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PS Audio DirectStream DAC
“Many contemporary DACs are arguably PCM-centric, but the DirectStream DAC takes a different tack, converting all incoming digital audio data streams to DSD format, upsampling them, and proceeding from there. Whether you prefer listening to PCM or DSD format files (or both) there is no arguing with the sublime results the DirectStream DAC achieves. We were and are greatly impressed by the unit’s richly detailed and highly nuanced presentation—a presentation that somehow manages to capture much of the fluidity, ease, and sonic grace of today’s finest analogue audio components. In short, the DirectStream DAC offers the full spectrum of digital benefits, yet also sounds somewhat like a reel-to-reel analogue tape deck, sans tape hiss, of course. Better still, as the underlying ‘operating system’ software of the DirectStream DAC continues to be updated, this already excellent sounding DAC continues to get even better over time. (Reviewed in Issues 125 & 128).”
“We’ve long been fans of Raidho’s ported two-way standmount concept. Starting with the C-1, and then the C-1.1, Raidho’s earlier standmount designs featured a stepped baffle with a sophisticated ribbon tweeter, and distinctive aluminium oxide-coated ceramic cone driver. But a couple of years ago, the company replaced that aluminium oxide coating with one and a half carats of industrial diamond, turning the bass driver black and making the Raidho D-1 as far above the C-1.1 as the C-1.1 is above most standmounts. It makes a clean, bright – yet not forward – sound with outstanding imaging properties and surprisingly deep bass. Paradoxically for a small loudspeaker it works best in free space in a big room, and when placed properly makes you wonder if you need anything bigger. Starting at £15,000 per pair with stands, the D1 is not the cheapest standmount option around, but when has the best ever been the cheapest! (Reviewed in Issue 105).”
Jeff Rowland Continuum S2
“The Continuum 2 manages to combine Jeff Rowland’s legendary build quality with high performance and very green power credentials. This £8,000 400W per channel integrated amp manages to deliver the goods without turning into some kind of heating element thanks to a set of well-executed Class D amplifier modules. Jeff Rowland was one of the first true audiophile brands to embrace Class D, and those extra years of expertise in working the technology have resulted in outstanding sound quality, with a wonderful sense of ‘holographic’ enveloping soundstages, and a very transparent overall performance. Of course, no discussion of Jeff Rowland is complete without talking about the scalloped aluminium front panel, the rich black side and top plates, and professionally finished rear panel block. This is not only for decoration, as the non-resonant properties of the case are a factor in the Continuum 2’s excellent performance. (Reviewed in Issue 120).”
Crystal Cable Absolute Dream
“Like most of the winners in this cable section, Crystal Cable Absolute Dream loudspeaker cable is probably best thought of as just one link in a far longer chain. This is best used in context of a complete Absolute Dream cable system. Nevertheless, the monocrystal combination of gold-plated silver and silverplated copper cables, clothed in Kapton and PEEK dielectric, and all wound in a speci c, noise-busting rope lay, is arguably the most obvious product in the Absolute Dream line up. This cable has a sense of absolute authority over the sound, and throws open both the detail and the musical themes in any piece of work. This is a cable that shows the power of music and does that through outstanding image separation and tonal beauty. Expensive, yes, but if you already have the best audio system possible, this can help raise the bar another notch! (Reviewed in Issue 96).”
CH Precision M1 Monoblock Amplifier and L1 Linestage Preamplifier (with X-1 Power Supply)
“This deluxe, Swiss-made, bridgeable, high-current monoblock amplifier and two-box (separate power supply) dual-mono linestage preamp—authored by the same engineers, Florian Cossy and Thierry Heeb (the C and H of CH Precision) who designed Goldmund’s distinguished electronics back in the day—seem to have some of the same sonic DNA as that of another Swiss company, Soulution. Like Soulution’s 701/711 amplifiers and 725 preamplifier, the M1 and L1 are ultra-fast on transients, ultra-high in resolution, ultra-low in noise and coloration, and quite beguilingly beautiful in timbre. CH Precision’s amp and preamp use no global negative feedback at their default setting (although users can add as much or as little NFB as they choose by means of menus accessed via the LED screens built into the front panels of both units). Personally, I chose not to use any NFB, as I think feedback slows these astonishingly “fast” electronics down. When they are configured in their default positions, I would be hard put to choose between the M1/L1 and Soulution’s 711/725 in every regard save for the bass, where the SMPS-powered Soulution (the CH Precision uses an extraordinarily high-quality transformer-based power supply) still holds an edge in weight, power, and color. When it comes to resolution and speed, however, the two fight to a virtual draw. Indeed, with a slightly less dark (i.e., “bottom-up”) balance the CH Precision may draw ahead by a nose in these two areas. (Then again, it may not.) Which should you choose? Well, that depends on your speakers, your source, your room, and you. One thing is certain: Those shopping for the best in solid-state need to listen to both these marques.”
“Aurender’s top-of-the-line W20 is the most feature-laden and capable turn-key music server on the market. It also happens to have the best music-management app, an important consideration when choosing a server. Load the W20’s internal hard drive (up to a whopping 12TB) with music, connect one of its many digital outputs to a DAC, link a tablet to your wireless network, and you’ve got virtually unlimited music. The W20’s seamless integration with Tidal’s streaming service greatly expands its functionality. You’ll need, however, a Mac or PC with an optical drive to rip to the W20. The W20’s sound quality is outstanding, due perhaps in part to its 128GB of internal cache memory and other performance-oriented design tricks.”
“The diminutive Raidho X-1 brings you exactly the same Danish hand-made ribbon tweeter found in Raidho’s $220,000 flagship D-5. This is one of the greatest high-frequency transducers yet devised, combining stunning speed, detail, and resolution on the one hand, with silky smoothness and ease on the other. When used as intended, in a smallish room at moderate playback levels, the X-1 is nothing short of stunning. The treble resolution, transient performance, soundstaging, liquidity, smoothness, ease, and freedom from etch are world-class—which is saying a lot for a $6400 speaker. But when you push the X-1 to louder playback levels, or play music with heavy low-frequency content, the X-1 runs up against the laws of physics. The 4″ mid/woofer’s excursion is limited, causing the X-1 to sound congested in the bass when pushed outside its performance envelope. A moderately sized room and a judicious hand on the volume knob will keep the X-1 within its comfort zone. If you have the appropriate application and expectations, I don’t think that you’ll find a finer sub-compact loudspeaker than the Raidho X-1.”
Klass A+ och A är de högsta klassificeringarna i Stereophiles klassiska ranking.
Mediaserver: Aurender N10
CD-transport: PS Audio Perfect Media Player
A/D omvandlare: Ayre QA-9
RIAA: Ypsilon VPS-100 (världens finaste RIAA…)