In Barn for Review: Wattson Madison Streaming DAC

You may recall my enthusiasm for the Wattson Emerson Analog, a nicely priced and built little streaming DAC I reviewed back in November of last year. Well the Madison is Emerson’s big brother.

And by big, I really bigger as the Wattson Madison Streaming DAC is less than 7″ wide. Little, but bigger.

In addition to the Roon Ready Ethernet input there are 2 digital inputs (Coax, Toslink) joined by single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs. A DC In is where you plug in the included external 5V DC medical grade power supply. And for those not ready for Roon, the Emerson also supports UPnP/DLNA, AirPlay, Tidal Connect, Audirvãna, and through the free Wattson app for Android and iOS devices, Qobuz and more.

Like the smaller Emerson Analog (review), the Madison is CNC-machined from a solid slab-O-aluminum. You’ll also find that the Madison supports every file resolution that matters (and more!) and sports the same lossless LEEDH Processing volume control as found in the Emerson.

I will note that since my last Wattson review, the company was purchased by Switzerland’s CH Precision and all Wattson gear, including this very sample, is now manufactured in the CH Precision facility in Préverenges.

Is bigger, but still small, better? We shall hear!


Wattson Madison Streaming DAC
Price: $3500
Company Website: Wattson Audio

Key Features

  • Proprietary bit perfect and asynchronous streaming solution
  • 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

Performance

  • 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): 2,0V RMS
  • XLR output level (0dB FS): 4,0V RMS
  • Signal-to-noise, weighted (SNR-A): > 120dB
  • Harmonic distortion (THD+N, 0dB FS): < 0,001%
  • Headphone output: 2x 150mW on 32Ω, 2x 50mW on 150Ω, 2x 10mW on 600Ω

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

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 (1050g)
  • Power supply: 5V DC, external, medical grade
  • Power consumption: 50mW (idle), 3,5 W (playing)

Compatibility

  • Supported compression formats: WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA
  • Control protocols: UPnP/DLNA, AirPlay, TIDAL connect, Roon Ready, Audirvãna
  • Streaming services brought by the Wattson Music app: TIDAL¹, Qobuz², airable radios

¹ requires a TIDAL service account and subscription, not included with the product
² requires a Qobuz service account and subscription, not included with the product