MyDAC is also exceptionally clean and smooth in timbre, with very little grain and only a hint of hardness in the treble. Strings lack the steely edge often heard at this price level, and cymbals have a delicacy that you just don’t get from entry-level digital. These qualities, combined with spaciousness and bloom, make MyDAC easygoing, pleasant, and non-fatiguing.
The bass is well defined and fairly deep, but this is the area in which MyDAC’s budget orientation is revealed. The bottom end is full and satisfying, but not the overachievement that MyDAC’s soundstaging, bloom, and timbral liquidity are. Bass lines aren’t precisely defined, sounding just a bit soft and compressed. It seems churlish to criticize a product because in one respect it’s not quite up to the lofty standards set it sets everywhere else. Nonetheless, I would be remiss in not mentioning it.
Compared with the $249 AudioQuest DragonFly I reviewed in our last issue, the Micromega is smoother and more dimensional, but the DragonFly has a little tighter bass and is a bit more incisive rhythmically. The Micromega is more refined and resolved, sounding like a much more expensive product than it is. Although these products are very different functionally and don’t directly compete with each other—the AudioQuest is portable, has a volume control, and can drive headphones or powered speakers directly—the sonic comparison shows just how good entry-level digital can sound nowadays.
To give you an idea of how exceptional the Micromega is I’ll relate an incident. I turned on my music server to listen to music after having done some comparisons the night before between MyDAC and the $4999 Berkeley Alpha DAC Series 2, which I’ve used as a reference for many years. I sat down and began listening, marveling at how good the sound was through the Magico Q7. After about 15 minutes I happened to look at the display on the Jeff Rowland Corus preamplifier and realized that I had been listening to the Micromega and not the Berkeley. This isn’t to say that the two are equal by any means; the Alpha DAC is considerably more spacious and dynamic, better resolved, and purer in timbre, with much deeper and fuller bass. But the ability to enjoy the music, and to consciously think about how good the system sounded, without realizing that MyDAC was at the front of the chain speaks volumes about this little product’s amazing value.
Every so often in high-end audio a product comes along that shatters the price-to-performance ratio we’ve come to expect in a category. Think of the NAD 3020 integrated amplifier in the 1970s, the Adcom GFA amplifier in the 1980s, the PSB Alpha speaker in the 1990s, and the Cambridge Audio 840C CD player in the 2000s. You can add another future legend to that list: the $399 Micromega MyDAC.
It’s worth an audition even if you were planning on spending quite a bit more. You might find, as I did, that this level of performance for four-hundred dollars qualifies as a miracle.
SPECS & PRICING
Inputs: USB, TosLink, S/PDIF on RCA jack
Resolution supported: 32kHz– 192kHz, up to 24 bits (USBand S/PDIF inputs)
Output level: 2v
Dimensions: 5.5" x 1.37" x 5.5"
Weight: 300 grams