Experience with Metrum Octave DAC

Stanwal, I see you have one in the pipeline, any news?
Suppose to ship Feb 19; I would be tearing my hair out if I had any. The Canadian distributer is selling them for about what the factory charges so if I had waited I could have got one faster but they were saying that the price would go up after the first of the year; it didn't , which is good news. I ordered mine in mid Dec. so 8 weeks more or less between ordering and shipping. Looking forward with great interest; have two good dacs but the Metrum is suppose to be in a totally different class. Makes some other dacs look way overpriced if it is half as good as reviews say; will post a review when it gets here and it breaks in a little and I can have the local audio group weigh in after listening.
Stanwal, that's some lead time. There's no way to audition and it sounds like resale would be ripe if one needed to. There is more positive comments on a Audiophilleo and Stello U3 reviews.

Thanks for the response


I'm very interested in the Octave as well. Because of funds, I have to wait a bit before buying, so I'm using this time to research and make sure it's the best buy for me. I have also seen those reviews, plus the very good feedback from several users. I haven't seen feedback from it being used with a Squeezebox Touch, though, as I plan to do. From your other post it sounds like you are planning to do the same. Please post your impressions once you get to try it!

Good luck!
Lewinskih01, this being my first DAC, other than the Touch's analog outs, I've nothing to compare it to. Keep in mind the lead time for the Octave is 5-7 weeks.

I'm told, barring any poor reception, the Airport Extreme should stream more than enough bandwidth for the touch. Still, I haven't heard of a comparison between the Touch being directly fed by a Mac Minior or over wifi.

Maybe someone here can answer that?
stanwal, what is the link to the Canadian Dist. for Metrum?
Lewinskih, my latest news regarding using the Squeezebox Touch. First I should point out that my lack of computer speak and a general inability to describe what I'm trying to do has been frustrating to some responders elsewhere on the net. Others have been very helpful. I was assuming the SBT had a USB output! See what I mean, I'm a real Moe.

So far the best reading about the Octave has been on the Computer Audiophile and Audio Circle. I'm now very certain the Metrum Octave was the smartest DAC purchase, implementing it to utilize its full potential is the rub. Currently, using a Mac Mini>any cheapo USB cable>Empirical Audio's Offramp>Quality SPDIF cable> Octave may be the best implementation to date.

Empirical Audio's Chief engineer Steve Nugent has been great. They had a product called the Pace Car that was somewhat designed to put between products like Sonos and SBT. Using it with the SBT required a mod to the SBT. Anyway, the Pace Car is out of production but a new devise that should be called the Syncro is a reclocker that would go between the SBT and a DAC without any mods to the SBT.

The one caveat is that the reclocking may not be bit perfect and of course limited to the SBT's 24 bit-96kHz. Keep in mind this devise is under going some beta testing, the enclosure for the board is not ready. It may be about for weeks away from release and the price is an estimated $500.

Thanks for the input. I've been in touch with Steve and think very highly of him. Wasn't aware of the Syncro - great news!

Have you been able to test for differences in sound between using the internal SBT DAC vs. SBT>SPDIF cable>Octave?
Lewinskih, nada, I'm still at least six weeks out to receiving the Octave.
I saw an ad on here from the Canadian agent for a new one and assumed it would be a more or less permanent offer. It isn't up anymore so ??? You might get his address from the Metrum site. Still waiting on mine.
Instructions for connecting a USB DAC to Squeezebox Touch (Changing the SBT's USB from an input port to an output port)


This disables all other outputs but they can be easily restored by resetting.
Got mine last week. It is currently burning in.
mine ships out on Friday!!
Thought you might be interested in a few new reviews I just stumbled across...


# 2

Mine came today. Right out of the box the best digital I have had.
Stanwal, so that took seven weeks?
From Dec 16th I think so just about 8. I am using MIGs under mine and they make a considerable difference. Well worth the wait IMHO.
What are MIGs?

How are you be feeding the Octave SPDIF, USB converter?
Mine came in on Wednesday, and I've had it burning in somewhat continuously since then. I figure I'll place some good mojo on the unit by burning it in with Dark Side of the Moon.

It's clearly the best DAC I have had in my system, but that's not saying much. I do think that I'll be very pleased with the sound it creates based on initial impressions...

I have a couple of thoughts/questions, though.

I am planning to feed a Sonos signal into the DAC, so this is a 16/44.1 feed at best. It is also a jitter-prone source. I've read in a few places that the Octave really shines with upsampled signals, so I'm wondering about jitter reducers and/or upsamplers.

I had intended to use a Monarchy DIP 24/96 in the line to address the jitter, but it is dead after about 4 years of non-use, so I need to purchase something new.

That brings me to the questions... has anyone tried any jitter boxes ahead of the Octave? Any feedback on results?

