Home > USB AUDIO > Musiland 03 US

Musiland 03 US

Musiland has introduced a new version of their MONITOR series of USB audio interfaces. The Monitor 03 US will be available in July and incorporates a series of advancements as summarized in the table below.

You can see from the photo the I2S lines (they are on the same pins as before). Like before, easy to tap to feed a higher-end external DAC. Is it worth it to get the new 03 US for modding? Possibly if you also plan to use the DAC and headphone sections are the enhancement are mostly in those areas.

Enhancements in the USB/FPGA sections are small and perhaps not worthwhile to pay 3X the price of a Monitor MINI

Comparison with 02US

Feature 02US 03US Comparison
USB Interface CY7C68013A-56PVXC CY7C68013A- 56LTXC Same device, different packaging SSOP vs QFN. Still USB2 speeds since CY is just barely releasing the USB3 version of the device
24 Mhz Crystal 24 MHz CTS-CB3 Oscillator
Phase Jitter (12kHz-20MHz): < 1 ps RMS. Functionally it is the same as before, it provides the reference clock for the CY USB chip which then feeds the FPGA. Using an oscillator will likely result in lower overall jitter.The clock in my device is a 50ppm, 3.3V part
FPGA XC3A50A XC3S200A The larger FPGA has 4 DCMs that can be dedicated to generate the 44.1 and 48K family of sample rates. Rather than reloading the multipliers every time there is a change in sample frequency family, they can be loaded at all times enabling fast switching of sample frequency [How the clocks are generated]. Thus there is no “fast” and “precision” Sample Rate Control modes in the Musiland control panel
DAC PCM1793 PCM1798 Dynamic Range: 113 dB vs 123 dB
THD+N: 0.001% vs 0.0005%The PCM1798 is capable of supporting 384Khz sample rate even if not specified in the data sheet. Thus 384Khz SR is supported without resampling all the way up to the DAC
I/V OP275 MC33079
Noise: 6 nV/√Hz vs 4.5 nV/ Hz
Distortion: 0.0006% vs 0.002%
Slew Rate: 22 V/µs vs 7.0 V/µs
Bandwidth: 9 MHz vs 16 MHz
Perhaps the weak link of the entire design? MC33079 is not a well known “audio” device (say as compared to the OPA 4134). See section below for Musiland’s point of view
Head Amp None TPA6120 03 has a high performance headphone amp: SNR: 120 dB; THD+N: 0.00014%. This is also used in other “high-end” designs
Output Toslink, Coax Toslink, MULINK Mulink is a Musiland proprietary interface for 32 bit transfer and beyond. It is here to connect to their DACs and future technologies
USB Interface USB2 USB3 03 has a USB3 connector, leveraging the higher power of USB3 (900mA vs 500 mA). The interface speed is still USB2 because of the CY chip used.
Power Mains DC-DC supply USB DC-DC supply According to Musiland, “new technology” has been developed for DC-DC step-uo, step-down and regulation in order to all the electronics to >90% of their performance from USB power. The first implementation of this technology is the Musiland 03 US
Other EEPROM There is an I2C EEPROM chip on the backside of the board
Street Price $125 $160 Already available at TaoBao for about 200 RMBs more than the Musiland 02US. Also available from Tam Audio
More Photos Soomal Soomal Overall, you can see an advancement of manufacturing technology with the use of finer-featured devices

About the choice of opamp

As shown  in the table, every component in this new device is “top notch” and well known in the audio circles, except of the opamp.

The new opamp used for I/V conversion has lower noise, but higher distortion as compared to the previous device and especially compared to popular opamps such as the OPA4134.

In addition, the slew rate is also lower: 7 V/us vs 20V/us. Should this be a “concern”? As explained here, even 7 V/us is an overkill for up to 20KHz audio content:

SLEW RATE: Despite what you may have heard or read you only need 0.2 V/uS slew rate per volt of RMS output to perfectly reproduce any signal you’ll ever find on a CD. That number has been verified by several well respected audio engineers like Douglas Self. And it’s conservative–It assumes a worst case full output at 20 Khz which pretty much never happens anywhere but on a test bench. The E7 has about 1.8 volts maximum output, so it needs 0.36 V/uS for the absolute worst case.

