Metrum Acoustics Onyx (balanced Dac) and Jade (balanced Dac + Pre)

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by sacredgates, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    My experience was that Gungnir has a relatively larger and deeper stage than Onyx, and much more authoritative bass. Outside of that Onyx sounds much more like music and therefore much more enjoyable to listen to. I like it in all other categories. I still don't understand how anyone calls any schiit product warm but that's just me other than a relative sense to their lineup.

    Lusting over Morpheous but frankly I'm very happy with my setup.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
  2. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Yeah, I wouldn’t call the Gungnir MB A1 warm. Certainly not A2!
     
  3. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    See what I mean about listening before buying? I respect both of these guys opinions, but as you can see, we had very different experiences. I was probably not the right person to buy a Gungnir in the first place, so if you like the Gungnir, take my comments with a huge block of salt.
     
  4. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    I was on the bus so i tried to be short and sweet so i will explain what i meant a little better.
    Comparing apples to apples, as a whole, Onyx/Jade is, imo, a much better DAC overall and, in what the OP inquires, for classical music. The Gungnir sound presentation (forwardness) is something that never got to me 100%, although i liked it overall (and that's the reason i had those in the first place ofc). The Gungnir stage, with headphones, specially depth wise sounds almost "artificial", as in less natural, comparing to the Metrum. The bass is more about quality/quantity, to me the Metrum is more cohesive.

    About the sources (and the reason why i disagree with you) is that for me both USB are not good, although one (Schiit) is better than the other (Metrum), that comes down to just terrible, and i highly regret not forking out the extra euros for the I2S (i got mine as a show room unit so it was a good price).



    @Levpush i wouldn't consider the soundstage (or the headstage in my case) narrow but it's not big, or deep, either. The thing is that, even more for classical music (and jazz for me), you'll want musicality which is something the Metrum can deliver in better quality than the Gungnir, as i have experienced.
     
  5. Levpush

    Levpush New

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    Thank you so much for this clear explanation. I’m really on the fence to buy one second hand(I actually demoed one of them before but not with classical hence my question), but still struggling to pull the trigger because of the bankruptcy and lack of support of Metrum.
     
  6. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    What about Onyx/Jade vs Bifrost 2, anyone? Would be interested in opinions regarding their tonal/timbre qualities.

    For the record, I liked Modi Multibit quite a lot. However, Onyx won me over by sounding more linear and smooth ("pure"), less trebly ("zingy"), and by inducing literally zero listening fatigue with headphones (no sense of artificial sound "intensity"). Is Bifrost 2 closer to Onyx in this regard than Modi Multibit, despite still being an OS DAC?
     
  7. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    As @msommers the @Morpheus is on my mind but, and i speak only of myself, i can't find any truly logical reason to fork out a "fortune" on another DAC. As it stands i would much prefer to have a Bifrost 2 to have a different flavor instead of a DAC, with almost the same flavors, that only exchanges an entree of shrimp for another of prawns. Maybe i am entirely wrong with this analogy and, if i ever get the chance to listen to it, the Morpheus may be another flavor entirely but i won't buy it blindly for sure and not soon either.
     
  8. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    @Levpush - I wouldn't worry too much about the bankruptcy and support. The design is robust and Cees grew into these designs over a period of more than 20 years. I am guessing that reliability won't be the issue. Also, Cees can't seem to get away from his old company. He has been helping support Metrum products, even while working to bring out his own.

    I liked the Onyx so much, that when I heard about the bankruptcy, I started looking for a used Pavane. Now you know I'm crazy.
     
  9. A Child of the Jago

    A Child of the Jago Facebook Friend

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    I own a Bifrost 2 and had the Onyx on trial for about a month about 6 months ago. Chains were:
    Tidal-> Onyx (USB)-> DSHA3F -> Verite
    Tidal-> Bifrost 2 (Unison)-> DSHA3F -> Verite

    All of this is from memory but will do my best to recall as best I can: the two DACs are quite different – tonality-wise I found the Bifrost to be brighter, clearer, more lucent, more ‘backlit’ than the Onyx which, in turn, was darker, meatier, denser, more chiaroscuro.

    The two DACs are so different that I daren’t even recommend one over the other because it will boil down to the listener’s taste (whenever doesn’t it?)

    That said, in spite of owning the Bifrost 2, I preferred the Onyx because its tangible musicality moved me like the Bifrost 2 didn’t – that’s not to say the Bifrost 2 lacks personality but, for me, it doesn’t have the double-helping of musical boudin-noir that the Onyx heaps on your plate.
     
  10. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    I keep waiting for the reviews of the Holo May DAC. The measurements are tempting me, but not really. I should be forking out any more "fortune" either.

    Speaking of forking, I love these food analogies. I don't always understand them, but they are so.....
     
  11. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Bifrost 2 is going to sound noticeably brighter and sharper than the Modi Multibit, but also cleaner top to bottom. Not as fuzzy in the bass nor grainy or zingy in the highs. It's going to sound more dynamic and larger in general.

    In that regard, the Bifrost 2 is going to sound more like you stereotypical OS DAC than the Modi Multibit will. Main reason is that the latter only does 4X OS.

    It will address some issues with the Modi MB, but also get you further from the Onyx sound than when you started.

