How would you describe the sound, I have a Primate Dac 30 that can sound a bit clinical, thinking about upgrading!
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Copy and paste from my head-fi post, I reviewed with actual music and noted my observations, unlike going through the same 5 audiophile recordings and using nebulous descriptors like blacker backgrounds and tighter bass, so bare with me:
Yes, I just purchased the Onyx. Stupendous Fidelity. I would have a hard time believing anything bettering it at it's price range. I haven't heard the Yggdrasil though so can't comment on that, I'm just not a fan of OS dacs so it wasn't really in my list to buy. My reference dac was PS AudioPerfectwave MK2 for years till that started acting up on me. As a stop gap I have been using the CA Dacmagic+. The jump from Dacmagic+ is pretty large. The delineation of instruments in space is very precise, from a width and depth perspective, DM+ was pretty vague, but I'm not gonna use typical audiophile lingo here as DM+ is a high-res, good dac for the price, but not at all in the same class as the Onyx.
My PWD2 was always used on NativeX mode (NOS), and you could say I prefer this sound signature, the Onyx is easily a lot more high resolution, without really trying, the details are just there. Bigger stage, easier to listen to. One of my typical reference/test track is Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams', all dacs should and will place Stevie Nicks in the middle of course, most dacs worth their salt should be able to place Lindsay to the right and middle height during the chorus, and Christie to the left, and you should be able to discern their backup vocals among all the other instrumentation. All the cymbal hits should be striking and decay very nicely. Now, the few great dacs should be able to tell you that Christie is taller than Nicks and is standing farther away. The Onyx EASILY tells you that, along with making Lindsey and Christie's vocals much sharper and easier to discern within that sound stage, among the cacophony of everything else. Like I said, Stupendous Fidelity.
Additionally, after about a month or so of listening:
It basically sounds good with everything, a very high res, high bandwidth dac which has no fatiguing qualities as far as I can tell, and this is without any USB cleaners or power conditioners on my chain. Those are two of my next points of upgrade, hence the thread.
If you listen to a lot of well recorded acoustic, or jazz...the immediacy and organic nature will astound you (given the rest of your system)...the short intakes of breath, blowing on wind instruments, hands plucking guitars and fingers sliding on the strings, little things you've never noticed before that were always on the recordings but just muffled/veiled will just be there all of a sudden, not as distractions, rather as parts of the recording.
I am highly impressed with what Metrum can offer for this kind of money.
I recently purchased the Onyx from hifi heaven, still in the break-in period but I already hear all the qualities nitewulf describes above. It sounds weighty and substantial while at the same time extremely resolving, and the soundstage is deep and broad, somewhat holographic (other components: Wyred4sound stp-se stage 2, First Watt F7, DeVore The Nines). I admit though I am somewhat of a Metrum fanboy, having owned the octave, musette, amethyst and now this. I love that the founders answer emails quickly, as if they are a local dealer. Can’t wait to check out their Roon endpoint Ambre when it comes out.
@nitewulf I'd be interested to know what works well for you on the USB input of the Onyx as well, so if you try something that works wonders, please update us.
I also picked up an Onyx last week, and with only 60 or so hours on it, I REALLY, REALLY like what I am hearing so far. As mentioned above, it has all the detail I could want, but it isn't at the cost of being bright or harsh, nor does it have the stereotypical digital hard sound. I had to try an R2R DAC once again, since my last time with one was anything but rewarding. It was a Holo Audio Spring Lev3 DAC, and I found it very lackluster and boring in my system. No synergy whatsoever. This was via USB though, not thru the recommended I2S input. I'm not saying the Holo is a bad DAC, it just didn't play for me.
The Onyx manual states it will take 3-4 weeks for the DAC to sound its best. I am running it 24/7 with music, so I can't wait to see where it lands. Pretty awesome so far, I must admit! Color me impressed!
@roncagg , yeah let us know. I'm honestly confused by the vast array of things out there. I was gonna get a Schiit Eitr and call it a day but sometimes manufacturers optimize particular inputs, and I'm not sure if the coax input in Metrum dacs would be better than the USB inputs. There are way too many USB isolators/regenarators. IFI has like 26 devices, Uptone Regen/LPS is also something I'm considering, it'll take me a while to make up my mind.
I have hooked up the UpTone regen between the SOtM and the Onyx and it improves the renderer’s sq, especially in the bass. I use a curious USB cable, AudioQuest’s Columbia XLR interconnects to my preamp, and a shunyata black mamba power cord into the Onyx (haven’t tried others but I had it so I’m using it). Would like to try the Ambre and I2S sometime!
I am using a DIY power cable and silver interconnects (VH Audio recipe) that I made a while back and a generic USB cable. Honestly not much of a cable believer, a generic 20 feet $15 cable from the phono stage to the tube integrated sounds fantastic so I am not sure about cables at all.
