Sonnet Digital Audio's Morpheus

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by sahmen, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. JK47

    JK47 The Beer Houdini

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    The loaner unit arrived last week, and I hooked it up immediately. I used my Sony DVP-9000ES as CD transport via coaxial, my TV via toslink, and Qobuz by way of the CA 851N and AES. Hmmmmm not good, not good at all. I let it warm up and tried again the next day... I better let it warm up some more. On the bright side the remote is very sturdy and can control the volume on my 851N.

    Other gear used: Pioneer M-22/ M-25/ Crown CDi-1000, JBL 4312G/Fostex BLH with Viawave tweeters, Shortest Way 51+ and Sennheiser HD600

    I tried it again today and I'm still not impressed. The music seems like its engulfed in the morning marine layer, but it doesn't burn off. Imaging that was pinpoint with the 851N acting as the DAC are indistinct and vague with the Morpheus. I struggled to pick up the different layers in the mix with the Morpheus, but there was space and room for the same track to breathe with clarity on the 851N. The attack was somewhat slow and polite, but still quicker than low and mid range AKM DAC's. I will say the dense tone of the mid range was quite nice, and edged out the 851N. Unfortunately that would be the only area I would consider superior to the 851N, and not by much. The lack of imaging, layering, and overall clarity really bothered me. It felt suffocating, and in comparison to other DS DAC's, the 851N is not bright, doesn't have an artificially fat low end, or is super/ultra/hyper dynamic by any stretch of the imagination. The AD1955 chip may not be perfect, but does quite a bit right, especially for the money.

    I tried the Morpheus as a pre and fixed, and it didn't make a much of a difference if any during my listening endeavor. If this is what NOS sounds like, I'm not interested. Who knows maybe it needs a month to warm up to show what it can do.

    I appreciate getting the chance to listen and share my impressions, and will be dropping off the unit to @ChaChaRealSmooth tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
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  2. fp627

    fp627 Friend

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    ^ Even though you crushed my hopes of buying this DAC a tiny bit ... glad there is a little bit of dissenting opinion.
     
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  3. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    That sounds nothing like the other (few) reviews out there...

    @ChaChaRealSmooth : should this make a quick stop by @MisterRogers or whomever already owns the DAC to make sure it sounds as it's supposed to? :eek:
     
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  4. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    On one hand, I do wonder if the loaner unit is a one off that sounds worse than how it is supposed to sound. But on the other hand I wonder if this is what @Hands means, when he says “NOS sound is not for everyone”.
     
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  5. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    After I receive it, if I think it sounds excessively bad I'll contact @zach915m and see what we should do.
     
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  6. Firegon

    Firegon Acquaintance

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    That's a surprising one. Especially the part about layering and imaging. I've only used Morpheus with headphones ( and only for a few days ), but to me layering, imaging and the precision of placing sound sources were THE strongest suit of Morpheus, even if the soundstage wasn't too big.

    I don't know 851N, but I've heard a few decent DACs ( Yggdrasil 2, Dave, R2R 7HE, X-Sabre Pro, to name a few ) and I'd say that purely in terms of imaging and layering, Morpheus is probably the best or a close 2nd best out of those ones ... and all of the other ones I've heard.

    BTW, I don't own a Morpheus and I don't wanna sound like some salty fanboy - I'm simply confused and genuinely curious as to what on earth happened.
     
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  7. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

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    I'm willing to compare, just let me know.
     
  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I can't imagine there's anything about it that would make it sound different from any other Morpheus unit.

    I think the biggest factor will be how someone feels about NOS. But, even then, not all NOS DACs will sound the same. The Morpheus might sound somewhat more like the older Metrum DACs, i.e. Hex, than the new ones, at least from SE outs. This is based on my brief listening and @purr1n's. If you know what I'm talking about here, you'll know how it explains some of what @JK47 heard.

    For those that listen primarily on speakers, I find they're more likely to complain of staging and imaging when using NOS. At least, that seems to be the trend in this community.

    And, if @JK47 only used the SW51 as a headphone amp, staging, imaging, and depth are not its strong suits, but serviceable and easily made up for by the amp's strengths. Nonetheless, it could be a sort of compounding factor with headphones.

    On the other hand, one could argue staging and imaging are all a moot point on headphones. I dunno. Honestly not something I worry about much myself.

    Beyond that, we're looking at elements such as if a person used SE or XLR outputs. That affects the sound on these DACs. The DAC might also be very sensitive to digital source, though it sounds like @JK47 used a decent enough CD player.

    I wouldn't overthink it. NOS is a different ball game in many ways, on top of all the other variables that determine what DACs we like. That's why I'm cautious to recommend them. Loaners are the perfect opportunity to try stuff out.

