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Metrum Acoustics replace Hex with Transient R-2R Menuet

  • Cees Rujtenberg doesn’t do off-the-shelf DAC chips – Wolfson, ESS, Cirrus Logic etc. – as per the majority of the world’s D/A converters. Nor does he take the FPGA + software path as beaten by Ted Smith for PS Audio or Rob Watts for Chord Electronics.

    Metrum Acoustics’ early models, specifically the Octave and the Hex (reviewed here), went about their decoding business with unspecified (read: secret) industrial chips. That was 2013.

    A year on from that, Rujtenberg introduced a new flagship DAC in the Pavane, whose special sauce featured in-house designed R-2R decoders (!) sealed inside trademarked ‘Transient’ modules. Each module houses a pair of decoders. With four modules per channel in the Pavane’s full width chassis we get an octet of Transient module action in (effectively) dual mono config. Pricing came it at €4090 – more than acceptable for a flagship model of its ilk but far from affordable.

    At the Munich HighEnd show in May, Rujtneberg alluded to an impending trickledown of the R-2R-loaded Transient modules. And sure enough, in August came the Musette, replacing the Octave MKII. The newcomer sported one Transient module per side. Yours for €1033 (+ VAT if ordering within the EU).

    Now comes the Hex replacement. The Menuet drops the industrial chip of its forerunner, replaced by (you guessed it) R-2R ladder DAC Transient modules. The chassis is a mirror of the Hex’s two-thirds-full width. “However to avoid internal vibration the electronics are built in a well-damped  sub-chassis,” says Rujtenberg.


    On the inside, we see the Menuet has four Transient modules fitted to a single board – two modules per channel. That’s half as many as the Pavane, twice as many as the Musette. Incoming digital data is split between two 12-bit DAC clusters inside each Transient module bank with each cluster processing a portion of the data in its most linear region. The upshot is reportedly a full 24 bits in the analogue domain.

    The Metrum mainman continues: “This (all) contributes to the flawless positioning of instruments. The result of this process is an extremely fast and accurate behavior and brings  listening experience on a higher level.” 

    According to Rujtenberg, “These modules can handle extreme high sampling rates but are limited to current industry standards.” Translation: the USB input maxes out at 384kHz PCM.

    Pricing reflects the Menuet’s halfway house positioning between the Musette and the Pavane: €2730 (+ 21% VAT for residents of the EU). Buyers pushing the button before the end of February 2016 get their Menuet for €2455.

    Further information: Metrum Acoustics

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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    1. It seems the ‘trickledowm’ goes further still. Tucked away in Metrum’s OEM offerings is one Transient module which can be ‘ordered for DIY.’ An approach that resembles fellow countrymen, Hypex B.V.

    2. From the Metrum website:

      “The Menuet is using four Transient™ R2R ladder modules as used in the Pavane.

      Like the Pavane digital data will be split over two 12 bit clusters. Each dac cluster processes a portion of the data in the most linear region of the dac chips and as a result a full 24 bits range in the analog domain will be realized.”

      From my limited understanding, it seems to me that this “data will be split over two 12 bit clusters” would only be possible for single ended stereo in the Menuet, since I think two dac chips per channel would be required for this feature and there are only four dac chips total in the Menuet. I think eight dac modules would be required for this feature in balanced mode – like in the Pavane.

      So does the “digital data will be split over two 12 bit clusters” happen for both single ended and balanced output, or just for single ended, or not at all in either mode?

      I am suspecting it is not at all because the similar OEM module does not mention this feature and seems to indicate only two dac chips are used in single ended mode:

      “At least two dac modules should be used (only single ended mode)”

      Also the DAI one information indicates that this feature is used with the Mono Dac motherboard as used in the Pavane, rather than the Stereo Dac motherboard as used in the Menuet.

      “FPGA / DSP option

      In conjunction with the Mono Dac Motherboard it will split up the incoming data stream into two new data streams. Both streams feeding one of the dac clusters on the Mono Dac Motherboard. The result is an 24 bits resolution having extreme linearity down to -140 dB.”

      • These questions are best answered by Cees himself – I’ll give him the heads up. 🙂

        EDIT: From the horse’s mouth: “Hi John. This question came in two days ago and is answered already. The problem is that the guy is comparing OEM with the Menuet . Parts from the Menuet are not available for OEM and not comparable. Next the standard DAC One module available for OEM differs from the one used in the Menuet. Kind regards, Cees”

        • Thank you for investigating John.

          Yeah that was me asking them earlier via their info email address. They were concerned about protecting their intellectual property (fair enough) and mentioned OEM is different without providing much detail and would not directly answer this specific question which I think is quite valid since there appear to be only 4 dac modules in the Menuet:

          So does the “digital data will be split over two 12 bit clusters” happen for both single ended and balanced output, or just for single ended, or not at all in either mode?

          Since the response you got is actually from Cees (rather than their sales) I am more inclined to be placated by it. Maybe the dac modules used in the Menuet contain dual channel dacs rather than single channel?

          In any case, as it stands I think they are saying that the “digital data will be split over two 12 bit clusters” will happen for both single ended and balanced output. I’ll leave it at that.

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