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Music Fidelity A3 24 Question (1 Viewer)

Lin Park

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I am considering an audition on this unit but had a question first. This unit retails for around $1200 and is supposedly one of the best DAC's available at this price point. Eventually, I would spring for a nice transport to go along with it (like Music Fidelity's own A3 CD) but currently can't afford both.

I wanted to get opinions as to the improvement I would see from this player when using a Denon DCM-370 as a transport. Several threads have spoken of jitter and other things that come into play for transports so I'm wondering if I would be wasting my time even trying to make this work and should I just wait until I can afford both pieces of equipment.

Thanx,

Lin
 

KeithH

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Lin, the best way to find out is to try the DAC, of course. The '370 certainly isn't the best transport out there, but the Musical Fidelity DAC is well regarded, so it should improve the sound of your CDs. Obviously, the quality of your system will ultimately determine whether or not you hear any improvement with a stand-alone DAC. Also, give some consideration to the cables you will use. Don't skimp on cables. That's not to say that you have to go all out and buy cables that sell for $500+ for a 0.5-meter pair, but don't use basic Monster or Radio Shack cables either.

If you have a good system, the outboard DAC should yield an improvement over the '370's DAC. Of course, a better transport will match up better with the outboard DAC. Still, give the Musical Fidelity DAC or other quality models (Perpetual Technologies, Bel Canto, MSB, etc.) a try with the Denon.
 

Phil A

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For lesser money, you can look at the Perpetual Techlogies or the Channel Island audio DACs. It depends on what your needs and desires are. For $1k, you can also get a nice CD player as well.
 

KeithH

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Lee, does the Musical Fidelity DAC upsample, and if so, is it to 24/96, 24/192, or selectable? If it is selectable, does that mean upsampling can be turned off altogether?
 

KeithH

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Lee, one more thing. Perpetual Technologies has authorized Dan Wright of www.modwright.com to perform modifications of its P-3A and P-1A. I wonder how a modded P-3A would compare to the Musical Fidelity DAC. As I recall, the cost of the stock P-3A plus mods exceeds the cost of the Musical Fidelity unit. Still, the comparison would be interesting.
 

Lee Scoggins

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Keith,
It does upsample and well to 24/192.
Versus Dan Wright could be a tough call, but if I had to bet I would put money on Musical Fidelity. They are that good, with all due respect to the excellent Dan Wright. You might wind up with more build quality as well.
:)
 

KeithH

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Lee, thanks for the info. The reason I asked about upsampling is that I have read discussions on Audio Asylum where people have said that they are not sold on the technique. For example, with the Cary CD-303/200 (24/96 upsampling) or CD-306/200 (24/192 upsampling), some have said that they prefer the sound with upsampling turned off, at least on certain CDs. I have also read discussions where people said they preferred 24/96 over 24/192. That is why I asked if one could select between 24/96 and 24/192 and turn off upsampling altogether on the Musical Fidelity unit.
 

Lin Park

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KeithH, that is very interesting what you say about upsampling because it sort of goes hand in hand with something I read in the review of this unit by Sam Tellig in Stereophile's April '02 issue and you might be able to find it online if you want to review the full text. One of the things that Sam noted was that a number of people had said they prefer 96kHz upsampling when matched with a Sony transport and 192kHz upsampling when matched with other transports. Sam claimed he heard this in his test because he was using a Rega Jupiter player (which has a Sony transport) against a Denon DCD-1650.

The only thing I have not been able to determine is whether or not you can turn off the upsampling altogether.

If I do get to test this out, I'll post my findings here.

One more question - which would be the better transport: a Denon DCM-370 or a Panasonic RP-91?

Thanx,

Lin
 

Ricky T

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Lin,

Have you also considered the new Bel Canto Dac2 (retail $1300)? I'm thinking about getting this dac or the A3 24. Where is New Jersey are you demoing/buying the Music Fidelity from?
 

Ricky T

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Keith,

I'm curious, you read alot on Audio Asylum, and you have owned several cd players, including basically all of the Sony ES models. Have you ever tried/listened to a modified player? Or a highend outboard dac? To me, these seem to be great ways to get near SACD out of redbook for under $1k (and clearly superior than stock Sony ES performance).
 

Lee Scoggins

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Ricky,

The current thinking is that the A3 24 is the better ticket although Bel Canto is well respected.

Lin,

Usually transport quality comes down to jitter measurements. I believe Andrew Pratt has collected some numbers on this on another forum and Stereophile measures this using Ed Meitner's LIM device which is very good.

The lower the number (in picoseconds interestingly enough), the better of course.

Lee
 

Lin Park

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Ricky T,

I am going to try to do an in-home demo with the A3 24 from Audio Connection in Verona, NJ. All of my gear comes from John Rutan at that shop. He is great if you've never dealt with him and I would highly recommend him.

Lin
 

KeithH

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Lin,

If you do give the Musical Fidelity DAC a try, please do post your thoughts, including what you find out about upsampling. I appreciate the info. about Sam Tellig's article, as I missed it when the issue was on the newsstand. I'll look for it online. Finally, regarding transports, I can't say which would be better between the Denon DCM-370 and Panasonic DVD-RP91. My gut would say the Panasonic since it is a single-disc player, but I could be completely wrong.

Ricky,

I have not tried any modified CD or SACD players. There has been loads of talk on Audio Asylum over the past couple of years about modified SACD players, but that is not something I want to pursue. Aside from my happiness with the performance of the stock players, I do not want to void the warranty. I am considering the purchase of an outboard DAC for my main system, however. The Perpetual Technologies P-3A and new Musical Fidelity units interest me. I have no complaints with the performance of my primary front-end components (Sony SCD-777ES and 'C555ES), but I would like to see what an outboard DAC would do.

Also, I use an Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player in my main system quite a bit, but I would not use it with an outboard DAC. For one thing, doing so would bypass the tube analog output stage. Secondly, Upscale Audio is supposed to be offering an upsampling upgrade for the Ah! in the near future that interests me. An op-amp upgrade is already available, which I would like to try.
 

Marc Sky

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Anyone know if using a DAC upsampler (like the A3.24) would increase the sound quality running it in pro logic 2?
 

Ron Reda

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Being that I own a MF A3 CD player, I'd be real curious to hear what using the A3 DAC would sound like on 192.

Lee,

Is there a MF dealer in Atlanta?
 

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