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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
27" iMac with 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, ADM Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, PureMusic 1.89g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM and AIFF files up to 24/192; Audirvana 1.4.6 in Integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, AURALic Vega, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2, SOtM sDP-1000 [on review], Norma Revo DS-1 [on review]
Preamp/Integrated: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X, TruLife Audio Athena, Norma IPA-140 [on review]
: First Watt SIT1, SIT2, F5, F6, Job 225, ModWright KWA 100SE
Speakers: German Physiks HRS-120 , AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, Zu Submission
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event,
KingRex uCraft USB cable, Zu split USB cable, Van den Hul AES/EBU cable, Tombo Trøn S/PDIF cable
Artesania Audio Exotyeric for front end, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF2
+ Vibex Two 1R DC filter on amps, Vibex Three 11R
on front end
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review component retail: $6.895 Cantata Music Center, $4.000 Cantata C50 integrated amplifier

The hammered Resolution Cantata twins literally do things upside down. Pop those carved-from-solid covers with their gloriously scalloped textures from Neal Feay's famous Santa Barbara machine shop and watch covers become bases. All innards mount to their chunky tops to hang down like ripe fruit. The real bases merely keep dust out and add footers. Smart. And that—smart—becomes a leit motif as one takes the tour. Including looking smart. Very smart!

Not all displays are designed equal.

Cantata Music Center front and back

Beauty & brains. With variable output topping out at a colossal 5.5Vrms on XLR and 2.5V on RCA, digital attenuation with amplifiers of 0.75V or higher input sensitivities—very common indeed!—would get brutally lossy despite all popular claims to the contrary. That's why the Cantata Music Center very properly does its volume manipulations in the analog domain: in 1dB steps from -70 to -30dB, in 0.5dB increments above it. Chapeau not chaperone time!

Digital inputs besides an initially helicoptering CD/ROM slot drive are 24/192 coax, Toslink, AES/EBU and asynchronous USB*. Those who believe that to get any rezpect today one must have 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD256 like Antelope's Zodiac Platinum will need to move to another reservation.

The Ethernet port is a 100-BaseTX 10/100Mbit/s full duplex affair whereby to link up with Resolution's Pont Neuf (more on that later). The smaller Cantata Links (necessary cable included) enable comm protocol between both units to sync remote commands from a single black plastic wand. This slaves the Cantata C50 to the Music Center so the former can install out of infrared sight if desired, its volume control bypassed. Link mode also syncs up display brightness and input changes. The latter requires a user config on the amp's Cantata input. Without C-link any remote +/- volume action triggers both twins in tandem to go on your nerves in a blitz.

Looking at the amp's business side, you ain't seen double yet. There are three banana-only sockets per channel. Forget tubular 8/4Ω tabs though. No output transformers here. These yellow center holes are simply ground connections for rare speakers like Tannoy which sport 'em. Very sporting of the C50 to accommodate such users!

With two RCA/XLR inputs each which are unceremoniously labeled A-D, it's all perfectly self-explanatory. Volume control is via small frontal buttons or wand just like the Music Center. Confirmation with each change is via ultra chic white backlighting. This forms the proper Volume 30 ciphers from behind the pin-hole matrix before reverting to the chosen input (the amp always shows the input letter followed by the volume number like c30). The displays are super large and super legible across a room even to bifocals and may be fully dimmed. Attention to friendly cohabitation with hifi is high here.

* USB 176.4 and 192 requires firmware 2.06 or higher (hold CD button on the remote until the display shows the current firmware version). It also requires being set to hs/192k mode (hold down USB button on the remote until it shows the current setting, then keep holding until it shows the desired one).

Cantata C50 amplifier front and back

This metrosexual not he-man approach continues with the amp's power rating. At 50wpc into 8Ω accompanied by 26.5dB voltage gain, it accommodates all reasonable scenarios but sidesteps bullish mayhem involving low-Ω gas-guzzling brutes. As you'd expect from such a green MO, standby power draw is below 1 watts whilst maximum active mode consumes 160 watts.

Delivery continues the brain theme with wooden crates no bigger than needed which run just one screw to undo before opening the velcro latches to get inside. Padded by foam, the component is additionally sleeved in plastic. Once removed a small cardboard box in its own recess becomes visible which contains the owner's manual, remote control, power cable, Cantata Link and warranty registration card. At 5kg/ea. and 43 x 22 x 5cm compact, the words schlep, hernia, sweat and grunt aren't in this dictionary. Those are the basics. Obviously there's more. But that requires tapping chief Jeff Kalt. His documentation is need-to-know. You get all the intel to operate his machines plus their basic specs. What you don't get are any of the juicy bits which audiophiles love to obsess about. So flip a page, not wig.