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Positive Feedback Shootout

posted 9 Feb 2012, 03:59 by John Kenny   [ updated 29 Mar 2012, 12:45 ]
Sep/Oct 2010 

Audio Ramblings - a Plethora of USB Converters from Blue Circle, Audiophilleo, Halide Designs, M2Tech, JKMods, Stello, with a bit on Cardas and Black Cat

by Dave Clark

Going the battery route clearly alters the sound in terms of becoming warmer and richer, with an overall more organic and 'substantial' sound while still retaining all the positives of the stock M2Tech. You still the 'tinkle' but with more decay and air… the 'tinkle-ness' now sits more 'among the group' as opposed to standing out from the crowd. The Upgraded M2Tech presents music with a greater sense of density and heft… reminds me of other battery-powered devices.........

Now what you have is actually an M2Tech HiFace with all the benefits (24/192), but the computer still needs the driver installed meaning that it works just like a stock HiFace, except it is now sitting in a box… a plastic box that now needs a male A to female A USB cable. You might be able to plug it directly to your computer if everything lines-up just right, in my case it doesn't. So a generic USB cable to the rescue. All things considered this is clearly a step-up over that from the stock M2Tech, which suggests that getting better power to the right circuits/parts is just as important as getting the bits from A to B. Yeah, nice indeed and not for a lot more money though it is a simply plastic box so no points for being glitzy and fancy. Big deal so it is not eye-candy, but it does address some of the perceived faults of the stock unit. It is less aggressive and in a way, more organic. Gee, who would have thought that power noise and whatnot would be such an issue? But yeah that is exactly what noise can sound like… a bit more aggressiveness, more perceived resolution via etch caused by there being more grain that is riding along with the music. Take that away and you actually hear more while hearing less: more music and less fatigue and whatever. Of course I am only speculating here that by going the battery route over 100% USB power is removing or mitigating to some degree noise or whatever that is mucking up the sound in terms of the stock unit having more this or that… or less whatever. Which is not to say that the stock M2Tech is not good, yeah, it is quite amazing for what it is and for what it does, but at $150 obviously trade-offs and compromises had to be made… so as good as it is, going with a $140 upgrade in terms of how the device receives power moves the M2Tech up quite a few meaningful notches on the musical scale. Highly recommended.