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Manufacturer: MuzgAUDIO
Price (when reviewed): 35 000 PLN

Contact: MuzgAUDIO
ul. Lubelska 13B/121 | Rzeszów 35-241



Provided for test by MuzgAUDIO


images Marek Dyba

No 222

November 1, 2022

MuzgAUDIO is a young Polish manufacturer from Rzeszów, founded in 2019 by Mr. KONRAD SIEMIENTKOWSKI, who also designs audio components. Earlier this year, Wojtek tested the solid-state version of the brand’s reference digital-to-analog converter. For this test I was sent another version with a tube output stage, the DAC-01T.

OR THE FIRST TIME, with the admittedly very memorable (at least for Polish speaking readers) name MuzgAudio I came across more than two years ago on one of the audiophile forums. One the regulars described his promising adventures with the transistor version of the tested DAC (this was not a production unit just yet). I do not know what the genesis of this name is, but it reminded me for some reason the American Schiit Audio. The latter has been designing and manufacturing, among others, headphone amplifiers and DACs, offering excellent value for money.

Its boss once created a whole thread, on Head-Fi, if I remember correctly, describing the story of the company, including the issue of a highly original name that was was simply meant to be easily remembered and make people smile, even if, phonetic associations with the name don’t seem very attractive. MuzgAudio (Muzg means brain but a correct spelling is Mózg) phonetically associates quite well, but is not necessarily as memorable as its written form. Anyway, once you see this name, it stays with you for a long time. Others usually have to work longer and harder for their brand recognition.

Let's get back to the aforementioned first contact with the brand. The feedback of this forum user was encouraging, although at that time it was not even the final version, ultimately reviewed by Wojtek (test → HERE), but rather a prototype under development. In the same place, I also read many times about the positive experiences with MuzgAudio’s linear power supplies, often used to power file players, streamers or DACs. Nevertheless, these were all only virtual contacts with the brand, so to speak.

The DAC-01T is my first actual or physical contact with Mr. KONRAD SIEMIENTKOWSKI's device. Although the first impressions are not the most important ones for me, let me say, that this time they were good, and considering the fact, that I dealt with such a young company, even excellent. The package with the DAC is quite heavy - not quite as heavy as my own LampizatOr Pacific, but - for a D/A converter - it does weight really a lot. After unpacking it from cardboard and solid protective foams, I saw a large, nicely made and finished device that seemed very solid. In terms of size, I would classify it rather in the category (not so small) amplifier category than a DAC, and as for a DAC it was a "serious" one, one that could have come from one of the major brands.


| A few simple words…

Owner, designer

HOW DID THE TUBE VERSION COME ABOUT? At a certain stage of refining the DAC-01S, a concept emerged to use its entire digital section, chassis and controls to develop another device with the same functionality, but featuring a completely new analog circuit (emphasis - ed). The assumption was that it would be a completely tube-based, symmetrical circuit, with no silicon in the signal’s path. Again, my goal was to combine seemingly contradictory features. I wanted to build a device with the functionality and ease of use of a modern DAC, the resolution and detailed performance of the Sabre ES9038PRO, combined with a rich, dense, musical, smooth sound, we love tubes for.

This device is the result of the combining my two strengths: knowledge about the design of modern digital-to-analog converters and passion for creating tube circuits. The tube stage itself is not typical. As already mentioned, it is completely symmetrical, which means that from the input to the output only the difference between the "+" and „-” signals is processed, without the use of ground. This allows for the maximum use of the signal at the D/A output, signal processing to the classic form of the 4 Vrms and feeding it straight to the XLR sockets. Of course, to maximize the potential of the device, we need a power amplifier or a preamplifier with an XLR input, but I think most devices of appropriate class feature such input.

The output stage consists of four tubes, two per channel. The first two operate as the voltage amplifier stage, which features ECC81 double triodes by Siemens & Halske. These are my favorite tubes of this type and as the sound of the device depends to a large extent on these tubes, I decided to include them as standard in each unit. I have a large collection of audio tubes, about 2,000 pieces (that’s just an estimate, because at some point I stopped counting them :)) and out of all ECC81s I value the Siemens ones the most.

The next stage is based on the 6N30P-EW tube, i.e. a military, very powerful double triode used in air fighters. It is second to none as an efficient output buffer, ensuring both low impedance and plenty of current when needed. This is the same tube that is often used as an output tube in headphone amplifiers.

To top off the analog stage I use capacitors custom made for the MuzgAUDIO. From among many available ones, I selected darker sounding capacitors, emphasizing the depth and richness of timbre of the DAC-01T, and the upper part of the band is presented in a smooth and pleasant way. These are capacitors with considerable capacity, so the lower end is very nicely extended, at least for a tube device.