    NOS vs OS is a tough game to play. :)
     
  12. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    I've owned an Yggdrasil (A2 now) for quite a while and I also owned an Onyx for some of that time. I agree with your Onyx summary except that the Onyx's USB input is mediocre compared with the other inputs (and with Unison). With a better input (AES or especially I2S), the Onyx cleaned up its act a bit in that the chiaroscuro was no longer at the expense of clarity. Still, I listen to a lot of Redbook and I ended up finding the Onyx a bit too "thick" on that material, compared with its thinner brush strokes at higher sample rates. I found that I could modulate the presentation more easily by amp and headphone selection than letting the DAC dictate it. Nevertheless, I still have a soft spot for NOS and the Morpheus is intriguing, especially if recent comments on it being a bit more neutral than Onyx hold up.
     
  13. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    Indeed it is.

    I've been trialling HQPlayer with Onyx again for the last few days, to re-test my ears' compatibility with "OS" approach to D-A conversion. No definite conclusions yet but the following I find interesting:
    • My modest tablet-PC has no issues with HQP upsampling to 384 kHz in realtime. Must be the fact I dont do conversions to DSD.
    • While the USB module in Onyx performs audibly somewhat mediocre with typical sampling frequency (44.1kHz), higher sampling frequency (e.g. 384kHz) yields perceivably more natural sound presentation, to my ears. Less sibilant and zingy, more refined and tonally correct.
    • There are clear differences among upsampling filters in HQPlayer, again to my ears. Most clearly heard with 8-fold or higher upsampling rate but can be spotted even with 2-fold and 4-fold upsampling.
    Majority of the filters available in HQP are not that great, rather degrading than enhancing Onyx's performance. I do love that HQP's author has decided to include them anyway, for completeness sake. Anyway, examples such as poly-sinc-ext2 (the author's current favourite) or closed-form-M (alternative for Schiit's dedicated filter) are actually impressive and deserve my attention for the days to come.

    Perceived differences among all the filters in HQP are quite an eye-opener. Should I decide to pursue resampling, it actually might make sense to just stick with cherry-picked software upsampling solution (along wtih a NOS DAC) rather than gamble with oversampling done by OS DACs themselves. Let's see.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
  14. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    In my opinion, this would be ideal from several angles. Roon makes a very good (though not trivial from cost and setup perspectives) front end to HQP, which is needed because its UI is so very "geeky". So many of the debates around digital audio could be greatly informed (if not exactly "solved") if folks would educate themselves a bit more through the use of a setup like this.
     
  15. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    It's certainly an option! And you can easily go for a milder 2X or 4X OS filter if you're looking more for subtle tweaking than you are a larger change in sound. Some software filters are indeed quite good sounding.

    Unfortunately, I never cared much for HQP's design, and if software has a sound, I didn't find it to be the most pleasing sounding either. But it was absolutely the most interesting to play around with simply due to all the filter options. The Roon front end route @crenca mentioned sounds solid if you have or can afford Roon.

    I'd personally opt for going with 2X or 4X OS, in order to leverage the SPDIF or AES inputs. I'm not sure what max sampling rate the I2S module supports, but that might be even better.
     
  16. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    Would be cool to be able to easily switch between great-sounding OS and NOS paths, anytime I want. That would be the ultimate, versatile, nervosa-free solution.

    Ive tried HQPlayer several times in past 5 years or so, always leaving it unconvinced. This time though, as I stumbled across the "right" filters, starting to appreciate what the software can do. I do have my fair share of experience with upsampling and oversampling as far as DACs are concerned (both PCM and DSD) but have never heard filters as perceivably mature as some of those in HQP.

    Not sure about Onyx but Ambre, supposedly having I2S interface optimized for Metrum DACs, supports up to 192 kHz transmission over it. Not explicitely stated anywhere but it seems only the USB input allows above 24/192 input signal.

    Anyway, long-term goal for me is to keep simplifying my hardware audio chain. Ideally, I would just want to use laptop---USBcable---amp/DAC---headphones. (In future, as headphones keep evolving, also to get rid of the standalone "amp/DAC" part.) As long as my Stratus works though, I would at least love to throw away Eitr and replace it with USB interface integrated into a DAC.

    I do have Roon lifetime and linking it with HQPlayer would probably be the cheapest and most convenient solution for my particular needs. Based on my tests, the combination works flawlessly so far and seems to synergize with Onyx incl. its USB interface nicely. But lets see.
     
  17. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    Something of interest for Metrum USB.

    A friend from another forum tried updating his M2tech Windows USB driver for use with his Metrum Amythyst and found it made a noticeable improvement in sound quality.

    I passed this along to another friend who uses USB with his Onyx and he found it improved sound for him as well. It is possible that the driver was the source of the mediocre Metrum USB performance. Of course, YRMV, but here is how you get the driver. I would recommend backing up the old driver, just in case, before installing the new driver.

    https://lnx.m2tech.biz/support/#dr

    You will notice that there are no Metrum dacs listed. The one that worked for both friends is at the top of the page on the right, v 4.59.0. No guarantees, of course. Good luck.

    Jac
     
  18. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    USB was the worst input on my Onyx from Linux-based streamers, which don't need dedicated drivers.
     
  19. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    Thanks for sharing the insight, this might actually be useful to know for a lot of users.

    Despite WIN 10 auto-installing driver for Onyx, I still decided to download the latest drivers directly from M2tech site few days ago. That way I got native ASIO support which I tend to prefer sonically over other solutions such as WASAPI or KS.

    Havent done comparo of the two driver versions, therefore cannot confirm the above. Regardless, while Eitr pretty much just sounds the same to me regardless of sampling frequency fed, the Metrum USB interface seems to sound more natural with high sampling rates. Not really sure why but this is what I am getting with Roon plus HQP, testing both interfaces side-by-side for the past few days. Might be just a case of synergy, not certain.
     
  20. Levpush

    Levpush New

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