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€2k Metrum Onyx and a ₹4k DVD player DAC sounding the same!

atharva

Active Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2012
Messages
170
Points
28
Location
Pune
Hello friends,

I observed a really odd and interesting behaviour that I thought I'd share with you. I recently started to explore R2R/NOS DACs and came across Metrum. They offered me a home audition of Onyx which I happily opted for.

Setup
Samsung DVD player (came as free gift with my Samsung TV)
DACs - Topping D50, Onyx and Inbuilt DAC of DVD player
Lyrita DHT 2A3 Pre and Power
Rethm Maarga
Interconnects - Belden 1505F with Canare connectors, decent optical/coax cables
HDMI Switch with optical+coax output. Helps extract digital audio from multiple devices like Streamer/Chromecast/DVD player
No special main power gadgets

Wiring to allow quick A/B comparison in real time.

Code:
Samsung DVD player
    1   |--- RCA Output -----------------------------------------------------> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
    2   |--- Coax Out ---------------------------------> Onyx (Coax)    |
    3   |                              |--- Optical ---> Onyx (Optical) |----> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
        |--- HDMI Out ---> HDMI Switch |
    4   |                              |--- Coax ------> Topping D50 --------> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
There are four combinations

#1 - Internal DAC of the DVD player - should sound the worst.
#2 - Onyx Coax - should be the best.
#3 - Onyx Optical via HDMI switch - should show any degradation due to the HDMI switch. I switch between Opt/Coax on Onyx
#4 - Topping Coax via HDMI switch - compare with Topping (should have been second best)

Tracks used (all CDs)
  • Hotel California (Eagles)
  • Take Five (Dave Brubeck)
  • Indian Classical (Tansen)
  • Keith don't go (Nils Lofgren)
  • Nardis (Patricia Barber)

Unfortunately, I did not find ANY difference in any of the above. Luckily the loudness level on all inputs is the same. You can't tell when the preamp input switch is flipped. The Onyx should've blown away all DACs (especially the one in the DVD player).

Also,
  • Tried Exposure 2010S2 amp instead of Lyrita Pre/Power. The amp signature is different but DACs but no difference between DACs
  • Asked a couple of others to listen and they couldn't tell either
  • Tried a Pioneer DVD player but its direct output was louder than the others so not a fair comparison. But no difference between Topping and Onyx

I believe the amp/speaker combo is plenty resolving and also that Onyx would be better hardware than the Samsung or Topping.

Do you agree this is odd?
 
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drkrack

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2016
Messages
972
Points
93
Location
Hyderabad
Hello friends,

I observed a really odd and interesting behaviour that I thought I'd share with you. I recently started to explore R2R/NOS DACs and came across Metrum. They offered me a home audition of Onyx which I happily opted for.

Setup
Samsung DVD player (came as free gift with my Samsung TV)
DACs - Topping D50, Onyx and Inbuilt DAC of DVD player
Lyrita DHT 2A3 Pre and Power
Rethm Maarga
Interconnects - Belden 1505F with Canare connectors, decent optical/coax cables
HDMI Switch with optical+coax output. Helps extract digital audio from multiple devices like Streamer/Chromecast/DVD player
No special main power gadgets

Wiring to allow quick A/B comparison in real time.

Code:
Samsung DVD player
    1   |--- RCA Output -----------------------------------------------------> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
    2   |--- Coax Out ---------------------------------> Onyx (Coax)    |
    3   |                              |--- Optical ---> Onyx (Optical) |----> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
        |--- HDMI Out ---> HDMI Switch |
    4   |                              |--- Coax ------> Topping D50 --------> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
There are four combinations

#1 - Internal DAC of the DVD player - should sound the worst.
#2 - Onyx Coax - should be the best.
#3 - Onyx Optical via HDMI switch - should show any degradation due to the HDMI switch. I switch between Opt/Coax on Onyx
#4 - Topping Coax via HDMI switch - compare with Topping (should have been second best)

Tracks used (all CDs)
  • Hotel California (Eagles)
  • Take Five (Dave Brubeck)
  • Indian Classical (Tansen)
  • Keith don't go (Nils Lofgren)
  • Nardis (Patricia Barber)
Unfortunately, I did not find ANY difference in any of the above. Luckily the loudness level on all inputs is the same. You can't tell when the preamp input switch is flipped. The Onyx should've blown away all DACs (especially the one in the DVD player).

