Thank you so much for your thorough review of the Meitner MA3 DAC on SoundStage! Ultra.
I also currently have the PS Audio DirectStream DAC and Bridge II with the Sunlight firmware, and I enjoy it very much. However, it’s now EOL, and PSA is not going to support network streaming and MQA in its next DAC, so I am in the early stages of looking at options.
After I read your review, I put the Meitner on my list. Could you add any additional commentary on how the MA3 sonically compares to your DirectStream? Would you be happy upgrading to the MA3 permanently?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a dealer nearby to demo the Meitner. For what it’s worth, the other gear in my system includes a pair of Focal Sopra No2s, Bryston BP-17³ preamp, and a Bryston 4B³ amp, along with High Fidelity Cables Reveal balanced interconnects and speaker cables.
Thanks so much for your thoughts.
Thank you for your email. I think I covered the ergonomic advantages the MA3 has to offer pretty well in my review, but in terms of sound, the primary advantage the MA3 has over the PSA is body: music consistently sounded fuller, richer, and a hint warmer than with the PSA, but without lacking any detail. The MA3 isn’t what I would call a “holographic” sounding DAC—it’s just the opposite, really—yet it does very well with casting expansive soundstages and fleshing out images accurately on stage. I mentioned this in the review, but the MA3 is a far superior-sounding player when used as a digital preamp-DAC. Changes in sound quality when using the MA3 as a preamp as well as a DAC were minimal at best, but when I used the PSA in the same way, the sound quality was noticeably poorer across the board, especially at lower volumes. I found that the PSA sounded thin and vapid by comparison.
Would I be happy upgrading to the MA3? Absolutely. In fact, I still have the review sample here on long-term loan, as I was considering buying it as my new reference. In the end, I decided I wanted something that could play SACDs, so I went in a different direction. But I honestly could not recommend the MA3 more, particularly with your setup. I think the slight warmth and body inherent in the MA3 will complement your Bryston amp very well, and having recently reviewed the Focal Scala Utopia Evo, which shares some of its driver tech with your Sopra, I’d be shocked if that combo didn’t pair well, too. While I will always try to recommend listening before buying, I don’t think you would be disappointed if you decided to pull the trigger on the MA3, Alan.
Good luck, and let me know which way you decide to go.