Country of Origin
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, Jay's Audio CDT 2 MkII & DAC-2 SE
Preamplifier: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE 300B/VT52 or Elrog ER300B/50; Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, SIT-3, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; SAG AIO; Crayon CFA-1.2
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Kroma Audio Mimí; 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 Vox 3f [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: $395
The difference between a madman and a modman is just one letter. Believers in the invariability of wired Ethernet streams with their inherent galvanic isolation—any old router or network switch is perfect for no-compromise audio—will in fact think there's no difference at all if you had the temerity to suggest that modifying a Cisco SG110D-08 switch could net any audible dividends. Bits are bits, packets are packets and Gertrude Stein smells a rose. Good morning Vietnaaam.
At $395, Fidelizer's Keetakawee Punpeng who's actually from Thailand just doesn't bill enough to cause widespread outrage with crowds that get vitriolic on 'audiophile' hence costly such solutions from makers like Aqvox, Ansuz, Melco, SOtM, Telegärtner, Waversa & Co. Closest to today's mod is Clones Audio's $499 SG110D-08 overhaul. It too swaps out the clock. Priced identical to today's contender is the Bonn N8.
Keetakawee whose gmail handle is lucifiar gets devilish on a few more bits of the stocker than just its clock. The next page lists and shows them. Claimed beneficiaries of the superior parts are audiophiles, videophiles, recording professionals and gamers. "Even commonly used Smart TV can gain big in streaming quality of Netflix and YouTube video over Chromecast. You don't need luxury systems to realize big improvements."
In this sector, the rationale behind such claims isn't packet loss but noise reduction. If less high-frequency hash presents itself at the input receivers of D/A converters for example, their load lowers to work better thus sound better. In this instance, we're also promised better picture quality. With music and video streaming the de facto source for many users, hifi brands now tackle our automatic reliance on cheap mass-market Linksys & Bros. routers and switches which come with our Internet subscriptions from our local IT providers.
The difference between a freebie or sub €100 unit bought from your local Computer Emporium, a medical-grade isolator in a plastic casing and a gold-plated audiophile device for silly money can rankle. Finding one's personal middle ground where return on investment remains happy—better sound for far less than a premium power cord perhaps—is key. Everyone's pain threshold differs. Yours might cry uncle with Waversa's €5'200 Wrouter with battery-powered ports and linear power supply. Let's assume that today's $395 slips in below yours. Otherwise best log off now to call your existing Internet hardware perfectly adequate for best-quality streaming. If you don't hear a difference, it is all you need. I wasn't sure about ours which as yet had gotten no special audiophile consideration. Our serious listening relies exclusively on local media without tablet remote. That eliminates the Internet altogether. In fact, files copied to SD card then read from our Soundaware D300Ref eliminate all IT protocols so even our music iMac can turn off.