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CD-1000Mk11 four ways

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, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref,  AURALiC Vega 
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, 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
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: €3'990 in base version, €4'800 in deluxe version with USB and PCM1792A; $3'190 for PSU-1000, €3'250 Tube-1006

Against itself. As Gold Note's German-born new marketing director Marie Greggers promised, it'd be a fun and unusual ride. "Something a bit different" as she put it. Because the Italian team around Maurizio Aterini devised an add-on inductive power supply upgrade for all their 1000 range models except power amps; and because they also finalized 6- and 12-tube external output stages which can enhance the transistor outputs of their DAC/streamer, phono stage, CD player and preamp… I could pick one of those plus one of the tubers, then compare the standalone machine against itself with two duet combos and one trio. I selected their new MkII CD-1000 as the only one we hadn't reviewed already. And because with tubes I don't subscribe to the more-is-merrier routine, I asked for the Tube-1006. Forget the French ménage à trois. This would be an Italian quattro: CDP solo (€4'800); duet with tubes (€8'050); duet with bigger power reservoir (€7'990); trio with tubes and bigger power reservoir (€11'240). While listing euros, just the player without USB but with a lower-spec BurrBrown converter is €3'800.

The Golden Squad of Florence

Rewind. All hifi electronics are just modulated power supplies. Words to that effect remind us. Just like a harpist fingers her strings, an audio signal simply plays on our gear's power supplies. It's not separate from AC power like pure snow which never comes down the mountain. As a result, better/costlier components distinguish themselves primarily on the quality of their power supplies; and how well their magnetics and AC connection isolate against noise. A logical upgrade path would now want to replace a lesser with a better supply. And in the realm of small wall-wart components, replacing cheap switch-mode bricks with better linear supplies is common and easy. The original supply was separate to begin with. But because standard components include their power supplies in the main chassis, it's no dice. They are stuck. They can't shift up and go faster. Here Maurizio strategized different for his 1000 Series. Part of its design brief was this built-in upgrade path. As the  photos show, the external power supply and tube output stage circuitry occupy as much real estate as the entire component to which they dock. You'd not fit everything into one chassis. Now thinkers wonder. What happens to the power supply inside our CD player? Does it get bypassed/chucked altogether; or assigned to a secondary task whilst the outboard unit takes over primary duties? The answer: the external supply completely bypasses the internal one, hence the power cord on the main unit can be removed.