Metrum Acoustics ONYX DAC

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1 966,39 €

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With the goal of creating a very affordable, yet superior DAC in mind the designers of Metrum Acoustics have developed a new DAC, the ONYX By Metrum Acoustics.

It was an unprecedented challenge, which was eventually solved by using an entirely new chip, which has been exclusively developed by Metrum Acoustics and was first used in the PAVANE.

Available at your choice with the I2S input instead of the USB one.

The parallel driven R2R ladder networks as used in the four DAC modules performs , especially when combined with our FPGA-driven “forward correction module”, on a higher level. This module splits up the audio samples for each channel into new separate data streams. Each dac cluster processes a portion of the data in the most linear region of the dac chips. The result of this process is an extremely high linearity, right down to -140 dB, which gives the ONYX a realistic 24 bit dynamic range. Due to the dual mono design over the entire frequency range an extremely high channel separation of 120 dB is realized. This contributes to the flawless positioning of instruments.

In short, the ONYX is a DAC that has taken all the lessons and experiences that her designer has learned over the years, and combined them in an ambitious DAC that can fit in every system. It is musical, honors the Non-oversampling principle while simultaneously incorporating the technological progress that has been made over the years.

As a result music will be more exiting as details on very low levels will be audible. The ONYX can meet the best systems today in terms of sound quality as it borrows all the good things from our top models Pavane and Adagio. 

High resolution linearity plot of DAC TWO (please see image "1000 step linearity plot DAC TWO module"). The analyzer is struggling to show us the last bits down to -140 dB. In case more bits are involved the steps are shrinking and more resolution is available. This extreme linearity is realized by our forward correction techniques and improves reproduction of the lowest musical details.

Still people do not realize the size of our dac modules (please see image of the DAC TWO on a credit card). For instance the Transient DAC TWO module has two R2R ladders, an FPGA and the I/V section under the hood. About half the size of a credit card and nothing to add except power and data. How simple can it be :-)

Just a note to discrete R2R ladders and why they cannot work properly (see
resolution table image):

1 no more accuracy than 0,01% so not more than 14 bits precision.
2 Too much temperature differences over the entire pcb leads to linearity problems.
3 Sensitive for pollution and humidity.

Therefore we only use lab grade laser trimmed ladder networks to get perfect
linearity and real 144 dB dynamic range. Next they should be encapsulated to
avoid mutually temperature changes and pollution. This table tells everything
but also tells you that more than 24 bits at the analog side is an Utopia due
to Johnson noise. Do not be fooled!!

How important proper signal routing is in case of mixed disciplines both analog and digital on one pcb. Further proper star ground can avoid any hum. Look at the picture named "New Generation DAC TWO proto dac board": DAC TWO used on a new proto board. An 882 Hz test tone at -90 dB is used but no rests of 50/100Hz is visible.


  • Working principle: balanced Digital to Analog Converter ;24 bits non oversampling; Forward correcting technology; 2x DAC TWO modules per channel
  • MQA module: optional
  • Power: 15 VA toroidal transformers
  • Mains voltage: 110/115V AC 220/230V AC 60/50Hz
  • Input: 1x optical, 1x AES/EBU, 1x coaxial, 1x USB or 1x I2S
  • Output: RCA : 1x stereo pair single ended; 1x stereo pair XLR balanced
  • Frequency response: 1Hz – 20 khz -1dB. 44.1 kHz sampling; 1Hz – 65 kHz -1dB .192 kHz
  • Distortion: 0.006 % THD
  • Noise floor: -145 dB related to 2 Volt RMS
  • Output impedance: RCA 100 Ohm; XLR 100 Ohm
  • Sampling rate: Optical 44.1 – 96 kHz; Coax and AES/EBU 44.1 -192 kHz; USB 44.1 -384 kHz
  • Output Voltage: RCA Max. 2 Volts RMS; XLR Max 4 Volts RMS
  • Dimensions: 290 x 250 x 60 mm
  • Weight: 3.1 kg


Metrum Acoustic at a glance

All Engineering (AE) is a company with a history of innovation in many fields within the world of electronic design. In the audio industry AE is primarily known today for its brand Metrum Acoustics. In the electrostatic speaker field their experience dates back to 1989 and gradually over time broader electronic applications have evolved. 

