Before continuing, a shorthand description needs to go to the Altair to provide context since it has not been formally reviewed here. Its designer's intent is organic in both tonal balance and dimensional presentation. Pricing places it just below Auralic's best and sundry publications have given it a strong recommendation with the proviso of being a touch dynamically polite. Take that proviso with a grain of salt. While very well constructed, the designer gave short shrift to resonance control. Proper attention to vibration management brings Altair performance close to my Ideon Ayazi DAC withTortuga preamp as a high sonic standard with very similar organic signature.

To follow the methodology of my original Antigone review, I first removed my GutWire grounding cable from the equation but at the midway point, used the new grounding post. If it seems that attention to ground noise should be redundant given Antigone's comprehensive filter approach, it is not. Noise can be introduced by a multitude of external and internal sources so closing off all back doors remains good policy. I will cut to the chase about the effects of the ground terminal and dedicated GutWire grounding cables. The terminal indeed proved beneficial, contributing to enhanced low-level detail, improved attack and decay as well as more accurate soundstage information. Excess height whittled down to more human proportions, there was greater front-to-back space and the system exhibited superior image focus and localization. The delta of improvement was simply less dramatic than using a ground wire on the Antigone Mk1 via chassis screw. These amalgamated results were consistent with my experience in ground noise reduction and Mr. Robidoux is to be commended for including it on Mk2.

With ground rules established and DR Acoustics putting their best foot forward, it was time to select music and see how my system fared. Here's a quick sampling with a weighting towards fresh fare. All the standard Telarc, Reference Recordings, Dorian and M.A files made the rounds but a few new titles entered the listening sessions as well. "Rooftop Kiss" from James Horner's The Classics is a compilation album of strong solo performers in conjunction with the London Symphony Orchestra, offering both stronger and weaker interpretations of Horner's better-known film scores.

This cut features South Korean-born but now Dutch harpist Lavinia Meijer in a huge acoustic space. When the system balance is correct, the string detail and finger work can light up the room in breathtaking fashion.

The MQA version of "Trip Trap" from Laid Black by Marcus Miller on Bluenote shows some impressive kick, marrying a blend of jazz standards and progressive fare. The first cut gets the album into gear with some very fine bass work interweaving with a crack orchestra performing on both acoustic and electric instruments. "A Case of You" from the 24/96 Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell on Reprise had the grand lady celebrate her 75th birthday in 2000 to mark a mature performer's huskier voiced emotionally expressive delivery backed by an assortment of big band, regular band and huge 71-piece orchestra. Despite the grand scale, the haunting beautifully controlled Ms. Mitchell owns the stage.

"Invention No.14" from the Gitarr-Kvartetten with the Stockholm Guitar Quartet on Opus 3 is a superbly engineered audiophile chestnut that retraces its roots to a minimalist analog recording of the Stockholm Guitar Quartet performing in the Botkyrka Church in 1978. Talent and acoustic are faithfully captured with astonishing naturalness and this recording firmly demonstrates why Opus 3 remains on the audiophile best-dressed list. "That's It" by Sofi Tukker enters the simple category of infectious fun. This bouncy "house-inspired jungle pop" effort by Grammy nominated performers Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halphern revels in intense steep transients supporting a very much tongue-in-cheek homage to "I'm too sexy" material from 1991. Who said listening had to be restricted to pedantic audiophile titles?