T+A MP 3100 HV SACD player/streaming DAC Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog sources: Thorens TD 124 turntable (reconditioned by Schopper AG) with Thomas Schick 12" tonearm; Ortofon Xpression cartridge; SME 30/12 turntable with V-12 tonearm and Ortofon Windfeld TI cartridge (in for review).
Digital sources: Intel NUC computer with SSD drive running Roon Optimized Core Kit; Synology DS918+ Diskstation 4-bay Network Attached Storage device with 16TB; TP-Link 8-Port Gigabit network switch (unmanaged); PS Audio DirectStream DAC; Mytek Brooklyn DAC+.
Preamplification: Auditorium 23 Standard step-up transformer, Sutherland Engineering Phono Loco phono preamp, Pass Labs XP-22 line preamplifier.
Power amplifiers: Pass Labs XA60.8, darTZeel NHB-108 model 2 (in for review).
Loudspeakers: Magico M2.
Cables: Digital AudioQuest Carbon & Cinnamon & Coffee, Comprehensive Connectivity DXLRP-DXLRJ-6EXF (all USB). Interconnect: Auditorium 23, Clarus Crimson (RCA, XLR). Speaker: Auditorium 23.
Accessories: PS Audio Power Plant P10 power conditioner, Oswalds Mill Audio slate plinth (under turntable), Butcherblock Acoustics RigidRack, Chilton's Durham media console in cherrywood with improvised supports, Auralex ProPanel Fabric-Wrapped Acoustical Absorption Panel (4' × 2' × 2", beveled).—Jim Austin

T+A elektroakustik GmbH & Co.
T+A North America
(207) 251-8129

barrows's picture

With DACs like this T+A unit, which have a totally separate, discrete, conversion scheme for DSD playback, it would be desirable to see a set of measurements for DSD playback. Many audiophiles are using these types of DACs with playback software which allows all file formats to be oversampled to DSD 256 or 512 for playback, because many find that this approach to D/A conversion offers improved sonics over PCM conversion, especially with sophisticated computer based oversampling to DSD allowed by playback software like Roon, and HQPlayer.
I would suggest, that at this point in the development of discrete DSD DACs, not doing and publishing measurements for DSD playback is only telling half of the story, indeed it is not telling much of the story at all for those users whose intent is to only send the DAC DSD data. Please, please consider doing measurements for DSD playback in the future.

MhtLion's picture

I agree 100%.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

In the measurements section, Bezier IIR filter impulse response, Fig.3, looks like short minimum phase filter ...... However JA1's description of this filter sounds like a hybrid type of filter ....... JI preferred this same type of filter when reviewing the T+A DAC8 ...... JA2 also preferred this same short minimum phase filter :-) .......

Ortofan's picture

... aside from being able to play SA-CD discs, what can this device do that a Marantz ND8006, for example, cannot?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It has a choice of 4 different digital reconstruction filters ...... A better comparison would be the new $5,500, Mark Levinson 5101 ....... That ML SACD/CD player/DAC probably also has a choice of 7 different digital reconstruction filters, like the ML 5805 integrated amp/DAC, reviewed by Stereophile :-) ......

Guileshill's picture

Earlier comment withdrawn. Confusion over the product enumeration.

doxycc's picture

There is considerable value in all-in-one units - shelf space, fewer cables (and lower cost), sonic point of view of manufacturer. There are similar downsides - lack of upgradeability depending on architecture (modular upgrades might be available but for how long after introduction of unit). Residual value of brand especially on the digital side (audiogon can give you a sense of the 50-80% discount on 3 year old digital even among the most well known brand). Some non-US brands have stable distribution and dealer networks others change frequently. At this price, good to have a checklist and determine risk/reward as s consideration separate from the sonic qualities.

Long-time listener's picture

With all this incredible engineering, at $21,000 it still can't provide the 21-bit resolution available from the $2000 NAD M51 or the most recent Benchmark DAC. Why not?

dcolak's picture

It costs 800 USD and offers true 21bit resolution.


Bogolu Haranath's picture

Topping D90 is a DAC ....... Yes, its measurements are excellent ......But, it has no SACD/CD player ..... Also, it has no wi-fi access :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW ...... It would be nice to see a Stereophile review of Topping D90 DAC :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stereophile has a $400 Class-A listed DAC ....... So, Stereophile can also review another under $1k, probably another Class-A list-able DAC :-) ........