And, what about the upsampling? It turns out the newest Monarchy DIP is an upsampler/jitter box, so that may be the logical way to go, but before I spend the money, I'd like to hear what the general consensus is on the various options out there right now. At the moment, I am not using any USB sources.

MIGs are Synergistic Research's vibration control devices. They are stainless steel hollow half spheres. They have a round side and a flat one and the combination you use can sound quite different. I have used a fair variety of different devices of this type and , FOR MY EARS, these are the best I have used and I have a set under all my gear. But absolutely every one I have used is better than the stock rubber feet that come with most units. I recently had lunch with an engineer friend,while we were eating he made fun of vibration devices as snake oil. But afterward when we went to another friends house and I put a set of Ceraballs under his turntable he heard the difference immediately.
I am using a Transparent Reference digital cable from my Meridian 200 transport; my only digital source are CDs.
MIGs are Synergistic Research's vibration control devices. They are stainless steel hollow half spheres. They have a round side and a flat one and the combination you use can sound quite different. I have used a fair variety of different devices of this type and , FOR MY EARS, these are the best I have used and I have a set under all my gear. But absolutely every one I have used is better than the stock rubber feet that come with most units. I recently had lunch with an engineer friend,while we were eating he made fun of vibration devices as snake oil. But afterward when we went to another friends house and I put a set of Ceraballs under his turntable he heard the difference immediately.
After a five week wait, a week of continues play, and running Pure Music, this is a huge improvement over the Squeezeboxes analog outs.
Received mine about a week ago as well, really love the way it sounds even with a bare Squeezebox Touch. Although it has been suggested that re-clocking and upsampling is required to get ideal results I'm not sure that I'll bother going any further as everything is working just fine as is.

The one thing I will say is that putting the Octave in line produced one of the most pronounced and noticeable differences that I have heard from a digital upgrade(Benchmark->Lavry->Audiolab). Better bass, better tone and rock solid in terms of placement of instruments.

We'll see what happens over time but so far it appears to be a keeper. I'll try and report back after putting some more hours on it...
I've been playing with my Metrum Octave DAC for the past 4 weeks, and I have to say, that it sounds spectacular. Super transparent, fast, detailed, smooth, with excellent front to back layering and soundstaging in general. It is indeed a game changing product.

No, it is not better than my uber-expensive dCS Scarlatti, which is still smoother and has even better resolution, but is not that far behind.

This DAC could sell for $5k and (fit and finish aside) could still represent a good value for money.
Mjm6 - You asked about jitter boxes (re-clockers) used with the Octave. You might check out the new Synchro-mesh re-clocker from Empirical Audio ($600), which is probably much better than the dated and cheaper Monarchy DIP. I almost purchased the Synchro-mesh but ended up buying a used Wyred4Sound modified Sonos instead, cleaning up the jitter at the source instead of externally with a re-clocker. In my system, going from a standard Sonos to W4S Sonos into a otherwise good dac (Rega) made a world of difference. IMO, jitter must be minimized at the source or with a re-clocker to make recorded music sound real. Most affordable dacs, including the Metrum Octave, can only do so much with jittery sources like the Sonos.

That's great to read. Which source/s are you using? Playing what kind of material?

I've seen comments saying it really shines with high resolution material and low jitter sources, like USB/SPDIF converters if coming from a computer. My interest is mostly around a SB Touch.
Elberoth, thanks for posting your impressions of the Octave. Like Lewinski I'm interested in your source and any software such as Pure Music.

Your component selection over the years has been spectacular but I've really enjoyed your photo journal of your rooms evolution. In my opinion this is the craft of good audio. Looks terrific, keep it coming.

Vicdamone, Lewinskih01 - I have been using my PC server, running Win 7 64-bit with JRMC 17 and Jplay, exclusively.

It is true, Metrum needs a low jitter source to show it's true potential. Out of a few dozens of USB/SPDIF converters I have tested, JK SPDIF mk 3 works particularly well with Metrum, and offers by far the best bang for the buck.

I have a few 176kHz files, and they do sound outstanding on Metrum, but those are Reference Recordings HRx albums, so I'm not sure if the quality is due to them beeing 176kHz or superior mastering.

99% of my collection are regular 16/44 files. I play them back with no upsampling (Jplay does not offer this option), and they also sound great, so I wouldn't worry about that too much.

The key is a great USB/SPDIF converter (be it JK mk 3, Off Ramp Turbo 4/5, BADA Alpa USB, HiFace Evo stack).
I just received mine from Hifi Heaven in Green Bay Wi. I ordered it yesterday, got it today! They just got them in. Burning in now, but already sounding very nice...
I had been holding off ordering from Metrum due to the wait, so this worked out very well for me. Call them quick. I imagine this post will sell them out!
$1095 with free shipping, and seem to be great to deal with.
DBarger, are you using computer via USB adapter or straight as a dac via SPDIF? I want to pull the trigger but every review I read says USB adapter via computer is the way to go with this unit.

