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It was Cristian Anelli of their R&D department who replied on behalf of the company. "Aqua Acoustic Quality was born three years ago. Our main goal was and still is sound reproduction in the most neutral simple way. That's why we design our digital sources with a class A analog stage, zero upsampling, zero oversampling, no digital filter and no feedback. We consider both solid-state and tube circuits with no prejudice at all. We use the electronics parts we need and where they can be employed at their best. The La Voce uses a Jfet/Bjt analog output stage, the La Scala a hybrid ECC81/Mosfet design. Even if they are technically different, the final result shows them to carry the same genetic design imprint.

"Though we were amongst the very first to introduce a USB board with 24/192 decoding in the La Voce and La Scala converters, we still developed the state-of-the-art La Diva transport because we trust in the Redbook standard as the reference in digital reproduction. We like to build our products to last and avoid obsolescence as the common curse for expensive high-end equipment. In addition, our jitter-free digital AQlink interface (I²S protocol) provides the best possible connection between transport and DAC. Thus the modular system we use in our converters gives our customers the certainty to enjoy their music for many years and update our products with little effort and money. This way one can profit from our R&D department's innovations.

"Plans for 2014: first of all we are going to release a La Diva DAC to match the dedicated CD transport. Secondly we are working on a top-line front-loading integrated CD player. About La Voce S2, its revolutionary main goal was to offer the possibility to choose among different D/A conversion modules with the best chips available. An easy snap-in/snap-out action is all that's required and you simply do that at home. In time the first project underwent several evolutions. Anyone can upgrade the previous version with the new modules and electronics boards.
The S2 version is new for several reasons. Its analog stage was redesigned, the final layout changed as have the PCB materials, electronic parts and power supply. Now it has modular interchangeable digital inputs (AES/EBU, BNC, coax, ST fiber AT&T, Toslink) and a new converter module (code name D104K with 2 x Burr Brown PCM1704-K pure R2R ladders). The design definitely differs from the standards led by a currently frenzied market which pursues things mostly for marketing reasons. For example we do not use large harmful electrolytic capacitors but long-life capacitors with low ESR. We choose our electronic components with military and professional standards."

I now asked Cristian how he would describe the sonic flavors of the four available S2 converter modules; and how the La Voce transistor and La Scala tube hybrid platforms in general compared sonically.

Here are the three converter board options; and the stock XMOS-based USB interface removed from the loaner to show.

Here's how La Voce looks when you remove converter and USB boards. That's a literal snap. Undo two hex bolts each and pull. To reseat, use the guide pins to align. Press down gently. Redo the bolts. Done. If you can screw in a light bulb, you can swap out these boards.