Oh, come on! Are you kidding, Mayflower? Pssh. Just take my $1000 deposit for the next few renditions of the O2 now, if you don’t mind. If you are an audio enthusiast, you should know that the O2 Amp/DAC is one of the most prolifically spoken of audio products ever…and rightly so. Mayflower has really raised the price to performance bar with this Rev.B O2 combo unit and I must say that I am impressed.
Mayflower sent me the O2 Dac and Amp combo a few weeks ago and I’ve not stopped using it since, I’m clearly an addict and I can freely admit that. Revised and upgraded from the already awesome O2 of old…not sure how that is possible for this price tag, but they’ve done a fabulous job. This little company sprouted up in 2012 and in the wake of Nwavguy (an infamous Head Fi’er who protested from the mountain tops so severely, that he’d had no choice but to try to fashion his own amplifier to avoid price gouging.)
Mayflower and Yoyodyne Consulting Inc. paired up and followed suit, basing their version off the core design of Nwavguy’s ideas. Thusly, we’ve the Objective2 Rev.B: a USB DAC and Amplifier combo in one unit casing that rivals much more expensive USB DAC models from various other audio companies. Mayflower also offers a 10 year warranty on each O2 and tests each unit thoroughly before shipment, just in case you were wondering.
This O2 offers a rock solid, aluminum build from top to bottom and feels like a solid chuck of metal. The connection ports for audio and power showcase zero jiggle and feel very firm and of a higher quality than most sub $300 amplifiers and USB DAC’s that I’ve messed with in my time. This Rev.B offers the power cable and USB input on the rear side, with gain, 3.5mm output and volume control on the front panel. No fancy interconnects included, just the power cable.
New vs Old: Quoted from Mayflower/Yoyodyne Consulting Inc.
The ODAC-revB was not created to replace the original ODAC created by Yoyodyne Consulting and NwAvGuy with a superior design but to extend the life of the Ojective DAC concept promoted by NwAvGuy. The ODAC-revB was created to deal with unforeseen component issues. The resulting board has the same footprint as the original and is a drop-in replacement.
At this time it was decided to move to a new UAC1 interface chip. The SA9023 has been around for a few years and I have had no problems with designs using this chip. The SA9023 supports 16/24 bit depths with all sample rates from 44.1-96k including 16b / 88.2K.
With a change in the major components there is an accompanying change in layout. Multiple reversions made sure the maximum performance was squeezed from the chip set. It should be noted the Micrel LDO regulators have been replaced with higher performance ADP151 devices.
The performance comparison chart below shows one of the last ODAC boards built compared to one of the first ODAC-revB boards. From the side by side comparison you can see the combination of SA9023 and PCM5012A has improved numbers for all measured parameters with jitter showing the largest improvement.
An an added bonus the ODAC-revB supports direct connection to an Apple iPad using the Apple Camera Connection Kit.
I expected no less than stellar performance from the O2 and that is what I received. This is, without a doubt, the best DAC and Amplifier sub $300 on planet Earth with regard to price to performance. I’ve not experienced a DAC this clean and clear since the last generation of the O2 and that’s really says something. Nwavguy shouldn’t have been so hostile with his opinions with certain administrators on a certain forum, even if he was justified in saying what he wanted.
The truth is something I seek in my audio endeavors, as a journalist (self-proclaimed) I enjoy reading insightful blogs, measurements and crystal clean information regarding various areas of the Hifi experience. Here, with the O2 and what is has achieved, is nothing short of spectacular in terms of price to performance: The Golden Product, so to speak. One DAC to rule them all and in the darkness bind them, the Sith Lord of DAC’s and Super Saiyan of USB sourcesfor the budget conscious buyer.
Substance, or heft in the audio signature, is a quality that most audio enthusiasts don’t seem to care much about. It seems like a lot of the elitists just pick up the HD800 and go with it, not realizing it sounds thinner than most of the other flagship headphones out there, so too does the O2. This quality regarding the lack of thickness and weight carried in the sonic spectrum is troublesome to me, but most listeners really could care less and it all depends on your preferences.
The O2 lacks a weighted sound signature that keeps me interested when paired with certain headphones, falling short in comparison to a noticeable degree when pitted against the likes of the iBasso DX90 portable players internal DAC ( dual 9018K’s). That iBasso sounds denser and realistic with most of the headphones I have on hand, especially so in the Summit level price tier.
As a result of that lack of sonic density (think Audeze LCD-series vs the HD800 in terms of thickness in the stereo void) the O2 relays most tracks that are recorded before the digital era in a manner I am not at all fond of. Before digital processing started, let’s use Michael Jackson’s older recordings like the Thriller album, the sound signature of most recordings was noticeably thinner, albeit more grandiose as well in staging properties. But, with that older style sound signature comes a shoulder shrug worthy experience that is only fixed by using the O2 with amplifiers with a thick enough sound signature to totally overshadow the O2’s natural sound type.
When combined with the certain headphones that also naturally offer a heftier sound, the O2 will balance out nicely and nothing will sound lacking. However, with certain other lower tier headphones from Grado, Sennheiser or Audio Technica, you can expect a bit of a dragging thinness type-signature in substance factor compared to the likes of the Schiit stacked Modi and Magni.