Audiolab M-ONE packs in the features & connectivity

It's a quality DAC and AMP, all in one

by hodg100 Jun 24, 2016 at 9:13 AM

  • Audiolab has a new, single-box sonic solution in the form of the M-ONE.
    The product takes Audiolab’s DAC technology, adds high-performance pre/power amp circuitry and stirs in a range of connectivity options including aptX Bluetooth.

    Outwardly, the M-ONE is almost identical to the M-DAC+, Audiolab’s flagship DAC component. It sports the same compact aluminium case, small enough to sit unobtrusively on a desk, table or shelf, with the same central OLED display and dual rotary control scheme. But while standalone DACs like the M-DAC+ require a separate power amp to drive a pair of speakers, the M-ONE packs stereo power amplification, plus preamp facilities for analogue sources as well as digital, into its diminutive chassis.

    The M-ONE shares the same core D/A conversion technology, based around the ES9018 Sabre32 Reference chip family from ESS Technology – in this case, the recently introduced two-channel ES9018K2M, little brother to the flagship eight-channel ES9018 chip found in the M-DAC+. It sports the same patented 32-bit HyperStream DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, unique to the Sabre32 Reference family, surrounded by Audiolab’s signature circuitry.

    The M-ONE’s DAC section shares much with the M-DAC+. It is equipped to process PCM audio data up to 32-bit/384kHz via USB, to take full advantage of high-resolution digital sound both now and in the future. The USB input also supports DSD files, offering compatibility with DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256.

    In line with Audiolab’s standalone DACs, the M-ONE offers a range of user-selectable digital filters to finetune sound from digital sources according to taste. While the M-DAC and M-DAC+ supply seven settings for PCM files, the M-ONE distils these to a more concise selection of three; these join the same four settings offered by the M-DAC+ for DSD files.

    The preamp section mixes minimalist design with high-quality components, ensuring a short, direct signal path to maintain sonic purity. Volume is digitally controlled in the analogue domain, outputting directly to the Class AB power amplifier, which delivers an output of 40W per channel into 8 ohms. A low-noise linear power supply benefits all circuits from the DAC to the power amp, incorporating a shielded, precision-wound toroidal transformer and multiple power supply sections to keep crossover interference to a minimum. In addition to the main power amp stage, the M-ONE shares the same high-quality headphone amp featured in the M-DAC and M-DAC+.

    The M-ONE incorporates full preamp functionality for both digital and analogue sources and is well stocked with inputs to accommodate multiple playback devices, from smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs to dedicated audio components. There are two USB inputs – a Type B socket (ideal for PC/Mac connectivity) and a Type A socket (useful for Apple iOS device docking and playback). Both USB inputs are compatible with PCM data up to 32-bit/384kHz, as well as DSD64/128/256, and both are asynchronous – data is regulated by the precision master clock in the M-ONE’s DAC section, rather than by the source device, thus helping to minimise jitter.

    Other digital devices can be connected via optical or coaxial cables; one input of each type is supplied, supporting PCM data up to 32-bit/192kHz. These are accompanied by two RCA-phono inputs for analogue source components, while those who like the freedom of wireless connectivity can pair smartphones, tablets and computers via Bluetooth, with support for the sonically superior aptX codec.

    The Audiolab M-ONE is available from August in finely textured black or silver. RRP is £799.95.

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