Musical Paradise MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS Balanced DAC DSD DOP 384Khz

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rajacat

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I hereby anoint :) this to be the official thread for the Musical Paradise MP-D2 tube DAC.
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I had been looking for a new DAC for the last year or so. Finally it came down to the R2R Holo Spring,  or the MP-D2. I've been scouring the forums and haven't found any negative words about the MP-D2 whatsoever and that includes some high end forums where owners of much more expensive DACs have lavished praise. My main concern was that the MP-D2 might sound too "tubey" but from careful reading of the reviews I've concluded that this wasn't an issue. IMO this DAC explores the outer limits of the price to performance ratio.

I took delivery of this behemoth (27 lbs.) about two weeks ago. When I first fired it up, it was very harsh with unbalanced channels but after about 40 hours it gradually smoothed out and gave indications that it was going to satisfy my expectations. I replaced the stock cheap looking 6Z5P Chinese rectifier with an old GE 5R4GB but immediately didn't notice any difference probably due to the ongoing burning in process. This DAC supports both 6.3V and 5V rectifiers with just a flip of a switch.
6.3V series: 6Z5P (stock), 6X5.
5V series: 5R4, 5AR4, 5U4G, 5Y3, GZ34.
I'm still using the stock signal tubes. This DAC is a tube rollers delight. It also supports a variety of the signal tubes with a simple switch.
6.3V series: 6N11 (stock), 6H6, 6H30, E88CC, E188CC,6922, 6DJ8.
12.6V series: 12AU7, 12BH7, E80CC.

So how does it sound? Well after ~200 hours  its a very large step above my former DAC (MHDT Constantine). It's dead quite in my rig.  The MP-D2 fills the room much more than my reference. The imaging is more precise. The amount of detail resolution is far beyond the Constantine. It does Classical very well with excellent layering and I'm having a lot of fun noticing the different sections of an orchestra having dialogs with each other. Holographic and 3D are words that come to mind when describing this big, bold and colorful DAC. Tone monster too. :eyebrows:
    The other night I cued up one of my favorite live albums.
"https://www.amazon.com/Alison-Krauss-Union-Station-Live/dp/B00006LLLN/ref=sr_1_5?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1484248115&sr=1-5&keywords=alison+krauss" target="_bl and it almost brought tears to my eyes. A truly great live recording and the D2 did it justice. This DAC has a lot air and gives you a nice sense of the venue. When she pushed her pristine soprano long and high the MP-D2 followed her with ease. All the other players were spread out clearly on the soundstage. The proverbial Veil of Maya has been lifted another notch. I'm really looking forward to rolling in some quality NOS tubes.
BTW cap rolling is easy too. It came with Obbligato Golds which are a quality cap but I'm sure I'll want to roll some others in too.


Quality construction. Notice the separate shielded aluminum box below the main board which encloses the beefy
 150W toroidal transformer for the analog section and an additional 80W toroidal transformer for the digital sections.



I hope that this thread encourages others whom are in the market for a DAC in the 1K range to give the MP-D2 a look. I know of two other Audio Circle members who have taken the plunge and are happy with their purchase.http://www.musicalparadise.ca/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=61&product_id=80

I also would be pleased if this thread would function as a platform for a tube/cap rolling discussion.

...Roy











 


« Last Edit: 27 Mar 2017, 12:35 pm by ServerAdmin »

dburna

I know this is a (very) subjective question, but looking at their web site there's a nearly limitless combination of tube/cap/other options combinations.  Can anyone comment on and/or recommend options that would hit a real sweet spot w.r.t. price/performance?  In other words, which of all these myriad of options *REALLY* makes a large performance difference?

Thanks,  -dB

marvda1

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i'm not running balanced so mine has the 5u4g (they sent a 5r4gya) rectifier upgrade $48, the 2 siemen e88cc tubes $110, and the 2 mcap gold silver oil caps  $205.
and it will bring tears to your eyes.

rodge827

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i'm not running balanced so mine has the 5u4g (they sent a 5r4gya) rectifier upgrade $48, the 2 siemen e88cc tubes $110, and the 2 mcap gold silver oil caps  $205.
and it will bring tears to your eyes.

What he said!

JackD

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dburna

Before you decide on the upgrade path you need to determine if you are going to run the MP-D2 SE or Balanced.  If your system already has high gain and especially if it is tubed the 6v output running balanced may cause you problems.  Unless you just don't want to do any of the upgrading yourself I would buy it stock and try it first. If it like mine and several others, it ships with the 6H6  tubes instead of the Chinese 6N11's you may find that you are happy as is.  You can certainly buy the tubes he offers for less, especially the rectifiers.  The caps can be bought from Jeff at Sonic Craft for a few dollars less and the Siemen's tubes while good may not be what you like.  I owned a quad so I have tried them and they are in fact very good, but found others that I liked just as well like the Reflektor 6n23 and the Tungsram PCC88. Just my 2 cents , but I wanted to experiment with the tubes first before changing Caps.

marvda1

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the reason i went with the cao upgrade is i put the same caps in my dehavilland preamp.

JackD

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I'll get around to ordering a pair fairly soon.  Just wanted to change one variable at a time and have both options at hand. 

rodge827

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I posted this last Sunday 1/22 over on the HeadFi Forum:


Gents,

Due to this thread and a mention of the MP D2 on another forum I purchased a stock unit from Gary. It arrived on 1/17/17 and went straight into my system. I had been looking for a dac and like a few of you was considering a Gustard, but the flexibility and custom options steered me to the MP D2.

