May
2020

Country of Origin

China

Avatar

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
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, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref,  AURALiC Vega 
Preamplifier: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE VT52/300B or Elrog 50/300B, Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, SIT3, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence; Fram Midi 150 & 120; Acelec Model One; sound|kaos Vox3a [on review]; Aurai Audio M1 [on review]; Sotto Voce Stereo 3 [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000 and Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania 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
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 clocks.

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 €1'100 delivered, 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 four 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.