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 the NAD 3020 integrated amplifier in the 1970s, the Adcom GFA amplifiers in the 1980s, the PSB Alpha speaker in the 1990s, and the Cambridge Audio 840C CD player in the 2000’s.
You can add another future legend to that list: the $399 Micromega MyDAC. The MyDAC is so good that I couldn’t keep it a secret for the seven weeks it will take for my full review to appear in the December issue of The Absolute Sound.
Micromega’s MyDAC looks very much like an Apple AirPort Extreme (not coincidentally, I presume) with its white plastic chassis (black is available) and 5.5” square and 1.4” high form factor. A front-panel wheel, reminiscent of the tuning wheel on 1970’s-era Marantz tuners, selects between the SPDIF coaxial, TosLink optical, and USB inputs. While many products of this size employ a wall-wart power supply, MyDAC’s power supply is inside the chassis.
The Micromega’s USB input is not only asynchronous for lower jitter and better sound, it’s also capable of passing audio data with sampling frequencies up to 192kHz with 24-bit resolution. Other technical details include dual master clocks, one for the 44.1kHz family of frequencies (44.1kHz, 88.2kHz, and 176.4kHz) and other for the 48kHz family of frequencies (48kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz).
I dropped the MyDAC into my reference system and was shocked by how good it sounded for the price. The Micromega gives you some sonic attributes usually reserved for much more expensive DACs—qualities like air around instruments, a sense of three-dimensional space, and a laid-back sense of ease. Through the Micromega, instruments don’t sound like flat cardboard cutouts; they are instead fully fleshed out three-dimensional images surrounded by a wonderful bloom. In these qualities, the Micromega’s sound would not be out of place in a $2000 DAC. Timbres are remarkably smooth and free from grain. The bass is solid and tight, although the very lowest bass lacks ultimate authority. This is, however, nit-picking; for $399, the Micromega MyDAC offers so much performance that it’s practically free.
I’ll have in-depth technical and sonic descriptions in the full review that will appear in the December issue of The Absolute Sound. In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a DAC anywhere near this price, you absolutely must audition the Micromega MyDAC. It’s a great-sounding DAC and a stunning bargain.