MUSICIAN AUDIO PEGASUS R2R DAC REVIEW

The last decade has brought an enormous tension with product output across all price ranges of high-end digital audio. The driving demand for more affordable DACs certainly opens the door to more high-quality audio reproduction for many more people. 

Consequently, higher demand leads to larger quantities, which not only drives prices down. This dynamic allows for the introduction of products and technologies that simply were not possible at these prices a few years ago. And more importantly. It creates a bridge that invites many more people into our beloved industry.

On top of that, as you can read in the review, Musician Audio Pegasus R2R DAC is also much more enticing than its size and price might suggest. 

HIGHLIGHTS 

Musician Audio Pegasus R2R DAC features a proprietary, true balanced 24BIT R2R and 6 BIT DSD (32 steps FIR filter) architecture.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Low Noise Power supply
  • FIFO buffer
  • Digital Signal Processing via FPGA
  • DSD1024, PCM1536 support via USB and I2S input (audio source must be compatible with native interface)
  • Proprietary USB Audio Solution via STM32F446 Advanced AMR Based MCU
  • Licensed Thesycon USB driver for Windows platform
  • Driverless on Mac & Linux

DSD

  • DSD64 DoP on all inputs
  • DSD1024 on USB and I2S input

PCM

  • 24bits / 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192KHz on all inputs
  • 1536kHz on USB and I2S input

SAMPLING MODE

  • Non-Oversampling NOS
  • Oversampling OS

OPERATIONAL 

Musician Audio The official recommendation for the break-in period of PEGASUS DACs is one week. And indeed, after more than 300 hours of 24/7 operation, the sound has stabilized and everything was evenly focused and balanced. 

Operating Pegausu DAC is simple and straightforward. Everything is laid out cleary and the DAC is easy to use. 

The front panel is occupied by the main switch in the middle, the input selector button on the left and the right button next to the main knob is NOS switch.

On the rear are two analog RCA and XLR outputs and a variety of digital inputs including coaxial (DSD1024 via SPDIF), optical, USB, AES /EBU and I2S via HDMI LVDS.

1. Input Button 2. Power Button 3. NOS Button 4. Right RCA Output S. Right XLR Output 6. Left XLR Output 7. Left RCA Output 8. I2S Input 9. Coaxial Input 10. Optical Input 11. AES Input 12. USB Input 13. AC Input 

Since there is no industry standard for I2S connections, it is better to check IIS interface compatibility with Musician Audio before purchasing Pegasus DAC based on this premise alone. Pegasus DAC is designed to be compatible with most devices if you use a standard HDMI cable, but still it’s better to inqurie about the compatibilty. 

If the audio system allows it, the manufacturer recommends using the XLR outputs. As a true, fully balanced DAC, the XLR outputs from PEGASUS are sonically superior.

Connecting both RCA and XLR outputs at the same time is not recommended, as this will degrade the sound since the outputs are shared. Even if one of the two connected devices is switched off, the output signal will continue to be transmitted.

THE MUSIC 

 
After the detailed technical aspects, the next and most important step is the level to which the DAC tune-in to the music. 
I spent more than planned time with the Musician Audio Pegasus DAC and that alone is a more than a worthy indicator that something special is hiding under the aluminum casing. 
As always, here are a few of the tracks that were in constant rotation during the Pegasus DAC review, showcasing the qualities and features of the DAC. 
 
Pat Metheny Orchestrion is a unique concept album from my favorite guitar maestoso. The unique blend of pre-programmed or live-altered automatic musical instruments accompanied by Metheny’s guitar playing is a one-of-a-kind experience with a variety of sonic data that sonically describes and challenges the potency of each product. 
 
I was pleasantly surprised at how well Musician Audio Pegasus DAC managed to float on the Orchestrion fabric, tapping into the music with enough fragile subtlety and just the right dose of angelic featheriness that Orchestrion needs to fully blossom. 
Orchestrion has a cluster of decays, delays, leading edges, and fast attacks that require a certain amount of density to fully develop. 
Our hearing mechanism focuses on apparent and inverse changes and particularly with metallic percussion instruments and very crisp transients. If the DAC can not decode the smallest fundamental details and combine them with the rest of the music, this usually struggles with the establishment of the group delay. 
This is principally apparent in decays that are ultra-fast and quiet, or with sharp attacks that call for the necessary sonic sharpness. 
With Orchestrion in play, the Musician Audio Pegasus DAC was able to unfasten the complex sonic composition and resolve the surprising density of anchor points across the frequency spectrum. I would expect a close proximation with the DAC in this price range, but certainly not such a sonic backdrop.

Golden Heart, Mark Knopfler’s first solo album after his venture with Dire Straits is emotionally replenished. The album’s title track extends an interesting, well-balanced recording that allows the examination of the digital front end’s ability from the first few notes, to communicate with perhaps Knopfler’s most enchanting song ever written. 

The PEGASUS DAC proffered “Golden Heart” with a swirling ability that granted it to weave a little deeper into his composition than I would have expected at this price, allowing for the more than necessary expression of his craft.

Musician Audio Pegasus DAC succeeded in confirming the vibrancy and emotional connexion needed to intimately connect the listener with Buena Vista Social Club. Of course, not as high-end audio DACs of the upper class, but still with a reasonable level that could overcome the usual shortcomings of DACs, where too much has been saved on research and development, parts, and nonetheless voicing.

