Metrum Musette NOS DAC

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borism

Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« on: 11 Feb 2016, 03:59 pm »
I've been using the DB Audio Labs Tranquility followed by the Tranquility SE NOS DAC for the last few years. Originally, all my music files were AIFF CD quality (44.1 kHz/16 bit) managed by iTunes/PM. Currently, my system includes a Mac Mini (2011, 2.7 GHz core i7, 8 GB RAM), El Capitan, PM3 software and a wywires USB cable.

More recently, I started downloading and accumulating higher resolution AIFF files, so I begun contemplating a DAC that could read them. Since I have no plans on getting into DSD that playback capability was not an issue. My good experience with the very musical Tranquility plus the idea of no digital filters led me to Metrum Acoustics.

The Octave, Hex, Pavane and Musette models have all received favorable reviews. I called Hi-Fi Heaven, the US distributor and when they offered me a very reasonable trade-in for my Tranquility SE decided to order the Musette.

The Musette comes in a very simple but attractive box about the same size as the Tranquility. It has more digital connection options including USB (hiFace TWO, 44.1-384 kHz). Included in the package are a USB stick with instructions, a generic power cable and a USB cable.

My first negative surprise after plugging in the Musette, connecting the USB cable and choosing the USB input on the front was the fact that the hiFace option didn't show up in System Preferences. Then, after switching the power on/off on the Musette and rebooting the Mac without a different result slight panic started to set in. I vaguely recalled reading about El Capitan and USB.

Next, I changed USB cables and decided to try the generic "high-speed USB" cable supplied with the Musette and to my great surprise hiFace TWO showed up in System Preferences Sound Output. The music was back like magic. However, this is not the end of this story. After the Musette worked well all evening and I shut down my system at night (the Mac goes into sleep mode) the following morning there was again no DAC option in System Preferences. All my rebooting, turning the DAC on/off had no effect. The only thing that worked was physically unplugging the USB cord and plugging it back in.

But when the Musette worked how did it sound. Well, my only comparison is the Tranquility SE. Without burn-in the Musette's overall character is equally musical and more refined even with CD quality material. The highs are more extended and the bass seems to reach a little lower. One very noticeable trait in my system is the spaciousness of the sound. The end effect for me was even on 44.1/16 material a sense of being more resolving.
And even without burn-in I could hear absolutely no harshness.

The high resolution files I have (mostly 96/24 and 88.2/24) are a treat. There is no comparison. The Musette is much more detailed, musical and refined. I really like the tone. On complex classical music the instruments are more fleshed out and the timbre just seems right.

Finally, I contacted the distributor about the El Capitan USB issue. Cees Ruijtenberg of Metrum responded within a day. He stated that it was an issue with Xmos USB chips and how Apple has changed the audio handling within the operating system. His advise was changing back to Yosemite or Mavericks. This didn't seem a good option for me.

Another email from the distributor explaining how the Xmos chip functions revealed, however, a simpler solution for me. If you shut off the computer, the next time you start it up the Xmos chip (in its' own sleep mode) receives the 5V charge and is reset to connect and becomes visible to the operating system. The System Preferences then recognizes the DAC and all is well.

So, in summary, sorry for the long post but let me say that I love the Musette. 8)   
« Last Edit: 11 Feb 2016, 07:31 pm by borism »

mresseguie

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #1 on: 11 Feb 2016, 05:01 pm »
Thanks for the post. You supplied good information for those of us who have not bumped into this problem. Thanks!  :thumb:

JLM

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #2 on: 11 Feb 2016, 10:43 pm »
What is your room and the rest of your system like?

What are your musical and audio preferences?

About half my audio club has Tranquility DACs (a couple them know Eric).

borism

Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #3 on: 11 Feb 2016, 11:08 pm »
Hi JLM,

After the Wywires cable didn't work with the Musette I bought the Schiit PYST USB cable thanks to your thread. That's the same cable as the Straight Wire. I like it and it is a great bargain.

My room is about 15 x 25 x 8. There are no acoustic treatments. My system consists of the Mac Mini, Musette DAC, Atma-Sphere S-30 amplifier, Atma-Sphere MP-3 preamplifier, Bottlehead Stereomour 2A3 SET integrated amplifier and AudioKinesis Jazz Module speakers. Interconnects are Morrow Audio MA4, Sonny's sweet spot reveal coppers and Kimber Hero. Speaker cables are a home brew.

I definitely enjoyed the Tranquility and was hoping that Eric would release a Hi-Rez version.

maty

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #4 on: 12 Feb 2016, 08:37 am »
Wrong thread, I am sorry.

JLM

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #5 on: 12 Feb 2016, 12:15 pm »
Thanks for the review.  We've had similar experiences of late: El Capitan and Duke LeJeune.  I sent my Chordette HD back after El Capitan related problems and Duke's suggestion to add Late Ceiling Splash tweeters have provided a significant improvement to my speakers.  Our rooms are of similar size too and I can understand why treatments aren't necessary. 

Eric has talked hi-res for years, but hasn't produced a new/updated product in quite a while. 

tdogzthmn

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DACy list
« Reply #6 on: 22 May 2017, 05:26 pm »
I just stared to do some research in NOS DACs and the Musette is top on my list.  The Myth and Benchmark DAC seem to offer more in the way of features but I'd like to try a NOS at least once!

dburna

Re: Metrum Musette NOS DACy list
« Reply #7 on: 22 May 2017, 08:49 pm »
I just stared to do some research in NOS DACs and the Musette is top on my list.  The Myth and Benchmark DAC seem to offer more in the way of features but I'd like to try a NOS at least once!

