Metrum Acoustic's new baby DAC - the Flint

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by alucart, Jul 31, 2018.

  1. alucart

    alucart Almost "Made"

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    Hi everyone,

    In spite of the Australian Government's new push to tax all online purchases from overseas, I managed to purchase one of Metrum Acoustic's new entry level NOS DAC - the Flint, whose main components are summarised as follows:

    - an in built universal switching supply instead of a toroidal transformer, i.e. no extra power brick,
    - two TRANSIENT DAC-ONE chips (not the newer DAC-TWO chips within Metrum's latest DAC offerings),
    - SPDIF coaxial and optical inputs only (no USB or AES inputs),
    - two single ended RCA outputs,

    Tonight I have taken about an hour to compare the Flint to Metrum's previous top-of-the-line DAC, the Pavane level 1, as well as Soekris' entry level DAC, the DAC1101 (I used to own Metrum's first NOS DAC - the Octave, and will try to recall its sound from memory):

    - all are connected to a DNA Stratus via RCA, and then to Abyss Phi via XLR,
    - PC -> Audiophilleo 2 (USB) -> Flint (coaxial SPDIF) - > Stratus
    - PC -> Lynx AES16 -> Metrum (AES) -> Stratus
    - PC -> DAC1101 (USB) -> Stratus

    (I should also probably add that the Metrum has a balanced power conditioner in its chain, while the Flint is running off the usual mains power)

    [​IMG]

    The Flint is:

    - definitely not a giant killer, but is a step up from its previous entry level DAC (the Octave) in all departments,
    - compared to the DAC1101, both have good neutral tonality, but the Flint has more body (which is welcome in my opinion) in its mids and bass, as well as cleaner edges and transients than the DAC1101 - I wonder if the transients difference is due to the Flint having its own regulated power supply compared to the USB power the DAC1101 is dependent upon,
    - is competitive with the DAC1101 in terms of resolution and tonality, but suffers from the usual NOS treble roll off compared to the oversampling Soekris, which instead has much more extended clearer treble - the Flint's treble is a trifle rougher but much more rolled,
    - soundstage wise, the Flint and Soekris are equivalent, with reasonable width and great instrument separation, but depth is lacking when compared to Pavane,

    Of course, the Pavane is on a whole another level to either two, with a much much blacker background and its characteristic advantages of NOS (larger soundstage, better tonality, body, smoothness) but none of its downsides (Pavane has well extended treble, tight deeper bass). Listening to the Pavane again after the DAC1101 and Flint, I can hear the low level detail I missed, such as reverberations within the recording room. The Pavane has a better power supply, and eight of the DAC chips plus its proprietary "forward correcting" module - the Flint lacks this, in this sense it is more of a cut down Musette.

    So do I have buyer's regret? Would I recommend it to anyone?

    The Flint is 660 AUD at RRP, the DAC1101 goes for a discounted price of 400 Euro at the moment (roughtly the same at 640 AUD) while the Pavane goes for an eye-bulging 8000 AUD (or rather, it used to - the retailer who used to stock it no longer does so).

    I bought the Flint to use as my transportable rig (e.g. with STAX L300 and SRM-252S) at work, so size-wise it is convenient, being the size of a sandwich, but the need for an additional power cable compared to the DAC1101 is a downside.

    I would recommend the Flint to anyone on a budget who wanted a taste of the Metrum house NOS sound (good tonality and mid/bass body with smoother treble than Sabre DS DACs), and would recommend it over the DAC1101 to those who like a bit more body than neutral in their sound (or the newer DAC1341 if you don't need the thoroughly average to below average headphone out), though my advice should be prefaced by the fact that I haven't tried the cheaper Schiit oversampling R2R DACs, such as the Modi Multibit.

    PS: The Flint is solidly built from aluminum, but the non-anodized and rough sides feel cheap and rushed, especially when it comes with stains >_<

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    @Hands any chance you're getting your earballs on this too? I'd like your opinion compared to the old Musette...

    Thanks for the impressions @alucart
     
  3. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I'd like to check it out. Don't have funds to get one myself but can see if I can't arrange something with someone one way or another.
     
  4. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    An additional Flint impression to back up alucart's. Of course, I am a Rando, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

    I am comparing the Flint to the Gungnir Multibit. Both DACs were evaluated from the same source, a RPi with Michael Kelly's excellent SPDIF hat and a BlueJeans digital cable feeding the RCA input of each DAC. All source material is 16/44 Redbook material sent to the RPi via wireless. My impressions are based on a DIY speaker rig.

    I found the Flint to be very open sounding with a slightly warm mid-range and a slightly rolled off treble. In contrast, the Gungnir Multibit has more detail, blacker backgrounds, and a neutral, even slightly cool presentation.

    The Flint has equal soundstage width to the Gungnir Multibit, but the image appears larger or closer. There was more separation between instruments and voices in the Flint and instruments seemed to have more audible harmonics giving them presence. Of course, these impressions depend a lot on my systems sound characteristics so YRMV.

    The Flint may be hiding some detail and treble behind a veil, but it is very easy to listen to. While I don't think the Flint is better than the Gungnir Multibit, I was impressed how good it was for the price. I look forward to someone comparing the Flint and the Airist RDAC, maybe even the Modi MB.
     
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  5. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Gumby1 or GumBy2?
     
  6. pedalhead

    pedalhead Friend

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    Posting a few rough listening notes I made last month before my hols fwiw. Flint on the desk with LH Labs Pulse Infinity and Soekris 1421...