With “Chan Chan” Pegasus DAC formed a healthy dosage of anchor points, allowing aural observations to be prominent enough and to unfold this unique holographic musical and sonic escapade.
It is not the easiest thing to cast “Chan Chan” with adequate music vocalization, but Musician Audio Pegasus DAC flow revealed interesting continuity that is more in the domain of the “bigger” boxed DACs. 
 

The deeply etched Peter Gabriel “I Grieve” unfolded with warmth and a bit more depth than presumed. Even with some more costly DACs, the pulsation takes over Gabriel’s voice and breaks down the song into fractions of the synthesis. 

Pegasus DAC interpreted “I Grieve” in an engaging way. Many “affordable” DACs fail to fill the sonic canvas, spilling the details without proper density and contour. 
In contrast, Musician Audio Pegasus DACs occupied the “I Grieve” sonic dome with the necessary horizontal and vertical width, without clogging it and without diminishing the necessary liveliness.

CONCLUSION

A lot has happened in digital audio. Most importantly, there is a greater and far more affordable way to get into higher quality audio at a much lower price. PEGASUS DAC exemplifies that you can not judge a book by its cover alone by dismantling comfortable preconceptions about price vs performance. 

Considering that our ears are among the most sensitive of senses, even the tiniest attributes can affect our listening encounter. 

Many particular qualities are fundamental to our perception of particular music, but there is no doubt about the importance of timing and how our mechanics react and decipher precision. The recent studies show, that the better the timing (and phasing), the more strongly is induced the emotional and physical reaction to the music. 

Musician Audio Pegasus DAC pushed further than expected through the music, setting up a rather impressive aural presentation that is undoubtedly directly related to the time domain.

The time-accurate quality of the Pegasus DAC allows for the creation of a properly developed sphere of sound, and Pegasus allows for the formation of precise three-dimensional positioning as well as deeply etched depth layering that extends the sound well beyond the speakers. 

The Pegasus DAC always relied on the fundamentaries when playing familiar different genres of music, which shows how thoughtful the team at Musician Audio was in designing the Pegasus. 

Even on tidal wave tasks, the Pegasus DAC was consonant with the music, showing that it can be a part of a much mightier high-end audio system for which it was intended. 

Pegasus DAC can handle the complexity of music with unsuspected ease and has an efficacious enough core that is a crucible for ignition of our ability to enjoy the music. This singular trait may long be perceived as an incredibly simple task, but not every DAC, no matter how expensive, can be a true emissary of music without this singular feature.

Musician Audio Pegasus DAC innards feature a rewarding musical preservance ability. In several respects, the Pegasus has brought much more potpourri than it should have at this price. 

Both PCM and the DSD parts showed their strengths. With a great recorded and unmanipulated DSD file, the Pegasus DAC lets the music decode with the familiar analog quality that is rare but can still set apart a great DSD recording from PCM. 

Musician Audio Pegasus DAC does not incessantly search for the trigger of enjoyment, but acts in a very practical way, delivering the music with a clear and understandable message, allowing the emotional connection with the listener to build up. No, this is by no means a mandatory characteristic. 

Musician Audio Pegasus DAC is a savvy, balanced analog-to-digital converter that is evidently not the result of rushed ideas and fast execution. Pegasus DAC comes with a large enough portion of indescribable sensation that should satisfy more demanding listeners on the budget. 

At this price, you can not expect the Swiss watch quality of the cabinet, but it has a touch of elegance and a qualitative anodizing finish that fit well in a high-end audio rack or on any shelf. 

Musician Audio’s original idea and design goal were to deliver audio as a complete whole that is true to what was recorded. I can attest that the Pegasus DAC is not only sonically correct but also greatly animates the reproduced music. It exudes a much-needed charm that is mandatory for being described as a genuine emotional machine.

For those who are flirting with the R2R DAC  with the potent PCM and DSD parts that can deliver more than the usual music performance, but do not want to break the bank, Musician Audio Pegasus DAC is certainly one of the more interesting options to consider.

For what it represents, function, feature, quality and musically, I am happy to grant Musician Audio Pegasus DAC 2021 Mono and Stereo Best Buy Award.

Matej Isak

PRICE

  • $1,099.99

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Frequency Response: 10Hz~60KHz
  • Resistance accuracy: 0.005%
  • THD+N: 0.002%
  • S/N Ratio: 123dB(A-weighted)
  • Dynamic Range: >120dB
  • AC Power Requirement: 110-240VAC, 50/60Hz (Worldwide Voltage)
  • Power Consumption: ≤20W
  • Dimension: 280 x 250x 50 mm
  • Package Dim: 375 x 330 x 115 mm
  • Package Content: DAC only. No power cord & remote control.
  • Weight:3.9 Kg
  • Color: Silver / Black

Digital Input

  • Coaxial*1 via RCA
  • Optical *1
  • USB*1
  • AES/EBU x 1
  • I2S via HDMI LVDS *1

DSD

  • DSD64-DoP On All Input
  • DSD1024 On USB & I2S Input

PCM

  • 24bits / 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192KHz On All Input
  • 1536kHz On USB & I2S Input

CONTACT

Aoshida Audio
Shenzhen, Guangdong
China
Tel:0086 13660337403