Metrum Acoustics Amethyst DAC/Amp Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Hands, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    That's basically what I was going to suggest. Make sure the two jumpers on the card are set to S/PDIF mode. I had at least one DAC that wouldn't work via RCA if I left it in AES mode.
     
  2. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    @e.schell Works with either mode (AES or S/PDIF) selected on the DEQ2496, and with either input (AES/EBU or Optical) on the Pavane. I still recommend to check the jumpers like @Luckbad suggested since "YMMV"
     
  3. e.schell

    e.schell Friend

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    Thanks for the info, i didn't even think to check that for some reason... i am 90% positive i had set them to spdif mode when i first got the card because i was worried that with Gungnir Multibit i would have issues trying to send AES to it's spdif receiver... But i will try to pop open my case later tonight and double check... good looking out fellas!

    Only other thing i can attempt to swap out is the custom made break out cable i had BJC make that i have been using with Gungnir Multibit, had them make me a short break out cable utilizing only the digital output..can't remember the pin outs off the top of my head but perhaps it doesn't like something going on there... i still have the stock digital break out cable from lynx... i will hook it up also and see what happens...
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
  4. Artasia

    Artasia Friend

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    These are some brief impressions I had written down from the loaner tour, which more or less corroborate what has been posted above. Note that I find DACs the most difficult to analyze in detail, perhaps as a result of my relative limited experience with them. Previous DACs I have owned, in order of ownership, include Musical Fidelity VDAC, the original Modi 1, Gungnir DS w/ Gen USB 2 upgrade, Theta Progeny DS Pro, Gungnir Multibit, and currently Yggdrasil. Source was Eitr feeding FLAC files. Amps were ZDS and Misterrogers build of The Wire. Headphones were HD600, Utopia, and HD650m. Unfortunately, I did not write down specific tracks.

    I found that the Amethyst compares favorably with my memory of the Gungnir Multibit and with the Yggdrasil in terms of tonality, projecting a slightly warmer glow and rounder texture to notes, without smothering the music in claustrophobic goo. I always found the sound to roll out effortlessly from a blacker background than the Schiit multibit DACs (no surprise), and imaging seems quite accurate (on headphones). The Amethyst created an engaging sound and was resolving enough to where I didn't feel I was missing anything on headphones (note that my amps are not as resolving as some others). Staging seemed simultaneously and subtly more closed in than the Yggdrasil yet projecting more height. After warm-up for a couple days, the DAC seemed to really come alive. On a few tracks of direct comparison A/B switching between the two DACs, I wrote down that the Yggdrasil was slightly sibilant where the Amethyst sounded more "magical, with "more weight" to notes, and "beautiful" albeit "a tad softer." It is possible that the Yggdrasil's occasional sibilance was simply exposing a the flaws of a shitty recording that the Amethyst had concealed.

    In short, if I was buying a DAC in that price range, I would definitely put the Amethyst on my shortlist. More than once, I found myself wanting to listen to the Amethyst over the Yggdrasil when I wanted a break from the full-on 110% engagement-factor the latter brings. On the other hand, it was only when going back and forth between the two that I began to really appreciate the superior leading edges, transient response, and microdynamic shifts the Yggdrasil brings. One final observation where I differed from some above impressions is that I did not think the bass on the Amethyst was invariably inferior to that of Yggdrasil, which can sometimes have fat, rounded bass in itself. While the magic of the Moffat filter may have been missing on the Amethyst, the Amethyst conveys its own sort of sweetness I more than once found seductive.

    I hope this helps somewhat. I really appreciate having the opportunity for the loaner.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
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  5. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    @Artasia

    Did you have a chance to test the built-in amp section of the Amethyst?
     
  6. Artasia

    Artasia Friend

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    I did not. I was only focused on the DAC section this time. I wish I would’ve now that you mention it.
     
  7. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    but you won't spend $1000+ only to discover that you prefer oversampling.[/QUOTE]

    This is exactly why I bought Gungnir Multibit.
     
  8. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    @Senorx12562 some of us spent $3000+ only to discover that we prefer NOS ;) It's nice to have options which are price competitive with Schiit in Europe now.
     
