Home > USB AUDIO > Musiland 03US Dragon

Musiland 03US Dragon

Update (6/13/12): Soomal has a posting with high-res photos

Update (5/11/12): Released. Performance-wise, a small improvement over the regular 03US. However, the new version completely overhauls the power section

Summary of improvements:

  • Limited edition (9500 units) to commemorate the Year of the Dragon
  • Price is 999 RMBs (compared to 868 RMBs for the current 03US model). At the current exchange it is US $160
  • External looks identical to the regular 03US model except for a silk-screened “dragon” icon
  • I/V op-amp upgraded from MC33079 to LME49740 
  • All new digital power section similar to 03 USD
  • All new analog power section boosting the headphone amp section to 18V
  • “Greener”: 95% efficient at low volume, 90% efficient at max volume (for headphone)

The digital power section of the 03 Dragon is exactly the same as in the 03USD

Power section of 03 Dragon

Power section of 03USD

The PHKI is an adjustable switching regulator from TI: TSP62200 (or one of its variants) switching regulator. Thus the use of large inductors. This is certainly an innovation. Switching regulator technology has developed tremendously especially driven by by mobile device industry segment. If indeed this configuration is more effective and lower noise to what they were using before, then the jitter performance can be somewhat improved by providing cleaner power to the FPGA.

The I/V opamp has been upgraded to “audiophile grade”

LME49740  in the 03US Dragon

MC33079 in the original 03US

  1. Sam
    May 15, 2012 at 21:58

    Were can a US buyer buy a 03 dragon? I have looked all over the internet/E-bay for one.
    The LME I/V Opamp may improve the sound over the stock 03.

    Sure wish they included a SPDIF!

    I have bought an 02 Dragon and a 01 for comparison purposes

    • BlogGeanDo
      May 16, 2012 at 05:18

      I have emailed the guy running tamaudio.com and purchased items not shown in his store.

    • BlogGeanDo
      May 16, 2012 at 17:04

      Please share your findings when you compare the different devices

      • Sam
        May 16, 2012 at 17:43

        I sure will. Looking at them from a PC interface perspective as well as a straight DAC. I have tried to many DACs to count – my favorites are the tube versions. I own two now an APL DAC that uses 6 32-bit AKM per channel, is transformer coupled, and has a tube output.
        The other is a Xindak DAC-5, with some nice NOS tubes.

        I’m hoping that Musiland comes out with a Hi Quality tube DAC with MULINK HI RE inputs. Then just run out of the 01 or 02 from USB 3.0 through MULINK, even the DxD files!

        I’ve been playing around with DxD files, and have had good success with Foobar and the SoX upsampler. Which can resample up to 192k – but also offers a 2x and 4x upsample option.

        I have a very large collection of digitized LPs done at 176.4k so a 2x would be 352.8. These sound great already, but curious to hear the difference at 352.

      • BlogGeanDo
        May 16, 2012 at 20:34

        Sounds it is going to be a very comprehensive analysis, even pushing the capabilities of the DACs to the limit. If you have no other vehicle to post your findings, I’ll be glad to post them here…

      • Sam
        May 16, 2012 at 23:54

        I will be glad to – also GOOD NEWS! I exchanged e-mails with AQVOX and they are about to release a version of their excellent linear regulated/filtered powers supply for USB 3.0 at the same price as their USB 2.0 version. Around $130 with a 240V to 120V transformer/filter/adapter.


        I have used the 2.0 version with much success with my Hi Face and Audiophilleo 2.0.

        On the Dragon 02 this sets up an interesting combination of powering possibilities.
        A linear DC PS for the analog (unit input) AND a separate linear PS (AQVOX via the USB 3.0 lines) for the digital.

        I plan on testing using both a motherboard USB 3.0 and a PCIe USB 3.0 card, as well as USB 3.0 cabling vs. high end Silnote USB 2.0 cables.

        Thanks for the great blog – really useful and through analysis and info!

  2. June 8, 2012 at 09:28

    How many channels of audio does it have?

    • BlogGeanDo
      June 9, 2012 at 18:27

      2-channel stereo

      • June 9, 2012 at 18:31

        In other words it can only playback 1 stereo stream of audio? Any hifi cards out there that can play more?

      • BlogGeanDo
        June 10, 2012 at 14:54

        The typical PC sound cards are multichannel….

