Country of Origin


DNA 1000.2 HE

This review first appeared in the September 2018 issue of high-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this Ascendo review 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 Ascendo- Ed. 

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Analog sources: SME Model 15 with SME 309 arm and pickups Denon DL-103R, Dynavector DV-20X2 H, Transrotor Figaro, Shelter 201,with Flux Hifi needle cleaner and VPI HW-16.5 record cleaner
Digital sources: Luxman DA-06 DAC, NAD C546BEE SE CDP, Audiodata MusikServer MSII, Readynas Duo NAS, Auralic Aries streamer, HP Notebook/JRiver, iFi iPurifier II USB filter
Integrated amplifier: Denon PMA-2010AE
Preamps: Octave HP300 MkII linestage, BMC Audio MCCI Signature ULN phono & Octave HP300-phono module
Power amps: Musical Fidelity M8 700m
Loudspeakers: Blumenhofer Acoustics Genuin FS1 MkII
Cabling: fis Audio Studioline, Ascendo tri-wire, Dynamikks Speakerlink, Ecosse ES 2.3, Zu Audio Libtec, Vovox, Audioquest Cinnamon Toslink, Boaacoustic Silver Digital Xeno USB, Wireworld Series 7 Starlight Gold digital coax, fis Audio power cords, fis Audio Black Magic conditioner
Equipment support: Creaktiv Trend 3
Room: 30m² with 3.4m ceiling
Retail price of review component: €3'600/ea.

Flexi gain? Flexi gain? Known for their loudspeakers, why do Ascendo suddenly offer a power amplifier? Surprise shouldn't really factor past remembering how this Baden-Württemberg firm don't just design and build passive speakers but also active models ever since launching their home-theatre range in 2015. Having developed their built-in electronics in-house to believe them sonically and functionally highly competitive, it wasn't much of a stretch to want to offer them separately not just for their own passive boxes but for all other passive speakers. Voilà, their DNA1000.2 HE.

Its cosmetics are understatement pure. They reminded me of a mini desktop PC. I found it counter-culture cool how stubbornly it defied all things bling; which seems to have been the whole point all along. Stefan Köpf, business manager: "Too often the majority of a component's production costs go toward a sophisticated chassis. We aimed for an attractive end price to deliberately avoid that." But the amp is no church mouse. The entire housing is a solid 5mm steel, uncommon even for far costlier fare. What's more, it envelops a secondary inner aluminium box. And that spells double trouble for electromagnetic radiation entering or exiting. More than just a clever gag, the four footers attach magnetically to allow for horizontal or vertical positioning; whatever suits best.

One gander 'round back shows that analog input signal enters exclusively on XLR to point at the professional install market where, as Köpf explains, symmetrical remains the default connection. For RCA-only preamps, one uses RCA/XLR adaptors. The DNA1000.2 HE will automatically symmetrize such signal past its input socket.

Next to the Furutech power inlet and WBT binding posts, there are three RJ45 plugs dubbed AVB. Was ist denn das? The short answer translates to Audio/Video Bridging, a license-free IEEE streaming protocol which enables real-time audio-visual applications beyond the reach of classic Ethernet. What's more, AVB simplifies cable investments for complex installation since multiple channels can now be piped in full duplex mode through plain CAT wiring. The tech behind it goes much farther though. Think TSN aka time-sensitive networking as exploited for self-driving cars. This ties to the day job of Ascendo's second principal Jürgen Scheuring at the software enterprise UMAN who specialize in this field.