Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" November 2020 iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, Ventura 13.3, 40GB RAM), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 switch, Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund/Job 225 on subwoofer; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf + sound|kaos DSUB15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Qualio IQ [on loan] 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 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: Shanling M3 Ultra into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to COS Engineering D1, iFi iDSD Pro Signature or Denafrips Terminator Plus 12th Anniversary firmware; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossie L2 Signature or icOn 4Pro, icOn 4th-order/80Hz active filter; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini or Acelec Model One + 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: legacy Auralic Vega; Head/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Speakers: EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1; Headphones: Final D-8000
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC/headamp: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro
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: €5'900
They exist underwater in the murky depths. But they also exist well above, in the homes of advanced 'philes. They form when age isn't a number on a passport; when it's accumulated experience gone crusty instead over notions on what the right sound is. After I'd updated the firmware of the upstairs Denafrips Terminator Plus to 12th Anniversary status, I felt like a properly pincered prickly crustacean – gnarly on the outside, buttery soft inside. Initial impressions were of higher resolution particularly in the treble. 'twas a step in the right direction after the Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe had shown up Mr. T's advancing age in cuddly portliness. I hankered for something more trim and fit after the Deluxe set up shop in the main downstairs system. But I lived with the Terminator to see how piling on mileage on the update would settle in. A visiting Soundaware DAM-1 competitor then really doubled down with a noticeably more youthful demeanour.
Once that Sino DAC made onward tracks to Krakow for its next review with Wojciech Pacula, the Plus left me wanting for insight and transparency across the mid and lower bands. I'm not into Twiggy sonics. I simply wanted more pep in the step, more quicksilvery reflexes than the full-fat non-pasteurized 'organic' Denafrips mustered. As so often is the case, a solution stared me straight in the face. I just had to look back. Hello Pasithea, the goddess on top of Cees Ruijtenberg's current DAC roster. His name should ring your Metrum bell. The same man now engineers for the Sonnet Digital brand. Today's brief ditty could as well have headlined with "A Love Letter to going Dutch Digital". But where would have been the clicky bait in that?
In any event, I rewired the downstairs Deluxe to feed both the Gradient Box 2 smart active xover via XLR and its stablemate Silver Fox headphone amp via RCA to free up Pasithea for 2nd system duties. Doing a confirmatory A/B against the upgraded Terminator Plus reignited my serious appreciation for the Dutchie. At €5'900 it's not as lean as 'going Dutch' might hope but with true variable reference voltage, it doubles as an ace preamp with remote volume. Whilst my review of it is a good 18 months old, Pasithea's sonics remain as fresh as the day she stepped out for me fully formed and perfect like Aphrodite emerged from a shell on a Cyprus beach. Though I lived in Coral Bay right by the sea, I sadly missed the Aphrodite reveal. Wrong millenium; by quite a few. So just because newer and shinier happens each and every month to make us forget the accomplishments from merely a year ago, let this be a reminder. Despite demure dimensions, light weight and a serious bling allergy, this Sonnet deck remains at the very top of my personal DAC heap. Pasithea bumped off Mr. T's about 4 x greater physical volume and far more serious heft. If impressing fellow 'philes is key, the Plus wins, hands down. But for my ears, Pasithea is the clear leader despite the latest fully settled-in Denafrips firmware update. Hands up!
Girl power, goddesses and crustaceans. You just knew how this would end…
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