Muse Electronics Model 296 DACs

Muse Electronics Model 296 DACs 


Digital to Analogue Converter


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[Aug 06, 2002]
Audio Enthusiast


Natural, transparent, and grain-free sound. Decodes up to 192KHz encoded discs.


The blue power LED is too bright. I had to put a piece of tape over it because it bothered my eyes when listening in the dark.

This is a review of the Muse Model One Ninety Two, a later model than the 296. I am posting it here because hasn't gotten around to adding a slot for the 192, and I think it is a first rate product. I had been increasingly discontented with my system, and sent the my Muse Model Two DAC in for an update to the 192. I had chosen the Model 2 around 1996 after auditioning several competing units. At the time it seemed the most grain-free and "non-digital" of what was available. (A few years later, I tried a Meridian one-box player that had received rave reviews and returned it the next day as sounding distinctly gritty compared to the Muse 2.) This review isn't about the 2, but I want to tell you that I was pretty happy with it from the start. When I got the 192, I realize that my vague unhappiness with the stereo could be pinpointed to a fuzziness in the left channel. I figured out that the upper midrange driver in my NHT 3.3 had gone bad. (I'm happy to say NHT replaced it at no charge.) It was the increased resolution of the 192 that allowed me to resolve this problem. After living with the 192 for about 3 months, I can say I am getting the kind of sound at home that I have been hoping for for many years. The reproduction of redbook (ordinary) CDs is just wonderful, highly musical, and definitely comparable to good LP reproduction. The slightly mechanical quality that I had associated with all digital reproduction has gone. I highly recommend the 192 to any music lover who enjoys the sound of acoustic instruments. I am sure it would be fine on rock, too (it is on reggae), but if you are looking for natural reproduction of acoustic instruments, you must hear this unit. I note that the 192, paired with the proper transport, can decode DVD-As and DADs, but that I have not tried that yet. I am quite happy to use it with my old transport until the format wars settle down.

Similar Products Used:

Muse Model 2 (at home), other very high-end processors (at dealers)

[Nov 22, 1999]
Winston Cheng

The Muse 296 paired with the Muse Model 8 transport via the I2S cable is an incredible tandem. Compared to the Muse Model 2 DAC and Model 5 transport that I previously owned, the 296 and Model 8 are more detailed and image better. I heard details on recordings that I had never heard before and the soundstage seemed to expand significantly with more
"air" around the performers. The 296 and Model 8 simply incredible when using audio dvd's from Chesky. Imaging and detail are simply incredible when compared to CD! I've never anything that sounded closer to live. The only complaint that I could make about these two products are the difficulty of using the remote and the annoying clicking and flashing of lights when the dac locks onto a signal (this happens every time you fast forward or reverse to different tracks). Overall, the Muse 296 and Model 8 are great products!

[Jul 31, 1999]
an Audiophile

See my review of the Muse Model Eight DVD-CD Transport.
These units are fantastic, especially in combination using the I2S interface.

Definitely recommend anyone looking for top notch high end DVD Video,24/96 DVD Audio AND/OR standard CD playback should check these units out.

[Jan 08, 1999]
Art Kastl
an Audiophile

"It's Clear, the music is really CLEAR!!!..." That was the response my brother-in-law said to me when he heard the Muse Model 296 (24/96) DAC andMuse Model 8 transport in my system for the first time. To set the field,
my brother-in-law is a very casual listener, so I first queued up an
audiophile CD to "get a baseline" and then bowled him over with the sound of
Classic Records "The New Music Concert" #1002.

The following are my listening notes from having the Model 296 and Model 8
in the system for a 2wk audition, and comparing this combo to my Theta Data Basic II and Muse Model 2 Plus DAC:

1) Music seems to come at you with more "energy!" The dynamics is
extraordinary in comparion to the excellent Model 2 Plus.

2) Transient response is unreal, (notes say "incredible!").

