My streamer and DAC finally got beat...

kray

I'm Sleuthing.
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Aloha fellas... well for a couple years now I've had a setup I ended upon that was a blissful experience. I had no thoughts of changing anything after I went thru a merry-go-round of DACs and ended on the Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE. I combined that with a Lumin U1 Mini, which I eventually added a Linear Power Supply mod to it with the sbooster. For two years that system was an easy win in my book.

So I had to look to change something that wasn't broke right? This is audiophile world isn't it? :D

I toyed with the idea of simplifying things. What if I could cram the lumin and the AMT into one unit? Combine 3 boxes into 1, and still be satisfied. One thing I loved about the AMT DAC was the fact it was a R2R NOS design. During my DAC journey, I tested around 7 DACs and chose the AMT. During that process the R2R/discrete DACs always sounded better to me than the ESS/AKM/DeltaSigma style DACs.

While researching 'all-in-one' units, it was next to impossible to find one that wasn't a ESS/DS style DAC inside. I contemplated auditioning those, like Rose 150B, Cary DMS-600, Lumin T2, Auralic Vega 2.1, etc. I had set a imaginary budget of around $5k. Then I decided to look into the next upper category to $10k thinking I could look for a used unit. This opened me up to devices that did use discrete or proprietary DAC designs. Some on that list were Bricasti M3, Linn Akurate DSM, Meitner MA-3, T+A MP 2000 R MK II.

After using some more criteria like where it's made (or company is from), how features stack up (I want a Roon Ready device), upgradeable, and let's be honest, looks (I want to enjoy looking at in, I know I'm shallow), and can I find one used? I narrowed it down to:
Bricasti M3
Metiner MA-3

The T+A MP 2000 R MK II is almost impossible to find used. I found a couple Bricasti M3's and was fully set on springing for that one to try out... when my last minute search pulled up a killer deal on a Meitner MA3, caveat being no remote or original box (thought I could buy remote later), I snagged it.

Well the Meitner has been nothing short of awesome. It's in mint condition and was in the rarer matte black finish, which I preferred. It's a gorgeous piece in my opinion. I use Roon so ethernet into MA3, shows up right away, all is good. Have my CD transport connected to it via COAX (currently looking to upgrade my CD player/transport), and MA3 also has a AES input. I've covered input wise. Can connect USB drive to play tunes directly if needed, but I'm 99% Roon. It's ethernet board is Conversdigital, so Mconnect supports it. Also it has a lossless volume control (with high quality knob), which EMM marketing speak calls it Vcontrol, blah, blah...

Interesting technology. Ed Meitner of EMM Labs custom designs the chips that go into the MA3, including the DAC. the MA3 converts all sample formats to DSD1024 1-bit DSD.

So how does it sound. Obviously it's dead quiet, even hooked up to my Sayes 421a tube amp. The first thing I noticed, which is the main reason I'm choosing it over the AMT, is the soundstage is huge! Vocals and instruments sound bigger if that makes sense. The AMT was detailed and pinpointed, take that add even more hidden tiny details and make everything 'bigger' and that's what the MA3 does. I'm not comparing fullness or lushness, it's like think of a female vocal taking up 1' x 1' square looking at the stage on the AMT, the MA3 makes it 2' x 2'. Best way to describe it, it's more lifelike, like the person is there in the room. I've read that super high end DACs do that, but never experienced it before. It's as smooth as R2R, but detail pulling monster.

I would love to still try the Bricasti M3, and will probably spring for it once I sell some more stuff. That will be a great compare, since the M3 gets rave reviews everywhere. We will see.5A008204-6ACE-4EEF-B087-A6AAB3F82E32.jpeg2A41498A-349B-470A-BF30-A047D86998BF.jpeg
 

MikeyFresh

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Staff member
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Lovely piece, congrats on finding a deal on one.

Are you using this unit as a preamp with the onboard volume control and if so, how will you accommodate the turntable that is partially visible in one of the photos?

Dare I ask what they want for a replacement remote, or maybe you can just do without it?
 

kray

I'm Sleuthing.
Site Supporter
Lovely piece, congrats on finding a deal on one.

Are you using this unit as a preamp with the onboard volume control and if so, how will you accommodate the turntable that is partially visible in one of the photos?

