No announcement yet.

Musical Fidelity V-Dac vs RME 9632 Soundcard Comparison

This topic is closed.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Musical Fidelity V-Dac vs RME 9632 Soundcard Comparison

    Test Setup:
    Speakers: B&W Nautilus 805
    Integrated Amp: McIntosh MA6800
    Source 1: HTPC w/ RME Hammerfall 9632 Soundcard
    Source 2: HTPC w/ Musical Fidelity V-Dac (via USB)
    Source 3: Marantz DV6001 DVD player w/ MF V-Dac (via digital coax)

    * All sources switched by matrix switch to prevent less than a second of a gap in the music
    ** All CDs played on DV6001 were compared against the CD ripped to FLAC on the HTPC
    *** CD and FLAC files were time-matched.

    A few months ago, I had the oppurtunity to home audition a McIntosh MA7000 matched with an Esoteric CD player with my B&W 805's. After this audition, I went out an bought a used McIntosh MA6800 integrated amp to get use to the McIntosh before shelling out money for a MC205. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of listening to the Mac/Esoteric combo without ever testing out my own sources. After purchasing the MA6800, I had to learn the hard way and discovered that all my sources are my biggest bottlenecks. This lead me to start looking at upgrading my source.

    The Candidates:
    So after some research, I came down to the RME and Lynx soundcard being two of the top top-notch soundcards. Some said the RME wasn't far off from the Lynx at half the price. Then, I heard from those that oppose soundcards, stating that an external DAC will always be superior to internal soundcards because of a PC internal components. So I bought a RME Hammerfall 9632 soundcard. I also bought a Musical Fidelity V-Dac. Why MF's V-Dac? Because a few professional reviews (magazines) state that this little $300 DAC can best so many above its price stating the V-DAC is the new reference. So I gave them both a try.

    I had planned to write out an in-depth comparison between the two so that future buyers can be as well informed as possible. I wanted to mention every detail in bass, mids, highs, clarity, etc. But the fact is that there was no comparison. The RME soundcard was just superior in every way. It wasn't that the MF V-Dac sounded bad, but it sounded almost identical to the sound coming out of my Marantz DV6001 DVD player. So I will just try to wrap up a summary about both cards.

    Musical Fidelity V-Dac:
    I tried to give this DAC a fair chance. I tried several configurations with MF's V-Dac. Marantz DV6001 vs DV6001+V-Dac via digital coax. Then DV6001 vs DV6001+V-Dac via optical. DV6001 vs HTPC+V-Dac via USB. The difference was so marginal. I had to listen VERY carefully to hear any difference. And if one has to listen that carefully to notice the difference, it's not even worth it. As I found out before, if I send a digital source to a Marantz SR7002 AV receiver, it sounds the same as the Marantz DV6001's analog output sounds. The Musical Fidelity V-Dac pretty much falls in the same category. The receiver, the DVD player, and the DAC all sound identical. So I will say that if you already have a good AV receiver, it's not worth buying the Musical Fidelity V-Dac.

    RME Hammerfall 9632:
    The RME really made a very big impression to me. The difference between the RME and everything else I threw at it was definition, clarity, and soundstage. I could pop in a CD, play it on the DV6001, and think to myself "this sounds good". I switch over to the song playing on the HTPC, and it was like a veil was removed. Voices and instrument seemed confined to a limited space or "bandwidth" on the V-Dac compared to the 9632. Bass and tremble also seemed a bit over-emphasized on the V-Dac (..and the DV6001 DVD player... and the SR7002 AV receiver's digital input). The soundstage also stood out too. I switch back to the V-Dac, and the music sounded a bit 2D compared to the music that I heard with the RME. The V-Dac's soundstage was bad at all. It's just that the RME soundstage seemed so real.

    The RME is also crucial in revealing every single detail. It is not an analyical sound. It was very neutral sounding, but it brought out every single detail. There was a comment I read somewhere that someone said the card will reveal so much detail, that one could hear the kind of studio the music was recorded in. Yeah... I would agree. Not in an exaggerated way, but you could hear the if the the singer was in a booth, or an open room, etc. It's not literal, but still very impressive. As you could tell, I'm very happy with this soundcard and will be keeping it for my HTPC.

    The RME 9632 is the clear winner. I paid $300 for the V-Dac. $500 for the RME. The RME is worth WELL over the $200 difference. Are there better DACs out there? Sure, no doubt. As previously stated, I gave this DAC a chance because of professional reviewers stating this was a killer deal. That combined with comments that DACs are superior to soundcards... I wanted to try both and see what works best for me.

    For me, the RME 9632 soundcard is worth the money. On top of the sound quality, the card is really something. You can pretty much do anything you can think of for music and recording. Configure it to bi-amp properly, you could hook up my turntable and have it go straight to output in case you have no phono connection on your pre-amp/receiver, have music files play to one output and input signals (like the turntable) play to another output, and more. The headphone out from the soundcard also sounds really transparent and has adjustable power output. Something I'm sure the head-fi guys would love. This is just a really nice soundcard. Maybe more expensive than one would consider for a soundcard, but if you really want to give your HTPC a big boast, I highly recommend the RME Hammerfall 9632 soundcard. :T
    B&W 804S/Velodyne SPL-1000R/Anthem MRX720
Searching...Please wait.
An unexpected error was returned: 'Your submission could not be processed because you have logged in since the previous page was loaded.

Please push the back button and reload the previous window.'
An unexpected error was returned: 'Your submission could not be processed because the token has expired.

Please push the back button and reload the previous window.'
An internal error has occurred and the module cannot be displayed.
There are no results that meet this criteria.
Search Result for "|||"