3) Soundstage information retrieval is more apparent. You definitly get a
more "connected" feeling to the recording venue because the micro detail
and micro dynamics are have been improved on significantly.

*** The Muse Model 2 Plus always had a very quiet noisefloor (kinda like
you inserted a quality PLC into the chain). The Model 296 is also
very quiet, but the improved detail renders a sonic picture that
is simply more "Natural". Hall/recording venue information like
reverb and decay send the soundstage much more wide and Deeeeeeeeeep
in a very proportional and coherent image placement. The Model 2 Plus
was never a slouch in this regard, only the 296 is better...much better.

4) Imaging is "spot on", that really are the only words I can express along with
the fact that there is again a much improved sense of "air" around the
images. The best way I can describe the imaging now with the Model 296 is
that there is no, I repeat no, sonic "aura or halo" around the instruments
that degrade the image. Only natural, instrumental placement in space.

Needless to say the speakers melted away completely. I now it sounds corny,
but it is true, I have never heard my rig recreate a recording this well,

5) It seems that the new Model 296 Burr Brown DACs and Motorola DSP processing
have completely changed and improved on the excellent qualities of the
Model 2 Plus. Besides the soundstage/imaging improvements there is a
presentation of harmonics/overtones and immediacy that give the music
a natural, involving and dynamic drive that just wasn't present before.

6) The I2S connection coupling the Model 8 transport to the Model 296
is critical in recreating the above musical event in the home. When I
drove the Model 296 with my Theta Data Basic II (thru Nordost Silver
Digital Moonglo AES/EBU) the dimensionality, overtones, and easiness
to the sound decreased by an easy 10% to 15% factor.

Again, all I can say is that 24/96 DVD Audio technology is very different
than our "Red Book" CD format. I think we will be able to "connect" to the
music in a more visceral way, (more drive, more energy) than we had before
with CD.

*** Final note: When I had to send the Model 8 and 296 back to Holm Audio,
I reinserted the Model 2 Plus back into the rig and felt that the music
was not "vieled" but really "uninvolving"... I had to readjust to the
old way again. I guess I know what two components are next to get...

Current System:

Theta Data Basic II
Nordost Silver Digital "Moonglo" AES/EBU
Muse Model 2 Plus DAC
Nordost Quattro fil Reference interconnects
Audio Research LS7 pre (w/NOS Siemens type1 circa 1960)
Audio Research VT100 amp
Alpha Core Goertz MI3 Divinity speaker cbl.
Thiel CS 2 2

Shakti stones, Nordost ECO3 spray, Black Diamond Racing cones, "Things", and
"Pits" in MK3 and MK4 config., Audioprism Quietlines, ENACOM AC filters, and
soon to be VansEvers Reference Balanced RB5 PLC (after Mike VE completes the
final "voicing")

Needless to say... Highly recommended for an audition in your system if
you are thinking about 24/96 PCM format DAC and transport.


[Sep 19, 1999]
an Audiophile

The Muse 296 DA converter and its companion model 8 transport are truly great digital playback system. They reproduce musics with a very refined, delicate, clear and detailed quality. I A/B compared the MUSE Units combo to the Linn CD 12 in my system. The Linn CD player is slightly softer in the treble and bass. The MUSE units have a tighter and better defined bass. They are both topnotch CD playback system and make me want to keep listening to the music. For 1/3 of the price of the Linn CD player, I chose the Muse combo and can not be happier with my purchase. The Muse 296 easily outperforms a MSB gold link DAC fitted with upgrade power supply from Monolithic (used to be in my system). I hear new details, deeper and tighter bass, more 3-D soundstage. The image is so palpable. At times, the music really moves me and gave me goosebump. I often felt the perfomer is right in my listening room. By the way, the built quality on these units are excellent. My units come with silver face platel. They are quite nice looking too.
I highly recommend the Muse 296 and the Model 8 transport, especially it you are looking for current state of the art digital playback system. 5 stars easily.


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