Metrum Octave - WOW

edited August 2011 in Digital
Ok the Metrum Octave has arrived. In one word WOW. I blows away any other DAC I have heard except the PDX and Killer and I have to tell you they are under threat - its that good. I have never heard anything quite like it. The PDX and Killer sound natural and real - this thing simply sounds accurate - as if there is nothing between it and the recording. Nothing touches this for $1k - nothing. I simply can not detect any type of character to it - none - zippo - none.

I have it connected via the Off-Ramp 4 with Turboclocks and the Truth Pre-amp and am sitting simply in amazement. Of course the cost with the Off-Ramp is $2.7k and you need a pre amp which you do not need with a DAC like the PDX that has its own volume control so it works out about the same price.

I have my third DAC for a shootout I am looking to arrange of top of the line DAC's - this is without a shadow of a doubt an up there DAC - and at the price - amazing.

I simply can't stop listening to it.

More to come as I keep listening.



  • hi Bill, certainly sounds good from all the reviews i have had a wee look at, couldn't see any usb input mentioned , does it have a usb input?
    all the best,
  • edited August 2011
    hi Bill, certainly sounds good from all the reviews i have had a wee look at, couldn't see any usb input mentioned , does it have a usb input?
    all the best,
    Hi Matt

    No USB input - only SPDIF.  But I considerer thaty a plus because I have found USB converters like the the Off-Ramp I use, Audiopelleo2 and John Kenny Modified Hiface are better anyway.  I used it through an Off-Ramp 4 with Turboclocks.

  • I'm trying a Metrum Octave along with a JKenny Hiface at the moment. The supplier has suggested it takes 10 days to fully come on song......6 days to go.
  • Is it promising James? You have a pretty solid DAC to start with.

    What happened to the ADAMs then? And a Rotel amp - you're no longer running active?

    (I just googled Vivid BTW - tres cool!)
  • From the brief listen I've had Alan I would say it's very promising. The Bel Canto is great but I'm intrigued by the potential of the JK Hiface into a non over-sampling DAC like the Metrum.

    The ADAM's are currently for sale Alan. They do nothing wrong really it's just that I made the mistake of listening to the Vivid's and knew they are speakers I can live with for a long time.

    Oh and the Rotel was borrowed - I've replaced it with some Bantam Monoblocks for the time being. Really should write all this up in a separate post as I've made some interesting discoveries along the way.

  • Properly implemented async transfer will/should be better than adding another stage of conversion, ten days to break in!
    Flimm flamm alive and well.
  • Yes I'm more than a little sceptical myself Keith.
  • James Hi, I read that sort of thing often, I just can't see what inside a dac could 'burn in'!
    KR Keith.
  • This evening I've been listening to the Metrum in the following configuration:

    Audirvana+ >> J Kenny Hiface Mk3 >> Metrum (SPDIF) >> rest of kit as per sig.

    What a superb combo the Metrum and Hiface make.  Heaps of detail but presented in a very natural and unforced way.  I don't know if the Metrum stands out amongst non oversampling DAC's, or whether they all have this style of presentation.  Has anyone else experience of a non oversampling, non filtering DAC?

    Not done a direct A/B comparison with my Bel Canto yet.  That will be interesting. 

  • Every NOS dac I have heard from Ack to Zanden, including Kondo have rolled off bass and treble, which obviously focuses attention on the midrange, usually the resolution is poor, they are the equivalent of a valve amp.
  • Then I think you will particularly enjoy the Metrum, through my valve pre obviously Keith :D
  • Lol!
    James as long as you realise how the equipment is affecting the frequency response ,that's fine, everyone is free (sadly) to buy what they enjoy!
    I have to admit I have a valve pre too, I asked the designer to make it as transparent as possible with just the smallest amount of valveyness!
    KR Keith.
  • I think that's what Guy has done with the Pure Sound L300 as well Keith. It's a world away from the Shindo pre that I tried.
  • Shindo are known for coloration, valves are beguiling, they throw out a nice image ,but I found that I just wasn't listening to anything 'rocky' old cliche but true.
    Now I have valve pre, valve input solid state output power amps, class D with Class A integrated, fully active Genelecs , it is Interesting to compare the systems.
    KR Keith.
  • Very interesting Keith. I'm using some Temple Audio Monoblocks at the moment and they work very well with my valve pre and Vivid speakers. In fact I'm considering building a pair of Monoblocks using Hypex ncore amp modules. My current Monoblocks are fine for music but they can't handle large dynamic swings in film soundtracks....not a problem you will encounter with those Genelecs.
  • James - @Jim on 'ere has built some pretty impressive big Hypex amps.or so I hear. Those who have heard his system are very impressed by it.
  • Yup. Jim has two pairs of Hypexes, each monoblock driving a separate bass driver and one of those vacuum tube monstrosities driving the two Lowthers.