Similarly to the DAC-01S, also here we have the option of working with a constant volume level and the digital preamplifier mode. In the preamplifier mode, when we use it to directly control the power amplifiers, we can achieve the best results by connecting it via XLR interconnects. With its solid-state brother, it shares the entire digital section along with separate clock generators for the USB section. The generators are a proprietary product of the MuzgAUDIO company.

As in all my devices, the power supply section is an uncompromising design. Each power line is separate, linear, and stabilized. The voltages that are essential for the sound quality are double stabilized - for maximum purity of the voltage. All key lines are stabilized on the basis of discrete stabilizers designed by MuzgAUDIO. I could write a separate column about them and the process of their development, but now let me only mention that they are selected from among the 12 topologies that I designed. 6 separate transformers supply current to each section of the device separately, thus minimizing the interference between the various parts of the device.

So, as in the case of the DAC-01S, the DAC-01T is a proprietary project, packed with solutions designed and made by the MuzgAUDIO company. Due to that, the sound we get is a combination of high signal parameters with the colorful sound of the tubes. Together with a comfortable user interface, it should be a very interesting proposition.



LET ME NOT DELVE INTO SPECIFICS of the design and functionality of the DAC-01T, as the latter is identical to the DAC-01S tested by Wojtek. In turn, the differences in terms of the design concern only the output stage, this time a tube-based one, that Mr. Konrad explained in details in the "A Few Simple Words ..." section.

For those who just need the basics let me sum them up for you. The tested converter uses the Sabre ES9038PRO D/A chip and is a symmetrical design. It features four digital inputs - two coaxial and one optical Toslink S/PDIFs, plus one USB. The S/PDIF inputs support PCM signal with sampling frequency up to 192 kHz and DSD64 (DoP). The USB input is more versatile as it can handle PCM up to 384kHz and DSD up to DSD512 (native).

The device also features two analog outputs, balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) ones. They can be used with a fixed or adjustable output level. In the latter case, we will use a digital, 64-bit digital volume control. Using it allows the DAC to drive a power amplifier directly. Importantly for users who own preamplifiers, the digital volume control in this DAC can be simply turned off. I like the large color display, which facilitates the selection of a number of settings available in the device’s menu. All the selection can be performed either with the help of a neat remote control, or with a knob on the front that also functions as a push-button.

It is worth emphasizing that most of the solutions used in this device are proprietary designs of the MuzgAudio designer. In a word, we are dealing with a highly original product and not one of many available on the market using of-the-shelf solutions. The MuzgAudio DAC-01T digital-to-analog converter features a sturdy , nicely made chassis, it is easy and pleasant to use and simply looks good, as befits a proposal from a fairly high price range. So the question remains, does is sound as good as it looks and is built?


⸜ HOW WE LISTENED The MuzgAudio D/A converter directly replaced my trusted Pacific LampizatOr in my system. The source for the USB input of the tested converter were (alternately) my custom server, but also the basic version (Standard) and a higher one (Aeon) of the 432 EVO files transport (Master version test → HERE).

The devices were connected using the David Laboga Expression Emerald USB cable. From DAC signal was sent using analog RCA Soyaton Audio Benchmark interconnect to the GrandiNote Shinai Class A integrated amplifier, and at some point also directly to the Circle Labs M200 power amplifier. Amplifiers sent signal to, alternately GrandiNote MACH4, Club-27 KURT MKIII and Closer Acoustics OGY, using Soyaton Benchmark speaker cables.


TESTING AUDIO COMPONENTS IS NOT, because it cannot be, fully objective. We can all agree, that measurements are objective, but the truth is that they don't say much, and certainly not all about the sound of a measured device. Listening to and trying to evaluate some device under review, I try not to do it through the prism of my own preferences, which, like everyone else, I obviously have, or some prejudices, since those also cannot be avoided in audiophile world.

Why am I mentioning this? Because one of the first information that I learned about MuzgAudio DACs concerned the chip from ESS Technology used for the digital-to-analog conversion. These are, on paper, some of the best, if not the best chips of this type in the world. It doesn't change the fact that parameters are one thing, and an implementation that would convince me (!) is another. Let me add that the latter is a really rare occurrence. The first such case was the remarkable Brinkmann Nyquist DAC, another was the Ideon DAC.

The Nyquist, in the first version, is still one of the best digital-to-analog converters I have ever reviewed. Perhaps some of you remember the interview I conducted then with its designer, Matthias Lueck (see → HERE). I asked him about this issue, among other things, as I wanted to know what did he do that made me, a fan of vinyl and tubes, like the DAC based on the ESS Saber chip, so much. The answer was simple. According to Matthias, the chips of this brand do a fantastic job in terms of the primal job, the D/A conversion. If you limit their function to this one and support them with high-class circuits, it is possible to achieve an excellent sound, one that delighted me when I auditioned the Nyquist. Seemingly simple, and hardly anyone can do it.