OK, I am not giving any information away from some private conversations I have had (since this new model is now on the Metrum web site and their Facebook site): Musette is going to be replaced in their line by the new Amethyst DAC, which has an added headphone amp in tow.  Check it out when you have a chance.  I think the price is staying at or nearly constant.

-dB

borism

Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #8 on: 23 May 2017, 01:38 am »
As an update I still love the Musette and have not had any urges to upgrade. :thumb:

willsw

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #9 on: 28 May 2017, 12:46 pm »
We've had the Musette as our reference DAC (as in "measure against" rather than "beats everything") in the shop for a long time, and I imagine the Amethyst, as a direct replacement with the DAC2 modules, will be even better.

Through headphones, the Musette leaves you wanting nothing except maybe even more of what it's giving (enter Menuet, Pavane). As a NOS DAC it gives stronger bass than most chip-based NOS DACs I've heard. The only thing we found with the Musette was, in direct A/B comparison with some other very nice DACs in a fairly resolving speaker setup was that it didn't get the detail in the bass that others did. This wasn't a definitive test, but it has left a lasting impression.

A more general comment on Metrum's offerings, as I do think they scale up from entry-level to flagship within a relatively reasonable price range (a bit like Tekton Design), when Voxativ was using a Pavane in their room at CAF, run directly from an inexpensive laptop, it was usually preferred over the quite nice turntable also in the room. Metrum definitely makes some of the best DAC tech around.

I'd say, with that Atma-sphere, you may want to jump up to the Menuet and go full balanced. Fight those satisfied urges!

tdogzthmn

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #10 on: 2 Jun 2017, 09:42 pm »
I found a Musette used for a good price and took the plunge.  So far it sounds really great coming from my Meridian Direct DAC.  Can't say that one is clearly better than the other but there is something more engaging to the sound of the Musette which makes for a great listening experience. 

Bemopti123

Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #11 on: 2 Jun 2017, 11:52 pm »
I have had a similar scare not with the Musette but with the EXOGAL DAC....paid good money for it and yet, there as a glitch with the USB, one of 2 Mac OSX laptops had problems outputting signal reliably to the EXOGAL.  My 15" MBP 2009 is stuck in Yosemite, and that one did not have problems with the DAC but a 2011 MBP 11" which has Sierra could not produce signal at all.  I was going insane until I got a $25 USB DAC to COAXIAL converter in Amazon.  It is a rip a knock off design from an old MUSE design.  To this device I plug the laptop in question and then, I use the SPDFI connection to the EXOGAL.  I no longer had problems with either laptop nor some strange clicking artifacts on the sound.  The sound is actually glorious. 

For a $25 outlay, it is worth every single penny and more. 

https://www.amazon.com/Signstek-Coaxial-Converter-Decoder-Analogue/dp/B00FEDHHKE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496447525&sr=8-1&keywords=USB+to+SPDIF+converter

 :thumb:

tdogzthmn

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #12 on: 3 Jun 2017, 03:38 am »
Spent some more quality listening time with the Musette tonight.  I have it hooked up to the optical output of my TV which is streaming music through an Apple TV.  Even with this medium fidelity source, the music sounds great.  I feel like this DAC is great at adding some body and life back into the music.  I'm looking for a good little music server like a Mac Mini to use as a source for my hi-resolution digital music library.  I would be able to use the USB input for the music server and keep the optical input from the TV for other sources.

dpatters

Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #13 on: 3 Jun 2017, 07:58 am »
I've had a Musette in my system for the last 6 months or so.  It replaced the Metrum Octave which I thoroughly enjoyed.  However, I decided to try the Border Patrol SE with USB and SPIDF and I am blown away by the sound I am now getting from my system.  Incredibly detailed but the music just flows, absolutely no digital artifacts.  This is a NOS R2R Ladder DAC for Redbook files only so if your are in the DSD or MQA camp you need not apply.

Don P.

Blackmore

Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #14 on: 3 Jun 2017, 01:37 pm »
+1 on the Border Patrol (not trying to derail the Metrum discussion)

dpatters

Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #15 on: 3 Jun 2017, 05:53 pm »
+1 on the Border Patrol (not trying to derail the Metrum discussion)

I just wanted to give some perspective since I had experience with the Musette which is a fine DAC in it's own right.

I'll start a new thread on the Border Patrol after I get a few more hours on it.  I'm at about 50 hours.


roncagg

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Re: Metrum Musette NOS DAC
« Reply #16 on: 6 Jul 2017, 06:58 pm »
Recently bought this to replace my octave, so I would have USB and start experimenting with upsampling. Running HQplayer on my laptop, streaming FLAC rips of my CDs. It's not that easy to keep switching resolutions for A/B testing but even so I am not hearing a very clear difference between 44.1 and 384 or 352.8 through the Musette, even though I've read the upsampled streams typically sound better. Has anyone else done this, and if you found a difference which tunes was it most obvious on? I have a pretty resolving system, Wyred4Sound STP-SE (stage 2 upgrades) preamp, FirstWatt F7 amp, Devore Nines speakers, so I think I should be able to hear differences (my ears/brain however may be the limiting factor...). Thanks,
Ron