M2Tech Joplin in the Test

About the brand new M2Tech Joplin, old analog treasures land with up to 384 kHz sampling rate on the hard disk. An absolute overkill – or actually bring something?

You may assume that Janis Joplin is the name sponsor of the brand new tray from the House of M2Tech. Because the gifted musician was called by her closest friends “Pearl”, it is obvious also that the Thoroughbred A/chosen to refer to Joplin in his aluminum dress as silver Pearl.

The M2Tech Joplin is interesting especially for music fans, their beloved collection of analog honey make it fit for the digital world (keyword: streaming)- or you just want to save if something with the originals should happen times.

It is clear: you want to give up the fat, warm, dynamic sound somehow addictive at all digital convenience never. Right here, the converter by M2Tech latches onto. With many technical refinements in the luggage he – wants to be the “Mercedes Benz” under the A/D converters to tell with Janis -.

He promises in digital form to preserve the tonal advantages of analog media. The Joplin is not confined to a source: ultra-audiophile magnetic tapes, simple analog cassettes, invisible FM airwaves or the beloved vinyl records – the M2Tech is also thanks to integrated phono (for MM and MC) with all gorgeous.

Digital outputs the device has on its brushed aluminium en-masse: by S/P-DIF (optical and coaxial) up to USB. Yes, the Joplin on Board has even an AES/EBU-Out rather in the Studio world. Compared with the connectivity of the outputs it is clearer on the analog input side with only a pair of RCA jacks. “Just” is relative here, because just for the delicate job of conversion an extremely good input makes more sense than many (Adjective): quality not quantity. Interestingly you can find also a S/P-DIF input on the terminal box; so the digital player with a suitable output may also perpetuate on your hard disk.

The heart in the right place

It recognizes the concentration on quality also on the inner workings of the Joplin: its absolutely logically designed PCB is packed only with best technology food . So, four huge 10µF film capacitors (two for each channel) of the type MKP4 of WIMA sit directly behind the entrance. The biggest advantage of the MKP4 is its low dielectric absorption – which translated means that no voltage relationship way sound losses arise. M2Tech consistently uses models of WIMA also for all other capacitors.

Directly behind the MKPs sit Two Burr-Brown PGA 2500i – very low noise, digitally controlled microphone of preamplifier chips, which have no problems with the output signals of an MC system and adjustment in 0.5 dB steps allow a gain to the precise level of the A/D converter.

Then follows the actual heart of the Joplin, a modern converter chip from the Sabre series of ESS (ES9102CS). The special feature of this converter is its ability to not only internally to work with a 32 bit word length, but actually spend it.

So a signal coming out via USB with a sampling rate of maximum 384 kHz for 32 bit. A 60-minute CD in this resolution would consume approximately 10 GB . The other digital outputs such as S/P-DIF or AES can be technically not quite so far to exploit and allow “only” a signal quality of 192 kHz at 24 bit.

Filtered out

At the same time, the Sabre chip in the Joplin dominated several filters to change – the frequency response are beginning with an high – and a low-pass filter, which seem completely banal at first glance, but in reality necessary tools. Because with two frequency settings (16 Hz / 50 Hz and 5 kHz/10 kHz) do kill not only DC-hum or plates resonance, you can remove even noise that occurs happy when older 78 rpm discs.

It will be really interesting but in the 23 (!) EQ settings for frequency Equalization of vinyl. Until 50 years ago, there was a different filter curve for the vinyl equalization in addition to the applicable today as standard RIAA still by any major record label. Now with the M2Tech Joplin to record a perfect image of the record, the converter can adapt logically this chaos. And so also less popular L ‘ oiseau-lyre or Brunswick, see just his 23 equalization filters as well as better-known names like RIAA, Decca, Philips, Victor or Columbia.

As if that’s not already great enough, even four filters for tape machines available – are two for NAB and two for CCIR/IEC (respectively for 3.75 ips and 7.5 ips). As similar as in vinyl some labels had provided and their bands with a curve. The machines of the past corrected this with an appropriate filter setting. And the filter of the Joplin take exactly this equalization.

The icing on this already impressive pie is an MPX filter for radio applications. In the signal transmission of FM waves, a 19 kHz pilot tone is used the Mono signal, from which the tuner calculates the actual stereo signal using its own MPX filter. And exactly here lies the crux of the matter: because if there are pilot tone remains in the signal, audible Intermodulations-caused distortions that would otherwise land as FM tuner with 16 kHz limited of the Joplin also on the hard disk. So the recording signal is also really clean, the M2Tech has an own MPX filter.

Full dynamics, sounds

With so many features it itched the tester of course quickly in the fingers. The connection to the Mac worked easily – plug, select finished (a PC needs driver that provides M2Tech). Too bad only the the Italian manufacturer no 384 kHz capable recording supplies software. You will find it after a long search for programs that come from the Studio world – and even there only at the very latest.

However, if anyway not absorb such a high resolution (perhaps because the own DAC not supports them) wants to, can access as well to Audacity. This allows recordings of 192 kHz in the latest version, after all, and is free.

Hearing test

An old classical recording of the Decca label was to play around with all the filters. With the filter setting of the Joplin this disc as a digital version sounded just as good as the original. Even a tape recording by the doors, which ran with 7.5 ips on an old Fostex landed easily on the harddisk and sounded as expected.

After several hours, we went to the nitty-gritty: the editorial staff favorite “Moanin” by Art Blakey and the Jazzmessengers ended up in the different sampling frequencies on the computer. Actually heard the testers from 192 kHz/24 bit no differences. However, to preserve the full potential of this incredibly dynamic recording 384 kHz could not harm of course. Latest then enchanted this over 60-year-old recording of the Festival – as well as the vinyl record?

 

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