Review: Muse PD1+ awesome amp/DAC
Muse PD1+ Review:
I would like to thank Mingo Headphones in Hong Kong for sending me this sample for review, I will write as honest a review possible. This has had over 50hrs burn-in but I do not believe in burn in for amps/DAC and I noted no change in sound.
Dell laptop > PD1+ > Sunrise Audio Dragon2
USB Stream controller Tenor TE7022L
Wolfson WM8740 DAC Chips
Power-amp TI TP152
16bit 44.1kHz to 24bit 96kHz
Line in, Headphone out, Line out, S/P DIF out and Mini-USB in.
Charge time: 5hrs, play time when fully charged: 22hrs
MSRP: around $220
Packaging, build quality and accessories:
Packaging is a really nice black box with all the information about the DAC and amp neatly laid out on the sides, with all the necessary info about the unit and a real size pictures of the PD1+ on the bottom of the box. The packaging is very good for a small company and looks very professional. It is a 2 part box, as the inner part slides out from the top part, the PD1+ is very neatly held in place by foam, well protected, with a small compartment below holding the accessories.
Build quality is fairly solid being all aluminium, but when I shake the unit I feel someting a little loose, after inspection it is the battery so the battery could be better held down on the board. But apart from that, the jacks are high quality, the volume pot is very smooth to operate and everything is well put together. I did find 1 or 2 blemishes on the finish of the paint and endplates, but nothing too serious and overall the unit is very well put together.
The only accessory included is a USB cable, I would like to have seen at least a mini-mini interconnect and maybe some amp straps along with a carry pouch, so I won’t rate the accessories high as virtually nothing is included. You do get a manual which has all the specifications of the DAC chips, USB controller, pre amp and power amp chips which is good.
Ease of use:
This unit installs all drivers instantly and no setting up is required, there are 2 lights on the front, one that shows power is on/charging (green full/orange charging) and a white light which tells you that the DAC is in use. There is nothing to using this, plug it in and turn the volume knob which is also the power switch and you have sound.
There is channel imbalance under about 9 O’clock on the volume pot, but the gain is low enough that even when used with fairly sensitive IEM’s and such it isn’t a problem. I find it has enough power for most headphones, but it will struggle with harder to drive headphones, no clipping was detected even on full volume with my Dragon2 ear buds (quite hard to drive, 120Ω)
There is no bass boost or gain switch, it is a simple amp/DAC which just works perfectly, no frills, line out is a good extra and S/P DIF is handy for some, unfortunately I have nothing to use with S/P DIF so I couldn’t check that functionality, I find it to be just a great portable amp/DAC.
I mainly used this as a amp/DAC unit hooked up to my laptop playing lossless files, I did a/b test the amp section with my reference amp the O2.
Used as the amp/DAC combo you get very honest sound, let me start off by saying that comparing the amp section to the O2 the differences were so subtle that I had a hard time finding any. The slight differences that I did notice were the O2 has a tiny bit wider soundstage and the PD1+ has slightly more bass presence but these differences are really small.
A transparent portable DAC/amp, the sound is very open and detailed, lows are tight and well articulated and do not make this warm sounding, mids and highs are very airy and honestly presented.
I will say this pairs better with the Dragon2 than the O2 as the slightly better bass on this really makes these sound brilliant. The O2’s lows are softer and not as articulated. Since having this, it has had more use than my O2, and I got rid of my ODAC as I find this is excellent and I can use it as a DAC to hook up to the O2 if I need to, the PD1+ doesn’t have the power that the O2 has, but this is a lot smaller than the O2.
I really don’t know what else to say, I really didn’t think the sound would be on such a level that it competed with the O2, but it really does. It may not have the power, but for a small portable device that you can take anywhere, use it as a portable amp then DAC when you use your computer, it is a great device to have, and when on the go you won’t need the extra power of the O2 as I doubt people take their Beyer T1/LCD3/HD800 out and about with them.
Conclusion: A big win here for Muse, great form factor, easy to use and great sound all in one small package. A very versatile device that serves its purpose very well, the sound is transparent, very open and airy with great detail and instrument separation. Nothing about the device or the sound quality stands out, no frills, it does what it was made to do and that’s what’s great about it, it just works and does what it was made to brilliantly.
This is a very positive review, I know, but that is my honest opinion. I was taken by surprise by this little thing, and highly recommend it. Comments are welcome, I have had previously the Fiio E17 and Hippo CriCri+, and hope to get the Sunrise Audio Ray to compare this to.
Whole album > Deolinda – Ao Vivo No Coliseu dos Recreios (ALAC)
Silverstein – Discovering the Waterfront (320kbps)
+ many more when just out and about.