Massdrop X Grace Design Standard DAC (SDAC)

If you are in the market for a competent DAC that doesn’t break the bank, buy this now! It’s only $99. Yes, this is what Massdrop does to you.

Grace SDAC

My friend Christian sent to this me to check out. I actually have ZERO idea what’s in it. I didn’t read the attachments, manuals, specs, or other stuff. All of you guys know that I don’t care for marketing, ancillary materials, or packaging. I just go straight to the sound (and out of curiosity, see how stuff measures). All I know is the obvious: that Grace Designs collaborated with Massdrop on the SDAC. BTW, I’ve had the opporunity to speak with Michael Grace at Grace Designs in the past. Not only is he a stand up guy, but a true engineer that cares about his gear measuring well!

I hate to bring Schiit into this, but I am bound to because they are the only other company that makes a competent DAC for $99, the Schiit Modi 2. Well how do they compare? TBH I really can’t tell much of a difference, but after repeated listenings, I’d dare say that I slightly prefer the SDAC. The SDAC has a little bit more sweetness to the sound. But otherwise are they are so close. Overall slightly warm with gentle treble (better than anything Sabre). I’d wager that the SDAC probably uses one of those “velvet” AKM chips, the like one the Modi 2. Like the Modi 2 standard, the SDAC does not require an external power adapter. Just USB is required.

As far as ODAC, screw it. Why buy a DAC “designed” by some dude (nwavguy) who didn’t design it but had to outsource it. nwavguy was always a master bullshitter. And bullshitters are worse than liars, because you can catch liars. Bullshitters blur the lines. Here is why nwavguy was such a bullshitter:

  1. Junior engineer (professing to be something more). The board layout of the O2 reflects this. Also, good engineers also expect the unexpected. nwavguy didn’t by making certain assumptions and ended up making a dumb-ass decision no good enginner would have made by puting the volume pot after the gain stage with such low voltage rails. Also, his super engineering skills weren’t enough to design a DAC by himself. As far I am concerned, he was just a dude with semi-pricey measurement gear, mediocre brains, and zero creativity.
  2. Employed varying standards. nwavguy crapped on AMB’s Mini3 portable amp and proclaimed his O2 amp was better with more power. The thing he neglected to say was the O2 had a larger footprint than the Mini3 for a larger higher voltage battery. nwavguy cheated. He also went out of his way to rile up his “objectivist” followers that blind tests were necessary. Only that when nwaguy claimed he O2 sounded the same as the Benchmark DAC1 in a blind test, he wasn’t required to show any evidence or offer details. We were just supposed to take his word for it.
  3. Coward. To this day, no one knows who he is.

Anyway, enough of this. Just don’t support bullshitters and make the world a better place.

I will do some measurements of the SDAC tonight, time permitting. For those who do not believe I can tell the difference between two good measuring DACs, read the entire thread here:¬† Don’t even say anything about blind tests unless you have tried to conduct one yourself. Armchair quarterbacks suck.

In closing, looks like Schiit finally has some competition.


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