      • June 10, 2012 at 18:47

        Or pro audio cards too. What latency does the ASIO drivers of the Dragon 3 offer?

  3. Pascal M. Dorion
    February 4, 2013 at 19:19

    I got a Monitor 01 US 2012 last night. How will it compare with the 03 Dragon?

  4. February 4, 2013 at 20:51

    Just finished my review of the Musiland USD 03, Dragon 02, US 3.0 as headphone amps/DACs and PC interfaces.

    Bottom line – the 03 USD is an exceptional Interface. In fact, it beat out the M2Tech EVO/with Acopian Linear PS (the best I have owned so far out of many)! Which I have now sold. I bought another 03 USD for my office system. It has become my reference. Wonderful sound, great interface software! So flexible and stable – surely beats the M2Tech non-interface.

    Here are the computer systems used for testing: Office system: Win 7.0 64bit/PC i5 Processor/ 8G Ram, 4 T of storage (2 -1T HDs and a USB 3.0 2-T WD external), SOtM CPU fan and PS filters, powering the USB 3.0 with a AQVOX linear USB 2.0 PS. Cardas Clear USB cable. Foobar2000 v1.1.8 – tried various output schemes, including Musliand ASIO, Musliand KS, JPlay, SoX upsampler, various bit depths and latencies. DAC – APL (6 AKM 32-bit DACs per channel, linear independent PS, ECC99 tube output).

    Main System: Win Vista 64bit/Core 2 Quad Q9300 4G/ 4 Tbs – (2- 1T HD and a 2-T HD). Using a SOtM tX-USB Audiophile PCI to USB Audio Card/and a fan-less ultra high quality PC supply in my main PC music server, SOtM CPU fan filter. Stilnote USB 2.0 USB cable. Foobar2000 v1.1.8 – tried various output schemes, including Musliand ASIO, Musliand KS, JPlay, SoX up-sampler, various bit depths and latencies. DAC – Xindak DAC5 with NOS Siemens Cca (1960s) tubes.

    I used my amp/speaker system and headphone system over many months and tweaks.
    Music was mostly Alt, some vocal, classical and jazz. Redbook tracks were up-sampled to 32/176k w/SoX ), native high resolution played without up-sampling. Test tracks are too numerous to list but inlcuded redbook wave files (burned using EAC), Vinyl played on a SOTA analog rig and recorded at high Res (32/176K), native DxD (32/352k)(curiosity of L2) and DsD (PCM re-sampled in foobar). Here are a few favorites: Florence and the Machine – Dog Days, David Gray – Please Forgive Me, Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark, Brand New – Degausser, Them Crooked Vultures – No One Loves Me and Neither Do I, Wiz Khalifa – Work Hard, Play Hard, Zedd -Spectrum, BOB – So Good, David Guetta – Titanium, Joseph Haydn – String Quart in D, Op 76 (DxD), From Let Us Garlands Bring – Come Away Death (DxD) etc…

    Well to summarize the sound of the Musiland USD 3.0 as an interface is just plain outstanding! Incredible detail, while always supremely musical. This is THE BEST value in high end audio – never even reviewed by a major publication (sad)! The sound stage is deep and wide, with a wonderful texturing of instruments – each presenting a holographic image. Great PRAT, dynamics with excellent bass clarity. Everything you could ask for. One note – highly sensitive (especially using headphones) to settings, for example in Foobar the simple changing of bit depth or buffer length in the output setting window has a significant effect on the sound (32 bit sounds best on most recordings, 260-1000ms buffer setting sounded the best).

    It was system dependent on the ASIO vs Kernel Streaming output. On the office system ASIO, on the main system KS had the greatest clarity. Somewhat a tradeoff of clarity (KS) vs smoothness (ASIO). You really need to play around with these setting to get the right blend. It is worth it…the difference between sounding good and magical!

    The rest of my system included Reference 3A Royal Masters (main), Dulcets (office), same Class A MOSFET hybred amps (6922 pre section), Tellurium Q Ultra Blacks (main) TQ Blacks (Office), Synergistic Research Power Chords and Digital RCA cables on each.

    I can not say enough good things about the USD 3.0 – how great this interface is when properly tweaked. The Dragon 02 was not even in the same league (even when powered by the Acopian 9V linear PS).

