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Review and Measurements of Massdrop Grace SDAC

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Massdrop Grace Design budget DAC. I reviewed it when it first came out but it was with my old audio analyzer so it was requested I measure it again. As it happens, two members kindly sent the SDAC in at the same time! When available the SDAC costs US $70.

The SDAC as minimalistic as you can get:

Grace Design SDAC Audio Review.jpg
The back panel follows the same theme:
Grace Design SDAC back panel Audio Review.jpg

Micro-USB input and RCA plus 3.5 mm output finish the story. This suits me fine because there is less to test. :D

DAC Audio Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard:
Grace Design SDAC Audio Measurements.png


The output is a healthy 2.2 volt which is nice (nominal is 2 volt). What is not so good is the THD+N and hence SINAD (signal over noise and distortion). At an average of 98 dB, while not broken, is not impressive in this day and age:
Best Audio DACs Reviewed 2019.png


Third-quartile finish is disappointing. The recently reviewed drop balanced SDAC had a SINAD of 102, allowing it to sneak into second quartile.

Intermodulation distortion shows good behavior but with somewhat higher noise level & distortion than one of our best DACs:

Grace Design SDAC IMD Audio Measurements.png


Dynamic range is more than good enough for 16 bit audio playback:
Grace Design SDAC Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


Jitter is very well under control:

Grace Design SDAC Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Frequency response is likewise ruler flat:
Grace Design SDAC Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


32-tone intermodulation test shows good performance:
Grace Design SDAC Multitone Audio Measurements.png


We have about 110 dB of distortion free range.

Linearity is just shy of perfect:
Grace Design SDAC Linearity Audio Measurements.png


THD+N versus frequency shows elevated levels but that is due to a pesky 50 kHz ultrasonic tone which sets the lower limit of THD+N:
Grace Design SDAC THD vs Frequency Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
The Massdrop Grace Design SDAC is competently designed. The target performance though was set rather low by our standards so it is not something that is too exciting. The Topping D10 does a lot better and has a nice display and S/PDIF output to boot. If for some reason you like to buy the SDAC, that would be fine. I just can't put it on my recommended list anymore.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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#2

amirm

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#3
It is definitely better than than the multibit. If you want to stay with Schiit, Modi 3 is very good. If you want to go higher in price, then the new Topping D50s is excellent.
 

AndrovichIV

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#4
I really prefer my SDAC over my Modi Multibit, I'm wondering what a good upgrade would be. I kinda wanna get the SMLS V1 lol
https://drop.com/buy/smsl-vmv-d1-dac
Most likely, you already hit transparency and you won't be able to hear differences WRT the SDAC if you upgrade. From MM to SDAC, that was a huge improvement, going forward anything else will be a much, much smaller improvement
 
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#5
I really prefer my SDAC over my Modi Multibit, I'm wondering what a good upgrade would be. I kinda wanna get the SMLS V1 lol
https://drop.com/buy/smsl-vmv-d1-dac

You save some cash and buy mine used:p, I bought it a year ago, when they were first released. Make me an offer by pm

Amirm, your review output, the last two weeks is just AMAZING!! How in the world do you find time to sleep. This forum is amazing
 

amirm

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#6
Amirm, your review output, the last two weeks is just AMAZING!! How in the world do you find time to sleep. This forum is amazing
It is not by choice. I am getting beat to a pulp to review gear that has been sitting here close to three months. :) The little vacation and summer chores have slowed me down a lot....
 
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#8
You save some cash and buy mine used:p, I bought it a year ago, when they were first released. Make me an offer by pm

Amirm, your review output, the last two weeks is just AMAZING!! How in the world do you find time to sleep. This forum is amazing
Why are you selling it?
 
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#9
It is not by choice. I am getting beat to a pulp to review gear that has been sitting here close to three months. :) The little vacation and summer chores have slowed me down a lot....
As much as I appreciate the near constant flow ox expert analysis, I concur with the others. Don't burn yourself out! We're in this for the long haul!!
 
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#10
Disappointing results. I owned one of these for a short time, but experienced connectivity problems and sent it back. I’m went back to using my SMSL M8, which gets quite warm, and suffers severe screen burn in, but performs flawlessly. I also got a refund on the device through Americanexpress for the full price while getting to keep the unit. Due to some amazon shenanigans, I had received a discount for the initial purchase applied to another order, meaning in the end, I had a functional dac (aside from a burned in screen), and got more money back than I spent on it by a significant amount.
 

trl

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#13
If it's really sickness, than treat yourself for Christmas with an Element X. :cool:

Note: Sorry, couldn't help myself, I'm sick too, but my wife takes care of my money. :confused:
 

Jimster480

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#14
I really prefer my SDAC over my Modi Multibit, I'm wondering what a good upgrade would be. I kinda wanna get the SMLS V1 lol
https://drop.com/buy/smsl-vmv-d1-dac
That isn't surprising considering how bad the performance of the Modi Multibit is.
But there are plenty of other DAC's that will outperform this one.... although the audible difference might be much harder to discern.
 
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