July
2020

Country of Origin

Portugal

Phoenix

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); April Music Stello HP100 MkII
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, SIT-3, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; April Music Stello S100 MkII;  Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; SAG AIO; Bakoon AMP-13R
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Acelec Model One; 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
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000/5000 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, Puritan Audio Labs PSM156 & PS106-DC
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: €2'499

One needn't be a fan or hater of J.K. Rowling to have passing familiarity with the phoenix legend.

It's the bird which rejuvenates itself by self immolation. It regularly burns to ashes only to rise again. Out with the old, in with the new.

For a DDC or digital-to-digital converter with singular i/o on USB only, the notion of regenerated power and/or noise-stripped signal neatly conjures up the bird myth. Innocent fans of USB audio see no call for rejuvenation. Haters will. They're aware of the 5V power line and ground which link up a computer's switch-mode power and USB network to their D/A converter. They view computer sources as barely fit for hifi purpose. They're aware also that unlike S/PDIF, USB embeds no clock signal. They could thus wonder. Why did Innuos choose to output their music signal purely on USB rather than convert it to S/PDIF or I²S as most of their competitors do?

To learn why, Innuos would call me after receipt. They'd answer any and all questions I might have. I'd make sure—easy, that—to be full of it; questions that is.

For those who'd invoke their DAC's galvanically isolated USB transceiver to claim no possible use or need for such devices, I'll say that I haven't yet met a USB DAC which didn't benefit from an external reclocker. For those who need multiple opinions, here are two reviews from site associates John Darko and Dawid Grzyb. Many more are elsewhere. I'm quite late to this Phoenician party but not to the general DDC game. A Soundaware D300Ref converts USB to I²S for our Denafrips Terminator in the main system. An Audiobyte Hydra X+ converts USB to S/PDIF on my desktop to supply a COS H1 headphone DAC and pair of Fram Audio Midi 150 active speakers. I'm sold on the concept even if I'd much prefer that especially statement DACs were impervious to such bolt-on mods for fewer boxes and cables. But as anyone with woofers in their speakers knows, reality barks. Occasionally it even bites.

Pragmatists brush aside the need to ask 'why' and get on with reality. Give Cesar what is Cesar's was as true 2'000 years ago as it is today. Death and taxes are a sure thing. So is that in audio, many things don't make superficial sense. Most of us simply aren't engineers to get to their true bottom with real understanding. At best we repeat what we're told by people who seem to know more than we do. But about our hifi system, we're the only ones who know what it sounds like. Nobody else can predict whether this or that change will increase or diminish our enjoyment. Even if otherwise we feel rather ignorant or befuddled, here we are the real experts. What else do we really need to understand?

Trust your ears and pay the invoice. Or not. At €2'499, today's isn't chicken but phoenix feed. One more review on the Innuos then just might be what Dumbledore ordered to determine whether this could be for you?