Since then, I have heard several more D/A converters that not only offered high-class sound, but also one that I really liked - which is not always the same! It is still, however, a definite minority among all those with the Sabre chips that I have heard so far. So the fact that the MuzgAudio DAC uses these chips, despite my best efforts to stay objective and unbiased, was not an incentive for me, but rather an- reason to worry about its performance. The statistics (let me emphasize once again: in my case) did not speak in favor of this component. Although, the tube output stage and the use of high-class NOS tubes theoretically significantly increased the chances of me being seduced by the DAC-01T with its sound.

To put it briefly - the vast majority of the ESS Technology DACs sound too dry for me, they lack adequate saturation and I very rarely use the term musical in their description. When starting to listen to the DAC-01T, as always, I tried to forget about any expectations or prejudices and focus on what was coming from the speakers. Plus, of course, if and how it differed from what the (several times more expensive) LampizatOr Pacific offered.

And yet ... The sound that came flowing to me from the loudspeakers did not really reveal its „tube” nature. The features that were dominant at the beginning, or at least attracting my attention, were primarily precision, transparency, good, even very good, high resolution, as well as tight and fast bass. In a word, the sonic features that are associated (or I associate) with ESS chips. I couldn’t really hear any particular influence of the tube output stage. Of course, I haven't had a chance to hear the "S" version of this converter so I had no way of comparing them. Perhaps, these two identical, except for the output stage, devices placed next to each other, would have clearly shown the differences in their performances and the influence of tubes.

Without such a comparison, in a short „blind” listening session, I would rather not have come up with the fact that the tested device actually used any valves. As a reminder, I once had the pleasure to test devices from another Polish brand, RT-Project, which also offers DACs with solid-state and tube output stages, and which later introduced a design with both, allowing the user to choose one of them at any time. Back then, however, I tested all versions one after another, so it was easier to identify the differences, and the influence of tubes was clear to me. Which does not mean that the choice would have been easy for me, hence I would have considered the third version featuring both output stages as a true Solomonic solution.

Is it a bad thing that in the case of MuzgAudio I couldn’t hear the influence of the tubes, at least at first? It is definitely not! I do not think that Mr. Konrad, when working on the "T" version, wanted to completely change the sonic character of his DAC, or to get rid of the inherent features of the ESS Saber chip. I assume that the differences between the "T" and "S" versions must exist, but are not too great, because they shouldn't be if the difference between the two versions lays only in the output stage. Remember, designed by the same man!

One of the first albums I listened to was the "good old" PINK FLOYD’s Animals, albeit in the newest remix from 2018. The DAC-01T showed that not only is this tight, punctual and extending as low as required by the recording, bass is its strength, but also its dynamics was highly suitable for rock music.

The same aspect of the presentation made a big, if not even bigger, impression when listening to the soundtrack from the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. After all, I was dealing here with an orchestra, with huge timpani, double basses, etc. MuzgAudio played both of these discs with panache, effortlessly, in the first case building a large, but smaller than the Pacific sound stage (in this case, it was a space , in which the sound engineer "scattered" sounds, like in mots of the Floyd's albums, not a natural sound stage). In the latter, it proposed a large-scale sound, comparable to LampizatOr, and a sensational openness of an orderly, focused presentation.

On the Animals the presentation of Waters and Gilmour's vocals was also important, as well as the full, aggressive sound of the latter's electric guitar, which proved that the also the midrange is a strong point of this DAC . Nevertheless, it was the above-mentioned soundtrack that even better showed the precision, the very good differentiation, as well as the richness of details and subtleties, which were exceptionally easily accessible thanks to the possibility of looking into deeper layers of the recording midst this exceptionally well-ordered, clean, precise presentation. On both of these albums an important, even indispensable element is the atmosphere, in the latter case extremely dramatic, suspenseful, even dark, as showed flawlessly by the DAC-01T. It was not as dense as with the Pacific, but very clear, with each element assigned to a specific place, well separated from the others, and at the same time part of a coherent whole.

The album by ANTONIO FORCIONE was the first test of how the Polish DAC copes with acoustic music recorded live and one in which my beloved guitar played a leading role. And it sounded great, although again a bit different than with my LampizatOr. Each pluck of the string was sufficiently fast and strong, but also each decay lasted a sufficiently long time. Each sound had a lot of mass and energy, each was juicy (and not dry, as in my opinion ESS chips most often sound), and the timbre was beautifully conveyed as well. So let me risk saying that the tubes (finally!) did their job :)).

