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This review first appeared in the April 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of Wadia
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Wadia - Ed.

Reviewer: Martin Mertens
Sources: Analogue: Thorens TD 160 HD w. TP250 arm & Benz Micro MC Gold cart; digital - Antelope Zodiac+ DAC,Creek CD 42 MkII, North Star Design Supremo DAC & CD transport
Amplification: Phono - Lehmann Black Cube SE II; integrated - Exposure 2010 S, Musical Fidelity AMS 35i
Loudspeakers: Gaithain ME150
Cables: USB - Wireworld Starlight 7; interconnects - Vampire CC; speaker cables - Fast Audio Compact 6M biwire
Power delivery: Audioplan FineFilter S, PowerStar S, PowerPlant S, PowerCord cables
HiFi rack: BassoContinuo
Component retail price in EU: €7’800

Scifi or hifi? Confession time. My audiophile socialization has me a child of the 1990s. Separates ruled. One couldn’t have enough boxes. For peak CD replay one even then ran a separate transport and DAC followed by a preamp and mono power amps. Such an industrial hardware park in the living room wasn’t about status. 'twas considered dire necessity. Each component had to be purpose-designed for its particular function. Multi-tasking was frowned upon. Now I stared at Wadia’s Intuition 01 and found my wayward eyes caressing its sleek lines. Don’t send hate mail but Wadia’s logo on the lid might as well be a bitten apple. That’s no disrespect! I’m fully aware how Wadia had high-end transport/DAC combos when Apple still trafficked in run-of-the-mill hardware tucked into bonbon-coloured plastic casings shaped like blown-up bubble gum. It was their first iMac when the Californians finally hit computerdom’s creative scene with a mighty splash. This led to many subsequent design icons from Cupertino. Today one simply accepts that Apple set the standard for industrial design.

The Intuition chassis or rather top and bottom can be had in silver or black or, by special request, even chromed nickel. Since Apple has shifted nearly exclusively to clear-anodized aluminium, the Wadia in silver cuts a really natty figure next to a MacBook Air. And that would nearly set you up for a system – plus the obvious pair of credible speakers. So yeah, the Intuition is an integrated amp with built-in DAC. Or perhaps a DAC with built-in amp aka power DAC? None of these terms seem entirely appropriate. They all suggest a compact budget component. Given Wadia’s sticker that’s decidedly not the case.

The user interface is a remote control which duplicates the machine’s form factor. The deck itself sports a relatively large display whose dot matrix shines through stretched fabric. This display is bracketed by four small buttons beneath the cloth identified by LEDs. The left pair selects between inputs, the right volume. The sides are covered in fabric as well. This stands typical macho hifi aesthetics on their puny head. Where current luxury decks rock CNC-machined aluminium stock and face plates bedecked with precision switches from space travel next to mirror-black displays, Wadia go for… fabric! Where were the cleaning instructions and liquid detergent? I for one thought this was very trick indeed. And instead of detergent there really was a bottle with special cleaning fluid for the swooping lid.

Less original but comprehensive is the business end. Digital has all the usual input suspects: USB, Toslink, AES/EBU and two coax. Behind the two λi-Link HDMI ports hide I²S sockets. Most makers rely on this parallel rather than serial format to send data from transport to DAC. Wadia extends this to separates where it’s less sensible to first convert native I²S to S/PDIF. The latter’s advantage is standardization via RCA, BNC or Toslink ports. There are no standardized ports for I²S. North Star for example use RJ45 aka Ethernet cable. Some companies run on SVideo connectors. Wadia opted for HDMI. Sadly this nixed my North Star transport’s I²S output which I’d have loved to try out with the Intuition 01.

But digital isn’t the end. There are two analog inputs as well. Die-hard analog freaks about to jubilate that such a modern deck supports their purist ambitions will simply be disappointed that Wadia digitize them first to apply their digital-domain volume control. Which isn’t as bad as it might sound. They process all digital data at 32 bits and 1.5MHz upsampling. And the Intuition handles all current binary formats including DSD, double DSD and DXD. Since normal music consumers don’t use such data, this is presently mostly theoretical. Call it future proofiness.