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When I reviewed the 24/192 DAC, the USB input was clearly superior to the S/PDIF. In fact I would not recommend the 24/192 for those looking to upgrade a CD/DVD/Blu-ray player. With the Femto the difference between the two inputs was still there but not nearly as pronounced and probably more attributable to which cables I used or other variables. Interestingly when I inserted John Kenny’s USB-S/PDIF converter between laptop and DAC, the S/PDIF input squeezed out a bit more texture and body than direct USB. I cannot definitively say why but it frankly wasn’t enough of a difference where I’d eschew direct USB. Why add more boxes and cables when you don’t have to? Whatever your source or connection method, the Femto should serve you well.

Compared against my Audiomat Tempo 2.6 DAC, the Femto was more laid back and cooler but had greater focus and transparency to the back of the stage. The Tempo was bigger bolder more forward and immediate. That said the Femto took the gold on micro resolution of low-level detail and ambient retrieval. The Femto was definitely one of those products which take you back to the studio rather than bringing the performance into your room. Put differently, the Femto was more nuanced and sophisticated whereas the Tempo was meatier and more visceral.

While the Tempo goes the discrete component route along with copious use of capacitance in its power supply and analog filtering stage, my sense is that the Femto is the more advanced piece digitally. It extracted more from my recordings than the Tempo and did so without sounding sterile of analytical. However I’m convinced that the Tempo’s greater textural fidelity and richer sound is due to Audiomat’s dogged determination to keep things discrete from DAC chip to output jacks. It’s a similar aspect I have noticed in other DACs that go discrete. Then again I’ve spoken with a number of manufacturers over the years who maintain that a carefully laid-out board with SMDs is the way to go. It would seem the folks at Calyx agree. As with everything in audio, there are many roads to Rome. Take your pick.

In conclusion, the Femto is a wonderfully built full-featured DAC that came across clean clear and revealing but also with an unprecedented naturalness and convincing sense of flow. It gave me the detail and the luv. The Femto was superior to the $2.149 24/192 in every way: build quality, features, performance and pride of ownership. Did it sound three times better? I think it’s silly trying to put a numerical value on a product’s performance. Is Renoir three times better than Degas? Determining value is a personal issue. In my neck of the woods the Femto was deemed worthy the additional dosh and I suspect it might embarrass several of the more expensive DACs. Still, a buck shy of $7.200 is a considerable sum for any digital component be it DAC, server or streamer all of which are increasingly mirroring the state-of-the-art today/obsolete tomorrow world of computers and handheld devices. That said, in the here and now the Femto demands a spot on your audition list. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and very nearly pulled the trigger on purchasing one for myself. It’s a hottie.

Quality of packing: Excellent.
Reusability of packing: Seems reusable several times.
Quality of owner's manual: Everything you need but an explanation of the digital filter settings would be welcome.
Condition of component received: Outstanding.
Completeness of delivery: No issues.
Website comments: Okay but nothing special.
Human interactions: Professional, friendly and accommodating as always with this Canadian distributor.
Warranty: Three years parts and labor.
Pricing: Does not offer the same bang for your dollar as the 24/192 model but the really good things in high-end audio as in any other hobby rarely come cheap.
Final comments & suggestions: With the inclusion of the onboard volume control, why not gild the lily and include one or more analog line inputs?

Calyx responds.
Thank you for your great review. I would like to add something to your final comments & suggestions. As you describe, including more line inputs on the Femto would be gilding the lily. Femto was designed to maximally exploit the space of its chassis and there is no more room on the PCB or back panel. For users who want line inputs as you suggested, we are preparing a matching preamplifier and you will see and listen to the Femto preamplifier next year.

Seungmok Yi

Calyx website
Canadian importer's website