Musou Digital to Audio Converter

Budget Esoterica Review Magazine
October 2016 Issue

Musou Digital to Audio Converter Review

One of the least expensive upgrades you can make for  your cd player is to upgrade the dac. The Musou digital to audio converter will do just that. Of course you can pay anywhere from $10 to thousands of dollars for this upgrade. The little Musou sells for around $10 and is available from as well as Ebay. One of the expected compromises of the inexpensive dac's is that you are simply not going to get the same sense of an increase in power and dynamics that you get with the more expensive models. The same holds true with the Musou. You can overcome this problem partially by using it in a powerful and dynamic system. You may find that you have to turn up your amp louder to get the same volume levels. Don't expect too much bass either. The Musou does have a trick up its sleeve, though, that is worth exploring. 

The Musou is rather well built. It is small, but if you pick it up it seems to have a slight heft to it considering the tiny size. It comes packaged in a nice tidy box with the main unit, a 5 volt DC power supply and the user's manual. It has both a coaxial and a toslink digital audio input as well as L/R audio outputs. The specs state that is uses 24-bit S/PDIF incoming bit stream on both left and right channels. It provides electromagnetic noise free operation. The main areas of improvement i noticed with this dac, was decreased distortion, slightly better separation and a unique ability to open up the interior of the sound stage to give us a slightly better "peak" into the performance. 

Reference Discs

     1. Blue Note Trip, Maestro, Track # 12, "Peggy Lee, Maybe It's Because I Love You Too Much".
     2. Stanley Turrentine, Look Out, Track # 7, "Tin Tin Deo".
     3. St. Germain, Tourist, Track # 1, "Rose Rouge".
     4. The Jazz Messengers At The Cafe Bohemia Volume 2, Track # 5, "Avila & Tequila".

To test for the purity of the mid range i listened to the Blue Note selection. No problems here. The vocals were smooth, transparent and a tad forward sounding. 

The Stanley Turrentine selection can be hard to reproduce. If your system suffers from imbalance or has excess distortion, you will hear it. While listening to this track i definitely noticed improved separation. This gave a sense of increased "wholeness" to the sound stage. Better horizontal and vertical openness also contributed to this feeling of a "whole" sound stage. The highs also seemed a little cleaner and less splashy. 

St. Germain Tourist is an excellent cd to test for dynamics and bass strength. Listening to track number one i felt like the overall dynamics and bass were shelved down a slight bit. There was enough, however, that i felt i could bruise my ears if i played it loud enough. The brassiness that i heard on this selection was just gorgeous to listen to. I also enjoyed the interplay between the saxophone and the  trumpet. The stage seemed slightly expanded and maybe even a little more three dimensional. Very impressive show for such an inexpensive dac!

While listening to the Jazz Messengers recording track number 5, i noticed a reduction in noise which enabled me to clear the window into the left hand side of the sound stage, thus giving a better illusion of space and liveliness. The sound was fairly thick, organic and fatigue free. I would have liked a little bit of a cleaner sound here, however. 

Aside from the lack of power and slightly reduced bass capabilities, i really like the Musou dac. If you use it in a strong sounding system and turn your amp up a little bit louder you can get reasonable levels of bass and dynamics. I really appreciated the reduction in noise and distortion, as well as the increased sound staging capabilities. Very nice build quality with good performance when used in the right system gets my recommendation. 

Reference System 

Magnum IA170 integrated amp
Audiomagic xstream power cord
Noisestopper rca caps
Denon DVD-1920
NVA Soundcord ic
Liberty Z500 digital ic
Coboc speaker cables
Pioneer SP-BS-41LR
Atacama speaker stands