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Previews of Digital and Other Very Interesting Things Too

04-08-2019 | By Lawrence Blair | Issue 102

Most anyone that knows me well knows that analog playback has been my chosen lifestyle for the last two decades in that, as an "industry professional" I imported and distributed high performance / high mass turntables, tonearms, phono cartridges, and associated electronics for some 14 years, established the Thorens TD-124 restoration model for North America, and assisted in the renovation of those turntables for 12 years. Coming under the umbrella of proactive accountable customer service I undertook the responsibility to deliver, set up, and calibrate turntable, tonearm, and phono cartridges for audio dealers, and on occasion their customers. This was was an absolute delight to be able to spend time listening to records with the owners of the products I was responsible for.

That said, my focus has not really ever been digital audio playback, save for being an early adopter of SACD, having an informal working relationship the Sony and debuting the SCD-1 player at CES, and accumulating some 300 SACD discs. 

Until now EXOGAL has delivered their Comet DAC playing up to 32/384k and DSD with improved power supply, Ion Power DAÇ, which has been ever so sonically enlightening in that they are designed by audio industry professionals (Wadia) and constructed from seemingly a solid block of aluminum. The Comet has a built in volume control that operates in the digital domain, which for me allows to direct unabashed connection to, as my reference, Kharma MP-150 mono amplifiers and loudspeakers, using a digital transport a source.

DENEFRIPS, in the Pontus DAC, with its I2S connectivity scheme and 24-bits / 352.8, 384kHz playback, ever so much more musically rewarding than the conventional TOSLink to AES EBU connection methods, reported and evaluated in these pages, offers a comprehensive and alarmingly satisfying playback of conventional Red Book CDs that just make listening to digitally recorded music fun. I've not, in years,  spent so much time listening for pure musical enjoyment, and playing disk after disk for myself to determine what the sonic differences were.

PS Audio, now an industry standard in power regeneration with their Direct Stream Power Plant models, and the P15 under evaluation here, because of its 10 outlets and 1500 VA output allows me to apply its regeneration to my complete audio playback system. I am so rarely given to exaltation when describing audio components, but in my experience, as in direct comparison of two Shunyata passive Hydras owned by me, and as stated on the PS Audio website: The P15 improves micro and macro dynamics, audio purity, instrumental separation, soundstage width and depth, and lowers background noise for any connected equipment. I couldn't say it better, but I believe that I just did.


More to come... full reviews soon!