pl | en



Manufacturer: DAFRAUD GmbH
Price (when reviewed):
Frérot 4990 PLN + Pow1 3190 PLN

Contact: Niedal Audio Lab AG
Bangertenstrasse 865


Provided for test by: AUDIO ATELIER


Translation: Ewa Muszczynko
Images: Bartosz Łuczak/Piksel Studio | Wojciech Pacuła

No 208

September 1, 2021

The MERASON brand belongs to the Swiss company DAFRAUD GmbH, set up in 2013 by DANIEL FRAUCHIGER. It made its debut with the D/A converter DAC1 in 2015, while the tested FRÉROT converter was launched in 2020.

ERASON HOMEPAGE features a quote by its founder and constructor, Mr. DANIEL FRAUCHIGER:

The task of every MERASON product is to transmit the emotions directly - from artist to listener.

It is an ambitious plan which combines different companies and constructors, often approaching the idea in totally different ways. Dafraud products sold under the Merason brand differ from other ones produced by the group by something that has seemed impossible until recently – these are devices 100% made in Switzerland, in the city of Worb, although their prices are comparable to the prices of other companies’ products featuring the words MADE IN CHINA on their back panels.

The name Dafraud is a combination of the founder’s first name and surname, with an additional ‘d’ at the end (the manufacturer uses lower case letters in the names of his companies and products, but I am going to use standard spelling with capital letters here). Apart from Dafraud, Mr. Frauchiger also owns another firm, Niedal Audio Lab, established in 2017 thanks to a start-up grant from the Bern Economic Development Agency, whose task is to manufacture for Dafraud and develop products for other companies in the OEM system.

A few simple words with…

Owner, constructor

WOJCIECH PACUŁA When did you start designing DACs? How did the Merason company begin?
DANIEL FRAUCHIGER I had listened to analog for many years because the sound was simply better: the music was more coherent, more emotional and much more involving. In 2010, I started looking into digital for the second time and realized that there had been progress. Still, I wasn't convinced: the usable hi-fi converters were very expensive and my analog chain still had more charm. (All the bold and italics in the interview have been added by the Editor – Editor’s note).

Looking for alternatives, I came across a converter design by an engineer in Hong Kong. His product really convinced me that listening to music from a digital source could be fun. Together with him, we spent two years developing the existing converter and the result was the Merason DAC1.

WP What makes older D/A chips so interesting, compared to new ones? Why do you choose them for your projects?
DF We are constantly following the development of new converter devices, as well as and converter and filter techniques. Currently, we are very satisfied with the performance of the PCM1794A. It doesn't flaunt the latest features, but delivers a balanced and natural sound, which is what we want.

WP Are Merason products entirely manufactured in Switzerland? Can you tell us a bit more about the production process in your company?
DF We are considering more and more suppliers from Switzerland and are manufacturing more and more in-house where feasible and reasonable. Our equipment has carried the "made in Switzerland" label since the beginning and it will stay that way. Drafting, design, layout, assembly of the boards and testing are all done in-house. Circuit designs come from our partners in Switzerland and worldwide. Selected parts, like the selector switch or the rotary knob on the Frérot and mechanical parts on the Frérot and the DAC1 come from Swiss manufacturers.

WP What kind of music do you listen to privately?
DF Słucham bardzo różnej muzyki, I listen to very different music depending on my mood, from modern to medieval, from experimental to classical, from electronic to acoustic. Nik Bärtsch and his Nik Bärtsch's Ronin project spontaneously come to mind.


FRÉROT IS ONE OF THREE PRODUCTS (and one of two D/A converters) offered by Merason, while the third device is a linear power supply, the Pre1, not yet present on the official company website, designed to improve the sound of the Frérot DAC.

The tested converter is a “smaller brother” of the first company design, the DAC1 model, which is emphasized by its name – in French, ‘frérot’ means a “younger brother” or “a brother’s heart”. However, its DNA has a different genesis. As the company owner said during an interview for the portal, his concept had been developed for the Niedal Audio Lab company, to serve as a model circuit for potential OEM contractors, to show that he can design a top-class, but inexpensive product:

Our strategy is to use the Frérot DAC to make the brand known and to win over other audio companies as customers. This is the shortest path for us to become profitable. In addition, it is a pleasure to produce a good and inexpensive device for many music lovers!

Source:, date of access: 09.08.2021.

Frérot is a digital-to-analog converter with five digital inputs and two analog outputs – RCA and XLR; the analog section of the device is symmetrical. The DAC is not big, as it measures 225 x 50 x 180 mm (W x H x D) and weighs a little less than 1 kg. It looks nice and the front panel features a single input selector switch. It offers absolutely basic functionality – apart from digital inputs, there are no other “amenities”: no Bluetooth connection, headphone amplifier, or preamp. It is a pure DAC.

