July
2020

Country of Origin

China

Avatar

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref SD transport & USB bridge; Preamplifier: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE VT52/300B or Elrog 50/300B; Power amplifiers: LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; Headphone amp: Kinki Studio; Headphones: Final D8000; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, LessLoss C-MARC Entropic cords 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; Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Second system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport; DAC/pre: COS Engineering D1; Amplifier: Bakoon AMP-13R; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model One w. Franck Tchang magnesium 360° super tweeters, Zu Submission subwoofer, LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers; Power delivery: Puritan Audio Lab PSM-156; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headphone amp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Audeze LCD-XC; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 150
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Headphones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: 
Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: $1'698 Sinaporean with shipping, $1'958 with prepaid VAT for EU deliveries [~€1'095 to ~€1'250 at publication time]

James Cameron's fidget spinner. 

That'll be the Avatar by Denafrips.

It's a top-loading CD-only transport with possibly the most comprehensive outputs ever, plus a word-clock input. It can upsample in doubled stages up to 352.8kHz. At max, it outputs that over five different I²S ports (2 x HDMI, 3 x RJ45). As per their industry spec, coax, Toslink and AES/EBU support up to 176.4kHz. A 75Ω BNC input accepts 22.4792MHz and 45.1584MHz clock signal.

The transport mechanism is the NOS Philips CDM4/19 at right. Denafrips secured 3'000 for long product support. Go here for history on various Philips CDM mechanisms.

There are 12 ultra low-noise precision linear voltage regulators and the digital data is buffered, then reclocked by 'femto' oscillator for a low-jitter output. A full metal remote is included.

And that's all which my post for our news room had said about it. But less than 24 hours later, reader Steve Fink inquired. "Hello. Hope you're planning on reviewing the Avatar!!??" With dual exclamation marks and twin question marks, this clearly was serious. And the Avatar is. For about €1'250 delivered with EU VAT prepaid, one gets optical isolation on all outputs, FPGA-based DSP processing, dual power toroids, twin Toslink, coax and AES/EBU outputs each and a 12kg hunk of silver or black metal. Unusually, the upsampler control is a dip-switch panel on the rear. No matter how you roll, that's mega; and unheard of for the money.

Contributors are the NOS Philips transport and mainland China build.

Denafrips enjoy a sterling reputation for their prior four—now five—discrete R2R DACs models. But their portfolio is aggressively expanding. It now already includes two (soon to be three) D/D converters, a flagship headphone amp, two preamps and two power amps.

And now add a dedicated CD transport.