M2Tech Evo Dac 192/32 da-converter
Having reviewed M2Tech’s highly practical hiFace Evo usb/spdif converter, cool & compact hiFace DAC and more exclusive Young DAC, it would be unnatural to not, very briefly, comment on the M2Tech’s Evo Dac when such an opportunity recently emerged.
Due to special circumstances (as part of another review) I mainly did my experiments with the Evo Dac’s 192kHz/24bit coax S/PDIF input (cd player) leaving out both Toslink and the 192kHz/32bit I2S USB connections. A handy way to put the computer in touch with the Evo Dac without using an usb cable is to have hiFace Evo usb/spdif device and a coax digital cable as a link.
For reasons relating to lack of space, I guess, the VDC input is in the front panel, together with four LEDs indicating sampling frequencies and their multiplates. A toggle switch selects between coax, optical, and I2S inputs. Of the innards I only know that it’s TI/Burr-Brown PCM1795 chip that handles the actual da-conversion, and that polypropylene capacitors are used and that a low noise, low distortion opamp stays at the output buffer, these all to obtain the best performance of the conversion IC.
The reference was my long-time Sentec Di-Ana converter, not the best dac there is, but great sounding and a trustworthy companion. As before, comparing dacs, their “sound” I mean, was difficult for me. I know that there are people to whom sonic differences between dacs aren’t subtle. But whatever I do, no matter how hard I try, the only differences I hear are low-level differences, very. Perhaps I didn’t do everything that I should’ve done to see below the surface. That's a possibility. On the other hand I have had the same experience many times in the past.
My dac performed well in the sense that music, almost irrespectively what it was, came out quite satisfactorily, but so it came when Evo Dac was in charge. My dac sounded slightly softer, perhaps, Evo Dac a tad crisper and punctual, but Jessica Pilnäs’ voice was as attractive as always in both ways, and that seemed to be the ultimate proof of the high quality of both dacs.
The only difference that I’d call (even minimally) significant was what my Di-Ana appears to do to any digital cd-player or dac: adds air to the sound, not the air that some electrostatic speakers add to the sound, not the air (inner space) some tube amps add to the sound but general air of relaxation the sound at the same time becoming spatially less well cut and sliced.
Maybe a better reference would be M2Tech’s other two dacs (hiFace DAC and Young DAC), which weren’t available for me for this test, but of whose sound I kind of remember what I heard and said about. Just generally speaking, Evo Dac shared the quality of not sounding bright (digital listening fatigue) but still closer to bright than red (whatever that means). Spatially Evo Dac probably goes somewhere in the middle, the Yound DAC providing the most convincing 3D soundstage. And that’s it. Those two variables: some tonal color thing, and the way in which the dac reproduces the recorded space, are the ones that to my mind and ears best classify dacs, if they are classifiable at all.
After auditioning the Evo Dac for hours and hours and hours, I cannot think of any reason why I should exclude it from the family of M2Tech dacs, partly because of my uncertainty (incompetence?) when it comes digital products such as dacs, and partly because I believe that the Evo Dac simply isn’t the family’s black sheep.
Size: 105(w) x 46(h) x104(d) mm; Weight: 350g (approx.); Sampling Frquencies (kHz): 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192; Resolution (bits): up to 32 (I2S), up to 24 bits (S/PDIF); Inputs: I2S on 8-ways RJ-45, S/PDIF on RCA, S/PDIF on Toslink; Outputs: single-ended line level on RCA; Output voltage: 2.7Vrms; THD+N: 0.002 @ 1kHz, 0dBFS; SNR: 118dB (A weighted); Supply voltage: 9V; Supply current: 350mA