Here is another observation from the same blog:

…Any op amp with a slew rate of 3 V/uS or greater is fast enough for nearly any audio application on the planet. And op amps like the 5532 can easily have bandwidths out to 200+ Khz in most applications which results in negligible phase shift or “delays” in the audio band.

Update 7/1/11:

I asked the question of opmap choice at the Musiland forums. This is the answer I got:

Why not use OPA4134 instead of MC33079?
It seems every component is top class for audio except MC33 …
glt 发表于 2011-7-2 00:33

MC33079小信号放大的性能远超OPA4134,其输入截止电压(OFFSET VOLTAGE)仅有0.15mv,对声音的细节刻画要远好于OPA4134和OPA4228。

Basically the MC33079 is a better fit to their system as compared to other “more popular” opamps such as the OPA4134. Key in their research is the “small signal” behavior and in particular the offset voltage. Looking at their data sheet, the OPA4134 has an offset voltage of 0.5mV  whereas the MC3309 has an offset voltage of 0.15 mV…

Input offset voltage translate into errors in an opamp circuit. According to this entry:

Another practical concern for op-amp performance is voltage offset. That is, effect of having the output voltage something other than zero volts when the two input terminals are shorted together. Remember that operational amplifiers are differential amplifiers above all: they’re supposed to amplify the difference in voltage between the two input connections and nothing more. When that input voltage difference is exactly zero volts, we would (ideally) expect to have exactly zero volts present on the output.

I suppose as a head amp, it is important to care about noise and offset voltage especially because the device is seldom used at full output (as in the case of a DAC alone) and the volume is controlled in the digital domain. In this two parameters, the MC opamp has better specifications than the OPA part. I believe the choice made by Musiland on the MC opamp makes good engineering sense.

Here is a photo of my own Musiland 03:

8/30/11: Becoming more available. You can purchase in Hong Kong for HK$1080 That is about US$ 140

  1. July 4, 2011 at 20:50

    Thanks for all the information. Where will we be able to purchase the Monitor 03 US?

  2. BlogGeanDo
    July 5, 2011 at 17:25

    In the past, I’ve purchased from http://www.tamaudio.com

    • July 13, 2011 at 17:05

      Yeap, Tam Audio had it in stock just today. Good to know. Now I’m curious about about this MULINK connector… will that be able to be converted into a coax connection? I wonder where I can find pinout information.

      • BlogGeanDo
        July 13, 2011 at 23:58

        I guessed the US$ price correctly :-)… The mulink is probably more related to I2S than to spdif coax… But I haven’t been able to find out any technical details. If you do, please share…

  3. July 9, 2011 at 09:36

    I can’t agree with the justification for 7V/uS in I/V application. Sure the low slew rate of 0.36V/uS is based on the maximum rate of change of a sinewave at 20kHz. However an opamp’s slew rate is a hard limit, even before this limit distortion is increasing fairly rapidly due to LTP non-linearity (tanh transfer function). In an I/V application it is the steps of the DAC output which determine the slew rate requirement – using a low slew-rate amp means a larger feedback is called for to prevent the opamp reaching the slew limit.

  4. July 9, 2011 at 09:37

    sorry, meant to say ‘larger feedback capacitor’….

  5. BlogGeanDo
    July 9, 2011 at 15:39

    Richard, good to know, thanks!

  6. July 19, 2011 at 15:55

    I’ve been looking around this site and the old Blogger site to try and find specifics on the Hifiduino project, such as schematics/wiring diagrams to Arduino/LCD/etc. but haven’t found any. Could someone point me in the right direction?
    I’m looking forward to using the Musiland 03 US as USB input from my computer (for 32 bit/192 kHz support!), connected to the Buffalo III via I2S or something similar. Where does the Arduino come into the mix?

  7. BlogGeanDo
    July 20, 2011 at 02:13

    Here is a good place to start: https://hifiduino.wordpress.com/introduction-and-guide-to-hifiduino/. To get I2S out of Musiland III you’ll have to tap the lines that goes into the on-board DAC. You can see how I did it with the Musiland MINI: https://hifiduino.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/revisiting-musiland-monitor-i2s-output/

    • July 20, 2011 at 17:21

      Thank you very much! That should be enough info to keep me going 🙂
      So from what I understand, the DAC and amp components of the Musiland are completely bypassed when tapping the I2S lines to send to the Buffalo III, correct?
      Also figured I should ask… will the current Hifiduino code be compatible with the Buffalo III?