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  9. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    So I got to try the Amethyst out as well thanks to the EU loaner program. I am grateful, thanks!
    I was very intrigued by the forward correcting stuff that Metrum makes, but was reluctant to buy anything.
    Well, in hindsight it's good that I didn't.

    Gear used for evaluation:
    Headphones: HD800M, HD650M, Eikon, LCD-2
    Amplifiers: EC2A3 (also used as pre for dacs), JLHood, Jotunheim
    Speakers: Genelec 8050
    Dac to compare is my diy Soekris. Quite fresh memory of Yggdrasil and SFD-1 is used as comparison (trust this as you will).
    Mutec POS in front of Amethyst. Briefly used the internal USB.
    Source was PC.

    I listened to it with headphones first and was left with generally good impressions. Nothing even remotely annoying, good dynamic performance. Very nice tonality, really, there is practically nothing to fault here. Imaging and headstaging felt a bit hazy and indistinct with HD800 and Eikon. LCD-2 didn't make that quite out.
    Then I compared to my diy Soekris (which while unknown quantity to most is performing in between SFD-1 and Yggdrasil).
    • Most obvious distinction was of course in headstage. There are not much in terms of actual images in headstage, but imaging of sounds as directions is good. There is something relaxing about it. The headstage has no borders or edges. That is the polar opposite of sigma delta dacs that try to rip out your brain's blood vessels to a plane of thin paper sheet.
    • Amethyst tonality is more midcentric and warm, kind of making my Soekris sounding cold/distant ,which to extent it probably is. Transients feel quicker, but not naturally so. Kind of decaying too fast / unconvincingly.
    • Surprisingly contrary to what I have read I felt the microdynamic stuff was quite good, certainly still not as good as Yggdrasil though. It doesn't have the plankton, like Yggdrasil or my Soekris does, but the minuscule shifts in dynamics were still easy to make out.
    The internal amp was nothing special. Veiled, dull and lacking in dynamics, typical ''solid state'' sound. Nothing awful sticking out either, but the sins of omission all around kind of deal. LCD-2 was loosing the least out of the headphones. This as combo unit is not a good recommendation, the dac deserves better.
    Add JLH for 200$ for a great no BS relaxing sound.

    Next up, speaker chain, @dark_energy was also present:
    • Here the soundstaging differences became severe bw dacs. So much so that I really had little interest in listening to music with Amethyst. There is practically no sense of sound placement, recording space or let alone making out individual instruments in acoustic performances in relation to stage. Something that Yggdrasil is king at. On the plus side the stage size is quite large and it's upfront, extending about 1m in front of speakers to about 2m behind the speakers and roughly as much in width. In this regard it's more natural than Yggdrasil which has less back and forth projection.
    • For some reason bass didn't stick out with headphone listening, yes different, but not very noticeably so. With speakers the Amethyst bass was a noticeably hazy and fart-fart. After hearing this with speakers it was easy to hear with headphones as well.
    • Tonality carried over from headphone listening, very easy on ears, but not rolled off. Little bit reminiscent of SFD-1, but not rolled off at top. I say it's on bar or better than my Soekris in this regard, easily besting Yggdrasil for my taste.
    That all brings me to believe I'm more of an OS dac guy.
    At least now I know what you people were talking about the totl-ish NOS sound. I can understand why some guys seek this sort of presentation. It takes no effort to listen to music wrt imaging. Yggdrasil or my Soekris can strain with the precise imaging and contouring of sound images, Amethyst will not do that. On top of that all it has really pleasing tonality and is not shit in other ways.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
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  10. dark_energy

    dark_energy Friend

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    My conclusion: With speakers there is no competition, good OS R2R are more realistic compared to Amethyst. Amethyst with acoustic music/ rock - the drums are dull and sloppy (compared to Soekris Output stage bypassed, modded by Priidik).Imaging was not as precise, not as well defined air around instruments, you don't get that sense that the instruments are there, something seemed to break the immersion slightly. Probably because it does not have these stout dynamics that the other DAC has. Harder to pinpoint where the sounds are exactly coming from.