    One thing anyone can try is using software upsampling. Most PC/Mac/Linux playback software has some way to use it, streaming server apps like Roon have it, Raspberry Pi music playback distros likely have it, etc. I can't say if the upsampler will be good necessarily, but anyone can try upsampling music before sending it to the DAC.

    You likely won't be able to do a full 8X upsampling, but you could probably do 4X and get a feel for how the DAC sounds both as NOS and as a sort of OS setup.
     
  9. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    You might chalk it up to synergy, The Morpheus exposed my Drop JBL's as the weak link. While a clear and obvious improvement over previous dacs. I wanted more.
    Better bass and soundstage and a bigger sweet spot for my smallish room were on order.
    Mark and Daniel Ruby's and VTV Stereo Purifi 1ET400A were added. Lots of power, detail, precision and pleasant sounds are the result. Rarely listen to headphones any more. Synergy achieved.
     
  10. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Maybe the dac is broken (highly unlikely), maybe @JK47 doesn't like NOS. Is this your first NOS dac you've listened to? They're very polarizing, especially when you've listened to Group A for a long time and that sounds 'normal.'

    Whether XLR or SE, it's not going to change things significantly to the point of "now I like it." Further still, it was Marv's consensus that "Morpheus BAL outputs slightly more resolving, but SE just as good" which is a deviation from what is "normal" here with Schiit dacs in that "Schiit DACs not competitive with their SE outputs - veiled."

    IMO just different strokes here. With headphones I really like the synergy with Onyx/SW51+ which is likely 'veiled shit' to some people but 'midrange bliss' to Hosers like me.
     
  11. neogeosnk

    neogeosnk Friend

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    I'm surprised by this as the Morpheus is slightly darker than an Schiit Yggdrasil but is definitely clear and not muddy. Side note: Sonnet Morpheus usb is bad to ok, don't buy it if you're doing usb.
     
  12. Hooncake

    Hooncake Mid-Fi Purgatory Redemption

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    Not everything that goes against the narrative is broken guys
     
  13. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Given my recent experience with the Hifiman Arya, I'm thinking it could very well be (broken).
     
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  14. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    What is a "Group A" DAC?
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    @bengo you're confusing the technology. Delta Integrale is not Delta Sigma.
     
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  16. JK47

    JK47 The Beer Houdini

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    Yes, true, but immediately switching back to my 851N as a DAC for a certain passage of music verified what I heard, multiple times.

    I did use XLR and SE to the Crown CDi1000, as well as using a Jensen transformer to convert the XLR to SE as an option on the M-22, M-25, and SW51+. I wanted to make sure I was giving each output a fair shake.

    The Drop JBL is another category of speaker entirely bro, and it's not higher than what I have. Not to mention as soon as I switched back to the 851N, the staging, imaging, and clarity was remedied on both sets of speakers and headphones. I may not have an uber high end system, but it's solid enough to be able to tell the difference between these two DAC's easily, actually it's the largest gap in DAC performance I have ever heard in my system. I guess I should scrap multiple amps and speakers in a quest to make the Morpheus work in "My system", LOL.

    Yes, I kind of alluded to that when I mentioned that if this is the NOS sound, It's not for me.

    I should have mentioned I'm not really a fan of Schiit R2R DAC's. I sold my OG Gugnir multibit A1 because I felt something going on in the mids made it too muddy sounding (and before teh XLR cops show up, yeah it was from the XLR outputs, and fed from a cd transport). I preferred the Crane Song Solaris after a quick back to back listen against an Yggdrasil A2 at a friends house, again I felt the Yggdrasil was too congested in the mids for my liking. In the same breathe I can't take treble glare or strident recordings, that's why I like my JBL 4312G and BLH speakers, I can trim the treble with a quick turn of a knob for certain tracks.

    Sorry if I ruined the parade, but this is an honest impression with multiple variables to try and give the unit a fair shot.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
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  17. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Well, that puts things in perspective :D
     
  18. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    There is significantly more value in genuine reviews than hype train bullshit. If it didn't work for you, it didn't work -- Nothing to apologize for here.

    I don't think many are familiar with your current dac so mentioning the Crane Song helps triangulate.
     
  19. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    Nah, it's good info. On reflection, I may have a sense of what you mean with the "morning marine layer". I just get so much more from the dac that I never considered it.
     
  20. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Thanks for the additional context and for being very thorough in your testing!

    I wasn't aware you didn't care for the Schiit MB DACs either. That's helpful info, and I understand your perspective. Or, at least, I'm pretty sure I've heard what you described on any of the same gear I've tested.

    Don't apologize for raining on the parade. I've certainly done it more times than I can count for other gear. Checks and balances...or something like that.
     

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