Speaking of Micromega, my friend still has the Micromega transport that had the glass top.
It was designed by Goldmund.
It was designed by Goldmund.
Ok. I took the challenge and ordered a MyDac and ZDac to compare. I've only had them for a few days, but here are some initial impressions. YMMV
Wow! It's amazing what quality digital you get for under $500 now. The price performance ratio has sure gone up recently, and both dacs are very strong. Not just for the money, but great sounding.
This dac would be for an office system that is a work in progress. My ancient Pioneer DV525 will be used as the transport. It's here, it works...
I listened in my reference system with LSA Statement equipment. The Micromega is impressive. I'm not as taken with it as Robert Harley apparently is in the Absolute Sound, but for a street price of $369 it's unbelievable. It's open, smooth and 3 dimensional. The bass is ok. Not exactly wimpy, but not a lot of authority. Maybe just a tad anemic on certain recordings to my ears. It's not the last word in resolution, but very nice. And for $369?
The Parasound ZDac is another very strong performer but with a different flavor. You know the story--better in some ways and not as good in others. while it's smooth and sweet with good detail, it's slightly less 3 dimensional than the Micromega, but better dynamics, bass impact and authority. You also get a good headphone amp and balanced outs for your extra hundred bucks. Again, what an unbelievable value for $475 list.
Unfortunately, I couldn't enjoy the Micromega for long. It stopped working on the second night of listening. Suddenly I was getting no sound using coax, and only 1 channel and some static using toslink. I have no idea what happened, but, even though it sounds great for the money, it doesn't work for me. It weighs about a pound, is made of plastic, and I would always be afraid it will break. You would think it's a toy. I had to take care that my cables didn't pull it off the shelf, and one of it's feet fell off when I moved it.
This may not be an issue for you. If you want a great sounding dac for under $400 you should listen to the Micromega. Personally, I feel better with a unit that is more substantial, but, no doubt, it's an impressive sounding piece.
I started comparing the Parasound with my Burson HA160D. It's used in my second system with an Oppo 980 DVD player as a transport. I'm a huge Burson fan. There stuff is great value, very well built, and sounds great.
I'll take the Burson over the Parasound. The Burson's dac section has more resolution and the headphone amp is better. But it's a lot closer than you might think. The Parasound is 40% of the Burson's price. I thought the Burson was a great value when I bought it a couple of years ago, and it's still a great performer, but the Parasound is very strong, and again, what a price-performance ratio.
So of course, with the recent great advance in the $500 dac category, I can't help wondering if the 1k dacs have improved as much? This is dangerous.
I'm continuing to listen to the Parasound, and, like many products, break in makes a difference. It's opened up, and is extremely clean with lots of information. I've always believed that in lower price products a choice has to be made between detail and textures. The Parasound definitely comes down on the detail side. Lots of info extracted from the discs, but not the body or imaging that I prefer. Still, with headphone and balanced outs, it's a great deal for under $500.