This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

And exactly that was also my first thought when I began listening to the Acousticbuoy. It offers an extremely focused rich sound which on one hand reminds me of my favorites, the Audionemesis DC-1 Up-grade and Benchmark's DAC-1 and on the other hand the Accuphase DP-700.

That's right, not the DP-500 but DP-700. Let me explain. The DP-500 has many advantages over the 2488— resolution, precision, bass control, a great balance between all ranges—but the latter offers a more holistic approach to the music to convey more joy and emotions. An oxymoron?

I already mentioned twice how despite inferior precision and resolution compared to more expensive products, I would still choose a theoretically ‘worse’ model.

Oxymorons are quite common in audio where important technical factors are not always ultimately decisive. I think that all devices deform music to change the sound from reality. That's wrong. Given this, it then is better to present music in a way that we can feel rather than see.

That’s why some of my visiting friends so much appreciated the Acousticbuoy. Two of them even preferred it over my Lektor Prime which was telling. I don't agree with their opinion but I understand why they came up with it. An example would be Sonny Rollins & The Contemporary Leaders, a CD in K2HD. Its sound is quite warm—characteristic for K2HD technology—but at once very realistic. That’s exactly how the Canadian DAC presents things. There was no problem with clarity or precision. Partially because this DAC differentiates recordings superbly—I was surprised just how well—while still imprinting its own sonic signature, it tries hard to properly convey the recording engineer’s choices. That is why Rollins’ recording sounded very full and the leader's instrument palpable and strong. I could hear at once that the deep layers were moved a bit to the front so the accent came on what was directly in front but it still presented it in an amazingly attractive way.

When I listened over my Lektor to Wong San (Feel Like Making Love) issued as HQCD (HiQuality-CD) on the other hand which supposedly was mastered very carefully, I could not overlook the sibilants in the vocalist's voice. Someone had made a mistake after all. Why? I have no idea, it should be perfect but the same flaw peels out sooner or later. The Acousticbuoy had no problem showing the mood and qualities characteristic for each of these recording. Instruments were full, rich, palpable and presented quite close to the listener. And yes, this feature imprinted on every recording played over this DAC. The first layer of the soundstage will always be close to the listener and big and rich. You have to get used to it. Ditto the deep, bold bass which everybody who visited really liked but which in fact was a bit bumped up at the very low end and not as well controlled as my Ancient player or the Accuphase’s DP-500. In a way it reminded me of the Luxman D-08 and the earlier mentioned Audionemesis.

That’s why a match with stand-mounted speakers proved best. Excellent was the combination with ProAc's Response D1 but also Harbeth's HL Compact 7ES-3. A very pleasant sound also was achieved with KEF's Reference 201 II. You needn’t cross out bigger loudspeakers, you simply might get too much bass. If that’s your sound—full, rich, with a strong foundation and in a large listening room—go for it. But if you don't, why not consider monitors? The result should be amazing. The ProAcs nearly burst when stretching themselves to the limits to deliver this level of hyper-rich sound. Never before did I hear these monitors in such great shape.

The 2488 does something special. It tries to present the sound in the smoothest possible way with absolutely no coarse residue (you would usually think ‘digital’ but my recent experience proves that’s not always the case). I referred to Kuzma's turntable before and some vinyl lovers might be offended but they shouldn't be. Acousticbuoy presents CDs in a way the turntable would with material of such resolution. It is not nervous but played with verve, not in a rush but great at pace & rhythm. Comparing the 2488 to players like Naim's Nait-5i-2 and Cyrus’ CD 8 SE proved that the Canadian offered equally good rhythm but better timbres and deeper realism.

Of course if you want the Acousticbuoy, you must add the price of digital and power cables and a transport so both British players are surely less expensive. But since both of them are often recognized as kings of PRaT, I think the comparison is still justified. Their ability to create the frontal perspective of the sound and its so-called pitch is incredible. Yet the Canadian does all of that but with far better richer timbres. I really appreciated that when listening to Peace, a Depeche Mode single (Sixtoes Remix in particular) and also to Wynton Kelly’s Kelly Blue. Ultimately the ability to create a mood came in most handy with classical music like the fresh purchase of Cantate Napoletane Del’ 700 by Capella della Pietà de’Turchini which was presented absolutely beautifully, with nothing bumped up and missing.