    I've yet to hear the current incarnation, but the man himself assures me it sounds even tastier than before. And it sounded rather good before!
  • A friend lent me his Devialet, TNT is Class D with Class A 'control' it sounds fine not thin or harsh ,very smooth,
    it doesn't have the last word I resolution but that could be many factors.
  • I'm not sure the hypexes have the resolution of my amps, either. But they're a fraction of the price and you can populate your listening room with them!
  • I'm not sure the hypexes have the resolution of my amps, either. But they're a fraction of the price and you can populate your listening room with them!
    You could populate your living room with Temple Audio mono blocks - I'm sure if I put then on the table and called them coasters nobody would be any the wiser.  They are tiny.  I could easily fit each amp under my speaker base because the spikes are deeper.
  • Back to the Metrum - having spent quite a few hours now going back and forth between it and the Bel Canto I think the Metrum sounds better.  I have no idea whether it sounds better due to the DAC chips, lack of sampling/filtering, low jitter source or what - but there is a more natural performance emanating from my speakers with the Metrum.  It conveys more detail than the Bel Canto and looses nothing in terms of bass resolution, treble extension or overall dynamics.  The Bel Canto sounds slightly closed in by comparison - less note decay, narrower soundstage and a marginally thinner overall balance.

    Value for money?  At £700 I think it's a bargain, especially having had two of the supposedly best DAC's in my system over the last few months, both of which are about six times more expensive at full retail. 

    I haven't spent much time using my Sonos as a source.  This will be interesting to see how much of an impact the hiface is having.

  • edited April 2012
    So, is this the sign that we can get thousands of pounds worth of performance for less than £1K?
  • I would say so. My Bel Canto will be up for sale soon. The Metrum sounds superior to my ears and I don't really know what else there is to try :D
  • There is good, there is excellent, and there is 'Just right' I suppose, Goldilocks...

    Actually I have heard it said often that once you get past a certain standard of DAC performance (which seems to have become more accessible in recent years) then it is all about personal preference as technically there isn't a cigarette paper between DACs at that level. I have only heard that said by those fortunate enough to try multiple decent DACs though.

    I am impressed as a (slightly green) onlooker that you can still search out your own preference in these high end DACs; Not that my opinion or expertise amounts to anything at all on this subject. With so much HiFi there are users who get to 'a certain level' and stop looking, believing they 'have the best' so 'what's the point in looking elsewhere?' To my mind this is as closed minded as the old objectivist contention that 'they all sound the same anyway'. Congratulations, James - I am glad you have found something you really like.
  • NOS dacs won't sound the same,neither will dacs with a valve tucked in the output stage, it is similar to comparing vinyl to digital.
    Ultimately you must choose what you prefer.
  • I think this case is a little more nuanced than that, Keith. User reviews of the Octave are that it sounds very "fast", with no mention of the typical rolled of treble or mushy mess one traditionally gets with a NOS DAC (I have had two myself). I suspect the likes of the Metrum could be the future of computer audio.

    This is because in some ways the Metrum Octave is similar in approach to the XX High-End Phasure DAC (also NOS, but capable of receiving 24/768!). Although the DAC in both cases are Non Over-Sampling, they are best used with a computer to oversample for them. Peter St has developed his own software (XX High-end) to do exactly that for the Phasure, and I'm sure it sounds anything but a 'traditional' NOS DAC.

    The Metrum Octave also reportedly sounds best when used with computer source that upsamples to 24/96 or 24/176 (the Octave doesn't really support 192kHz, but some have got this to work). The Audiophileo 2 USB > SPDIF converter is reportedly outstanding, but the new HiFace 2 would be interesting to try.

    Interestingly, it is said that when used with redbook material and no oversampling, the Octave sounds like a mushy mess (much like many other NOS DACs then).