    Flint (compared to Pulse) - voices more natural, definitely the strong point. Less air. Can sound slightly congested (I think due to less air). Bit more mid & sub bass (Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase "modul 36" bass line). Narrower stage.
    Pulse staging is wider than both Flint and dac1421.

    It's quite jarring switching to Pulse after listening to Flint for even a minute or two. Pulse sounds artificial in comparison to both dacs.

    -- Flint & 1421 Butterworth soft filter sound quite similar, although if anything the Butterworth filter sounds more NOS than the Flint. Becomes less wide, less airy.
    -- 1421 red filter introduces a touch of sharpness that sits between Flint & Pulse.

    ...and then I had to catch a plane :). I still have the Flint here so if I have some time I'll play a bit more.
     
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  7. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    Sorry, I should have specified, Gumby1. My understanding is that the only difference between Gumby1 and Gumby2 is the Gen 5 USB. My comparison uses only the RCA SPDIF input so that its the same as the Flint input.
     
  8. jpoyarzun

    jpoyarzun Acquaintance

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    I'm mad with Metrum, they stated that they would use same components than amethyst (they used dac one chips instead of dac two, like the amethyst). I preordered it to them based on that lie, it does sound good but I hate to do business with liars.

    It sounds very similar to the musette.
     
  9. gepardcv

    gepardcv Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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  10. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    I had the same expectation, but I don't recall Metrum ever stating the Flint would have the DAC2. I think that I just expected it to be an Amethyst without headphone amp and USB because it seemed logical and because of forum speculation. Did I miss something? Did Metrum claim DAC2 modules for the Flint?

    I guess that leaves room for yet another Metrum DAC, a little bigger Flint with DAC2 and, maybe, a power supply upgrade. They could call it the Flintethyst.

    Anyway, I am not upset with Metrum using the DAC1 modules in the Flint because I like the sound and it was a good introduction to the Metrum sound for a good price.

    As for the size, it is 120 mm x120 mm by 40 mm high including the feet by my measurements. Or 4.7" x 4.7" x 1.6" for us Colonials.
     
  11. Roman

    Roman Almost "Made"

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    I do remember I read somewhere that Flint was indeed supposed to be Amethyst without amp and USB and when I was buying it I was under that impression. And then later I figured out that Flint has DAC1 modules and Amethyst has DAC2. So I sold my Flint as a result. Not that I didn't like the sound, rather I was not really impressed with it.

    It is definitely my fault to rely on rumors instead of reading specs carefully.
     
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  12. jpoyarzun

    jpoyarzun Acquaintance

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    It wasnt rumors, they stated that on their facebook page, and even i have a mail from metrum claiming this. I'm really mad.
     
  13. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    That explains why I never saw it, I'm not on FB.

    It sounds like you guys have a lot more experience with other Metrum DACs. For me, the Flint was just a starter drug, good enough for my office system, but giving me a taste for a better Metrum DAC in the future.
     
  14. jpoyarzun

    jpoyarzun Acquaintance

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    I bought metrum before, they make great sounding dacs. They also lied about a product. Now i tried to reach them (politely) and they didnt answered a mail or a chat when i asked them about this. Super bad sign... It seems that this was my last metrum dac.
     
  15. Meh

    Meh Friend

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    This is from an email today:
    "When we released the FLINT baby dac a couple of months ago we did not know what was coming at us, but by now it is pretty obvious to us that the FLINT is here to stay! Better said, we also have agreed on offering an upgraded chip set which soon can be ordered seperately. If interested, you know where to find us."

    I don't know if this refers to a DACTWO chip set but I imagine it does?
     
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  16. jpoyarzun

    jpoyarzun Acquaintance

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    I sold the metrum flint. Underwhelming sound (imho) and in the first statements they told that the guts were the same as in the amethyst and that was a total lie (they used different dac chips)... After a few intents to contact to clarify this... without any response, i sold it to a friend. I don't care to have products of brands that pull this kind of BS.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
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  17. data.noodle

    data.noodle Acquaintance

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    I'm also very surprised to see this has the v1 transient chips..., the difference between the v1 and v2 chips is not small. I'm a long time metrum fan (and own the musette, aurix, amethyst and onyx) and can't help but to be disappointed.

    * edit * My flint has yet to be delivered, but I have a lot of experience with the musette vs the amethyst and am basing my opinion on that difference. I checked the emails and FB posts (that I have access to, since I don't have an FB account I can only view a portion of their account), and it seems that they only mentioned that it would have the same sound as their other dacs. Another confusing aspect is that the v1 and v2 chips look identical from the outside, so it's likely that many of us made assumptions based on the prototype photo they shared.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018
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  18. jpoyarzun

    jpoyarzun Acquaintance

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    This was the mail that i recieved when i asked about this... if you feel that this is not clear enough ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    ------
    Anjo De Heus <[email protected]>
    Sun, Apr 15, 11:39 PM
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    to me
    [​IMG]

    Juan,

    the quality of sound will be equal to the Amethyst, no compromises there. We have literally stripped the Amethyst from the headphone amp and limited the inputs. Other than that, you will be pleased to see a worthy and living up to the Metrum brand DAC.

    Kindest Regards

    Anjo De Heus
     
  19. data.noodle

    data.noodle Acquaintance

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    I never contacted metrum about the dac chips they planned to use directly, so I was merely going off of public information. This email response is inline what many of us assumed by the public descriptions of the dac, thanks for sharing this.
     
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  20. jpoyarzun

    jpoyarzun Acquaintance

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