Musical Fidelity V90 DAC

Equipment report
Digital-to-analog converters
Musical Fidelity V-90
Musical Fidelity V90 DAC

When it comes to computer audio, I must confess to being a bit of a novice.  I really haven't felt the need to get into it in a serious way.

For some time,  I've been using an early model Musical Fidelity M-DAC.  I partner it with an old Teac VRDS-10 SE CD player (Trichord precision clocked). With its vibration free rigid disc clamping system and improved clocking, it  works really well as a transport. I have also used the M-DAC to improve the sound of other CD players, by hooking up to the Co-ax SPDIF output. For occasional computer audio listening, I feed the M-DAC with files from my own CDs which I have ripped, or downloaded higher resolution music files.

With the M-DAC and Teac combined, I've found the sound quality to be very good, and much improved over the internal bistream style DAC but, via USB, sound quality has generally hovered below that of the spinning silver disc.

However, I have harboured the inkling that there was much more potential in the computer USB approach, especially as the popular media player J. River now offers the option of reading the data from silicon memory (with its potential for cleaner data compared to the computer's spinning hard drive).

Enter onto the scene the V 90-DAC. This small, cosmetically rather basic but neatly finished and sturdily-built anodised aluminium box, accepts SPDIF via Co-ax and Toslink, plus Asynchronous USB.  On the front panel it simply offers  switches for on/off and input selection (two optical, one co-axial and one USB) and a tiny LED data-lock light. Around the back are the four corresponding input sockets and left and right unbalanced phono outputs – no filter selections or any other fancy options.  It's designed to work with Windows 98, ME, XP, Vista, 7 and 8, Linux and Apple OS, so could not be more flexible.  Initial set up and connection was easy. Once plugged in, the computer installed a generic driver and the only other step (with J. River) was to select the V90-DAC as the preferred, or default source.