Musaic MP5 and MPL HiFi System Review & Comments

Discussion in 'Music Streamers' started by Ed Selley, Mar 5, 2017.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. Hackford48

      Hackford48
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      Ed, thanks for this review. My interest is in the MPL. I have been using my MacBook as a source to stream Tidal to my hifi system but want to start using a streamer instead. It appears to me that the sub-£500 options are the MPL, the Arcam rPlay, the Bluesound Node II and the Auralic Aries Mini. Which would you choose, if the remit is purely to stream Tidal? I am attracted to the MPL as it is the cheapest and sounds very good from reading your review, but believe the only streamer in this price range (or at all?) which supports MQA is the Bluesound
       
    3. DRH62

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      The MPL looks interesting but I’d want to know a bit more to be satisfied about its audiophile credentials. Specifically:

      1. How the ESS DAC is implemented. From what I’ve read this is pretty key to performance.

      2. What steps have been taken to ensure low jitter etc. on the digital outputs. This is how I’d envisage using it ultimately.

      3. Whether performance is likely to improve with a different (probably linear) power supply.

      4. What the difference is between wired and wireless performance.
       
    4. MattBram

      MattBram
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      Hi, Matthew from Musaic here.

      Answers to specific points are:

      1. For the MPL we use the ESS9012K2M with our own design of analog filter (MP5 and MP10 use natively digital amplifiers so there is no DAC as such). This is configured as a 2nd order linear phase Bessel topology (constant group delay). You are correct that the ESS DACs are very fussy and in particular their current outputs need very careful consideration when converting to voltage (i.e. how you do the I/V stage). ESS often recommend just using a resistor and passive filter as it is easy to make the performance worse if you don’t watch out. However our particular solution provide superior anti-aliasing than the passive option whilst using no capacitors in the signal path which we have found to be very important with these DACs.

      We also use multiple stages of PSU regulation and a low jitter master clock (we use the DAC in asynchronous mode). Our backgrounds are in high-end Hi-Fi design and we took the same approach as we would have had this been a DAC costing many times as much. We like to think that we have squeezed the maximum performance from this particular device.

      2. Firstly we make sure all the supplies are very clean and use a proper transformer balanced output, we also use a 'high speed' 24/192 capable Toslink opto connector for that output. Our playback engine buffers in memory and re-clocks the audio also which is part of the recipe and the outputs are properly buffered and impedance matched.

      3. The external PSU supplies pre-regulated DC to the player which contains a lot of different stages of regulation internally plus generation of both positive and negative rails. The player is thus pretty immune to the actual DC quality coming in (not that it isn't quite good in the first place). We use a plug type switch-mode with removable inserts for the various mains sockets around the work. We use in-line types for our speakers but a plug type was more cost effective and suitable here as we wanted to supply all the possible mains plug adaptors in the box.

      4. There is (At least IMO) no noticeable difference between Wi-Fi and Ethernet due to the buffering. However if you want to stream FLAC or WAV at 24/96 or 24/192 then Ethernet is definitely more bomb proof unless you use very good 802.11n or ac routers with dual band MIMO (Apple Airport Extreme is particularly good).

      Hope that helps, we are very happy to answer any more questions, thanks Matt.
       
    5. DRH62

      DRH62
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      Many thanks for your reply Matt.
       

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