    Both as DACs not nearly as good, much better as interfaces. The sound stage compressed, tone thinned, a bit of edginess, etc… One note the DxD native files (24 bit/352K) played perfectly on both using the analog DAC outputs (using Foobar, no re-sampling), and sounded really good. When compared to the down-sampled (176K) run through the tube DACs it was a push. The tubes more musical, richer in tone, the SS DACs more lively (and I mean lively with DxD files!!!).

    On the Headphone side, my listening system is a Pair of Senn HD800s(upgraded Warren Audio cables). Woo Audio WA6SE (with upgraded caps, 6FD7 NOS tubes, NOS 1952 5u4g rec). In comparison the Musiland Dragon US 02 and US 3.0 were not even close. The US 3.0 was better, but had the same flat sound stage, thin tonality, edginess in the upper frequencies, hollow bottom. I do use the US 3.0 with my laptop as a portable “on the road system” with some Phillips noise cancelers. Now it is not fair to compare $1000 tube headphone amp to a $200 one, but I wish I could say it was a closer match.

    The sound from the HD800/Woo combination is incredible! The presentation is different from the amp/speaker system, a much more upfront (1st row vs 20th row) sound stage, but the level of detail retrieval is unsurpassed. I have heard sounds from recording that I have bee listening to for 20 years! Spooky good!

    I have photos – just let me know were to send. I hope you enjoy the review.

    • February 4, 2013 at 21:41

      Nice review Sam, what DAC do you use with your USD 3? When you gonna try the 03 Dragon, it has amazing specs with the TI amp.

    • BlgGear
      February 5, 2013 at 00:14

      Hi Sam5050,
      If you like I can post the photos and the review as a separate post and whatever else info you would like. Or if you have your own site, I can post a summary and link to your site. Either way, send me a photo :-): hifiduino A yahoo

      Very nice review BTW…

      • February 5, 2013 at 01:11

        Sure let’s start it as a separate post – photos on their way. Sorry this took so long – but I really wanted to do a through listening. Your help in cleaning up the grammar and any spelling would be much appreciated!

  5. February 4, 2013 at 22:17

    Hi Pascal –
    I don’t plan on getting the 03 Dragon – not a big fan of switching PS, wish they had an external bypass like on the 02 Dragon. As a DAC, these Musilands really can’t compete with a top end tubed DAC. Even a moderately priced one like the Xindak DAC5 with a high quality tube replacement (NOS), is ina whole other class. The Xindak can be had for $500-$600 bucks plus another $100 for a good NOS 6922 and may-be $150 for a good power cord, you have a really excellent DAC. THe Xindak also has a opamp based SS output, also a switchable upsampler.

    Obviously for a lot more money you can get something like the APL – 6 32bit AKM DAC per channel, linear power supplies, (my older version has the ECC99 tube output stage), a pro quality SPDIF receiver chip (this can handle 192K inputs with ease, the Xindak is limited to 176K), Linduhl transformer coupling (no caps), etc… Now you are in a whole other league.
    Sound and money wise.

    I had a MiniMax DAC plus which used the ESS9018 and offered both a tube and opamp based output. It had some nice features like Sabre ES9018 DAC chip, Separate Power Transformers for digital and analog sections, M2Tech OEM 24bit 192KHz Async USB input. It sounded good, about were the Xindak 5 was (with NOS tube), but much more expensive. So I sold it. The APL is in a whole other league. So much for the cult of the “Sabre ES9018” being the best DAC chip around!

    There are many fine high end DACs, like the Dcsi, the Lampizator, MSB etc…

    I tend to like the tonal richness, sound staging and musicality of the tube variety – best ound of the money.

    I’ll use the US 3 as an occasional on the road headphone/portable speaker rig. No need for the extra cost of the Dragon version.

  6. February 5, 2013 at 03:28

    Hi Pascal

    In taking the photos for the review – I realized I had the US 03 Dragon! I apologize for my previous quotes to the contrary!

  7. February 5, 2013 at 17:41

    So, when will you review it? I’m curious about how it fares with the latest 01 US.

  8. February 5, 2013 at 18:35

    You can read my review, when I mention the US 03, I am referring to the Dragon version. I have never heard or owned a US 03 non-Dragon. I apologize for the confusion, hopefully BlogGeanDI can make the correction when he re-posts the review with photos.

    I have never owned a US 01 either. So I really can’t compare them to the US 03 Dragon or 02 Dragon.

    I did have a 2012 USD 01, it was pretty good, as a PC interface it was better then the 02 Dragon, but not nearly as good as the USD 03.

