From the white paper. Actually, it was a simple word.doc from Morten my Aalborg contact floating against my white screen. "The Aavik U-380 RIAA section is based on a discreet floating-balanced ultra-low-noise bipolar input circuit. By nature, the topology of a moving coil cartridge is a floating-balanced signal generator. We have kept this floating-balanced circuit topology throughout the phono stage. The floating input circuit allows us to use ultra-low-noise bipolar transistors. By paralleling several transistor pairs, we created a dead-quiet input section. The U-380 phono stage has 62dB of gain and the cartridge loading is adjustable from 50Ω – 10kΩ.
"The U-380 is equipped with two DACs, one PCM, one DSD. There are two 24/192 coax, two 24/96 Toslink and one UAC2/async 24/192 USB with DSD128 inputs. All five excel equally in performance. Both converter sections perform without digital signature to make all music sound 'analog'. The digital circuits were created with the very best high-frequency design tools available and great care was embedded in the PCB design. We made a lot of effort to ensure 100% equal treatment of the differential signals with time-aligned ultra-short 4-layer PCB traces. The DAC circuits are fitted with ultra-low-jitter clocks to minimize timing errors in the digital-to-analog conversion. All DAC circuits are isolated with 13 separate low-noise high-PSSR voltage regulators each feeding only one stage of the signal handling. The signals from the digital inputs route to an asynchronous sample-rate converter which resamples and reclocks them to 200kHz/24-bit PCM which then feeds current-output DAC chips. A differential floating topology with virtual ground performs current-to-voltage conversion. This isolates the signal from potential ground noise and signal-induced ground modulation." From this we see how Aavik don't buy into the ever-higher sample rate craze. To them, 24/192 is the sane limit.
"The DSD section features an ultra-simple gain structure with single gain stage and purely passive LC-type analog filter made from shielded coils and the highest-quality capacitors. The passive 6th-order filter at 60kHz effectively removes all switching artifacts without adding excess noise in the audio band for a pure and unique method of performing D/A conversion without passing the signal through any type of chip set or software-based noise shaping. USB isolates galvanically to avoid noise pollution from the host. This isolates the signal path from potential ground noise and signal-induced ground modulation.
"The U-380 line stage uses a unique inverted virtual-ground amplifier topology which preserves the finest detail on a dark quiet black background. The line stage has two inputs with 9dB gain for max 2.5Vrms signal and one line input with 6dB gain for max 5Vrms signal. The volume control is a microprocessor-controlled resistor-ladder (R2R) circuit inside the feedback loop of the virtual-ground amplification stage. The volume control regulates from -80dB to 0dB in ~1dB steps. The machine's overall industrial design is deeply rooted in our Scandinavian tradition for simplistic functionality and minimalist looks made from solid bars of anodized aluminum for a matte dark gun-metal finish. On the front are small LED indicating volume, gain, source and cartridge settings plus three chromed push buttons on the top panel. Adjusting settings is easy and intuitive as all are controlled with the three buttons and big solid rotating knob centered on the front." From this we appreciate that volume changes alter negative feedback. The higher the volume, the lower the feedback.
From Polish contributor Dawid Gryzb's own factory tour.
Further published specs are 300/600wpc into 8/4Ω, thus identical power to the predecessor, with sub 0.005% THD+N from 1-100w/8Ω, sub 0.0008% IMD and sub 0.002% TIM at 10w/8Ω. Dimensions are 10x44x37cm WxDxH, weight is 19.5kg. If you're curious whether the 380 inherits the Pascal power modules from the 300—didn't it stand to reason that Pascal had made their own progress in the interim—I was. Michael Børresen: "In raw concept, the class D module is the same Pascal M Pro-2. Their Danish facilities produce it in small batches and we mount it with our select input buffer. We use Pascal because they have their own patented sine-wave-based signal modulation not the triangulation saw-tooth approach which other makers use. This allows for far less intrusive inductive filtering of the outputs. I personally believe that the greatest limitation of class D is the need for inductive output filters. We know from our Ansuz cables that induction matters a lot. Placed at the outputs of a power amp, it becomes a real limiter on transient current capabilities."
So the €36'000 U-380 uses the same 800-watt stereo/1'400-watt bridged module as Gato Audio's €4'250 DIA-400 I reviewed back in September 2013. Clearly Aavik were happy with its performance to see no need to make changes. Don't fix what ain't broke. Even Jeff Rowland's 525 celebrates Pascal.
A comparison with the U-300's web page would find its descriptions identical to the U-380 except for DSD [U-300 at left].
"When creating this update from U-300 to U-380, we didn't alter the specs because we already had a very good base line. We instead rerouted and refitted all circuit boards with the best voltage regulators and all the noise-cancelling and jitter tech we currently know of. The power supplies too were heavily reworked for even lower noise and far greater current output. While these things matter very much for the listening experience and performance quality, they barely change the specifications. So in a way, all is new but on paper, it's all the same." It reiterates why despite sharing the same chassis, a U-300 can't be retrofitted to U-380 status.
With me still having on hand complete Ansuz power of Mainz8 distributor and matching D2 cords plus a pair of Børresen 02 floorstanders, Morten suggested to go full hog. With my U-380, he'd include a D2 Digitalz cable and matching Speakz set. This would wire up my Aavik and Børresen rig with a complete front-to-back Ansuz loom. All of Aalborg would now play in Westport. He'd also ship a D2 PowerBox or PowerSwitch so I could activate the shielding, dither and Tesla coil tech of their signal cables. Since in the main system we only stream locally hosted files to stay off the Internet, I had no need for Ethernet. If the simpler Powerbox wasn't available, I'd only use the Powerswitch to activate the signal cables.
When my 'shipped' email arrived, I saw that Morten had packed a D2 Powerbox, D2 4m speaker cable and D2 2m digital. Asking for pricing to complete our picture, we arrive at €4'000 for the power supply to activate D2 and D-TC cables; €10'800 for the digital link; and €23'120/pr for the 4m speaker cable. That, cough, was slightly more than the U-380 itself. Going Danish not Dutch is for bigger wallets only. But then already Hamlet said, "listen to many, speak to a few" as well as "though this be madness, yet there is method in it". He continued with "there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so" to recommend that "the rest is silence". You hear that?…
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