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I used M Scaler mainly with CD delivered in optically from our Oppo BDP-205D Universal player acting as a CD transport. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it does not change the sound of Hugo TT2 so much as magnify it to a degree that was eye popping. With Nils Lofgren’s Keith Don’t Go the sound stage became even larger and more densely powerful, as if images had gained physical weight. There was more internal detail too. The only slight alteration, rather than amplification, was a subtle smoothing of the sheen on strings, from Nigel Kennedy playing Massenet’s Meditation. 

   However, with Marianne Thorsen playing Mozart’s Violin Concerto in G Major (24/96) her violin was still sheeny, but this recording has always been so. M Scaler, like Hugo TT2, does not euphonically process such recordings so much as expose their intrinsic character.

   M Scaler’s benefits become less apparent at higher sampling rates used in hi-res recordings (e.g. 24/96). With Marta Gomez singing Maria (24/96), images were densified and the sound stage hardened up, but by a smaller if still useful degree than the changes heard with CD.

   The idea of putting M Scaler in front of a DAC other than the distinctive sounding Hugo TT2 could be very interesting I thought, or a damp squib. It was both. Our Audiolab M-DAC+ was a prime candidate and a qualified success; an Arcam CDS50 CD/SACD player a failure. 



Under the cover – another cover! This one with non-removable screws to shield from prying eyes, as well as provide further RF screening. At front in a line are the acrylic spheres that act as illuminated switches.


 From CD through to hi-res M Scaler quite clearly removed muddle from the sound of M-DAC+, separating images and events, retrieving more atmosphere from recordings and also broadening the sound stage with firmer and more strongly embodied images. Even better, the full bodied sound of M-DAC+, with its on-board high current, low noise linear power supply was retained, even slightly enhanced by the smoothing effect of M Scaler – I fell in love with this combo! Korsakov’s Dance of the Tumblers (24/96) became even larger, orchestral instruments more distinctly separated. Diana Krall singing Narrow Daylight (24/96) came into stronger focus, accompanied by a slightly smoother quality.

The one wrinkle here was M-DAC+ would only see 176.4kHz sample rate maximum, falling silent at 352.8kHz from M Scaler, so x4 was available, not x8. Changing cables made no difference.

   With an Arcam CDS50 CD player interface difficulties became strange. The Arcam flagged up sample rate from M  Scaler as 44.1kHz only where M-DAC+ had already shown it varied as stated. I tested the CDS50 on a digital generator and it correctly showed input sample rate, so no fault here. Worse, sound quality was unspectacular, but a complicating factor was I had to use the Arcam’s unbalanced outputs to feed the Creek’s line input and volume control; neither Arcam or Creek have volume adjustment on their balanced lines. So perhaps some muddle crept in as a result. Whatever, whilst this combo worked at a functional level, it did not convey the sonic benefits of M Scaler.

   The warning here then is M Scaler has problems interfacing with DACs other than Hugo TT2. Yet at the same time I thought its coupling with M-DAC+ was sublime and, for me at least, I would rate this pairing worth hearing. The extraordinary cleanliness, composure and timing of M Scaler, as well as its sound staging properties were all passed to M-DAC+ that in turn sent out a sound that was big bodied and easy going. 



Chord Electronics M Scaler embodies Rob Watts view of how to perfectly reproduce digital. I thought it was devastating. You get to clearly hear how CD can sound when all the rubbish is swept away, performers and instruments all being placed in solid form on a wide and clear sound stage. Add in almost-peculiar bass timing and resolution and you end up with a sound not available elsewhere. 

   It’s expensive – as you must expect from a technological exercise dedicated to FPGA silicon to make it happen and commercially available. It works most assuredly with Chord Electronics DACs having a DBNC input and is for PCM, not DSD. Book a demo and have a listen. This is a unique and extraordinary product.






OUTSTANDING - amongst the best 



If you want the best from CD, M Scaler is a must-listen. Expensive but worryingly good. 



- sound quality

- small size

- build quality



- inconsistent with ext. DACs

- no DSD


 Chord Electronics

+44 (0)1622 721444






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