Chord M-Scaler and Should I Want One?

I have an Innuos Zenith Mk3 server/streamer feeding an Innuos PhoenixUSB reclocker, which feeds my Gryphon Diablo 300’s DAC module.  I am connecting these with Audioquest Diamond USB cords.  I love the sound of this combo. 

I know the Chord M-Scaler doesn’t support the max upsampling when connecting non-Chord DAC’s, but I’ve read in multiple places that it still makes a big improvement.

Are others using the M-Scaler with non-Chord DAC’s and if so what has your experience been?

As an aside I see the M-Scaler only allows for the tiny low-voltage power cord.  I find this surprising since I find that an aftermarket premium cord improves my Innuos USB reclocker very noticeably (but not as noticeably as using premium cords with my Innuos streamer). 




@phastm3 and @soma70 , yes, I know what you are saying is true about those DACs. But for me, I’m a cable guy, and tend to go top of the line. And that would mean adding a very expensive power cord, AND interconnect into the equation. I know I could improve things by just getting one of those DACs you mentioned and compromising on the cabling, but I would just end up getting the pricey cables. I’m not prepared to go that far now. This is why I’m opportunistically considering adding the M scaler, likely used. It would be a mere fraction of the cost of the separate DAC cables alone.  I think it’s a psychological thing, I need my gear to be performing at their best, completely unrestrained, regardless of whether it’s lower or higher end gear.

Also @phastm3 not sure if you are still using your Zenith MKIII, but if so have you tried the Innuos PhoenixUSB? You may not be the “extra box” type, but there is no denying it frees up the sound and for me dramatically improves the sound coming from the Gryphon DAC module. Some say it brings the Zenith MK3 90% of the way to the very expensive Statement, but I just read another reviewer that said he was hard pressed to hear the difference between Zenith plus Phoenix and the Statement.

I had the zenith mk3 with the Phoenix usb. I didn’t think the Phoenix did much in my system. I never tried the Phoenix with the gryphon dac. I sold both and bought  an Auralic Aries G2.1. I thought the Auralic sounded much better than the Zenith…this was with the Holo May as a dac. I have a Lumin streamer now….it will upsample to dsd256 and my T+A Dac200 sees native dsd256. My terminology may be a little off, but it sounds great and runs smooth with no glitches. 

@phastm3 I’ve heard good things about Auralic. Or maybe I’m thinking of Antipodes, I get those mixed up…. To be honest I’ve never been impressed with my Zenith Mk 3 on its own. I expected much better. But with the PhoenixUSB added (also the PhoenixNET too), I was stunned, and very satisfied from the sound when connected to the Diablo DAC module. One could argue that for that cost you could get achieve the same result in one box (although the PhoenixNET would help any streamer). Nevertheless, end result is I’m happy with the sound. But simply interested in what the M Scaler might add for a relatively modest cost if purchased used. Yeah, it’s a patchwork of multi-box solutions. But, budget is a factor and the boxes really do seem to help nudge things towards upper tier performance to my ears.  Nudge is too soft a word for what PhoenixUSB did.

I upgraded to Valhalla 2 speaker cables which levelled up my system’s transparency. Not sure I would have heard the difference my PhoenixUSB added had I stuck with my old Clarus Crimson biwires (which are also great for the price, but far less revealing).

Now that I’m stuck on Innuos (sort of) I’d probably spring for an upgraded Zenith which I would guess might be available by 2025-ish. Hopefully they do better than the MKIII. I know I’m the odd one out, most seem to love theirs.

Wow, I just watched Rob Watts (some people are just born with the right name) who designed the M Scaler, responding to Amir’s / Audiosciencereview (ASR) review’s trashing of the M Scalar!  Rob goes into incredible depth that clearly shows that The ASR measurements don’t have any context to them.

However, there is one measurement for which Rob’s response makes me less interested in adding the M Scalar.  The ASR site and another both measured very poor jitter performance.  Rob said jitter of the M Scalar IS high, and it is due to the thing that had to be used to get the upsampling so high.

But here is the part that bugged me:  Rob says that Chord DACs are resistant to jitter so it doesn’t matter that the M Scaler has poor jitter performance.  I don’t doubt that is true.  But he also said “I can’t speak for other DACs” and he said he designed the M Scalar to be used with Chord DACs.  He said he doesn’t think it’s really supposed to be used with non-Chord DACs.

So I have a PhoenixUSB to remove jitter (and things sound awesome with it), and this would feed the M Scalar, only to add a high amount of jitter back in (but getting the benefit of upsampling).  It feels like a trade off, and Rob even said it’s not meant for use in my particular case…

I think I’m less interested in the M Scalar now…. I’m certain it works wonders with Chord DACs though….

Anyone have any reasons why NOT to consider the M Scaler with my Gryphon DAC? The M Scaler seems to be one of those rare products that almost everyone unanimously says is great. Sort of like the Innuos PhoenixUSB

I've tried both those boxes. Scaler with a DAVE. I thought it was a waste of money. I've tried all manner of USB and Ethernet re-clockers including the Phoenix.. All a waste of my money. 

IMHO after much experimenting my conclusion is if your DAC benefits from USB and/or Ethernet  re-clockers you should get a better DAC. I have heard a benefit when using a Mutec MC3 + USB-AES instead of USB direct to DAC on a few DACs

If you want to upsample, pay a few hundred $$ for HQPlayer and do it in software.