The Métronome range, while perhaps unknown to mainstream HiFi aficionados, is squarely positioned as a global high-end powerhouse in digital front ends. The Métronome Le DAC is the firm’s entry level product, yet it promises performance that will satisfy even the most critical enthusiast and enthral music lovers.
Métronome is a French brand, headquartered in the Montans region, close to Toulouse. The firm has produced high-end digital since the late 1980s and now focuses exclusively on DACs and disc spinners. The Kalista sub-brand represents Métronome’s ultimate embodiment and indeed must place amongst the best digital sources in the world.
Métronome Le DAC
The Le DAC is Métronome’s entry level DA converter, but its spec sheet (and price tag) places it squarely in the high-end category. Henk Botha, who heads local distributor Tweak Technologies, suggested the Le DAC for review after his personal experience with the product. “Even though the Le DAC was playing in another room it immediately drew my attention, it just made music,” he said. High praise considering Henk’s experience with ultimate high-end.
A few days after our conversation, a brand new Le DAC, in black, was delivered for review. These guys mean business!
Other than the thoughtful Tweak Technologies card requesting we take care of the machine for future owners, unpacking the Le DAC is a simple and routine experience. The machine itself is extremely well built, but the design is pretty standard. The aluminium faceplate features a (thankfully dimmable) bright and clear blue display, with two buttons to select the source. The rear of the machine is populated with a mammoth range of input options and both single ended and balanced outputs.
Inside the packaging is a set of three (the Le DAC is a tripod) brilliantly engineered, magnetically attached Delrin feet. This is definitely a ‘Eureka’ innovation – so simple, yet so brilliant. We like the feet!
The Métronome uses a high-end AKM DAC chip and its power supply is massively over engineered – 3 toroidal transformers with 10 regulation lines are present. Peek under the cover, and the bespoke nature of the Le DAC is clear – banks of small capacitors, potted filters and connectors, this is far from the mass-produced DAC norm.
The Le DAC couldn’t be simpler to connect and activate. It locks onto the source immediately, and there are no muting noises or glitches that we could hear during sample rate or input changes.
The machine was brand new when it was delivered and we ran it for a few days before any serious listening was done. The sound of the machine did not change significantly during this period, but did seem slightly smoother after a week.
The Le DAC proved to be a most enjoyable partner to the balance of our reference system. It seemed to be kinder to listen to than our reference DAC – an MSB Analog DAC – with an intimate soundstage, and soft clarity to its approach.
Yes – we just described a DAC as kind, soft, clear and intimate in the same sentence – baffling stuff, but the Métronome’s sound is difficult to pigeonhole. It makes the most glorious music – rhythmic and sweet. In harshly objective terms our reference is a better performer in many respects, but every time we switched to the MSB we wanted to go back to the Le DAC.
The Métronome’s addictive personality never failed to turn quick listening sessions into marathons. An innocuous looking box, this is one of the most capable DACs we have ever experienced, with a massive range of inputs and a future-proof feature set, the Le DAC is an easy device to recommend.
Ultimately it became clear – the Le DAC is a DAC for people that don’t need to know (or care) what a DAC does, but want to listen to the most enjoyable system possible. This may just be the last DAC most of us need…
The Métronome Le DAC is amongst the most musical and yes, kind, DACs available. Pricing reasonable considering what’s on offer.
A slightly more adventurous design would be welcomed.
A middle aged reviewer using ‘Le’ too much is a tired dad joke …
Price as reviewed: R106 500 inc VAT
The Métronome Le DAC was provided as a review sample, and was reviewed as part of the AVInside reference system. No promotional consideration was paid.
- 32 bits / 768 kHz in dual-mono
- Dynamic range : 175 dB // Distorsion + noise : -140 dB // Internal processor 32 bit Frequency bands 32 to 211 kH
- Class A Polarization Bandwidth : 10 Hz – 20 kHz +/- 0.1 dB Dynamic range : 123 dB
- All inputs accept signals from 44.1 to 192 kHz: S / PDIF 75 Ohms RCA AES / EBU connector 110 Ohms XLR connector Optical Toslink connector USB type B: PCM and DSD signals from 44.1 to 384 kHz
- Unbalanced 3 V RMS @0dB – 47 KOhms – RCA connectors
- Balanced 3 V RMS @0 dB – 600 Ohms – XLR connectors
- 3 toroidal transformers with 10 independent regulation lines
- 120/240 VAC – 50/60 Hz
- Consumption : 35 VA
Dim. (LxHxW) : 425 x 130 x 415 mm
Weight : 12 kg
- Consumption : 35 VA