Musical Fidelity M1CDT CD transport and M1DAC digital processor

07.10.2012..

English brand and living legend of the market, Musical Fidelity has made in the last years very interesting apparatus. With its thirty years of experience in audio devices and using the ultimate technique innovations, it offers to the hi-fi world products at a very good quality/price ratio. On the Musical Fidelity Official Timeline, you can find the full series of this brand that has marked the time of the hi-fi worldwide.

 

For this test, we have at our disposal a match of two digital chassis: the M1CDT transport and the M1DAC converter. I have received the devices packed in two different cartons of about 3.5/4 kg each, well protected and wrapped.

Let us start with the M1CDT, list price around 745.00 euro. The M1CDT is a perfect partner for the M1DAC. Together they are a valuable duo if compared to their price. The transport can read several formats like CD, CDDA, CD-R, CD-RW and has also the CD Text function.

The front panel has a simple design with all the controls below the CD slot. In fact, we are dealing with a slot-loading CD transport, unusual thing for a device with so high performances. The display is easy to read, clear and not disturbing the night sessions. Also the white silk-screen prints on the black frontal are easy to read. The controls are essential: power on/standby, play/pause, stop, track back, track forward, and eject buttons, IR receiver lens for remote control.

Is that it? That’s it. It is Brit‘s.

The front panel is satinized and coarse, but also anti-imprint and scratch-resistant. The chassis stands on solid and strong feet and it is made of anti-shock thick metal sheets.

The back panel presents the 90-250 V (IEC) mains input, the optical (Toslink) digital output, the coaxial (RCA) digital output and one unusual AES/EBU balanced digital output, besides the usual RCA line connectors. Various indeed the possibility of interfacing.

 

Looking inside, you note immediately the tracking mechanism, just below the control card and the power supply stage. This last one is well-made and composed of seven separate stages with a double filter as power conditioning system. The wiring is minimal and very tidy.

In the package are also a remote control and a power. I have made the test with this cable although you can change it with something more valuable.

The transport search the tracks very quickly and it is noiseless. There are no errors during the tests.

 

The M1DAC converter, as I said before, is a great match for the M1CDT transport and even if its look is quite conventional, it hides inside original peculiarities.

For its price - about 520.00 euro - it represents a unique and very performing DAC.

In the back panel are the four digital inputs: XLR balanced, AES/EBU digital inputs, RCA coaxial S/PDIF 32-192 kbps 16-24 bit stereo PCM, optical TOSLINK connector 32-96 kbps 16-24 bit stereo PCM and USB type “B” for asynchronous computer. The USB represents an innovation if compared with the former model, which allows a 360° interface, making possible the streaming music from PC or Mac. The computer scanning is given with musicality without compromising or mortifying the usual hi-fi listening parameters.

To complete the inner analysis, I want to underline the apposite high-quality power supply circuitry, supplied by a R-Core transformer which gives more immunity from noise.

 

Turned on, the l’M1DAC indicates with a blue led the input signal velocity at 32KHz, 44.1KHz, 48Khz, 88KHz, 92KHz, 192KHz

Other LEDS are vertically piled up on the right, above a switch that enables the selection of the input signal. On the front panel are also the mains button and a 192 KHz upsampling green LED.

The digital to analogue conversion is made by two Burr-Brown DSD1796 chips in dual-differential mode to get the lowest noise floor. They are supported by a pair of Burr-Brown SRC4392 sample-rate converter chips. All the input signals are oversampled to 24 bit/192 Hz before the conversion, to let any noises outside the audible range.

The chassis, solid and well-done, offers a good damping to vibrations. The aluminium feet give a stylish look, the writings are clear and the components are of quality. PBC well done and internal cleaning of the wiring. In sum, great care of the particulars. Nothing is left to chance.

 

Great care has been put also in the sound. The M1DAC has an open and very dynamic character, it makes the listening easy and easily if fascinates.

The bass range is harmonious and agile. The clear and expressive mids catch the sound and give it back without altering the tone. The high range is subtle and sharp when required, but without exaggerating.

A pleasant, energetic and involving DAC that offers several inputs and can interface itself with several transports or PCs.

I start my test with the PC: my Sony Vaio laptop, USB M2Tech pen drive, with digital cable.

The setup is composed, as usual, by two mono amps with the 211 interchanged with the class-D small amp and my reference Glas’t speakers: two-way in pneumatic suspension.

The sound is very enjoyable and the soundstage very wide. I start with The Ozone Percussion Group by the Manger’s album, Musik wie von einem anderen Stern. Track 14, very energetic with a variety of sounds, percussions and bells that lay bare the limits of the components. Practically a severe test track. As soon as I increase the volume, I hear big hits of drum bass… but knowing the limits of my system I return to the volume I usually have.

As second track, I choose Diana Krall’s voice with Just The Way You Are from the album Live in Paris. I listen to the entire work of this amazing performer! The M1DAC is more refined if compared to my M1DAC of the same manufacturer, but also more detailed, more capable of better handle the most complex passages. There is more breath and the scene is wider, the timbres are more natural and the bass is rounded without being dry. The voice are thicker and more natural. Maybe this is due to the better power supply of the DAC.

In all the tests, the tracks have the right sound, in a pleasant musical and free day.

After the streaming music, it is time to test the silver discs.

A famous group of the ‘70s. The group with the greatest number of African and Afro American styles, mainly jazz e R&B: the Earth, Wind & Fire.

I have to thank a friend who made me discover this amazing group. He used to listen to them twelve hours a day pacing the music while he was driving. I start with the most famous songs like Sing a Song, Fantasy, Can’t Hide Love and a CD collection. I have the entire discography, by the way.

I have got-together in one of those Afro American parties of the ‘70s with a pair of showy bell-bottom trousers and bushy hair. The rhythms are strong and involving, full of energy and the Musical Fidelity is giving back that energy without any effort. I have started to beat time on the table, as did my friend on the wheel of his R5 Parisienne!

The M1CDT together with the M1DAC forms a valuable duo at a profitable price considering the versatility of the DAC and the quality of the transport. If we also add the M1CLiC universal digital commander, you can handle the music both in digital and analog format through the M1ViNL pre Phono MM/MC module. You can put them side by side or piled up, maybe also distant: the outcome does not change.

Unfortunately, also these electronics have taken flight leaving an empty space in my listening room.

 

 

Official technical specifications:

M1CDT

Outputs: 1x line level RCA, 1x RCA coaxial connector (Digital SPDIF),1x Toslink optical connector (Digital SPDIF), 1x XLR AES/EBU balanced digital connector

Dimensions: 220x100x300mm (WxHxD)

Weight (unpacked / packed): 3.5 kg / 4 kg

M1DAC

Jitter: <12 picoseconds peak to peak

THD(+ noise): <0.0025% 10Hz to 20kHz

Frequency Response: +0, -1dB, 5Hz to 100 kHz

Inputs: 1x XLR AES balanced digital input, 1x RCA coaxial connector SPDIF 32-192 kbps (16-24 bit stereo PCM),1x TOSLINK optical connector 32-96 kbps (16-24 bit stereo PCM),1x USB type ‘B’ connector for computer/PDA - 16-24 bits, 32-96 kbps (determined by source file/computer settings)

Outputs: 1x line level RCA (phono), 1x line level XLR (balanced)

Dimensions: 220x100x300mm (WxHxD)

Weight (unpacked / packed): 3.4 kg / 4.1 kg

Official Italian dealer: to SO website

Official current price in Italy: M1CDT 745.00 EUR, M1DAC 525.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to Gianluca Polidoro's system

 
by Gianluca Polidoro
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