A diverse range of acoustic system products have been created during this period, always relying on sound electronic design principles. Digital signal processing has played a significant role in more recent developments. 

In hi fidelity audio AE’s attention was initially drawn to the limited availability of certain componentry. Established manufacturers supplying these key components decide how signals should be processed. No alternatives are available and therefore this greatly influences the sound image that is realised.  

Current trends among manufacturers are to use the technique of ‘oversampling’ or ‘upsampling’ within the digital to analogue chipset itself. This forces designers to utilise this method of signal conversion for their own products. It also means that many brand systems use the same building blocks and consequently sound the same. The sound images created by such systems can actually betray the componentry that has been implemented.

These sampling techniques were introduced to fulfil the need ‘to smooth’ the conversion process from digital to analogue and prevent phase distortion. Particularly during the years following the introduction of CD replay, conversion methods proved insufficient with regard to sonic artefacts. In response strong filtering methods were employed and the oversampling technique was born. These techniques however had disadvantages which manifest themselves for example in areas of transient response.

Today there is a growing view that ‘non oversampling’ or NOS for short, offers many benefits but without the compromises mentioned above. AE dedicated considerable time and attention to researching the NOS premise and found its audible benefits valid up to a certain point. 

The question then remained how to remove these sonic artefacts without resorting to oversampling. This question was answered by the first product  made by AE  the NOS mini DAC  Quad, a digital to analogue converter designed and manufactured with modern high speed industrial grade chipsets,  free from most of the disadvantages of the past.  These techniques are improved over time and used over the entire range of products. The most important result is the  sound, which was never so close to the analog origin.

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Metrum Acoustics ONYX DAC

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Ottimo prodotto ma soprattutto grande assistenza e sopraffina ge

Ho acquistato Onix già da un anno e quindi posso affermare di aver acquistato una macchina fantastica dal suono estremamente naturale e analogico. Ma quello che caratterizza Onix è la grande musicalità e la ricchezza di armoniche. Un suono potente, una grande spazialità senza mai dare affaticamento. Ho letto la recensione in cui si parla di problemi con modulo MQA. Anche io ho fatto installare il modulo. A inizio brano c'è un ritardo di un microsecondo. In conseguenza di ciò c'è un uno sfasamento abbastanza sgradevole. Ovvero il brano inizia ma l'audio comincia un attimo dopo. È normale in quanto il circuito del Dac deve decidere in quale canale indirizzare la decodifica. È tutto spiegato da Metrum che si "scusa" per questo inconveniente. Io personalmente trovo MQA esattamente uguale ai fle HI RES di Qobuz. Infatti sono passato a Qobuz perché trovo il catalogo molto più ampio e soddisfacente.

Ma la nota più piacevole è la grande professionalità del Signor Ventura e di tutto lo staff di Playstereo. Per non parlare della disponibilità, della cortesia e della passione che li muove.

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Grande suono ma occhio al modulo Mqa.

È da alcuni mesi che ho acquistato l'onyx e devo dire che suona davvero alla grande soprattutto con l'hi-res. Musicalità ad alti livelli e mai affaticante anche dopo molte ore di ascolto. Ho installato il modulo Mqa e purtroppo sono iniziati i problemi con occasionali interruzioni audio che prima non si verificavano. Non riesco a capire se si tratti di un difetto del modulo ma il difetto infastidisce.
Spero si possa risolvere con un aggiornamento software.
Inoltre manca una spia che confermi la decodifica Mqa.

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Prodotto TOP dall'ottimo rapporto qualità prezzo.

Dopo aver ascoltato il fratello minore e più anziano Musette avevo deciso di prendere il Menuet dopo averlo ascoltato ed aver apprezzato le sue caratteristiche sone mi sono reso conto di alcuni limiti dovuti al fatto che si trattava della generazione precedente così grazie alla gentilezza ed all'ottimo servizio assistenza di Playstereo sono passato all'ultimo nato Onyx. Un grande passo avanti rispetto al predecessore. Più dinamica e più microdettaglio. Ottimo prodotto, da considerare il dac ddefinitivo per molti con un ottimo rapporto qualità prezzo.

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