Soundstaging too fit seamlessly into the AAdac's brief by tending toward the slightly opulent. Concert halls illuminated impressively broad and deep. Try John Adams' The Chairman Dances – Foxtrot for Orchestra. Its leitmotif wanders from instrumental group to instrumental group to generate real musical motion. That came across realistically. Smaller ensembles were correctly more intimate but still a nuance bigger and closer though without gross exaggeration. That perfectly fit the picture. Where the recording allows, images lock into clear outlines localized precisely.

How about the disc spinner? With the DAC occupying most of my time, I have little room left to cover the transport. To remain brief, I found it very well built and perfectly matched. I heard no significant or assignable difference over the Antipodes S40 streaming ripped data to the DAC instead. That was a compliment for the AAdrive since the nearly thrice dearer Antipodes does a very good job. It also didn't matter whether I used the €2'700 North Star spinner. It's only the full North Star combo which had a small sonic edge when tethered up I²S which Audio Analogue don't support.

Audio Analogue's AAdac is a real character with a most 'analog' feel to sound terrifically organic. It starts in the bass which sidesteps ultimate hardness/control to instead swing and groove like a champ; continues into the lower midrange with strong color saturation, high resolution and clean dynamic contracts; and ends in a silken elastic treble. Macro attacks have full support and imaging tends to the slightly XL.

While I can't attest to specific synergy effects, the AAdrive's design, build and performance all seemed ideally matched to impress at a high level.

The transport controls sit on the lower edge behind the silk screen symbols.

Psych profile for the Audio Analogue AAdac…
♦ tonally warm for an analog vibe in the best sense of the word.
♦ a powerfully supportive bass with excellent swing and groove but not the last word in control and brutality.
♦ a sonorous midband shows a small emphasis in its lower reach which benefits vocals to nearly overshadow otherwise excellent resolution and microdynamic differentiation.
♦ treble has excellent resolution without stress to do right by exciting bravura recordings without compromising any long-term comfort.
♦ macrodynamically gifted.
♦ goes slightly opulent on imaging and soundstaging but not overboard. Proportions remain believable and image focus good.
♦ nicely featured with high build quality.

Psych profile for the Audio Analogue AAdrive…
♦ is a very solidly made CD transport.
♦ creates ideal conditions to dispatch clean data.
♦ is optically matched to the AAdac and maximizes its potential for CD playback.

Facts for the AAdac
Category:
DAC with defeatable volume control and headphone output
I/o: Toslink, dual coax, AES/EBU, USB-B plus XLR/RCA analog and 6.3mm headfi
Data support: 32/384 PCM, DSD512, MQA
Dimensions & weight: 220 x 390 x 100mm (WxDxH), 5.5kg
Trim: Black or silver
Other: remote control
Warranty: 3 years

Facts for the AAdrive
Category:
Pure CD transport
Outputs: coax, AES/EBU
Dimensions & weight: 220 x 390 x 100mm (WxDxH), 5.5kg
Trim: Black or silver
Other: remote control
Warranty: 3 years