MhtLion's picture

Would the SACD/CD player worths 26.25 times the price? One thing for sure, the sound quality gap between High End DAC vs Budget DAC had shrunken a quite lot. My personal guess is that whoever replaces their $20k DAC with this $800 DAC won't miss too much.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I'm not justifying the price of this T+A player ....... I was mentioning that, it is not exactly apples to apples comparison between the D90 DAC and this T+A player ....... One could buy a $1,200 Denon CD/SACD player for example ....... The $400 Pro-Ject, Stereophile Class-A rated, DAC/Pre-amp/Headphone amp which I mentioned, is even less expensive than the Topping D90 :-) ......

MhtLion's picture

Agreed 100%. I once tried to purchase T+A DSD 8 DAC. At that time, the only U.S. distributor I could find was an unknown name to me, and they tried to charge a full retail price + shipping + sales tax even though I did not live in the same state. So, I found a European retailer who had a small sale plus VAT saving to sell out of the Eurozone. The final price including shipping was at least 40% less than the U.S. price. But, at the last minute, they realized that they have a contractual agreement not to sell to the U.S. The salesperson said other none Euro countries were fine, but U.S. He also said he sold other brands to U.S. hence sorry for the confusion.

Math is funny. $60/$100 is 40% discount. But, $100/$60 is 66% premium. A 66% premium to buy the exact same product over other markets was a bit too much for me.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

T+A DAC8 was reviewed by Stereophile ....... Stereophile Class-A+, listed ....... That DAC8 has similar DAC and similar 4 digital reconstruction filters as this T+A player ....... DAC8 costs less than $5k :-) ........

barrows's picture

I had the D-90 here for a few weeks, and would suggest, respectfully, that your comments are wrong. While the D-90 is a very, very good DAC, For The Money, it cannot compete with a player such this T+A with its much more developed output stage (I have heard the DAC version of the T+A).
I still would recommend trying the D-90, in your system, to anyone looking for a DAC under around $4K. Especially with DSD 256 playback in "DAC mode".

JRT's picture

JA1's measurements show that the device under review has varied output depending on input selected, and that output well exceeds the 4.0_Vrms output of the Topping D-90. If the devices under comparison are not very closely matched in output level, the device with higher output level is usually at an perceptual advantage in the comparison.

barrows's picture

JRT, if your comment is aimed at me, I am well aware of the need for precise level matched comparisons, especially when compared components close in performance (which many DACs are). I typically level match by measuring output voltage with pink noise signal. I work in audio product development, and have been "professional" in this industry for some 20 years now.
The D-90 is excellent for the money, but DACs with more robust output stages and power supplies of my experience do outperform it.

dcolak's picture

D90 is far above Benchmark DAC3 so I would REALLY love to see your measurements.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Which measurements of D90 are 'far above' Benchmark DAC3? ....... Just curious :-) .......

MhtLion's picture

The fact we are mentioning $700 DAC and $21,000 DAC in the same sentence indicates the market is going through a big change.

There were two groups of engineers. Some were born rich and some had great careers elsewhere. Some had wealthy wives. They liked the music and equipment. So, they worked hard: 2-4 hours a day to bring a product or two every couple years or so. It was hard work, but never that hard. After all, only a few had an engineering background. Many hired the engineers or better yet outsourced 97.56% of everything they ever produced. The very idea, concept, and principle of their innovation were ALL OUTSOURCED. They sold a few, but the extravaganza prices kept their lives comfortable. Perhaps they did not care for money. It was LOVE that drove them hard at audio venues and showrooms, where they spent the majority of the time.

The others were mostly with an engineering background. Some liked the music, some rarely listened to anything at all. They were after the hard profit. For their lack of love, they made up by working their a*s out, 10-15 hours a day to produce $800 DAC with great specs and OK sound. After all, most customers judge the audio equipment with their eyes anyway - by the aesthetic and specs. Their work ethics or the lack of it were mostly copying others without ever paying. Some discerned audiophiles scoffed, calling those cheap knockoffs.

But, an unexpected, rather a comical trend starts to emerge. After years and years of hard work, while the other was hard drinking. First, $3,000 DAC starts to sound as good as $10,000 DAC. Then, $300 DAC starts to sound as good as $3,000 DAC. Finally, $700 DAC sounds not too bad right next to $20,000 DAC.

Ortofan's picture

... TEAC to be "cheap knockoffs"?

The UD-301 and UD-501 cost no more than $600.





Allen Fant's picture

An excellent review- JA2
The musical selections, albeit short, are on point.

Anton's picture

But where did the MQA go?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

MQA sems to be DOA :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Or ..... MQA went into the 'Dead man's Chest' :-) .........