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Review and Measurements of Musical Fidelity V90 DAC

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements and comparison of Musical Fidelity V90-DAC against Topping D50. The unit is on kind loan from a member who has been patiently waiting for its review. :) The V90-DAC retails for $300 from what I can tell (it is sold through a dealer channel) so a bit more expensive than Topping at $250.

The V90-DAC is quite attractive and has a high-end feel to it despite the diminutive case:

Musical Fidelity V-90 DAC Review and Measurement.psd.jpg


There is a certain elegance to it that you don't normally find in this price category. Compared to it, the Topping looks decidedly industrial.

It comes with a nice little switching power supply no bigger than a USB phone charger.

From format support point of view, the V90-DAC trails the D50 by only supporting PCM up to 192 kHz and no DSD. The Topping goes up to 768 kHz and DSD512. And while the Topping has a volume control, the V90 has none.

Let's get into measurements and see how they do.

Measurements
Let's start with our Dashboard:
Musical Fidelity V-90 DAC Dashboard Measurement.png


We see a healthy 2.2 volt output which is 10% more than the nominal 2 volts I look for. So there should be no problem driving any pre-amp after it.

Clock accuracy is a bit off at 1.00006 kHz or 60 parts per million. Not an audible concern but something to note.

THD+N and hence SINAD is pretty variable between channels. Like to see those closer. Still, both are in very respectable range. I averaged the SINAD for the two channels and this is where it fits:

Audio DAC Sinad Comparions.png


It lands where it belongs: below state-of-the-art tier but solidly above the low tier on the right.

Looking at intermodulation distortion we get this:
Musical Fidelity V-90 DAC IMD Measurement.png


There is higher noise and distortion levels until we get to mid-level where the Topping suffers. But then it loses at the highest levels. So a mixed picture and a draw.

A draw is also what we get for THD versus frequency:

Musical Fidelity V-90 DAC THD+N compared to TOpping D50 Measurement.png


For some reason, one channel in the D50 decided to have more distortion than it normally has. To that end, those two channels are the same but the other beats the V90-DAC. Still, the difference is not something to worry about.

Another even match is jitter and noise:
Musical Fidelity V-90 DAC FFT compared to TOpping D50 Measurement.png


Both have a few spikes especially due to USB packet traffic on multiples of 1 kHz which state-of-the-art DACs don't have. Levels though are at -120 dB so absolutely inaudible.

Finally, everyone's favorite measurement, linearity:

Musical Fidelity V-90 DAC Linearity Measurement.png


Here, we see some variability in the output of V90-DAC that Topping does not have. I like to see less than 0.5 dB at -120 dB level and the V90-DAC exceeds that a bit. So a nod goes to Topping D50.

Conclusions
The Musical Fidelity V90-DAC is a beautifully executed small DAC. It exudes a feel of luxury that doesn't exist in products in this category/price. Design is competent with no glaring faults. All in all, I say it is a hair worse than Topping D50 but we are literally splitting hairs here.

So ultimately this comes down to the usefulness of more formats in Topping D50 and its lower price, versus the more elegant look of the Musical Fidelity V90-DAC. You pick. :)

-------------

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

If you like this review, please consider donating funds for these types of hardware purchases using Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/audiosciencereview), or upgrading your membership here though Paypal (https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...eview-and-measurements.2164/page-3#post-59054).
 

yummy

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#2
I feel numb after so many years seeing measurements of DACs (power amps' are much funnier, plus transducer performances), does topping release their dual es9038pro or not? might be the only new DA that excites me a little
 

Ron Texas

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#4
I believe the V90 is a bit dated as it only offers inputs up to 96k on USB. It is a favorite at Stereophile. Conversion uses a Burr Brown 1795, a change from the usual ESS.
 
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mindbomb

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#5
Another great review!

In the spdif vs usb thread, the musical fidelity vdac II was one of the few that maintained low jitter on both inputs. I was wondering if that is true for both the v90 and the d50.
 
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flipflop

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#11
Is the APx555 incapable of measuring the frequency response or do you just don't think it's important?
 

restorer-john

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#12
Frequency response measurement for the APx555 is trivial. Amir presents those plots regularly, so much so that they only really bear comment or attention if there is an issue.
 
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#13

amirm

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#14
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#15
I did pick. I sold my Modi Multibit and bought one of these. I am skeptical about the support of the Chinese brands. What you also get with the V90-DAC if you buy it in the US is a 7 year warranty. And it sounds very good. I just got it fired up and started listening and I didn't want to stop. That's the acid test, It as being fed by a RPi running JRiver MC and then into a Schiit Saga preamp controlling an NAD C275BEE power amp driving a a pair of PSB Imagine T2's
 
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#17
FYI Ken Rockwell is almost universally reviled in the shutterbug community as a self appointed camera expert. I don't know why or when he decided to branch out into audio. I find is camera reviews informative but I take them with a grain of salt. If you read enough of them you will realize that there isn't enough time in a day or money in his bank account for him to have owned and extensively used as many cameras and lenses he says he has. I think he gets loaners from camera and lens companies and won't say so.

Short tone bursts are used to test speaker response to attempt to eliminate room effects in the absence of an anechoic chamber for testing. You give a short burst and then gate the microphone input to only capture the direct speaker output and cut off before the room echos arrive. This or something similar is the only way to get the speaker response unless you are in an echo free room.
 
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