M2Tech Young DSD DAC

Device Type: Digital to Analog Converter/Digital Preamplifier
Input: AES/EBU, 2x S/PDIF (1x Coax, 1x BNC), Toslink, Async USB 2.0
Output: 2x balanced XLR (XLR to RCA adapters included)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 200 x 50 x 200mm
Weight: 1.7kg
Availability: through Authorized Dealers
Price: $1,695.00
Website: www.m2tech.biz

The New Young DSD DAC
The original M2Tech Young DAC was very favorably reviewed by Jon Iverson in Stereophile (see review), "The M2Tech combo's performance had seduced me—where I usually return to the Benchmark once I've done my critical listening to any DAC I'm reviewing, this time I left the Young and Palmer in the system until the morning I had to ship them out. I didn't want to let them go." The Young DSD version adds a number of features to the original including a digital preamplifier with analog volume control, adjustable output level, true balanced output, USB 2.0 compatibility so no drivers are required for Mac users, and of course the ability to play back both 64x and 128x DSD, the latter available via USB.

The DAC inside is based on the Burr-Brown PCM1795, which can also be found in the Teac UD-501 (see review). M2Tech opts to bypass the Burr Brown's internal filter and instead implements their own minimum phase upsampling filter in a Xilinx Spartan FPGA. The digitally-controlled analog volume increments in 0.5dB steps from 0dB to -96dB and you can adjust the output voltage (5Vrms balanced/2.5Vrms single-ended, 10Vrms balanced/5Vrms single-ended) to better match your accompanying amplification. I mainly used the Young's XLR outputs into my Pass INT-30A but M2Tech also provides XLR-RCA adapters for those so inclined.

Inputs include AES/EBU, S/PDIF, and Toslink but if you want to play back 32/384, DXD, and 128x DSD you have to go USB. There's an included wall-wart power adapter. There are a number of additional controls that can be set using the front panel's volume/control knob including balance, phase, source selection, volume mode (displayed in decibels or steps), display brightness, and for checking firmware revision. Firmware updates are handled via USB. There's also a small on/off/mute button and a multifunction LCD display on the front panel. During playback, the display shows the volume level, input mode, and the sample rate of the music file in play.

M2Tech also includes an HID-compatible remote which allows you to perform all of the functions available from the front panel controls while adding basic playback commands when using the USB input including play/pause, next/previous track. I find the Young DSD's aluminum wrapped looks understated and attractive and its small form factor makes it a candidate for desktop use. I used the Young DSD with my MacBook Pro running Pure Music and Audirvana connected with the Light Harmonic LightSpeed USB cable. Audirvana automatically detects and sets playback for DSD, while Pure Music requires a few simple steps. Windows users need to download and install the M2Tech drivers and also configure their media player software for DSD playback. M2Tech provides setup instructions for Foobar2000 and JRiver in the included and very thorough manual.

Forgiving Without Foregoing
The M2Tech Young DSD DAC is one of those DACs I can see people saying sounds analog. It is not overly concerned with micro-detail and resolution and instead presents a warm, airy, and organic sound image. There's also a very nice amount of tone color and texture, giving instruments a healthy helping of their distinct voice, enlivening reproduced music with emotional weight. The sound picture is also wide and relatively deep with plenty of room for everyone to spread out, recording allowing, within your room. I played all manner of PCM resolutions including DXD as well as DSD (64x and 128x) and the Young DSD DAC handled them all equally well. Because of its overall character, the Young DSD DAC also made harsher recordings more listenable, whereas more resolute and lit up DACs can make for more uncomfortable sonic moments.

I compared the Young DSD DAC to the Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC (see review) since it offers much of the same functionality while coming in at the same price. This made for an instructive exercise since these two DACs offer up different views into your music. The Mytek is more concerned with detail and resolution making the Young sound softer in comparison, more forgiving. I'd give the upper hand to the Mytek in terms of bass weight and clarity where the Young's sounded a bit looser and less well defined. I'd also say the Mytek sounds a bit richer overall while adding a touch more sparkle to the top end whereas the Young has a pleasant if somewhat soft top end akin to some of the NOS DACs I've heard.

Overall I would not call one DAC better than the other, I'm sure other people would, rather they offer differing presentations that each have their pluses and minuses. System synergy and personal preference will determine which is best for the buyer. If you generally find digital reproduction to be harsh and unnaturally edgy, the Young DAC may be the choice for you. If, on the other hand, you're looking for a DAC that can dig relatively deeply into detail while keeping a firm grip on the entire sonic picture, the Mytek may be more to your liking.

I found the Young's volume control to offer no noticeable sonic penalty so those people looking to do without a preamp can consider the Young a good candidate. I did find that adjusting the volume from the front panel knob to be tad clumsy due to its recessed stance relative to the aluminum outer shell and relatively tight quarters. Using the included remote solved this minor issue and I generally found the Young DSD DAC a pleasure to use and to look at. Again, its small size, roughly 8" square and 2" high, makes it suitable for desktop use or for people with limited space. The Young DAC ran cool to the touch even after being left powered on for days on end.

An Easy Choice
Delivering PCM resolutions up to 32/384, DXD, 64x and 128x DSD, while acting as a digital preamp, the Young DSD DAC is a very capable package. I found its sound to be at once forgiving without sounding overly dark offering up a rich and rewarding sonic palette. The Young DSD DAC is like a comfy sofa of sound, inviting you in to stay as long as you'd like and play whatever music suits your mood. I count these qualities as being among the all-good variety.



Associated Equipment

Also on hand and in use during the Young DSD DAC review: Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC

COMMENTS
beaur's picture

Do the M2Tech drivers for Mac work with the Mavericks OS?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
The Young DSD is USB 2.0 compliant.
HOLBERG's picture

Nice review. I own the Young DSD and using Audirvana 1.5.12

You write that You have automatic detection of DSD in Audirvana. I don't.... I have to use the settings "DSD over PCM standard 1.0". Bit puzzled that You are having automatic detection as I don´t?

arunmozhi's picture

I am a big fan of Mytek, and i had my reservations about M2Tech's Young DSD - but my man or man - i find the Young such a superb dac in every aspect - the catch here is the Young almost always must be had with its optional power supply the Van De Graff which i think (the young+vdf) combo defeats the Mytek Stereo 192 hands down in terms of control,timbre and resolution - its like its almost a different machine without the power supply, for those concerned with their budget i'd still recommend the Mytek which is a decent buy and a keeper at that price - for now i am retaining both the DACS - I slightly prefer the Young DSD a little more because of its fantastic pairing with my tube amp (with 10db gain - without any distortion) ; perhaps i'll only sell my Mytek for its new up and coming Manhattan for my Main Rig which cost 4x more...well done M2Tech!!!

cristiannasia's picture

hi Michael, thanks for your reports. I'm actually hesitating between these 2 dac and would like to have your opinion on which to pick, considering that i have an AYRE AX7 and Apertura Armonia speakers. it seems that mytek is more neutral and detailed, while Young is more soft / forgiving.

I love space 3d and details so i was thinking to favor the mytek. what do you think?
Thanks you for taking the time!
best,

Cristiano

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I agree with your assessment - the Mytek sounds like a good choice for your preferences.

Cheers.

Hatisse's picture

I'm a beginner in this area and I was wondering, since I happen to have one at home, if this DAC could be used as an audio interface connecting midi controlled etc. to my computer?

evan's picture

how would m2tech's young sound in relation to teac 501?
Both have Burr-Brown PCM1795, so in what way would they sound different?

did you have the chance to hear both of them with focal solo 6be or with the adams A3's? what were the differences?
thabnk you