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Dave and Carol Clark's Brutus Awards for 2023

12-27-2023 | By Dave Clark | Issue 131

Here we are at the end of 2023 and again, not a lot has passed through our doors for review. Why? Neither of us are just not interested in reviewing whatever. We were years ago, but now after reviewing some 35+ years... yeah, no thanks. Been there, done that, and just don't have the interest anymore. So if we get it here, it has to be good. Has to be special. Has to be worth our time to review it. And it more than likely will stay here. 

But then we see that Telos, AURALiC, and PS Audio have released new products that superseded our models; the Telos GNR 5.1 (we own the V2), the Aries G2.2 (we own the G2) and the DirectStream DAC MK2 (we own the MK 1).

So we start with the Telos GNR 5.1 Plus+ Active Grounding Box, $8000 HERE

From our review....

"And while the V5.1 Plus+ is so good at what it does, the word is that you can experience it with only one component connected to it. Choose from one of the six and go to town. I have not tried this as it seems the the V5.1 Plus+ would be most effective connected to everything in the system. Maybe it is overkill, not sure. It does comes with six basic cables (spade to spade), though one can either order other configurations or modify these (USB to spade, RCA to spade, etc.) So I am thinking... connect it all! Screw it. 

"Actually, never said this but here it goes. Really don't care how great you think, or others think your system is and how wonderful it reproduces music. Might be the greatest thing since sliced bread. And you might be the happiest listener ever. We did and were... but until you have heard what the Telos GNR products can do, or those from Ansuz, you are really scratching just the surface of what is possible. So much more of your music music is being obscured from the background noise that is just sitting there doing its thing. As good as it sounds, that is just a teaser. Not inexpensive for sure, but as noted with the Ansuz A2 Power Switch, these are components, not accessories. Components that are requisites to hear what is really there

Highly, highly recommended."

And then on to the PS Audio DirectStream DAC MK2, $7999 HERE

From our review....

"As good as it gets?

"I dunno know anymore. Every time we get something here to listen to, and possibly review, we sit there and think just that. Which of course, we thought that the last time… that it was as good as it could get, but now, this time, it is better than that, so this time it is as good as it can get… till the next piece drops into the system. And it will be even better!

"Case in point, the latest top of the line DAC from PS Audio—the DirectStream DAC MK2 ($7999). Not going into the bits and minutiae of the DAC, for all that you can go HERE, but it is all new. I mean like… ALL new. Out with the old and let's redo the WHOLE piece. Bigger, better… plus new software too. A Massive update. Literally.

"Not sure what else to say or add here… the DirectStream DAC MK2 is a major improvement over the older version. While it retains the basic sound or character of the older DAC, it goes further in all the areas that have an impact on one's music. One's engagement and enjoyment. Not hearing anything that is an issue or have we had any issues with the DAC. Been on 24/7 for the past two months with zero problems. Kudos to the PS Audio team! A clear winner. Our older DAC is going to our son and the DirectStream DAC MK2 is taking its place. Meaning we are putting our money down."

And to the AURALiC Aries G2.2, $6099 HERE

From our review....

"Then early last summer we get an Industry News release for AURALiC that they are going to be releasing the new Aries G2.2 Streaming Transporter. A clear redesign of the G2, of which we have owned and used since the review way back when (HERE). All new. All better. Way different. And, we are asking ourselves… "will this make things… better than we have now?" With all that has been changed in the G2.2 from the G2, one would certainly hope so.

"If you liked the G2 or the G2.1, you will love the G2.2. We are purchasing the G2.2 with the G2 going into storage for someone else.

"Okay, so is our system the best it has ever been? Is this as good as it gets? Yep. Well, so far.

Highly recommended."

And finally out of no where... the Network Acoustics' muon pro Streaming System, £1,829.17 – £2,995.83, and muon² USB cable, £1,162.50 HERE

From our review....

"Stunned. Literally stunned with what we are hearing. Of course, one never listens to just this or that, but the system. So is it the Aries G2.2 and the PS Audio DirectStream DAC MK2 settling in? Is it the muon pro system doing what it does so well in conjunction with the Ansuz D2? No doubt… for sure, but by now the G2.2 and DS DAC MK2 have had so many hours it is hard to say how much they are having in all of this. They definitely made things way better, but this is whole different cut of fish with the muon pro system. But still. Music through our system has never sounded... this wonderfully good.

"Let me end with this. If you have done little to nothing to address noise that rides in your system on either the AC or the signal—whether analog or digital—that eventually will pollute the music, you have no idea how good your music can sound. While I don't dispute that you have put together a great system and are happy, heck perhaps you think this is as good as it gets—we did—but the reality is, you are just scratching the surface. It can be so much better. No, it can be a whole lot better!"

And that be it.