Also,
  • Tried Exposure 2010S2 amp instead of Lyrita Pre/Power. The amp signature is different but DACs but no difference between DACs
  • Asked a couple of others to listen and they couldn't tell either
  • Tried a Pioneer DVD player but its direct output was louder than the others so not a fair comparison. But no difference between Topping and Onyx
I believe the amp/speaker combo is plenty resolving and also that Onyx would be better hardware than the Samsung or Topping.

Do you agree this is odd?
Yes pretty odd...
I would love to hear "the no difference" myself...
Cheers!
 

tuff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2014
Messages
1,797
Points
113
Location
Thane
Somethings not right. I have a Starting Point NOS DAC and a HiFimeDIY sabre DAC, both USB connected to PC, and can hear a distinct difference between those two. The NOS DAC has a top end roll of and more forward mid range than the sabre. The NOS is less analytical in comparison more fluid and organic. The sabre DAC sound well balanced and much more detailed. There are times when i prefer the NOS sound, almost tube like. It depends on the material i am listening to. Both are relatively cheap (even cheaper as i bought used).
 

arj

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2008
Messages
3,169
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
Hello friends,

I observed a really odd and interesting behaviour that I thought I'd share with you. I recently started to explore R2R/NOS DACs and came across Metrum. They offered me a home audition of Onyx which I happily opted for.

Setup
Samsung DVD player (came as free gift with my Samsung TV)
DACs - Topping D50, Onyx and Inbuilt DAC of DVD player
Lyrita DHT 2A3 Pre and Power
Rethm Maarga
Interconnects - Belden 1505F with Canare connectors, decent optical/coax cables
HDMI Switch with optical+coax output. Helps extract digital audio from multiple devices like Streamer/Chromecast/DVD player
No special main power gadgets

Wiring to allow quick A/B comparison in real time.

Code:
Samsung DVD player
    1   |--- RCA Output -----------------------------------------------------> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
    2   |--- Coax Out ---------------------------------> Onyx (Coax)    |
    3   |                              |--- Optical ---> Onyx (Optical) |----> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
        |--- HDMI Out ---> HDMI Switch |
    4   |                              |--- Coax ------> Topping D50 --------> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
Could you also try a Computer audio USB out to the metrum is a 356 mp3 or FLAC ? The only thing common above is the Samsung DVD as a transport so will be interesting to get a data point regarding that.
 

vinothkumar

Active Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Messages
599
Points
43
Location
Chennai
Man, that sounds odd to me. Rest of the gears all super good except the transport what you are using. I am sure there would be a day and night difference if you switch between a Metrum and Topping (Never heard both though).
I have had the same experience when I was using it with my basic BD player as a source, but when I changed the transport to Marantz cd player (6006 as a transport) the signature totally changed. Believe me, I had one of our FMs also had the same experience as me at that time. And I will never underestimate the Metrum (At least by seeing the internals of it).

Please try following if possible, Lend a proper audio cd player (even an entry level) with digital out and check if you get any difference.
Try with different interconnects and speaker cables in addition to the new transport.

Hope this helps :)
 

mpw

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2009
Messages
3,487
Points
113
Location
Mumbai
This is strange

I had the Metrum Amethyst at home for 2 weeks

friends came over too

there is a difference between the presentation of my CDP internal DAC ( TDA 1541 ) and the Amethyst

we could discern change in sound ( subtle but discernible ) by a power cord change or USB cable change etc..

It ( the Amethyst ) started to grow on me from week 1 to week 2.

@atharva - maybe if the Onyx was used in a different setup from yours - you could try that. Try it at your friends place who may have a decent stereo rig.

with all due respect - there seems to be something wrong here..

regards
 
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atharva

Active Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2012
Messages
170
Points
28
Location
Pune
Appreciate all your comments.

@prateekatasniya, the volume is pretty loud.

@matbhuvi, yes Onyx RCA. I was just stressing on which input was being used.

@tuff/@arj, I haven't tried USB as I don't have a PC setup.

@vinothkumar/@mpw, let me see if I can connect with some Pune member to see if I can get a better transport or carry my stuff over.
 
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arj

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2008
Messages
3,169
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
i am not sure of the Samsung DVD player. It is possible that its SPDIF is the one which is colouring your whole test. The reason for the lack of the difference between 1 and 2 is not very clear and hence my question

HDMI is not great for audio hence i would not worry about 3 and 4.
 

audiocrazy

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2019
Messages
62
Points
8
Location
India
Hello friends,

I observed a really odd and interesting behaviour that I thought I'd share with you. I recently started to explore R2R/NOS DACs and came across Metrum. They offered me a home audition of Onyx which I happily opted for.