It is easy to understand if we take into account that the device is 100% made in Switzerland, one of the most expensive countries in Europe and the world. For this reason, it does not feature digital signal sampling frequency indicators. There are only two green LEDs – one informing us about the synchronization of the DAC’s digital receiver with the signal source and one LED power indicator. I think that incorporating a multicolor LED would make using the device easier. Three colors would be enough: green for 44.1/48 kHz, red for 88.4/96 kHz and another one for 176.8/192 kHz signal.

It is because the DAC takes signal up to 24 bit and 192 kHz, regardless of the chosen input. It does not, however, accept DSD signal. This is due to the Burr-Brown TDA1794A D/A converter chosen by the constructor. It is a really old circuit which, however, has a unique property – a hybrid design (multi-bit and delta-sigma) which brings it closer to the “iconic” Philips TDA1541 circuit. The analog circuit is fully balanced and mostly discreet, i.e. built of separate elements. Integrated circuits are only used in output buffers. They are part of DC-servo only.

POW1 The Frérot converter is powered by an external wall impulse power supply. There are nice voltage stabilizing and filtering circuits inside the DAC, but this can naturally be done better. When asked about the importance of power supply during the abovementioned interview, Mr. Frauchiger said:

A plug-in power supply is included with the Frérot. With this power supply we feed the 9V voltage of the digital part and then increase it internally to 12V for the discrete analog part. A higher quality, linear power supply is in the construction phase. We will offer this at a later date. This means that the supply of the digital and analog parts will be separated. The feedback from Frérot owners who have already experimented with prototypes of the linear power supply is encouraging.

So, this is the type of a power supply that we are dealing with in this test. The Pow1 has the same chassis as the DAC (it always reduces costs), i.e. one made of aluminum. It is a linear power supply based on a toroidal transformer and three power supply lines – a symmetrical one for the analog section and a single one for the digital section. It is connected with the converter using a 60 cm cable with solid Neutrik plugs. The power supply costs a little less than the converter itself – the Frérot costs 4,990 PLN, while the Pow1 – 3,190 PLN (as priced at the time of the test).


⸤ THE WAY WE LISTENED The Frérot D/A converter was tested in the “High Fidelity” reference system and compared to the D/A section of the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition player which also operated as a CD transport, as well as to the D/A section of the Lumïn D1 file player (with the latest software). The converter operated with the power supply that it was delivered with for the test and then I connected the Pow1 power supply to it, and described the changes in sound in the last part of the test.

DIGITAL signal from the Ayon Audio player was sent through the digital RCA ACROLINK MEXCEL 7N-DA6100 interconnect (S/PDIF), DIGITAL signal from the Lumïn player – using the Acoustic Revive Triple-C interconnect, while USB signal from the HP Pavilion dv7 computer on which I ran Tidal – with the ACOUSTIC REVIVE USB-5.0PL USB cable.

ANALOG signal from RCA outputs was sent to the Ayon Audio Spheris III preamp using the RCA CRYSTAL CABLE ABSOLUTE DREAM interconnects. As always, it was most important to me how it “behaved” with CDs.

The tested device stood at its own feet and in the second part of the test, when the power supply units were compared, it was powered with the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable.

Albums used in the test | a selection

⸜ DIRE STRAITS, Brothers in Arms, Vertigo/Universal Music Ltd. Hong Kong 5483572SX, SHM-XRCD2 (1985/2011);
⸜ JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, Magnetic Fields, Dreyfus Disques/Epic EPC 488138 2, CD (1981/1997).
⸜ PAT METHENY GROUP, Offramp, ECM/Universal Music K.K. UCCE-9144, SHM-CD (1982/2008).
⸜ TOMITA, Snowflakes Are Dancing, RCA Read Seal/BMG Classics 63588, „High Performance”, CD (1974/2000);

⸜ BARBARA PRAVI, Voilà, Capitol Music France/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (2020).
⸜ CHARLIE HADEN, PAT METHENY, Beyond The Missouri Sky, Verve Records 537 130-2/Tidal, FLAC MQA 16/44,1 (1997).
⸜ DAVE HOLLAND, KEVIN EUBANKS, OBED CALVAIRE, Another Land, Edition Records EDN1172/Tidal, FLAC MQA Studio 24/96 (2021);
⸜ MIRACLE OF SOUND, Level 11 , Tidal, FLAC MQA Studio 16/44,1 (2020).