It sounded ok right out of the box but now with about 125 hours on it the SQ has greatly improved. I replaced the stock rectifier with a Philips 5R4GYS I had lying around and ordered a pair of iFi NOS 6922 tubes which showed up yesterday. Wow! what an improvement over the stock tubes! The sound stage exploded deeper and wider and imaging is off the charts. Tonality is good but not great yet since I still have the stock Obbligato caps in place. I hope to order some caps soon, but for now I'm thoroughly enjoying what I'm hearing. I also replaced the stock power cord with an Aural Thrills Active cord and the improvement was very noticeable. Blacker and quieter background.   

I'm using a highly modified 47 Labs Flatfish Transport to the coax input on the D2 and the fixed RCA outs. My preamp is a 4P1L DHT unit designed and built by Radu Tarta of Simple Pleasures. Amps are Audio Space AS-6M 300b SET and speakers are Charney Audio Maestro 100db rear loaded horns designed on the Tractrix Theory. All cabling is Jenna labs.

 All things considered the D2 is a great well thought out piece of gear that sounds fantastic! There are few, if any, equipment builders who design their gear to be so easily customized by the end user. At a different time I had owned a very well made Audio Note Kits 2.1b that was modded to the hilt with BG caps and AN Silver Coupling caps. I had to sell it for financial reasons (thank you Wall Street and your greedy illegal mortgage mess) and still kick myself for it! Not any more! A tricked out D2 with the right tubes and caps knocks hard on that door!


Since this post I installed the recommended Mundorf 2.2uf Supreme Silver Gold Oil Coupling caps. So far so good with them and will run them in for a couple of hundred hours till they settle.  The D2 is a very special piece of audio gear and at the full XLR tube and cap upgrade few if any dacs can touch it at many times its price.

I like to be engaged, cerebral and emotional, when I listen to music. Feeling every nuance from a vocal, the crowd noises, interplay between musicians, and dynamic inflections by the artist are where its at for me. The MP-D2 will give you that in spades. Songs that were OK are now special and songs that are great...well you get the idea.

Chris 

 

Tubeburner

This looks like a nice dac. How is the volume control? Any chance the volume control could be switched to a remote unit? From what I read, the output appears to be quite high? I like lots of control with the volume.

Thanks in advance!

rajacat

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This looks like a nice dac. How is the volume control? Any chance the volume control could be switched to a remote unit? From what I read, the output appears to be quite high? I like lots of control with the volume.

Thanks in advance!
Can't give you an opinion about the volume control as I use a passive pre. Others have said that it's OK but most use their preamps.

rajacat

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #10 on: 28 Jan 2017, 09:34 pm »
I've found one design flaw. I was going to try my RCA 5R4GY rectifier but it's of the large coke bottle type and it won't fit through the hole in the cover. :( Does anybody know if the Philips 5R4GY will fit? It's too bad that the hole is so small. This eliminates quite a few of the better rectifiers without major surgery to the cover. Sure, you could drill a larger hole but the elegant aluminum finish ring would have to be scrapped.

marvda1

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #11 on: 28 Jan 2017, 09:43 pm »
i think you can get what's called a socket saver that might raise the height of the tube enough to get the fat part of the tube above the opening.

rodge827

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #12 on: 28 Jan 2017, 09:52 pm »
Does anybody know if the Philips 5R4GY will fit?

No, The top wont fit with the Phillips...running mine topless  :o

This looks like a nice dac. How is the volume control? Any chance the volume control could be switched to a remote unit? From what I read, the output appears to be quite high? I like lots of control with the volume.

Thanks in advance!


I tried the preamp out but preferred the fixed out with my preamp. There looks to be enough room for a remote volume control, I would guess it depends on the one you decide to use.

JackD

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #13 on: 28 Jan 2017, 09:52 pm »
Within reason all of the "coke bottle" rectifiers in that group are the same dimensions.  I've passed on several good deals on them in favor of their straight sided versions due to the hole's dimensions.  I'm trying a 5AS4A now and really like it.  Andy at VTS calls it the "super" 5U4G. There are a pretty good selection of 8 pin socket savers out there at a variety of prices.

rajacat

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #14 on: 28 Jan 2017, 09:58 pm »
I'll order some of those socket savers.

JackD

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #15 on: 28 Jan 2017, 10:24 pm »
Let us know if it raises them enough.  If you e-mail Garry at MP he may know.

rodge827

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #16 on: 29 Jan 2017, 03:29 am »
Gents,

Any idea on the run in time for the Mundorf Supreme Silver Gold Oil coupling caps?

Tyson

Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #17 on: 29 Jan 2017, 04:17 am »
250 hours

rodge827

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #18 on: 29 Jan 2017, 03:11 pm »
Thanks Tyson  :)

rajacat

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Re: MUSICAL PARADISE MP-D2 AK4490 XMOS BALANCED DAC DSD DOP 384Khz
« Reply #19 on: 30 Jan 2017, 10:50 pm »
I've been burning in a pair of 1971 NOS Amperex 6DJ8 Orange Globes over the last couple of days. OMG where was my bass?! What have I been missing?! The stock 6U6 were OK but these tubes have cojones. :green: I've got to adjust the level on a couple of my subs. The whole soundstage has expanded and these  have a nice organic texture. It took awhile for the highs to reach their natural level and they're still breaking in (~ 30 hours) but I'm already happy.