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Majestic DAC impressions

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    Posted: 05 Feb 2014 at 9:00pm
Now that the Majestic DAC has started to ship out to users I thought it would be an idea to start a new thread for impressions - or indeed reviews, rather than have them buried at the end of a very long "BigDAC" thread.

My Majestic DAC arrived today - thank you Graham! - and is a very substantial piece of kit, not quite twice the width of a Solo or Reflex. Those following the other thread may have noticed that my MajDAC has been slightly modified from the pre-production run at my request, and this first post is just going to deal with this to get it out of the way.

The DAC's replacing a pre-amp and another DAC in my study system, feeding a pair of Harbeth active speakers. The analogue input has a Reflex/Elevator combo gong into it, and there will be a digital coax input from a Cambridge Audio NP30 streamer, and an optical input from my Mac Mini. (I'll test out the USB input too, at some point.)

A good proportion of my listening is on headphones, and a Solo ULDE plugs into the RCA phono outs. Here's where I had an issue. As standard, both the unbalanced RCA outs and the balanced jack outs are controlled by the level control. To listen on headphones I'd have had to cut the power to the speakers - something I preferred not to do. Therefore my question to Graham was - is it possible to have a fixed line out for the RCAs, with the output level control just affecting the balanced outs. Before the day was out Graham had got back to me and said 'yes' - would I like to audition the result?

So here I am with a modified Majestic before it's even gone into full production!

The issue was - does the modification have any affect on the sound? To test this I've used some phono splitters at the back of my Reflex. These have zero effect on the sound (to my ears), and I use them to take a signal to my ADC for vinyl ripping, normally. With two feeds coming off the Reflex, one went direct to one input on the Solo, the other to the DAC's analogue input, with the now-fixed RCA outs going to the second input on the Solo. So it was now a simple matter to use the Solo's input switch to put the DAC into and out of the circuit.

With a memory a bit like a sieve, I'd soon forgotten which went where as I switched the DAC in an out, not helped by the sound which was identical in every respect. The Majestic DAC's analogue circuit was as transparent as an open window. No difference in levels, dynamics, or timbre. Just like with all the best kit, any 'testing" was soon replaced by enjoyment of the music. In this case a Quincy Jones big band "Birth of A Band" on 180gm Verve disc. I remember many moons ago that this was the first record I played through my first GSP purchase, an Era Gold V. Then, the toe-tapping "verve" of the whole thing put a grin on my face for days, and it's not less now.

What surprised me (which shouldn't, really) was the improvement with my other pre-amp out of the equation (from a brand recently mentioned in these parts which threatened to copy GSP kit). I'd never actually taken a signal direct from Reflex to Solo before, and it was a noticeable improvement - clearer, more detailed: you could hear individual instruments in the quiet sax riffs as the harmony shifts under a trumpet solo for instance where before it was more unfocussed. But this improvement was equally present with the DAC in play, so my conclusion - and this with zero burn in - is that as a pre-amp the Majestic does what any self-respecting piece of audio electronics should do: have no audible effect on the quality of sound, be totally transparent.

So I'm really looking forward to putting the digital section of the Majestic through it's paces, and will report back in due course after some burn in and extended listening . . . 


Edited by morris_minor - 05 Feb 2014 at 9:09pm
Bob

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Solo ULDE, Novo, Lautus USB and digital, Libran balanced, CuSat50
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Ash View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2014 at 9:16pm
Originally posted by morris_minor morris_minor wrote:

as transparent as an open window


All of the Graham Slee products that I have bought are like this. At last... a man who can design amplifiers properly. Thumbs Up The "Mighty Atom" of audio?? Damn straight! Big smile
Lautus USB or S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3 TRS-XLR>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2014 at 9:26pm
Thanks for this Bob and I agree with Ash.
Jon

Open mind and ears, whilst owning GSP Genera, Accession, Elevator EXP, Solo ULDE, Proprius amps, Cusat50 cables, Lautus digital cable, Spatia cables and links, and a Majestic DAC.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Drewan77 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2014 at 8:17pm
I have been away overseas for the past week and am just catching up with the forum - Bobs' switchable outputs sound interesting and this could be a useful option. If given the choice, I too would use this 'variant' but for different reasons

I have told Graham & John that although I pre-ordered shortly after hearing the Majestic a couple of months ago, I am happy to wait until full production commences and other pre-order customers have been satisfied. Maybe I could then have the same output switching as Bob?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2014 at 10:34pm
Yes the prototype sounded great and I am certain the production model will be even better. I have a similar set up to Bob's trial unit on my DIY passive preamp.
Switched:
up = main out via volume
centre = mute
down = headphone out bypassing volume.
Jon

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote morris_minor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2014 at 10:37pm
Andrew, just to be clear the only mod to the Majestic was to make the phono out fixed level. The switching I did was on the Solo when evaluating the sound with the DAC in or out of the system.
Bob

Majestic DAC/pre-amp
Accession MC/Enigma, Accession MM, Reflex M, Elevator EXP, Era Gold V
Solo ULDE, Novo, Lautus USB and digital, Libran balanced, CuSat50
2 x Proprius + Spatia/Spatia Links
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Drewan77 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2014 at 10:05am
Originally posted by morris_minor morris_minor wrote:

Andrew, just to be clear the only mod to the Majestic was to make the phono out fixed level. The switching I did was on the Solo when evaluating the sound with the DAC in or out of the system.

Thanks Bob, yes I could use the same - having the balanced out with variable gain is what I want. This will allow me to reduce the level of all my digital sources when passing out from the Majestic via a balanced Lautus. A fixed output phono will also allow me to switch out the main system, using the phono output to drive something else
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