December
2023

Country of Origin

China

GLS1.0

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, 40GB RAM, Sonoma 14), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Studio, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 & SW-6 switch, Laiv Audio Harmony and Sonnet Pasithea; Active filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos & Gold Note monoa on subwoofer; Headamp: Kinki Studio THR-1; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Kinki Studio Earth, Furutech; 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 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: FiiO R7 into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Amplifier: Kinki Studio EX-M7; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; 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 Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; DAC: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Head/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Speakers: Acelec Model One
Headphones: Final D-8000 & Sonorous X, Audeze LCD-XC, Raal-Requisite SR1a on Schiit Jotunheim R
Upstairs headfi system: FiiO R7; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro, Fiio FT3

2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €TBA

Massive attack. GLS1.0 synchronized media player. DSDAC1.0 Deluxe. 9i-938 preamp. 9i-958 monos. Lansche Audio N° 7.2. That was Beijing. At Guangzhou, speakers were ATC SCM150SE.

Either way, topping Cen.Grand's show stacks was lead engineer's JianHui Deng’s GLS1.0, a new flagship media player with novel sync link not USB or Ethernet.

Hogging the floor were his new 900-watt class A/B monos. Also new was the preamp sitting below his top DAC which resamples all data up to DSD 1'024 on the fly with proprietary FPGA algorithm.

Massive attack seems an appropriate response when faced by such a forceful show presence for Sino brand Cen.Grand. After reviewing, awarding and buying their top headphone amp and DAC, I didn't think twice when asked whether I'd review this new media player once it formally releases.

Mr. Deng had collaborated with US firm Marvell Tech on his earlier Blu-Ray players. Wanting to embed independent clocks for both sample-rate families, he had asked Marvell to enable external clock mode for their chips. This allowed Cen.Grand players to implement a then unique feature. For the GLS1.0 he now wanted independent clock and data lines very much like I²S¹. This time his chosen tech partners are Intel. What plugs he has opted for remains to be seen. It could be a combo of Toslink and BNC; or an existing multi-parallel computer port? Key is support of extreme data rates for multi-channel DSD; with a separate clock line.

As shown, my DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe already sports the expansion slot to host the required input module.

Having committed to the review is all I know for now. The rest of it we'll learn in due time.
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¹ External I²S lacks a universal standard for port type and pin config. We've seen it executed on S-video, discrete BNC, RJ45 and HDMI plugs whilst divergent wiring schemes birthed adjustable pins on dip switches [Soundaware, Antipodes] or software control [Denafrips, Ferrum]. To upgrade Ethernet, some network switches and server/streamers have added fiber-optic ports. Since Mr. JianHui Deng's solution won't at first overlap with competitors, the GLS1.0 will also support standard protocols to interface with all DACs. Just so we can safely predict that Cen.Grand will call their new protocol the best-sounding option just as current machines do for glass-fiber or I²S; or Merging for Ravenna over RJ45.