Merason Frérot + pow1: Extra power for the DAC

Mar 6, 2022 - 18:02
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Merason Frérot + pow1: Extra power for the DAC

Merason Frérot arrived, played a few bars in the listening room, and we were smitten. We'd never heard a DAC in the 1,000 euro price range produce such a natural, gorgeous sound. The enthusiasm was palpable, and orders from the editorial environment were routed to the sales department (CM-Audio).

The sole "genuine" complaint was that such a little, off-the-shelf plug-in power supply couldn't possibly extract the entire available sound performance from the MIDI box. "Of course not," its designer, Daniel Frauchiger, said, "but at that price…?"

The sensitive Swiss have now enhanced and installed a power supply unit that is adequate in every way alongside the little DAC.

Merason Frérot + pow1 has been the magic formula since then.

The special features

The DAC 1 (price: 5 300 $), the big brother of the Frérot (French: tiny brother).

Exciting high resolution and purest transparency can also be found elsewhere, particularly in the high-price category. However, such a calm, well-playing converter is really rare. The devices are frequently identical to their creators. The same is true at Merason, where the very comfortable Mr. Frauchiger creates very relaxed-sounding DACs.

The Frérot is, of course, very closely related to its big brother in many ways. Frauchinger, for example, used the DAC classic BurrBrown 1794A in the Frérot.

Frauchinger is not interested in the decathlon world champion, but in the "best-sounding" DAC. He believes he discovered it in 1794A. The fact that the two-channel converter module is only utilized singly, as opposed to the DAC-1 (dual mono usage), makes no difference in principle: Tonally, the Frérot sounds very close to the big DAC-1.

Now comes the power supply pow1. Anyone who has worked with a superior external power supply understands how useful these discreet gadgets can be.

For decades, Naim engineers, in particular, have been extolling the benefits of a superior power supply: A glance through the Naim catalog nearly gives the idea that the British devices, without the supplementary power supply components on offer (which are not inexpensive), cannot be regarded seriously.

And if you've ever attended one of Naim's earlier courses on the subject, you might have had the same thought…

Perhaps one or both will object that $750 seems a bit high, especially when compared to the examples above. However, the pow1 complements the Frérot well and is entirely handcrafted in Switzerland. Of course, this is more expensive than if it were produced on an Asian assembly line.

A check beneath the hood also clarifies matters. This is a real device: the transformer and filter capacitor block is large enough to power small or medium-sized integrated amplifiers. Everything is done cleanly, and the steel case (the same size as the Frérot) hides the DAC circuits from the power supply's electrical emissions.

The connection to the Frérot is quite straightforward, and it is made using the accompanying solid, multi-pin cable, which is long enough to place the two devices adjacent to each other.

It is undeniably a relatively inexpensive option for music enthusiasts who already own a Frérot to elevate the sound of digital sources to the next level. When viewed as a whole, the duo faces substantially more and stronger competition. If you want your DAC to be "Always higher, quicker, and further" - upsampling, MQA, and so on may be mentioned - the modestly equipped Frérot is not a suitable choice.

However, from an audiophile standpoint, the Merason Frérot + pow1 are a true announcement.

Concept:DAC with external power supply
DAC:PCM Burr Brown 1794A
Particularities:AFDS (Air Film Damping System)
inputs2 xx SPDIF (RCA), 2 xx Toslink (optical), 1 x USB
exitsXLR balanced 4 volts RMS, RCA 2 volts RMS
Dimensions Frérot:
Dimensions pow1:
Weight Frerot / pow1:0.9/1.2 kilos