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User Review: M51 Direct Digital DAC - Yeah it really is that good...

December 7, 2012

Products: M51 Direct Digital DAC

As I've finally broken down and started to get into the world of streaming, I couldn't ignore the vast difference between streamed music and direct playback in my system. The internal DACs in some of my equipment aren't slouches (particularly the NAD T787, NAD C565, Marantz NA7004) but I found myself continually switching cables and inputs, analog/digital, trying to get the most out of all sources. I started to explore some options, the M51 among them. There were so many reasons that I thought I should pass on this DAC -- obviously the cost was high -- the digital inputs, while extensive, weren't really a good match for my current setup, compared to most competitors' models -- was doubtful that I'd ever use some of the new innovative features -- so I started looking elsewhere. But then I heard it!! My dealer let me demo the M51, along with the Rega DAC -- the difference was like night and day, and they were both well broken in (more on this later). Everything moved up a notch or two, separation and depth were amazing, bass was tight and solid. Made my PSB Synchronies sing! And streaming was much closer to CD direct play -- well, as it was before the M51 got into the game :) So yeah, I got one. My dealer warned me that there would be a long break-in period, and that was very true. I've had it for several weeks now, and it's still not where the demo was, but it is making a HUGE difference already. I'm not quite sure where I'm going next with the whole streaming bit, e.g., whether I'll use the HDMI options, but I know that I'll be well prepared when I get there! And yeah, I know all about the M50/M52, you guys were reading my mind :) If there were 2 coax and 2 optical inputs, for those of us who are still making a transition, this would be the perfect product! But the amazing sound makes up for the minor annoyances. Highly recommended.

Tom - Rochester NY USA

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