    However i did like the Metrum DAC with HD650, Eikon and HD800. Difference there is not so big, the Metrum DAC is a relaxing listen. It has enough detail and clarity for headphones, slightly less dynamics bass response, but very good tone across the FR. Although i have not compered directly, i would probably take SFD1mk2 over the Amethyst.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
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  11. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    @Mystic

    Any impressions? Wondering if it's worth me taking it from @jexby for a few days.
     
  12. Mystic

    Mystic Mystique's Spiritual Advisor

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    Only had a chance to listen for a few hours unfortunately, so impressions are pretty slim.

    The most apparent differences I noticed from my Gungnir Multibit was a better blackground but with more rounded edges around the notes. The former was a nice change and allowed me to better understand what people are talking about when they say the Gungnir Multibit has a slightly greyish background.

    It didn't wow me in ways that I want to go out and buy one, but it really made me want to hear the Pavane.

    I might get a chance to demo an amethyst for a little longer so hopefully I can expand on these impressions then.

    The few hours I spent with it was being fed from my Eitr and through to my Sonett 2 -> hd800s.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  13. Artasia

    Artasia Friend

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    @zerodeefex I think it is worth the audition if you are somehow curious of the potential of Metrum DACs as an alternative to those of Schiit, especially (it would appear from Priidik’s review) through headphones.
     
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  14. PacoTaco

    PacoTaco Friend

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    It'll be more than a little longer I think. That and the kenzie.
     
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  15. IceUul

    IceUul Friend

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    Got chance to listen this DAC during Metrum Amethyst loaner program.

    First, why i participated in this loaner...
    I have Metrum Quad DAC on my work setup and i wanted to see to upgrade this or not. Metrum Quad is nice DAC for background music, warm, nice sounding DAC which is good enjoy with relaxing music at office. My office setup was Notebook with Foobar2000, WASAPI drivers, Mutec 1.2 USB converter, Blue Jeans coax cable, Metrum Quad, Laconic Night Blues Mini and Paradox Slants headphones with norse audio cable. This combo works very well for me and does its job very good. So i replaced Mutec 1.2 and Metrum Quad with Metrum Amethyst.
    Results:
    Still sweet mids, not so warm anymore, more clear, more detail - which means better, but not so much better i guess i would change my 150€ DAC for 1300€ DAC. Maybe, if i get one used for good price then i might go for change.

    Recently i replaced Mutec 1.2 with Schiit Eitr, this would be recommended upgrade to any Metrum Amethyst owner, because built-in usb sucks!

    I also tried this DAC at my home main listening setup. Which is: Rasperry Pi2 + Hifiberry Digi+ Pro + Volumio 2 + Blue Jeans coax cable + Schiit Yggdrassil + Eddie Current Studio T + HD800/HD650 ... i did not listen long time, this DAC did not fit into this system and sounded thin and rough. I guess this system would gain more from top tier Metrum DAC-s. I would not recommend this DAC to top end system.
     
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  16. Ali-Pacha

    Ali-Pacha Friend

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    I'm next for this Loaner, not that much time until now to listent to / evaluate it. I'm no real DAC guy, but I did hear some differences...which could also be wishful hearing, since I didn't perform ABX, even though I've matched levels. I'm also convinced DACs are the least influent thing in a system, whereas amplifier and first of all transducer are (far) more important.

    Amethyst fed by RME HDSP 9632 in coax SPDIF vs. onboard converter of RME 9632 (AD1852, Delta Sigma). Stax cans through SRM-1/mk2 amp and HD600/800 through Vali2 and Magni3. Not so much differences. RME alone has maybe a bit less dynamics and details, but sounds flatter / more neutral. Better separation / soundstage on Amethyst, lusher presentation, but splitting hairs here. Slow mids bump on the Metrum, maybe...?

    Amethyst fed by RME HDSP 9632 in coas SPDIF vs. Yggdrasil fed by the same RME card in AES/EBU. Stax cans through BHSE, HD600/800 through Vali2 and Magni3. A bit more differences, but not night and day neither. Yggdrasil is dryer, more detailed and more extended, kicks harder. Bass is significantly better on Yggdrasil, Metrum sounds a bit murky / PCM1704-like compared to the Yggdrasil in the bass area.

