NAD C542 vs Micromega MyDac Review

My trusty old Nad C542 is slowly deteriorating. From the beginning it has had occasional disc reading issues. The issues have been intermittent. Since I love the sound of the player I’ve always just dealt with it and considered it a small price to pay for a used CDP that was so cheap and sounds so good. Problem is that after several years these issues are getting worse.

I was faced with either replacing the Nad or getting an external dac and running it off my Panasonic BDP. Considering an external dac also allows me to interface my PC and phones to the system, I decided to go the dac route.

My plan was to get a dac as cheap as possible that would equal or better the sonics of the Nad.  I didn’t want to spend a bundle on a dac at this juncture. Its my first dac and I wanted some experience with these things before I eventually pony up for a more upscale model.

I watched the web for about a month before a Mydac showed up for sale at a dirt cheap price.

Once in my system I took a little time to get used to its sound and then started A/B comparisons with the Nad. There is a noticeable difference in the sounds. I can easily identify which unit is playing in an A/B. The Nad is a bit lighter and perhaps a bit tighter in the bass plus very slightly more detailed in the treble. The Mydac has a bit more bass weight and is a little rolled off in the top end. As far as dynamics, pace etc the Mydac initially seems more dynamic but once the bass is lowered to my liking there really isn’t much difference between the two players.

It is easy to identify the differences between the players but I really can’t choose which I prefer.

The Mydac upper register roll off, as slight as it is, makes it less fatiguing once I approach concert volume levels which IMO is the only way to listen to rock.

I think I prefer the Nad at lower levels for the tiny amount of extra detail.

Other factors in this equation. The Nad is cabled with decent build quality (not high end) interconnects. The Mydac is connected with embarrassingly crappy interconnects just to get me started. The tubes currently in my VTL were my preference through extensive rolling using the Nad as a source. If I remember correctly I chose Mullards for their smoothness and the way they tamed the Nad upper register at volume. If I roll again using the dac I may choose a more resolving set of tubes.

I have success. The Nad can die and I have a parallel move (in my opinion) with the Mydac. I also gain connectivity options with the Dac and can experiment with high res audio. All on the cheap. In time I will upgrade from the Mydac but I believe it will be a couple years before the currently available products that would be a large sonic upgrade become somewhat affordable to me. I’m not completely sold on the current Delta Sigma upsampling solution and I’m not interested in owning the cutting edge at any time because of the initial cost, fast pace of dac progress and obsolescence.

My System consists of the following: 

Nad C542 CDP


VTL 2.5 tubed pre amp

Sumo Andromida 3 power amp

Paradigm Reference 100 V3 speakers

2 Paradigm Studio Ref Servo 15 V1 subs.