    I did own the older version of the Monitor 02 (the one hard AC wired), the new 02 Dragon beats it in everyway.

    I have to say I do like the design concept and functionality of the new 02 Dragon. It has BOTH the SPDIF RCA output to feed an external DAC and the analog outputs (both RCA and dual Headphone jacks). This makes it a very versatile unit. I also liked the 02 Dragon’s built in volume control knob. Great as a extremely portable unit. You also have the power option of USB or 9V DC. The Musiland Windows Control Panel, makes it breeze to switch between digital and analogue outputs, even balance L/R channels.

    I really wanted the 02 Dragon to be the winner sound-wise – I really love this design -but unfortunately it is inferior to both the USD 03 as an interface and US 03 Dragon as a DAC/Headphone amp. It has a bit of a nasty edge to the treble, and a flattish sound stage. The use of the Acopian linear PS did help, but not enough to my ears.

    Gave the 02 Dragon to my son in college – he loves it! It is much better then the laptop headphone output! It would be a great gift for someone not so obsessed with sound quality. Add a pair of nice amped speakers (Bose) and some good headphones, and you have a really neat little audio system.

    • BlgGear
      February 5, 2013 at 20:33

      Hi Sam5050, while reading your reviews it seems you have two devices: the 03US Dragon and the 02US Dragon. But you also mention the 03USD as the best. So do you also have a 03USD?. The 03USD is digital out only…

  9. February 5, 2013 at 22:29

    Hi BlgGear, Yes, I have a 2012 03USD, So the units I tested were:

    2012 Monitor 01USD (as USB to SPDIF interface only)
    2012 Monitor 02 Dragon (as USB to SPDIF interface and as a DAC and as a headphone amp)
    2012 Monitor 03US Dragon (as a DAC and as a headphone amp)
    2012 Monitor 03USD (USB to SPDIF interface only)
    older Monitor 02 (used a USB to SPDIF interface and DAC and Headphone amp).

    So the point of the review:

    1)Are the Musiland Monitors with digital output the best USB to SPDIF interfaces I have heard(new standard). In other words better then the M2Tech EVO, Hi-face, Audiophilleo 2, John Kenny Mk 2, etc… That I had tried before. – answer = YES! Beat the best by a hair – the EVO,with a vastly better control panel.

    2)Are they reasonably good as an analog DAC? With the huge advantage of being able to easily handle native 24/352K files, could they match some really good tubed DACs? Answer – definitely NO! And that would be asking too much – I agree!

    3)Are they reasonably good headphone amps? Answer YES and NO. They are in no way in the same league as say a Woo Audio WA6SE, or even the EarMax, but they are pretty good and very portable.

    This why it took so long to do this review – a lot to sift through!

    It gets a bit confusing with all the different Musiland Monitors – I count 7 different models and versions. When I first read this blog it made me nuts! As I was unaware of the differences between the US (analog output) and the USD (digital output) designations. To make it worst they kind of look the same, without focusing on the input and output connections. Then to add to the confusion the limited issue Dragons started!

    I recommend Ebay, just type in Musiland Monitor, for a list of each different model and version, one can then open the ad to see the specs and pictures. It sure helped me.

  10. February 5, 2013 at 22:49

    One additional comment to eliminate confusion: Although the US versions have a Toslink (optical) digital output and the Mu-link digital output – they DO NOT have a SPDIF digital output. The sound quality over Toslink is vastly inferior to SPDIF. The Mu-link digital output is worthless right now.

    I hope Musiland ditches the Mu-link digital output in favor of ADDING a SPDIF (BNC or RCA either one) output on future versions of the Monitor 03US.

  11. February 6, 2013 at 01:27

    Thanks for clearing this up. How was the US3 Dragon better than the 01 USD?

  12. February 6, 2013 at 05:39

    Pascal – As you can see from my list above I tested the The 03US Dragon only as a DAC and Headphone amp since it has no SPDIF digital, the opposite for the 01USD. I did not compare them.

  13. rick
    April 16, 2013 at 14:24

    I am currently using my sony laptop as a jukebox and running it threw my yamaha reciever via headphone jack on laptop to rca connection on reciever. The sound quality is not what I want! Any suggestions on what the best dac and any other equipment to get the best sound quality?