Setup
Samsung DVD player (came as free gift with my Samsung TV)
DACs - Topping D50, Onyx and Inbuilt DAC of DVD player
Lyrita DHT 2A3 Pre and Power
Rethm Maarga
Interconnects - Belden 1505F with Canare connectors, decent optical/coax cables
HDMI Switch with optical+coax output. Helps extract digital audio from multiple devices like Streamer/Chromecast/DVD player
No special main power gadgets

Wiring to allow quick A/B comparison in real time.

Code:
Samsung DVD player
    1   |--- RCA Output -----------------------------------------------------> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
    2   |--- Coax Out ---------------------------------> Onyx (Coax)    |
    3   |                              |--- Optical ---> Onyx (Optical) |----> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
        |--- HDMI Out ---> HDMI Switch |
    4   |                              |--- Coax ------> Topping D50 --------> Lyrita Pre/Power -> Maarga
There are four combinations

#1 - Internal DAC of the DVD player - should sound the worst.
#2 - Onyx Coax - should be the best.
#3 - Onyx Optical via HDMI switch - should show any degradation due to the HDMI switch. I switch between Opt/Coax on Onyx
#4 - Topping Coax via HDMI switch - compare with Topping (should have been second best)

Tracks used (all CDs)
  • Hotel California (Eagles)
  • Take Five (Dave Brubeck)
  • Indian Classical (Tansen)
  • Keith don't go (Nils Lofgren)
  • Nardis (Patricia Barber)
Unfortunately, I did not find ANY difference in any of the above. Luckily the loudness level on all inputs is the same. You can't tell when the preamp input switch is flipped. The Onyx should've blown away all DACs (especially the one in the DVD player).

Also,
  • Tried Exposure 2010S2 amp instead of Lyrita Pre/Power. The amp signature is different but DACs but no difference between DACs
  • Asked a couple of others to listen and they couldn't tell either
  • Tried a Pioneer DVD player but its direct output was louder than the others so not a fair comparison. But no difference between Topping and Onyx
I believe the amp/speaker combo is plenty resolving and also that Onyx would be better hardware than the Samsung or Topping.

Do you agree this is odd?
Metrum Onyx is a very well recognized DAC in its price range.
very strange to hear this bro.
 

mpw

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2009
Messages
3,487
Points
113
Location
Mumbai
Appreciate all your comments.

@prateekatasniya, the volume is pretty loud.

@matbhuvi, yes Onyx RCA. I was just stressing on which input was being used.

@tuff/@arj, I haven't tried USB as I don't have a PC setup.

@vinothkumar/@mpw, let me see if I can connect with some Pune member to see if I can get a better transport or carry my stuff over.
@atharva

you need to carry Onyx DAC over only

maybe the co-axial cables or USB cable

that should be enough

am sure you know - please allow the DAC to settle down and play for a few hours..

it will be nice for some FM's in Pune to help out.

regards
 

hifitoaster

Active Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
502
Points
43
Location
India
There is nothing weird here. Sometimes cheap stuff can be good enough. And expensive stuff can be just be at the same good enough level. I had instances like this with other equipments. Had instances where real highly expensive stuff was beaten by cheap stuff. Metrum may suffer due to your review here though;)
 

atharva

Active Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2012
Messages
170
Points
28
Location
Pune
@arj, I thought bits were bits when using CD as a transport. Would appreciate if you can shed some light on how/where the colouring happens.

I was expecting degradation via the HDMI switch. But switching between the Coax and Opt of the Onyx (#2 and #3) didn't produce any audible difference.

I would very much like to try a better transport but I find it strange that the Samsung has somehow degraded everything (SPDIF, HDMI and RCA) outputs equally.

@jls001, the coax cable is an Audioquest Forest (not using Canare connector) as provided by Metrum. Are you suggesting to use different interconnects?
 

atharva

Active Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2012
Messages
170
Points
28
Location
Pune
@hifitoaster, it is not my intention to malign any brand. I don't have enough data/knowledge to make any conclusive statements.
 

firearm12

Active Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2014
Messages
362
Points
43
Location
noida
Have you ever used any other dac other than Samsung player before in your setup and did you find any difference wrt samsung. If you haven't then give it some more time, listen to metrum for few days continuously before switching back to Samsung. Doing a/b comparisons for DACs can be futile, may take more ear training if it's your first attempt at comparing DACs.

Samsung coax out can also be the culprit. Bits are bits technically but the way they are sent out is all that matters. Try listening through a laptop / usb cable with onyx.
 
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