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This review first appeared in April 2022 on HifiKnights.com. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of Dawid Grzyb – Ed.
Reviewer: Dawid Grzyb
Sources: Innuos Statement, LampizatOr Pacific with KR T-100 or LV 300B and KR 5U4G
USB components: iFi Audio iGalvanic3.0, micro iUSB3.0, 3 x Mercury3.0, iPower 9V
Preamplifier: Trilogy 915R
Power amplifier: Trilogy 995R
Speakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Boenicke Audio W11 SE+
Interconnects: Boenicke Audio IE3 CG
Speaker cables: Boenicke Audio S3, LessLoss C-MARC
Power components: GigaWatt PC-3 SE EVO+ w. LC-3 EVO cord, LessLoss C-MARC, Boenicke Audio Power Gate, IOSL-8 Prometheus
Rack: Franc Audio Accessories wood block rack
Network: Fidelizer EtherStream, Linksys WRT160N
Retail price of component: €3'500/ea.
ZrSiO4. In late 2020 the Ansuz Darkz T2S decouplers had shown me how beneficial titanium is to sound quality. Today we learn whether the new zirconium version Z2S deserves its even higher placement in Audio Group Denmark's portfolio. Although my most recent Ansuz review only dates back to the last day of 2021, it feels like ages already. Then I'd explained how I generally stay clear of the insanely pricey tier though every now and then I do tackle such challenges if they're compact enough and manufacturers are happy to send them to me. The Ansuz D-TC Supreme power at €36'000 had been a perfect such candidate. Now it's time to come clean. That cable had been just one of several products I received on a rather large pallet. Today we unpeel its next layer. We extract another box and present its contents. Drum roll.
Shortly before my cargo left its Nordic homeland, another Ansuz product had its official premiere. Baptized Darkz Z2S to establish a new top shelf in its maker's footer roster, it was tiny, extremely expensive but very available. These were three green lights given how their T2S precursors reviewed here had thoroughly impressed. I imagined that anything above the already crazy titanium footer would take a while to launch. Apparently Lady Fortunata was on my side that day when just prior to buttoning up shipping logistics, my factory contact Morten included a Darkz Z2S set whose existence had just been announced a week prior. Lucky me? As we'll see, you bet!
The Ansuz Darkz footer range spans six tiers. In ascending order those are the C2T, D2T, S2T, T2, T2S and now Z2S. All are hard decouplers so sans spring action. They're directional sinks designed to transfer resonances from a component into them. Vibrations turned to heat exhaust themselves to not bounce back. That's the common denominator of the entire Darkz roster. Only applied materials differ. A Z2S measures 44.5 x 23.8mm and comprises six balls between three discs like all other Darkz. As such it doesn't seem too complex yet is quite intricate and perfectly machined. Each disc features three deep races to house the ball bearings. Three layers stack purposefully loose but are safely held in place by off-color machined inserts in the top and bottom plates which tie together. The bottom plate adds a tiny conical recess to accommodate a spike. Each outer plate adds more semispherical dimples to accept extra balls. One may stack Darkz ad infinitum.
Although all versions share shape and size, materials and processing diverge. The entry-level C2T and one-up D2T feature aluminium anodized for extra hardness while the latter's glass-blasted discs undergo particle bombardment to develop microscopic tantalum and diamond skins. The mid-tier S2T and T2 respectively replace aluminium with stainless steel and titanium. The latter's hi-zoot T2S version undergoes +60-hour particle blasting to etch layers of tantalum, scandium and diamond deep into its surface. Today's Z2S ditches titanium in favor of zirconium conditioned in a High-Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering unit to develop tungsten and aluminium-titanium nitride skins under a final zirconium layer for a uniform finish. These disparate layers (constrained-layer damping) are said to shift the resonant mode of the core material so vibration attenuation becomes ever more effective. That's the rational for all this effort. Each C2T, D2T, S2T, T2 and T2S sells for €270, 620, 670, 780 and 1'200 so even the previously dearest is nowhere near today's—are you sitting down?—€3'500. One component demands at least three. That puts €10'500 on the invoice. The letter 'S' in the T2S model name stood for 'Supreme'. Today's screams 'Signature'? It was only fair to quiz chief designer Michael Børresen on his staggering tag. I learnt that zirconium doesn't hold neutrons to be exploited wherever chromium and nickel won't do but where extremely low contamination is a must like in nuclear and medical applications. Industrial-grade zirconium is roughly 10 x more expensive than already costly titanium. It's very difficult to machine and quite volatile. That demands specific work environments and tools. It's also not easily obtained in large quantities considering the primary sectors which rely on it. When asked why they bother, Ansuz view zirconium's efficacy and resonance pattern special enough to invest and build products with. It dissipates unwanted vibrations yet leaves those appealing to our ears unharmed in ways not otherwise achievable. Even the top Darkz's tungsten balls are 4 x harder than their titanium counterparts in other models to enhance this resonance-evacuating efficiency.
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