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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: 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, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref SD transport & USB bridge; Preamplifier: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE VT52/300B or Elrog 50/300B; Power amplifiers: LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; Headphone amp: Kinki Studio; Headphones: Final D8000; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, LessLoss C-MARC Entropic cords between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía 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
Second system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport; DAC/pre: COS Engineering D1; Amplifier: Bakoon AMP-13R; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model One w. Franck Tchang magnesium 360° super tweeters, Zu Submission subwoofer, LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers; Power delivery: Puritan Audio Lab PSM-156; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headphone amp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Audeze LCD-XC; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 150
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Headphones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m
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 reclocker with singular i/o on USB, the notion of power regeneration 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 connect 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 purely on USB rather than convert to S/PDIF or I²S as most 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 game. A Soundaware D300Ref converts USB to I²S for our Denafrips Terminator in the main rig. 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 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 'why' and get on with reality. Give Cesar what is his was as true 2'000 years ago as it is today. Death and taxes are sure things. So is that in audio, many don't make surface 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, here we are the real experts. What else do we really need to understand? Trust your ears and settle the bill. Or not. At €2'499, today's isn't chicken but royal phoenix feed. One more review on the Phoenix then might be what you needed to confirm whether it could serve your needs?
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