  8. BlogGeanDo
    July 21, 2011 at 22:34

    From memory I think I need to change the value of one register. I’ll take a look at the code and write something up about using the code for BIII

    • July 22, 2011 at 15:40

      That would be greatly appreciated; thank you!
      I’m excited to order a BIII when they become available. I wonder if I should go for dual mono… 😀

  9. July 31, 2011 at 00:23

    I just received my 03 US. Is this correct for I2S outputs from the PCM1798 DAC?
    Pin 4 = LRCK
    Pin 5 = DATA
    Pin 6 = BCK
    Pin 7 = SCK (Is this MCK?)

  10. BlogGeanDo
    July 31, 2011 at 03:32

    I2S input to the DAC. If you plan to tap those lines, you don’t need SCK as the Buffalo generates its own clock. So 3 lines plus gnd.

  11. George
    October 7, 2011 at 19:25

    I also doubted the use of the MC opamp in another product. Went to the trouble of trying a OPA4134 and LM837. The MC sounded better.


    • BlogGeanDo
      October 8, 2011 at 01:42

      Thanks for sharing. That gives additional confidence that there is good engineering behind their products…

  12. Egidio
    May 25, 2012 at 10:21

    Bad news 😦
    Yesterday, from RCA output, my Musiland 03 US (bought at the end of the last february) began to emit an intolerable hissing sound. This hiss is not present to the headphone output. Of course, I tested my amplifier and I had the confirmation that the problem cames from RCA output of the Musiland. I tried also another USB port (USB 3.0 and USB 2.0), but the hiss still remained.
    I bought it from TAMAUDIO and I hope in their Customer Service …
    In my opinion, this is a power supply issue and I suspect that the improvements in the 03 US Dragon were also done to solve some problems in the stage of increase of voltage from the USB port.

    • BlogGeanDo
      May 25, 2012 at 18:35

      Let us know how to handle the warranty…

  13. Egidio
    May 25, 2012 at 18:49

    Until now, no response from TAMAUDIO. I tried their “return” request page, but it doesn’t work: there is no possibility to choice the “Reason for Return” (required field).
    So, I used “contact us” two times: this morning and this evening, but no response … until now.

    • BlogGeanDo
      May 26, 2012 at 21:58

      I thought about your problem a bit more, and took a look at how the output is connected. The I/V opamp feeds both the H/D driver and the RCA outs. If you don’t hear any hiss from the headphone, then the problem seems to be confined to the RCA out. At most there could be a capacitor between the opamp out and the RCA. Check for bad solder joints or bad capacitors. Is the hissing sound from both channel or just one channel? The same on both channels? Also does the hissing change with change in volume?

  14. Egidio
    May 27, 2012 at 09:21

    As I wrote in the Musiland forum, yes, the hissing sound came from both channels and increased with the volume. I say “came”, because I think I found the solution yesterday
    I cheked all the signal chain, from the PC, the CD Reader and the turntable to the loudspeakers and I found the copper of a ground cable (from the amplifier PS) connected to the ground of the RIAA equalizer that touched the CD Reader cabinet.
    Instinctively, I moved and rearranged the cable and the hissing sound was gone!
    I’m still wondering how that cable has been reduced so and why.
    The only suspicion is that my wife has had a hand in to the system to remove dust.

    So, the Musiland Monitor 03 US seems OK !!!!

    I sholud say that TAMAUDIO Customer Service is completely absent: two contacts without a respone.
    I’m sorry to have to say that also MUSILAND Custom Service has not shone in sensitivity and efficiency.


    • BlogGeanDo
      May 28, 2012 at 19:27

      Good to hear. I didn’t make sense that the headphone output was quiet and line was not, especially since the line output (after the i/v opamp) also feeds the headphone driver chip. Regarding Musiland, I’ll have to say that whenever I post a question in English, they seldom answer.

  15. Egidio
    May 28, 2012 at 20:14

    Thanks a lot for your interest.
    About Musiland responses: government “guidelines”? 🙂

  16. Anonymous
    August 24, 2014 at 01:52

    I would like to know what is the asio latency on this card?
    I want to use it with Cubase and Kontakt so asio latency has to be below 6-5 ms.

    • BlgGear
      September 5, 2014 at 22:56

      Don’t know. I use it for playback.

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