    The odd thing with this DAC is it has no USB input, but from the POV of keeping the price down it makes sense to me. I could likely buy a HiFace or similar for less than Metrum would have to add to the cost to license or develop a really good galvanically isolated Async USB input.

    Seeing computers take over digital processing/filtering etc and DACs just doing D to A conversion really simply is where things ought to go IMO; software will be integrated with electronic room correction and perhaps even digital crossovers eventually.

    DAC designers can then K.I.S.S.  - concentrate on really top notch conversion and whatever exotic parts the deem necessary then (although on a side note, the Metrum Octave uses non-audiophile 'Industrial' DAC chips) - whatever works best.
  • Excellent post Alan.
  • 'Industiria'l dac chips, which industry do you think?
    You guys will believe anything, have you seen the inside of the Phasure dac?
    It is kitchen table stuff, no over sampling because they can't no async because they can't!
    KR Keith.
  • 'Industiria'l dac chips, which industry do you think?

    You guys will believe anything, have you seen the inside of the Phasure dac?
    It is kitchen table stuff, no over sampling because they can't no async because they can't!
    KR Keith.
    What a condescending remark Keith! Can you not see the tone of your post is very poor?

    To take your points in turn:

    Industry? Probably radar as that is the trade of the designer. Although he won't say what chips they are, his clear implication is that they are ten-a-penny, nothing special compared to standard audiophile components. In other words, they work well, and are cheaper than Sabres and Burr Browns.

    As regards the Phasure DAC - "kitchen table stuff" as in cottage industry? Is this a reason to dismiss it (or have you heard it - I hope you have). BTW, I understand the actual DAC chips themselves in the Phasure are $3-400 on their own.

    If each of these DACs don't do Async because they can't - then that underscores what I said; that their attention is better spent elsewhere leaving the user to select a suitable USB>SPDIF converter, than developing or licensing something which will add to the ticket price.

    I still contend that oversampling or upsampling and filtering handled by a computer is an interesting approach, rather than a chip sharing space within the DAC. For you to dismiss this out of hand is disappointing.

    Finally, the "You guys will believe anything..." bit. You guys as in who? You are saying I'm gullible, and who else? I certainly would be if I simply took you at your word. You must see that this remark can only put you in a bad light, it is breathtakingly arrogant of you as a retailer, and utterly condescending as an audiophile. Is James gullible because the Metrum sounds great to him? Am I because I think oversampling might be better done within a computer?

    All points of view are welcome on 'Chews, discussion is encouraged, but disrespect or dismissal of others' views is not what we expect.
  • Keith - way to distance loyal customers. What an idiotic remark.

    You aren't a superior authority on all things audio just because you happen to be in the trade. Have you actually heard the Metrum? I suspect not.
  • Yes I have heard it, I was offered it to retail as a matter of fact.
    Sorry didn't mean to sound condescending, but there is a lot of hype and hyperbole in audio.
    As long as you like it that is the important thing.
  • Yep. That's about the size of it!
  • The Octave has been rather hyped but, like the MDAC, kind of deserves it. I've heard a number of NOS DACs that have been deeply unimpressive, at many price points, but Metrum has demonstrated with this converter that it ain't necessarily so.

    I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Phasure without having heard it, either! The design and packaging may be a bit Heath Robinson, but by 'eck is it good where it matters.
  • It should be pointed out that the Octave is super-sensitive to the quality of its SPDIF input: it's capable of sounding anywhere from average to genuinely outstanding, depending on the calibre of the transport.
  • Good to hear your thoughts Mark, I think these DACs are a genuinely interesting approach. The Phasure is too rich for my blood, but a Metrum might be do-able one day. Especially when James gets bored & sells his one to me!

    what sort of transport have you used with it? Bill likes the OffRamp 4, but also rates the Audiophileo.
  • edited May 2012
    Already sold it Alan :-)
  • Ha! I dont believe it. What are you trying now?
  • The Metrum was replaced by a PS Audio Perfectwave DAC Mk2. It has a network bridge so I can now stream music straight from my NAS into the DAC.

    Just on the point of transport choices for the Metrum I agree that it is sensitive to the source. The Jkenny hiface mk3 sounded better than my Sonos. I can imagine people hearing the Metrum with a jittery source and thinking that it's nothing special. With the right transport it sounds very nice indeed.
  • There's a range topping Metrum DAC due out soon. Twice the DAC chips, balanced design etc.
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