Merason DAC 1
Non-Oversampling DAC Made In Switzerland
Our take: The DAC 1 continues in the tradition of incredible value like the Frerot. The DAC 1 presents a larger scale soundstage, more extension at both frequency extremes, a more holographic presentation, and improved micro and macro detail attack. This is a very natural and engaging DAC that will grow and keep up with your system as one continues to improve their upstream and downstream components.
"The Alpha II is a long time favorite of mine for its sound and features. Many folks love the sense of detail and spaciousness to the soundstage, but for me, the Merason DAC-1 communicates more of a holistic vibe as opposed to shining a bright light on every little textural element of a mix like I hear with the Alpha II. I routinely felt a sort of relaxed attention when listening with the DAC-1, a certain feeling of rightness that let me focus on the music." - Part Time Audiophile
"Its pleasant tonality conveys a bit less aggressiveness, but does not swallow any details. Individual instruments and the overall sound are timed a touch darker. But I find it difficult to classify that as more correct or less authentic. This is because certain instruments, such as a TomTom, appear more three-dimensional. The overall impression is crucial. The Merason convinces with fine or solo instrumentation, for example when reproducing a grand piano or a woodwind instrument. Because both in the timbre, As in the size and space representation, the Merason's performance seems to me to be true to the truth." - Hifi Statement
"If you are looking to cut through the veneer and hear as much of what was put down in the studio as a converter anywhere near this price will allow should, brace yourself for a genuinely intense musical experience." - The EAR
The DAC For Music Lovers
Described as the DAC for music lovers, this non-oversampling DAC with discrete, symmetric circuitry and a Class A buffer stage punches well above what it's price would suggest. The Swiss build quality, aesthetic and sound come through wonderfully in the DAC 1.
"Compared to my other DACs the Merason DAC-1 had as much and in some cases more detail while retaining it’s wonderfully seductive relaxed listenability. Hey, wait a second. Didn’t I say the same thing about the infinitely charming BorderPatrol SE-1 DAC? Yes, I did.
The difference here is that the Merason has a similar easy-on-the-ear factor that I love about the BorderPatrol DAC, but the Merason is just that much cleaner. It has more detail, a wider and deeper soundstage, and a deeper and punchier low end. " - Part Time Audiophile
I prefer NOS DACs with discreet (rather than opamp) output stages in most cases because of their more natural musical presentation. The highs tend to be smoother and clearer, and the entire presentation is more analog than the majority of Sigma Delta DACs. The Merason DAC 1 is one of only 2 products offered by Merason. I find it appealing that they focus on one thing, and do it well rather than try to be all things to everyone. One can hear this focus and Swiss attention to detail when one listens to the DAC 1.
The DAC-1’s digital to analog conversion is centered on a dual (right/left) Burr-Brown/TI PCM1794A chip, and as the manufacturer claims is all discrete and symmetrical throughout, from the I/V stage to the class A output stage. The execution is simple, and based on high quality parts. From the dual toroidal transformers that are used for separate digital/analog power supply duties with multiple rails, to the point-to-point wiring to the input boards, and the high quality output capacitors that are tucked in the underside of the circuit board. One has to appreciate the quality, and the elegant simplicity that is packed into the Merason DAC 1.
It handles sample rates up to 192K, has 4 digital inputs (AES/EBU, spdif, USB, and Toslink optical), and a choice of unbalanced RCA or balanced XLR outputs. For 99.9% of audiophiles, this covers their digital music collections. If you want DSD, or MQA, the DAC-1 is not going to work for you without downsampling to PCM.
- Output: max. 3 V RMS (symmetrical), max. 1.5 V RMS (asymmetrical).
- Frequency: 20 Hz to 20 kHz +/- 0.2 dB.
- THD + N: <0.012%.
- SNR:> 120 dB.
- DAC: 2 x BurrBrown 1794A, discrete I / V stage.
- Output: discrete structure.
- Power supply
- 120V AC 60 Hz, 30 W.
- Audio formats
- 44.1 kHz @ 16 bit, 44.1 kHz @ 24 bit.
- 48 kHz @ 16 bit, 48 kHz @ 24 bit.
- 88.2 kHz @ 24 bit.
- 96 kHz @ 24 bit.
- 176.4 kHz @ 24 bit (USB).
- 192 kHz @ 24 bit.
- Width: 45 cm
- Height: 10 cm
- Depth: 29 cm
- Weight: 8 kg