February 18, 2021 § Leave a comment
I streamed the DSD128 files of the Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble’s Musica Sacra album (Opus 3 19516) from Roon. I left the DSD low-pass filter set to “Auto”; the word “Native” appeared on the Okto’s display. The unaccompanied singers in Bach’s chorale “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” (Savior of the nations, come) were surrounded with a richly ambient acoustic, but that ambience did not obscure the position of the singers. Courtesy of the dac8 Stereo, the solo organ interlude in the work’s second half unambiguously occupied the same space, with rich low frequencies.
Throughout my auditioning, I continued to be impressed by the combination of upper-bass weight and leading-edge definition offered by the Okto processor. The lower register of Chris Jones’s fretless Fender Jazz bass guitar on Live at Merkin Hall sounded as lifelike as I remembered it sounding at the concert.
January 31, 2021 § Leave a comment
Surprisingly, not really. For some reason I can’t explain, for the first two weeks I couldn’t get Qobuz to play above 96kHz. But then, suddenly I saw some known 192kHz tracks displaying 192 instead of 96, and it hasn’t been an issue since. No real issues with Tidal at all. In fact, the only concern so far has been when playing on shuffle off my hard drive or Tidal, whenever the format or resolution changes, there is a slight click audible. I’m sure will get resolved soon, as I haven’t heard that as an issue in my system with any other software or hardware in several years.
End result of all this was that having the NEO iDSD in my system was beneficial in all key areas. Sound quality was definitely a step up from my previous DACs, and in ways that I hadn’t taken as areas the older iDAC2 was deficient in. My system could be simplified; removing an active $1900 preamp and a $350 DAC while replacing them with one $699 device and improving sound quality substantially was my kind of deal. Now all I need to do is replace my notebook with a fanless, quiet mini PC or dedicated music streamer and my digital source will be set for a while. Not only is the NEO iDSD highly recommended, I’m actually spending my own money on it and buying the review sample.
December 9, 2020 § Leave a comment
In playing these three, very different renditions, the system’s ability to capture not just the notes, their amplitude and pitch, attack and sustain, but also the gaps the player leaves between them, is paramount. Such is the temporal precision of the Wadax Reference, the clarity with which it places and spaces notes, that the yawning chasm in the expressive range that separates Uchida’s sensitive, exquisitely weighted and deeply emotive performance, from the smooth color-scape of Perahia or Lisiecki’s fireworks displays, matches the artistic separation you experience hearing these performers live, reflecting both personal preference and who you’d choose — or pay good money — to see and hear in concert. Do we really need another set of Beethoven Piano Concertos? When the performance delivers such depth of musical and emotional insight — and when we have replay systems capable of revealing that insight — then the answer is definitely “Yes.” Hearing Uchida playing these familiar pieces through the Wadax Atlantis Reference Transport and Reference DAC is an experience that not only shows them in a new light, but engages you with the full power and emotional range of those original performances. The overall temporal, dynamic and musical coherence of the musIC process has always brought impressive communicative qualities to the Wadax products. But combine it with the black silence, dynamic potential, tonal range and absolute stability of the Reference DAC’s operating environment and you have the basis for natural musical reproduction that is, in audio terms, unprecedented — something that moves us demonstrably closer to the original event.