THE SWISS D/A CONVERTER may not be expensive and perhaps does not look like a “serious” device, but sounds – as I can assure you – more than good. To tell you the truth, it sounds great. On the one hand, its tone color is open and it would be hard for me to describe it as being “warm”, but it would still be harder for me to convince anyone that the converter lacks the inner “warmth”.

So, while listening to PAT METHENY GROUP’s album entitled Offramp (this time I used the Ultimate HQCD version), I appreciated the density of the musical message. The tested device was able to show the incredibly large space of the Power Station studio in New York, where the material for the album had been recorded, without blurring detail and losing focus.

Metheny, who played the guitar synthesizer (it was his debut with this instrument), sounded credible, i.e. on the one hand, the sound was dense and, on the other hand, it had a good perspective. The treble sounded “sweet”, the way I know from this recording, but it did not turn too sweet. The bass sounded equally credible, i.e. strong. It was not very low bass, which is inaccessible with inexpensive devices, but it was very nice and pleasant, constituting a part of a whole.

An important property of the Frérot converter is its ability to differentiate. The device combines density with the softness of attack, which could be heard with the abovementioned Metheny’s analog recording. However, if the material is different, like from the album Brothers in Arms by DIRE STRAITS, the device will modify it a bit, i.e. it will not allow for brightening up, but we will still know for sure what we are listening to. In this particular case, we are listening to a digital recording made onto the reel-to-reel Mitsubishi 16/44.1 tape recorder.

I listened to the album from a SHM-XRCD2 issued in 2011 in Hong Kong. Contrary to many other versions of the album, this specific material was mixed digitally (the mix was originally analog, onto 1’2” analog tape). What is more, labels on the cover indicate that the XRCD remaster was made in the digital domain (Digital K2). This resulted in purer and clearer sound than in the classic Mobile Fidelity version. It is a mix for people who appreciate detail and attack, and do not like dark sound.

As I am saying, the tested DAC has open treble and that is why the metal guitar opening The Man’s Too Strong was perfectly clear, both when it comes to its character, completely different from the character of the slide guitar that joins it straight away, and to its placement in the mix, as far as reverberations are concerned. No attempts were made here to smoothen or warm up the sound – the recording is just not like that. Despite this, I had the impression that the tested DAC tries to „arrange” sounds in a way that makes them form a whole, tell a story, no matter if we like the story or not, as it is judged by us and not by the device.


HOWEVER, IF THE TESTED DEVICE IS SUPPPLIED WITH a meaningfully dense file having a low set center of gravity, we will hear beautiful colors and a lot of bass. It was like that with DAVE HOLLAND’S latest wonderful album entitled Another Land, available on Tidal in FLAC MQA Studio 24/96 files. It was recorded in a way that made the bass guitar and the double bass, which the musician played in turns, most important, so it features some kind of a density “enhancer”. Merason showed this characteristic effortlessly, just because it differentiates recordings and also “pampers” them a bit.

Let us play, for example, the incredibly catchy Valhalla Calling by the MIRACLE OF SOUND collective, which we will find on the album Level 11 (MQA Studio 16/44.1), and we will feel as if we are sitting in a longship with our Viking brothers who already feel they were in Valhalla, so they do not fear anything on the Earth. The way the Swiss converter played this track would make you think Switzerland has access to the sea and the device “knows” the sea very well.

The record producer has made certain that we can feel the enormous space, misty coastlines and breath. Mr. Frauchiger’s small recording dealt with this very well, as it did not narrow the panorama, or reduce the volume. The multiplied vocal was shown quite far away, but very powerfully. As for BARBARA PRAVI’S vocal from the fantastic version of Voilà, though “only” in the form of FLAC 16/44.1 files, was shown in a different way, as it had also been differently produced – it was characterized by really good “presence”, tangible and situated close to the line connecting the speakers.

⸤ POW1 SIMILARLY TO THE CDs, now it was possible to hear with files that although the Frérot is really cool and does everything nice and right, still has its limitations, resolution being one of them. It was not bad, as the DAC differentiated the material in a unique way, but still limited. It appears that we can improve it by connecting the external Pow1 power supply to the DAC. Details in Barbara Pravi’s recording, tonal balance on the album Beyond The Missouri Sky by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny, and finally the strike and “kick” in the metal version of Valhalla Calling were better with it.

What is interesting, fullness and the warmth that I have already written about were less tangible with it. Perhaps Holland’s bass was a little “pulled out” with an ordinary power supply, but that was actually nice. The large linear Pow1 power supply gives the converter greater dynamic freedom and allows it to play music louder, but still in a relaxed way. However, it also smoothens the warmth of the bass that was so surprisingly pleasant before. The treble is better differentiated and more nuanced with the power supply, but also a bit harder.


