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Wattson Audio Madison Network DAC Unveiled

Are you looking for a network DAC to run directly into an amplifier or pair of powered loudspeakers? The Wattson Audio Madison might be for you.

Wattson Audio Madison DAC Front LIfestyle

Wattson Audio were not thrilled with our review of the Emerson DIGITAL Streamer so it’s unlikely that we’re going to see the brand new, Wattson Audio Madison Network DAC sent to us for review but I think there are a lot really interesting features on this new network DAC and it addresses a number of the issues that I had with the Emerson; lack of connectivity options and a control app that wasn’t ready for prime time.

The Emerson Digital is actually a good network streamer but I found the tonal balance too cool for my tastes.

Wattson have expanded the number of supported platforms with the Madison and the Roon-Ready option is a good way to go with it based on my experience with the Emerson.

Wattson Audio Madison DAC Front Coax with Headphones

The €2,660 Wattson Audio Madison is also a headphone amplifier and preamplifier that can be connected directly to a power amplifier or pair of powered speakers.

The DAC on the Madison has also been upgraded to 32-bit/384kHz PCM via streaming and 24-bit/192kHz via the S/PDIF digital input. DSD is also supported and it doesn’t look like MQA has been added.

The build quality on the Emerson was very good and it was very easy to setup and forget on my network and I can’t imagine that the Madison will be any different.

My only advice would be to make sure the tonal balance works with your headphones and amplifier/loudspeakers — Wharfedale/Harbeth/Q Acoustics would be great in this scenario.

Wattson Audio Madison DAC with Nuprime

Technical Specifications

Key Features

  • Proprietary streaming solution by engineered SA, bit perfect and asynchronous
  • Support for PCM and DSD high-definition formats
  • New up-sampling process with time-domain optimization, legacy of the famous Anagram Technology up-samplers
  • Lossless LEEDH Processing volume control for direct connection to power amplifiers
  • Adjustable bass response to compensate for speaker placement near walls
  • Ultra-low phase noise oscillators
  • One D/A converter chip per channel in dual differential mode
  • Full-symmetric analogue output stages
  • Very low-noise power supply circuits
  • CNC-machined out of a solid aluminium block
  • Design, manufacturing and assembling entirely made in Switzerland
Wattson Audio Madison DAC Rear

​Connectivity

  • Network input: 100Mbit/s Ethernet
  • Digital inputs: 1x S/PDIF on RCA connector, PCM and 1x S/PDIF on TOSLink
  • Analog outputs: 1x unbalanced on RCA connectors and 1x balanced on XLR
  • Headphone output: 6.35mm Jack connector

Restitution

  • Supported compression formats: WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA
  • Control protocols: UPnP/DLNA, AirPlay compatibility, Roon Ready
  • Streaming services brought by the Wattson Music app: TIDALQobuzairable radios

Performances

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  • Network streaming resolution: PCM up to 32-bit 384kHz, DSD up to 256x (11.2896MHz)
  • S/PDIF input resolution: PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz
  • RCA output level (0dB FS): 2.1V RMS
  • XLR output level (0dB FS): 4.2V RMS
  • Signal-to-noise, weighted (SNR-A): typ.124dB
  • Harmonic distortion (THD+N, 0dB FS): typ. 0.001%
  • Headphone output: 2x 100mW on 32 ohms, 2x 25mW on 150 ohms

Mechanical and electrical characteristics 

  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 6.9 x 7.3 x 1.9in (174 x 185 x 47mm)
  • Weight: 2.31lb (1050 grams)
  • Power supply: 5V DC, external, medical grade
  • Power consumption: 50mW (idle), 4,5 W (playing)

Where to buy: €2,660 at Wattson Audio

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