Have Audiolab just re-written the DAC rulebook, yet again?! The new M-DAC mini takes on all the tech learnt from producing the award winning M-DAC+ and crams it in a small box AND adds a rechargeable battery to make it a truely portable DAC and headphone Amp. Usually, with a high quality unit made small, we find the price is higher than expected, but in the case of the MDAC Mini, its less. Way less!!
Since the launch of the original M-DAC in 2011, Audiolab’s range of standalone DACs has earned widespread acclaim and a host of awards from respected audio journals around the world. Last year’s arrival of the range-topping M-DAC+ and an all-in-one DAC/amp called the M-ONE extended the family by building upon the same award-winning technology.
Now another contender has entered the ring, the fourth model in the M-DAC range: The M-DAC mini. As the name suggests, the M-DAC Mini is the smallest hi-res DAC/headphone amp in the range.
||ESS Sabre32 Reference ES9018K2M
DSD64, DSD128, DSD256
||Coaxial, Optical, USB micro-B for PC/Android,
USB-A for iOS, Bluetooth
||20Hz - 20KHz (± 0.2dB)
|Signal to Noise Ratio
||115dB （A Weighted）
||Li-ion Type DC 3.7V 5000mAh
||Up to 7 hours
||34mm x 136mm x 178mm
The M-DAC Mini’s design deliberately blurs the lines between home hi-fi DACs and pocket-size portable units. It is ideally sized to sit discretely on a desk or table, with accessible, easy-to-use controls and a traditional analogue volume knob.
There is also sufficient internal space to enable in the inclusion of discreet audiophile-grade components in key circuits, eschewing the space-saving compromise often inherent in portable DAC designs. Yet its diminutive form factor makes the M-DAC Mini easy to carry and place wherever it is needed, untethered to the mains supply thanks to its rechargeable battery.
The Finest DAC Circuitry
Like the M-DAC+, the M-DAC Mini is equipped to process PCM audio data up to 32-bit/384kHz via USB, ensuring it is primed to take full advantage of hi-res digital sound both now and in the future. The USB input also supports DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 – a significant inclusion, as DSD has an important role to play in the developing hi-res audio scene.
Sonic performance is paramount throughout the M-DAC Mini’s circuit design. For example, while most portable DACs control volume in the digital domain, which results in lost ‘bits’ and therefore reduced signal quality, the M-DAC Mini uses a high-quality analogue potentiometer like those more commonly found in full-size hi-fi separates.
Small yet mighty
The M-DAC Mini, Like the M-DAC and M-DAC+ combines advanced digital-to-analogue conversion with a high-performance Class A JFET output stage and dedicated headphone amp section, to deliver superb sound whether hooked up to an amp and speakers, or feeding active speakers, or driving a pair of headphones.
The inclusion of battery power for the first time in an M-DAC component is not simply about portability. It also benefits performance, supplying clean and stable DC power – free from the distortion introduced by common switch-mode power supplies, yet without the need for a bulky, costly audiophile-grade mains PSU. A mains charger is included in the package; when connected to the mains, iOS and Android devices can be charged directly from the M-DAC Mini.