The Pacific played such music in a bit denser, and therefore darker way, and the maestro's guitar sound included a bit more wood, which resulted in a slightly more relaxed sound. With the MuzgAudio it was a bit more energetic, a bit faster and more direct. I suspect that fans of more analytical listening could point out the DAC-01T as their favorite in this case.

The DAC-01T also differentiated the percussion instruments very well. The metal cymbals and other percussion instrument sounded clean, vibrant and strong, while the wooden ones sounded deeper, and softer. With this recording I could finally properly assess the actual location of phantom images on the stage, and the tested converter confirmed the previously mentioned precision. Each of them was large, had an appropriate mass, and constituted a separate, precisely located, three-dimensional entity on the stage. Again, I would attribute some credit to the tubes in this regard, as the instruments were drawn with a fairly precise outline, but they also had a good filling.

As I had the impression that the tested converter could be classified as an analytical device, fortunately without exaggeration in this regard, I decided to check if it was also ruthless for lesser quality recordings, because these are features that usually go hand in hand. So I played an acoustic live album by AEROSMITH form the Ed Sullivan Theater, which is definitely not one of the best quality releases; after all it is a so-called bootleg, which was officially released only a few years ago. The tested DAC showed some truths about this recording from the very beginning. The sound seemed to come from behind, maybe not too thick, but still, a curtain and there was no proper openness for this type of production, and I could hardly hear any clues the acoustics of the famous theater.

I could hear the reactions of the audience though, and the fantastic voice of Steven Tyler, and this unique, great atmosphere both on and off the stage. Even the musicians, not used to playing acoustic concerts, seemed to have a lot of fun with it, as conveyed by the reviewed DAC. And although MuzgAudio immediately showed me also why it was a recording of the average quality at best, it also reproduced really well all the features that make me really like this album. After just a few minutes, I was involuntarily tapping the beat, rocking my head, and simply put, having a lot of fun. Therefore, even if in my opinion the DAC-01T is a proposition suited best for fans of high-fidelity, hence top quality recordings, it will let you have fun with those of lesser quality, at least after letting you know what’s wrong with them. Whether or not it suits you is up to you, but for me it is a huge advantage of this design.

Since the guitar sounded so well, I reached for a recording of a master of another of my favorite instruments, the double bass, i.e. RENAUD GARCIA-FONS’ Legendes. This is, I think, his very first album from 1992, which sounds simply brilliant. Provided, of course, that the system keeps up with it ... Mine handles this challenge very well and hence my fondness for this album. With the MuzgAudio converter, the master's five-string double bass sounded a bit different than what I'm used to. Very precise, fast, not that dense, but again, the timbre seemed just right. There were a bit more strings in that sound and less wood. The differences I am writing about were objectively small, but they were there for me to find. This time the presentation, a bit different from the one I am used to, I perceived not as worse or better but rather a, probably, more faithful interpretation of this recording.


A PERSON LOOKING FOR any audio component cannot ignore a fairly important parameter, which is the price. The one of the MuzgAudio DAC-01T’s price tag seems high at first sight. At least, this is how many people will perceive it, knowing that it is a Polish product. Nevertheless, in my opinion, this product is yet another proof that you should stop treating the products of our great, creative designers as something worse by definition. There are also no good reasons why high quality Made in Poland products should not be priced adequately to the what they have to offer.

The tested DAC offers a great sound, I will not hesitate to use the term: high-end sound. It is not a proposition for everyone, because despite the tubes on board, you will not find "tube warmth" in it, but rather purity, precision, dynamics, high resolution and energy, good differentiation and a proper scale of a balanced, even sound, appropriate for a given recording. In short, you will hear the truth about each album and track. Importantly, after buying the reference MuzgAudio DAC, you will not have to throw away half of your musical library due to insufficient quality, as the Polish DAC should be able to extract the musical essence from them and let you focus on it.

If you are looking for a converter of this sonic nature in this particular, or even slightly higher, price range, and even if, like me, you are not a fan of the ESS Technology Sabre chips, the DAC-01T should still be include in your list of devices worth listening to!

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer):

Supported sampling frequencies:
• S/PDIF inputs: 32-192 kHz and DSD64 DoP
• USB input: 32-384 kHz and DSD64 - DSD512 native
Output signal: RCA – 2 Vrms | XLR – 4 Vrms
Output impedance: 100 Ω
D/A Converter chip: ESS ES9038Pro
THD: <0.01%
S/N: >100 dB
Dynamic range: >110 dB
Frequency range: 0 – 20 kHz (+/-0,1 dB)
7 FIR digital filters and Non-Oversampling mode
Volume control: from - 128 dB to 0 dB, in 1 dB steps
Power consumption:
• standby: 2 W
• operation: around 80 W
Dimensions (W x H x D): 460 x 360 x 150 mm
Weight: 14 kg