    Headphones amp sounds pretty poor to me compared to my two small schiit boxes...but very brief impressions here again. I didn't listen to USB nor toslink.

    Until now, not impressed nor deceived. It works well, maybe on the warm / euphonic side of the force. AES input is missing, as well as XLR output, but matter of pricing obviously. Form factor pretty neat, old school design...but not on the good side of old school for me, I don't like the design of the front plate, and the non-protruding volume button of the headphones amp is not very convenient.

    I'll keep it a few days more...as my Yggdrasil is on it way to Gen5 upgrade :D

    Edit : it's definitley a relaxed DAC, maybe a bit boring...lacks so much of the "bite" of the Yggdrasil...

    Ali
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
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  17. PacoTaco

    PacoTaco Friend

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    Well then...this was the biggest surprise out of the three things Zach sent me. This is actually the highest-end DAC I've heard in my home (as opposed to just shows,) and it made a larger difference than I thought in the chain.

    The Metrum Amethyst is basically a NOS Dac. This means it has no oversampling, so the treble has a unique quality to it, and they're [usually, not always] warmer than normal. Since there's no oversampling, the soundstage is a bit more closed in than normal.

    A big strength of this DAC is the incredibly black background and clarity it has. It was surprising next to other DACs I have heard (including the Gungnir Multibit.) The separation was top notch as well.

    The only other DAC I had with me during this three weeks was my Modi Multibit (which is pretty great for the $250.) Oddly enough, that was quite convenient, as they share several traits with each other. Both are more on the dark side (Amethyst less so,) bassy side, and have more focused soundstage. However, the Amethyst sounded like very superior take on what the Modi Multibit's signature was trying to achieve. The resolve/detail alone was in another league compared to the Modi Multibit (who seemed to just straight up miss detail in the bass and treble.)

    Now, I didn't mess too much with the Amethyst's built-in amp. My immediate impressions were that the Magni 3 was just kind...better, except with the HD580. It oddly complimented the HD580 quite well, where as I just used the Kenzie or Magni 3 with the Auteur.

    This amp gave me a nice intro to the NOS sound which I quite like. So much so, I'm having a hard time deciding between the Spring DAC and the Yggdrasil/Gungnir Multibit, but that's another tale for another time.
     
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  18. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    Why choose?

    Yggdrasil =~ Spring L1 + Gungnir Multibit
    Yggdrasil =~ Amethyst + Gungnir Multibit

    at least assuming I got my USA prices about right. Then it comes down to your preferences more on the sharper / OS-like side (Spring) or slightly softer/smoother (Amethyst).

    For my preferences personally it was relatively easy in the end, Pavane >= Yggdrasil so more a value based decision, but I don't have any seller's remorse since the Yggdrasil went. Consider Onyx as well.
     
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  19. PacoTaco

    PacoTaco Friend

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    I'm factoring the cost of the SU-1 with the Spring DAC (so the SU-1 and Spring DAC Lvl 1 are $1,800 together.) I actually want the NOS-like sound with a bit more of a sharpness to it and Yggdrasil-like resolve, which is why I was considerinf for the Spring DAC and not the Amethyst. The Pavane is wayyyy out of my budget, honestly.

    I'm not entirely sure on the Onyx, as I haven't heard anything about it yet and I believe it's priced higher than the Yggdrasil. I'll have to check.
     
  20. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    Here in Europe the Onyx works out slightly cheaper and in USA a bit more. If I was starting over, I would most certainly buy this instead of the Pavane (L2), but I'm not sure it's worthwhile now trying to sell the Pavane at a loss and take the risk with a possible downgrade.

    I also considered the Spring originally (but failed to get one for a demo). Torq clearly liked it, but @Hands and @gbeast (maybe others too? can't remember) seemed to imply the Pavane L1 was a bit superior to Spring L3 - better macrodynamic swings, cleaner although also less sharp. Go read more and make your choice wisely :)
     

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