But I am planning to buy a Uptone ISO-gen to link from the PC to the DAC, I can see value in that, being an EE myself. Audible, may be not, but it's solid engineering.
Bringing this back up...
Were you ever able to compare the usb vs coax inputs in your onyx? I recently purchased an amethyst and am contemplating an eitr. I get occasional pops from the usb input that I attribute to my laptop.
It is worth noting that the ubs input ( 44.1 -192 kHz ) supports a higher resolution file than the coax ( 44.1 kHz -384 kHz ), however I'm not sure how much that matters in a NOS DAC with current content resolution.
I have the Onyx, and I used to use it via USB and my MacBook Pro laptop. It sounded ok, with no pops or other distortions. I did go thru all sorts of USB correction devices, decrapifiers, Ultrarendu, etc. but not much really improved.
I then got a Matrix X-SPDIF2 ddc, which converts USB from the MacBook to either SPDIF (coax), and AES (xlr), and while I can only upsample to 192k, the music is soooooooooooooo much better than via USB.
Highly recommended to go this route, though I am not sure if it's my MacBook or the USB that was lacking in the orig setup. I imagine that the EITR would be a positive move too, though I haven't tried it.
I don't have a Metrum DAC (although I'm interested). However, with my Hegel HD25, about a year ago I replaced my Curious USB / W4S Recovery combination (which I previously thought was great) with an Eitr. It was a major improvement - probably the most satisfying upgrade I've made to my system. I was literally laughing before I sat down on my listening chair, the difference was so obvious.
So I just got a schiit eitr and all I can say is wow. I was previously using usb out from my laptop into the amethyst, which initially I thought sounded really nice. After throwing the eitr into the chain, the sound is so much more natural. Its hard to explain but isolating the laptop power supply really has helped. I would say that it has reduced some glare I was getting from my system on digital playback. I’m just using a cheap blue jeans SPDIF cable. It took about half a song to realize that this was probably the best 150 (I bought a b-stock unit) bucks I’ve spent on my system. Of course your system has to be revealing enough to notice, I haven’t tried it on my desktop system.
I have a Metrum Adagio which is by far the best DAC I have ever had. I find the Metrum to be extremely responsive to the set up.
The biggest difference to the DAC ($12,000 AUD) has been the addition of Empirical Audio Syncromesh. Steve Nugent from EA has just updated what was a stellar performer to a 7 psec specification. The effect of the Syncromesh isn't subtle and adds improvement is soundstage width, height, detail, dynamics and most importantly renders a very natural and "in the room" sense.
I have compared almost every combination possible and I can say that the onboard Xmos USB in Metrum is not great. What is great is the BNC input. That is a different beast altogether. BNC is the sweet spot and the Synromesh is true 75 ohm. If you can use a good PS - such as an Sbooster, you will never look back. Steve also makes a Dynamo PS which is a modded Paul Hynes - optimised for digital that I haven't tried yet.
I also found that the XLR (as have a few reviewers) sounds better than the RCA.
I have been using an Uptone Regen with an iFi iPower adapter. I'm not hearing anything significant....I guess? I'm not a believer of this or cables. It was a peace of mind thing I suppose. Sounded great before, sounds great now. I mean I could try to A/B experiment but it all sounds very good regardless. I think if you train your mind to expect "digital glare" (whatever that is), you may start hearing it and get yourselves fatigued for no good reason. I recommend some decent weed for all of you, specially with the advent of vape oils...try a hybrid and just enjoy.
Very interesting thread for a DAC newbie. I did own a Hegel 360 amp for a couple of yrs but never really took advantage of its Dac section, I might have plugged in my laptop a couple of times but no real motivation to divert from Vinyl/CD. I've had a valve amp for a year now and just opening my eyes to the possibilities for digital. I listen to DAB radio a fair bit and wondered whether putting the signal through a decent dac would enhance it. The other side is to explore music selections more via digital/spotify/tidal/laptap etc and so I have been looking around online to read what people are saying about dacs and what might be important when selecting.
To focus a bit in regard to the OP, has anyone compared Metrum Onyx with an Antelope Zodiac Gold Dac w/ Voltikus PSU?
I realise there's a major difference in cost when buying either of these new but i'm looking in the used market predominantly and there are so many options of various dacs in the 1k - 3k ($ or GBP) range which appear to be bargains when considering their new cost.
Is the Onyx a giant killer in that context? Are there others I should consider? Lastly where might a Jolida Glass FX Tube DAC, latest version, maybe with mods, come into the frame here and how would it compare (at much lower cost used) with the Onyx and/or Antelope Zodiac.
Any insights, experience, observations would be most welcome.