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ZeroUno PureDAC

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Gaia reclocker, Avatar CD transport, Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport; Preamp: icOn 4Pro SE; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant, Audio Physic Codex Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/80Hz hi-low pass;
Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dyaudio 18S subwoofer; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 150
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R, Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1, Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon AudioLoudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120, Zu Submission subwoofer; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €3'570 ex VAT

Can(he)Ever not use tubes? It's a question fanciers of Mario CanEver's Venetian components might have asked. Why? Because they already had sufficient valve aroma from their amp, preamp or DAC. After all, the magic is in the right dose. It's not in overdosing.

The answer to their question arrived in Westport June 16th.

That's when Mario asked me to review his new ZeroUno PureDAC. It and the new ZeroUno SSD both do away with his signature exposed valves.

Of course the general design aesthetic of minimalist class A signal path with coupling magnetics remains unchanged.

After all, what's a leopard without his spots? A limpard. So today's PureDAC is the ZeroUno DAC just without the CV181 tube output.

Otherwise it's still a Sabre ES9018 deck with quad converters per channel to support PCM384, DSD128 and full MQA, 4 x oversampling, Lundahl amorphous output trafos, 0.1ppm 100MHz Crystek TCXO, two 44.1/48kHz-related clocks and four digital inputs (6 by special request). Those can be any combo of RCA, XLR, BNC, USB, Toslink and I²S on HDMI¹ or RJ45.

Sabre's on-chip 32-bit digital volume can be bypassed with the fixed outputs. Naturally there's no global feedback. Stripping away the glowing bulbs has dropped the pre-VAT sticker to €3'570.

¹ Thinking readers know. There's no universal standard for external I²S even when there's agreement on using HDMI. Where Denafrips make their HDMI pin configuration assignable with a sequence of pushing certain front-panel buttons, Mario adopted a dual header solution.

Header 1 supports kit from Audiogd, Aune, Channel Island, Denafrips, DiDiT, Holo, Empirical, K&K, Matrix, Musica Pristina, M2Tech, Mola Mola, PS Audio, Sonore and Stahl-Tek;

Header 2 is for digital transports by Audiobyte, Gustard, Pink Faun, ProJect, Rockna, Singxer, S.M.S.L and Wadia.

So yes, Mario CanEver. For more on his design philosophy, our archives have two prior reviews. They make for instructive reading on this score.

Today's question might be, what's behind the mask when the tubes comes off?

Will it be that Rita Hayworth quote of, they go to bed with Gilda but wake up to me?

I (cough) never saw anything wrong with that scenario.

I didn't expect it from tubular absence either. In fact, might it not benefit S/NR hence micro detail? We'd only know by direct contrast; not part of this assignment. If you must know, it'll have to be a side-by-side dealer or home demo. I'd not be working inside your need-to-know area. As agent of contrast, I'd use the Denafrips Terminator DAC.