Dare I ask what they want for a replacement remote, or maybe you can just do without it?

so as you noticed, I have a turntable setup as well and trying to decide how to go down that road. I have a Slagle autoformer 2 in 2 out which my tt was connected on before. I spent several hours comparing the volume control on the MA3 vs the passive and the MA3 was better in my setup. Which leaves me with the decision of how I want to use the tt. I’ve contemplated finding a simple ADC to connect my phone pre to the MA3. or maybe just keep my slagle and get ankther tube amp and have a complete second system (just swap speakers cables to switch over)

I contacted a local dealer about the Meitner remote and they said they would let me know, that was Saturday. Still haven’t heard back but yeah I’m waiting to hear a crazy price and forget about remote altogether. Or maybe find a universal that works.
 

MikeyFresh

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I contacted a local dealer about the Meitner remote and they said they would let me know, that was Saturday. Still haven’t heard back but yeah I’m waiting to hear a crazy price and forget about remote altogether. Or maybe find a universal that works.
I would think the chances slim that any universal remote has pre-programmed codes for Meitner, however if the local dealer were to be so kind as to allow you show up at their place with a learning remote, then you could briefly borrow their remote in order to have your's learn it's routine.

Then again by the picture in the manual, the official remote looks to be nothing fancy, a "credit card" style unit as best I can tell. Perhaps they don't kill people on the replacement cost knowing they can't really substantiate it as they would with some sort of milled aluminum bar.

The manufacturer will also sometimes just be kind enough to tell you to use some existing pre-programmed codes for a mass market brand, perhaps Sony for example, and that will work.
 
so as you noticed, I have a turntable setup as well and trying to decide how to go down that road. I have a Slagle autoformer 2 in 2 out which my tt was connected on before. I spent several hours comparing the volume control on the MA3 vs the passive and the MA3 was better in my setup. Which leaves me with the decision of how I want to use the tt. I’ve contemplated finding a simple ADC to connect my phone pre to the MA3. or maybe just keep my slagle and get ankther tube amp and have a complete second system (just swap speakers cables to switch over)

I contacted a local dealer about the Meitner remote and they said they would let me know, that was Saturday. Still haven’t heard back but yeah I’m waiting to hear a crazy price and forget about remote altogether. Or maybe find a universal that works.
Or just swap interconnect cables when you want to listen to vinyl. It would be pretty easy to swap cables at the amp input. Alternatively, if your TVC has a source selector switch, you could wire one input to bypass the volume control and connect directly to the preamp output jacks. You end up with an additional interconnect in the signal chain if you can live with that.
 

kray

I'm Sleuthing.
Site Supporter
Or just swap interconnect cables when you want to listen to vinyl. It would be pretty easy to swap cables at the amp input. Alternatively, if your TVC has a source selector switch, you could wire one input to bypass the volume control and connect directly to the preamp output jacks. You end up with an additional interconnect in the signal chain if you can live with that.

all great points. I currently swap cables. But your idea of using preamp and bypass is interesting as I do have a 2 input switch. That does add an extra IC into the fold, and I’m trying to simplify, but still interesting idea.
 
This far you have already simplified. You eliminated a streamer transport and digital interconnect cable while improving performance. If you only wanted streaming or Roon, you could have a two box system plus speakers. Playing CDs requires an additional box and digital cable. Playing vinyl requires something to spin records, equalization and preamplification, and an analog volume control. This is a minimum of two more boxes and two more interconnects. In your case, with a separate phone stage we add an additional box and interconnect.

The minute you add an analog source to what it appears to be a primarily digital system you will require switching. You can accommodate this using A/D converter to your DAC, but that calls into question why you are playing vinyl at all if you are only going to convert it immediately to digital. From my perspective, if you want to play from three sources (Roon, CD, vinyl) an active full-function preamplifier (with HT Bypass) will be the simpler choice but will not guarantee better performance. Your current system will operate at a high level. At most, you will be able to eliminate a couple of interconnects and maybe a switch from the system.
 

shoshin

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Site Supporter
Nice find - we just so very rarely get those kinds over here in Australia's relatively tiny market. That is a serious piece of quality kit - enjoy and appreciate.
 
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i copied you.. again. replaced Lumin U1 Mini, with the Innuous Zen MK3 streamer.. pleased with the performance uptick in SQ but still on the Audio Mirror Tubadour IIISE DAC, which after a brief dalliance with the Naim Uniti Nova, may never leave my system. next move tho, upclicking the DDC, possibly into the Innuos Phoenix but I'm back on AmpQuest 2022-3 for now. I almost bit on that Sonnet Pre/Dac, before I got the Tubadour but I was/ am, still smitten w the PS Audio BHK preamp, and these lovely Tunsgram PCC88 tubes that give it clearer high and fuller mids-- compared to the NOS 12AX7 medley I ran through it before.
 
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