with airport express this weekend.
As I am still curious on why the cracking sound, I brought down the rdac and marantz player downstairs and connect it to my yamaha av amp. Same thing. I let it run for 24 hours. Still producing the cracking sound. The sound is more evident when I physically change the track compared to letting the cd progresses to the next track on its own.

I then switched off the rdac for 24 hrs, and voila today the sound dissapeared. Very odd. Will hook up airport express tomorrow.
Spent the whole sunday streaming music via airport express into rdac and feed through my yamaha av amp. Didn bother to hook it up to my main system. Using target optical cable.
First few songs by foo fighters sounded heavy on bass. Then tried vocals with sarah brightman and andrea bocelli. Wow that was sweet and uplifting experience. Vocals were bold and the rdac brought out the atmospshere of being upfront. Point to note, no effects were run on the yamaha and treble and bass settings were on flat.

All sources above were apple lossless files.

Running cd quality mp3 files, not much different can be heard compared to the above.

Overall I would still say rdac is a fine buy but will restrict it for airport express and marantz cd player on the 2nd system.