Merlot DAC and Syrah Music Server

sidvee

New Member
Jan 12, 2014
4
0
1
Hyderabad, India
I am contemplating this DAC. However since I am in India, there is no opportunity to listen to this before I buy. I have heard the MPD5 before and really liked it. Any idea how this would compare - their ad copy says that it has elements of, both the mpd3 and 5.
Cheers,
Sid
 
Sep 6, 2013
416
0
16
I am contemplating this DAC. However since I am in India, there is no opportunity to listen to this before I buy. I have heard the MPD5 before and really liked it. Any idea how this would compare - their ad copy says that it has elements of, both the mpd3 and 5.
Cheers,
Sid
It's a very impressive DAC. Another interesting option is the ability to add the OpBox interface card that allows you to play CDs, SACDs, DVDs, Blu Ray discs through an Oppo 103 and then record the digital output to DSD or PCM music files. Clever.

http://playbackdesigns.com/#inline_content_MerlotDac
http://positive-feedback.com/show-reports/report-axpona-2016/
http://blog.nativedsd.com/recording-music-analog-tape-lps-dsd/
 
Last edited:

Metralla

New Member
Oct 9, 2016
6
0
0
San Jose, CA
This is definitely something I am interested in.

Oppo Digital BDP-103 ($500) + Playback Designs OpBox optical adapter ($1850) => PlayLink => Playback Designs Merlot DAC ($6500)

Total $8,850
 
May 27, 2013
436
13
18
Chicago suburbs
I am contemplating this DAC. However since I am in India, there is no opportunity to listen to this before I buy. I have heard the MPD5 before and really liked it. Any idea how this would compare - their ad copy says that it has elements of, both the mpd3 and 5.
Cheers,
Sid
Sid - Thought you might be interested in this new Positive Feedback review of the latest Playback Designs Sonoma System. Seems as if the reviewer finds it superior to their previous MPS-5 DAC, concluding that "By now, it should be apparent that Playback Designs and Andreas Koch have once again demonstrated an ability to set a new benchmark in the world of digital audio."
 

sidvee

New Member
Jan 12, 2014
4
0
1
Hyderabad, India
Thanks for all the replies. However after making payment to the Indian distributor, and waiting 2 months I was disappointed to learn that Playback decided to drop their Indian distributor. So as I understand now, there is no PBD dealer in India. Consequently I ordered a Chord Hugo TT, waiting for it to be delivered. I would have loved to have the Merlot but only option is to buy from overseas and that is not at all a smooth experience when one is living in India, due to huge customs hassles, taxes etc.
Cheers,
Sid
 

chrisr

Member Sponsor
Aug 30, 2011
56
0
0
Chicago area
The PF review suggests the Merlot DAC beats the MPS-5. Have any members compared the two DACS?
 

cmarin

New Member
Jul 17, 2011
22
4
3
Texas
I did have the MPS-5, however I did not get the opportunity to compare them myself - but I asked a dealer I know, who supplies PD gear, if the Merlot was better and he said it was.
I wonder if the comparison by your dealer between the MPS-5 and the Merlot was with the MPS-5 using the older USB-X converter , or with the recently upgraded USB-XIII?
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,731
122
63
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
The PF review suggests the Merlot DAC beats the MPS-5. Have any members compared the two DACS?
The new firmware 029 just came out for the MPS-5. I have received the new USB-XIII and should be able to compare the Merlot as well as my Horus.
 

VPN

VIP/Donor
Dec 28, 2013
173
3
18
Hello Bruce,

I have a MPS-5 with the version I USB-X, so I am quite interested in your comparison. I would also like to know if there is a significant improvement in sound with the USB-XIII or not. I don't need it since I don't use a MAC as server and don't have any DSD files above 1x.
Cheers,

VPN
 

cmarin

New Member
Jul 17, 2011
22
4
3
Texas
Hi VPN,

I just received the USB-XIII and used it to connect both a PB MSP-5 DAC and a Pacific Microsonics DAC to a Sound Galleries Monaco 2015/HQPlayer server in my system.

I haven't done detailed comparisons between the USB-X and USB-XIII, and I don't own or have listened to the Merlot, but I can tell you, without getting into audiophile descriptors, that the USB-XIII raises the MPS5 performance to another higher level.

And the same is true of the Pacific Microsonics DAC. How much of that is due to the USB-XIII, or the SGM or other improvements to my system, I can't say. But frankly, at this point, I'm enjoying the system too much to fiddle with the comparisons. But without question, the USB-XIII is a significant improvement over the USB-X.

Of course YMMV, but the USB-XIII is worth an audition if you have the USB-X.

However, I did speak to Andreas Koch (prior to purchasing the USB-XIII) about how the MPS-5 with the USB-XIII would compare with the Merlot. He remarked that their performance would be very close and the choice would come down to personal preference.

Which leads me to believe that the anecdotal comments about the Merlot being better than the MPS-5 were probably based on the MPS-5 using the USB-X rather than the USB-XIII with DSD4x capability.

Nevertheless, I also still look forward to comparisons of the Merlot and the MPS-5 with the USB-XIII.
 
Last edited:

chrisr

Member Sponsor
Aug 30, 2011
56
0
0
Chicago area
Curious to know whether anyone has compared the MPS-5/MPD-5 with USB-XIII to the Merlot yet?
 

VPN

VIP/Donor
Dec 28, 2013
173
3
18
Hello Cmarin,

Thank you for your feedback on the USB-XIII with MPS-5.
Cheers,

VPN
 

Glory

New Member
Oct 29, 2011
108
0
0
Destin, FL.
For someone looking to buy this Dac there is very little info given here about the SQ and where the performance of this dac falls in comparison to some of the other HQ dacs on the market today. Seems like there is much feedback on cheaper dacs $1K to 3K then the dacs at this price point have very little feedback but when the price goes over $10K a lot more writing and feedback happens.

Is this an average middle of the Rd Dac or does it somehow run with the high $$$ dacs?
 

Kal Rubinson

Well-Known Member
May 5, 2010
1,570
70
48
NYC/CT
www.stereophile.com
Can the Syrah server be used with other DAC's? The manual and all other references say that it has to be used with the Merlot, so I was wondering.
Cheers,
Sid
Why would you doubt them? The clock link is necessary. There may be work-arounds like the U-DIO8 or other DACs with their own clocklinks.
 
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