Send me an email with your impressions:
p a d 8 9 4 7 @ sbcglobal.net

extra spaces above for anti-spamming
Bugredmachine - Martin Colloms from hifi critic tested Metrum with his vintage Meridian transport, and it still sounded very good.

It is not that it will sound 'bad' or any worse than other DACs in this price range when using with ordinary transport. But the sound quality you get from this DAC is so high, it is so transparent, that it imidiately shows improvements in transport quality.
Bugred, I am using it both ways, from a squeezebox touch and a Mac mini.
I plan to purchase the octave with use with the squeezebox and I'm wondering if anyone compared the sound quality using coax cable vs optical cable. Also does either cable require a re-clocker or is that just for USB connections?

Thanks, Ron
Ronrags - I have used the Metrum with both coax and optical and I'd say they sound very similar. Due to the variables involved (cables, transport output), it's difficult to make a precise comparison, but the two Metrum inputs are approximately equal in quality.
Jult52, thanks for your response. Concerning reclocking, is this a variable with either input?
Ronrags - Not sure I understand your question, but I've been meaning to post an update on my Metrum experience so let me do that, which addresses reclocking.

I got the Metrum about 5 weeks ago and was immediately impressed by its vivid & immediate sound, the way it separated the voices and by the way it represented winds, brass & guitars. This is an excellent piece of equipment. But I also found it had some problems, especially with stringed instruments (violins, etc.) and to a lesser extent voices, which were sometimes harsh and brittle. Because I use an inferior transport, I introduced a reclocker into the chain (an Audio Gd DI-3) to see if that would help. The answer is yes, reducing jitter has had a clear impact (ron - I use it through coax/SPDIF). So the working rule that the Octave is very sensitive to transport quality is true in my experience. The Octave is so revealing that it highlights weaknesses in your audio chain and in the recording as well. It reminds me of my Magnepans, in that way.

Anyway, the Metrum is an excellent DAC, but it is very sensitive to jitter (not surprising due to its lack of filters) and I think cable quality, too, and may force system changes, which is a typical effect of a component that marks a big upgrade.
All the DACs I have used are sensitive to transport used; I use a Meridian 200 with Transparent Reference digital cable; the cable has a list price about 50% above the Metrum.
Jult52, based on your response, the Octave is very sensitive to jitter and a reclocker was necessary in your case. I guess my question was whether a reclocker is necessary since I'm using the squeezebox touch. I previously used the W4S DAC 1 and the Benchmark DAC 1 and wasn't impressed by the sound even after they were both burned-in. I guess the Squeezebox might be the weak link and requires a reclocker as you experienced.
It sounds great with a Squeezebox without any re-clocking. I use optical out of my SB Touch, sounds great. I do use a reclocker out of my Mac Mini into it. The Octave does need a couple says burn in to sound its best. I was initially a little underwhelmed coming from a maxed out Naim dac, but after a couple days I am happy.
Dbarger, Have you compared the optical vs the coax? Also do you use the stock power cord or an after market cord?

I also have a SB Touch and I'm looking into a DAC to pair with it, so your comments are of interest to me. You mentioned you were underwhelmed with Touch+W4S DAC1 and by Touch+Benchmark. Underwhelmed compared to Touch only?

Have you tried the Soundcheck Toolbox 3 on the Touch? I have and I'm happy, and suspect the improvements would be more noticeable with an external DAC.

BTW, if going down the optical route, make sure it's a glass and not plastic "cable". There was a thread on the cable forum a while back discussing this.
Lewinski, I was a little disappointed with both DACs by comparing them to the original cd using the Oppo 95. I was expecting them to sound better than the original cd. I found the Oppo less grainy and a little more detailed. I did the comparisons with my brother and he agreed. But both DACs sounded better than the Touch only.

I just read an interesting article concerning ripping cds using the db power software. I didn't realize that the default setting for flac is partially compressed and there is a sound difference between the non-compressed setting. I plan to re-rip some files and compare to the previous ripped files. I will also rip into a wav file and compare them all.

In the thread I started "Looking for a DAC for the SB Touch", I narrowed my choices between the Octave and the Burson DA-160. I'm more concerned about sounding smooth than the last bit of detail.
Ronrags, no, I haven't obsessed over the inputs. Both sound great, and I have no way to re-clock the optical anyway.
I use a less loss on the dac, and a upgraded linear power supply on the touch.
Dbarger, thanks for your feedback. I also upgraded the power supply on the touch.
I find the Octave is sensitive to power cords. I have tried several, but none have been as good as the Lessloss DFPC. I imagine the Signature would pick it up another notch! I also have it plugged into a Stealth Mini.