THE TESTED SWISS DEVICE is a surprisingly nice design. Surprisingly, as it has been manufactured by a relatively unknown company in expensive Switzerland, using a very tight budget, but also because it does not cost much. It appears that all the savings that have been made here are related to the device’s functionality and not its sound.

The sound is dense, nice, pleasantly soft, but also wonderfully differentiated. The bass is especially interesting, as although it does not go as low as in the reference devices, it is still excellently filled and differentiated, considering the price. Differentiation is an important feature of this converter and it will be difficult to find another device from the same price range to show changes in the recording, production and issues of albums equally well.

Adding the Pow1 power supply changes the sound, giving it more freedom and swing, as well as better resolution. Sound is not as soft and super-pleasant with it as before, but becomes more precise. So, before you buy it, it is worth checking if these are the kind of changes that you are looking for, ones that will fit your system, as it seems to me that this is not a universal solution.

On the whole, the Frérot is an excellent and visually modest product made in Switzerland, which guarantees precision and attention to detail that are much more difficult to find in devices sent from Asia.


BOTH THE FRÉROT DAC, as well as the Pow1 power supply feature a simple, but aluminum chassis. Chinese products of this type are usually silver, as their surface is brushed, while here the chassis is covered with light grey paint and only the front is silver. This looks very nice. The upper panel of the DAC is damped using a small element made of bitumen matting.

Both elements are placed on adhesive-attached rubber quasi-feet that are worth being replaced later, at least with the Acoustic Revive HQ-4 insulators made of hickory wood impregnated with bee wax.


THE Frérot D/A CONVERTER features five digital inputs, including four with the S/PDIF protocol (two RCA and two TOSLink inputs) and one USB. We use the input selector switch on the front panel to change them. Apart from it, there are only two LEDs there – one power indicator and one indicating the synchronization of the device with the signal source; the latter does not change color when the sampling frequency changes.

The device offers two types of analog outputs – non-balanced (RCA sockets) and balanced (XLR sockets). The former have really disappointed me, just like the digital RCA inputs – they are not gold-plated, but soldered to the board and generally low-quality. The XLR sockets and the socket for connecting the external Pre1 power supply are gold-plated. The converter is delivered with an impulse wall power supply. At the back of the DAC there is also a small power switch.

All the electronic circuits have been placed on one PCB using SMT (Surface Mount Technology). It appears this is really nice. Next to the USB input we can see a large Atmel chip supported by the Xilinx circuit, with two nice clocks next to it. The RCA inputs are coupled by good-looking transformers matching the impedance of the socket and the cable to the required input impedance of the AKM AK4118 digital receiver. By the way, it is interesting if the manufacturer has plan B – the AKM factory burnt down some time ago and it is not known if it is going to be rebuilt at all.

The heart of the circuit is a single Burr-Brown PCM1794 D/A converter. It is a 24-bit high-dynamics (129 dB) circuit with a high sampling frequency of 192 kHz. The analog path is based on transistors and integrated circuits – I/U conversion is carried out using the former (a rarity) and the output depends on four tiny Analog Devices integrated circuits. The outputs are turned on using air-tight relays. Let us add that supply voltage from the wall power supply is additionally stabilized and filtered in the device in a nice looking circuit with integrated stabilizers and chokes.


THE PRE1 POWER SUPPLY HAS NO MANIPULATORS OR INDICATORS on the front panel. The back panel features a nice-looking power switch integrated with the fuse and the IEC connector , as well as 5-pin gold-plated output to which a short 60-cm cable is connected (a part of the set). The sockets and cable plugs were manufactured by Neutrik, so I assume they were bought together with the cable.

The basis of the power supply is a small toroidal transformer manufactured in Finland. AC voltage is transferred to it using a large Schaffner AC filter. There are three separate supply voltages on the output of the transformer – one symmetrical 12 V DC and one 8.5 V DC, separately for the digital and analog section. They are matched by separate stabilization circuits made using discreet technology and not with the help of integrated stabilizers.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Input format:
PCM; 16, 24 bit; 44.1-192 kHz
4 V RMS (XLR) | 2 V RMS (RCA)
Frequency response: 20 Hz-20 kHz (+/- 0.2 dB)
THD+N: <0.006%
SNR: > 120 dB
Power supply: 9 V DC
Maximum power consumption: 40 W
Dimensions: 225 x 50 180 mm (W x H x D)
Weight: 995 g (power supply – 200 g)


Reference system 2021

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC