Hmm...I guess to each his own.
Interestingly enough (snofun3) I replaced an EAD 7000III with this DAC, and I don't agree that the EAD was superior, though I have said many times that going from the EAD to the MF was a sideways step in some regards.
I've compared the MF with a few other players/DAC's in the time that I've owned it. I had a Electrocompaniet DAC for a short while that was warmer, more ful-bodied and perhaps more musical, but had less stage depth/width and wasn't as transparent.
I tried the MF A3 player, that sounded thin and lifeless, lean and yes, quite smooth....so I wonder if some of the comments on the A3 24 DAC are actually based around the player, which I think uses the same DAC section?
I own a Pioneer universal player, the DV47ai, and it's hard to tell the difference between the DAC in the Pioneer and the A3 24...so that isn't really a good thing for the MF considering it was the same retail as the Pioneer universal.
I'm presently borrowing a Krell KPS20i, which sounds quite different to my own digital front-end. The transport in the Krell is better than the Audio Alchemy DDS Pro transport that I use (as it should be for the price), but the DAC in the Krell isn't that different to the MF A3 24. So using the Krell as a transp into the MF, is similar to using the Krell as a one-box player. Let me quantify similar - the MF DAC doesn't resolve the lower frequencies as well as the Krell, but it has a little more treble extension and air, maybe leading to just a tad more transparency.
In general, I would class the MF DAC as a little lean through bass and into the lower mids. It adds no 'warmth' from the midbass through the mids and upper mids that I can detect. It is anything but smooth (in my system). It is transparent and lively sounding, dynamic and quite punchy in the mids/low bass, but without the fullness and weight/authority of the Krell. It stages very well, with good depth and width, as good as if not marginally better than the Krell as a one-box player.
I found that by adding a Jitter unit between transport and MF DAC, that the bass performance is noticably improved. The jitter unit tightens the bass a tad and makes it a little more tuneful.
I use an Audio Alchemy Dti Pro32, which can be picked up for under $300.
This is not an exceptional DAC. I believe there are others out there that perform better at the price. But sometimes better really means 'different' so you have to make your own mind up.
I've hung on to it whilst making changes in my system (amps, pre's, cables) and it's always been very resolving of details and subtle changes. Now that I have most of the hardware changes completed, I've been looking for a more upscale digital player like the Audio Aero Capitole or Prima.
That's my take on things, sorry for using up so much server space.