    • BlgGear
      April 16, 2013 at 17:43

      Any of the Musiland devices with RCA output would be an enhancement to what you have right now…

  14. Diederik
    May 15, 2013 at 12:32

    Sam5050, as you have tested several musiland devices… can you tell me which can be used as an externa soundcard to amplify sounds for normal speakers (not headphones). Does the musiland 03 suits that purpose ?
    Is it correct that the only thing you have to do is plug it into your computer (install some software) and then can start using it ?

    • BlgGear
      May 15, 2013 at 15:42

      Yeah, that would work nicely. Especially the Dragon version has better output opamps (but costs more).

    • sam5050@comcast.net
      May 15, 2013 at 15:49

      Diederik – I would recommend the 03US Dragon. It has both RCA analog outputs and of course headphones as well. You will need either powered (active) speakers or some type of amp or receiver to non-powered speakers.

      The 03US Dragon is both a USB-PC interface and DAC.

      >Is it correct that the only thing you have to do is plug it into your computer (install some software) and then can start using it ?<

      Yes, I have no problems in my systems installing the driver/monitor software – WONDERFUL Monitor control window!

  15. Diederik
    May 15, 2013 at 16:47

    Sam5050, Thanks for your reply. I am a complete dummy in this stuff.
    Maybe I will explain what I want to do.
    I want to be able to play ultrasonic sounds (up to 100kHz). I understand I need a device that can play sample rates of 192kHz (to play a sound of 96kHz).

    As the sound card of my laptop/pc cannot play, I need an USB DAC converter (external sound card) that can handle sample rates of 192kHz or 384kHz.

    I do have speakers that can handle ultrasound frequencies.

    I have Vifa XT25SC90-04 speaker, I suppose this is passive as it is not getting any power. But why do I need an amp as I thought the Musiland was an amplifier ? Or is the musiland not an amplifier at all, but only a sound card. If so, do you know of an amplifier that can amplify such frequencies (because most amplfiers have a frequency response of up to 20kHz, but not much more), and that is reasonable in price ?


    • sam5050@comcast.net
      May 15, 2013 at 17:37

      The Musiland is not an amp – that you will need an integrated amp. This will one will get you pretty close – Bada Purer 3.3SE http://www.cattylink.com/purer33se.html. 5Hz-80kHz -3dB. Reasonable price. I use a version of this integrated – amazing sound.

      The Musiland can handle 192 and 384 easily. With a good mic, and audio software (i use WaveLab 6), you can record at these high sampling rates.

      You can poke around Catty link to see if there is an amp that better meets your needs. I have used them before and have had a good experience.

      Good luck!

    • BlgGear
      May 16, 2013 at 16:46

      Old amplifiers (like Sansui) were designed with 100KHz bandwidth…
      I am not sure if out-of-the box DACs would support 100KHz because there may be low pass filters in the output stage.

      • sam5050@comcast.net
        May 16, 2013 at 17:32

        Here is an amp that will output to 200KHz – only 6 watts though. But won’t run on 12V.

        Lyr Headphone Amplifier
        by Schiit

        Price: $449.00

        Headphone Impedance: 8-600 ohms
        Frequency Response: 2Hz-200KHz, -3dB
        Maximum Output: 40V P-P into 32 ohms (6 watts RMS)
        THD: Less than 0.1%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V
        Size: 9 x 6.75 x 3.25″

  16. Diederik
    May 15, 2013 at 17:47

    Well, I need somehting that can be powered by 12V of by a laptop …

    • sam5050@comcast.net
      May 15, 2013 at 18:04

      Powered by 12V of a laptop? to 100kHz?? look for some active speakers – Good Luck!

  17. Diederik
    May 15, 2013 at 18:39

    It must exist. It use by bat researchers like http://www.avisoft.com/usg/usgplayerbllight.htm

  18. Diederik
    May 23, 2013 at 18:38

    What is the differencce between the
    1) Musiland Monitor 03 US USB Sound Card ASIO 32bit 384kHz Toslink
    2) Musiland Monitor 03 US DRAGON USB 3.0 Sound Card 32bit 384kHz DAC

    Or are they the same ?

    • BlgGear
      May 23, 2013 at 23:32

      1- Regular 03 US
      2- Dragon edition of 03 US. Take a look at the beginning of this post to see what is the difference between the two.

      • May 23, 2013 at 23:47

        Dragon has better DAC, better SNR.

  19. October 25, 2013 at 15:39

    What is the SNR of the US03 Dragon?

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