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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
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Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Sonnet Pasithea, Soundaware D30Ref SD card transport & USB bridge; Denafrips Avatar; Preamp: icOn 4Pro S w. hi/lo-pass filter; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 mono, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 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, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: DMAX SC5 on Kanto S6 stands
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl SD-9 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Active speakers: Fram Midi 150
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon Audio; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail direct fromSingapore: $4'998 transport, $3'098 DAC
Just Cavalli. It's a fashion brand by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli. Jay's—just Jay's—is a high-performance hifi brand from China's Jay Ho. Some 20 years ago he began making digital transports based on the now legendary Philips CDPro2 LF top-loading drive. "Jay believes in building equipment with genuine parts from RS Components, Farnel, Digikey and Mouser. As such he's probably one of our larger audio parts importers so ventured into selling components inside China as well. It's always been his contention that, vinyl excepted, dedicated digital transports are best to reproduce music with. He also invests into serious audio analyzers. All his products undergo comprehensive quality control and AP525 diagnostics prior to shipping." Jay's used to be handled by Alvin Chee of Singapore's Vinshine Audio. With fast-growing demand for Denafrips, Alvin recently handed off sales & marketing for Jay's to his partner Vincent Ong who helms newly formed Beatechnik Pte Ltd also in Singapore. "He'll be the key guy behind the brand". Howdy Vincent!
The timing seems opportune. Jay Ho just released his new flagship CDT3-Mk3 and matching DAC2-Mk3. At 25kg, the just transport is a serious bit of kit. A horizontal mechanically decoupled aluminium plate separates the chassis into upstairs artistocats and downstairs servants. Thus signal path and power-supply components mount to it in hard segregation from the top and bottom. Having stockpiled "serious" inventory of the discontinued Philips drive, Jay once again relies on the CD-Pro2 mechanism which he modifies in-house. That too mounts onto a massive separately damped aluminium plinth for further mechanical decoupling and isolation. A big master clock generator of oven-controlled crystal oscillator with low-jitter phase-lock loop promises sub 1ps residual jitter "effectively undetectable by current test gear". User-defeatable 4 x upsampling to 24-bit/176.4kHz is executed with an AKM sample-rate converter. The I²S pin-out conforms to what Jay's own DAC, Denafrips, Holo Audio, PS Audio and Singxer run. The weapons-grade FMJ wand has the usual controls plus buttons for direct track access, repeat/random, 44.1/176.4kHz, display dim, 10-second scan of tracks and disc/track/remaining time modes.
The overbuilt power supply combines five toroidal trafos with ten ultra low-noise DC regulation lines, in excess of 150'000µF capacitance and a C-L-C-L-C filter to combat EMI on the AC. Parts include caps from Mundorf, resistors from RA, IEC by Schurter, connectors by Neutrik, footers by Soundcare. Digital outputs are S/PDIF on coax, BNC and AES/EBU plus I²S on both HDMI and RJ45. There are even 75Ω 10MHz clock i/o whereby either Jay's own clock syncs the following DAC's or vice versa. Dimensions are a standard 45x38x15cm WxDxH.
The 15kg matching not-just converter exploits the top Danish Soekris dam1941 fully balanced discrete R2R OEM board with "27-bit 0.01%-0.05% resistor precision". That runs into true balanced discrete operational amplifiers in the output stage powered by a linear supply of four Talema toroids, Walt Jung super regulator and Schottky diodes. Digital volume control from -90 to +10dB via remote or knob adds basic preamplitude on 1.9V RCA and 3.8V XLR outputs. Digital inputs live on optical, coax, BNC, AES/EBU, I²S on HDMI and USB. Data compliance maxes out at PCM384 and DSD256 over I²S, PCM384 and DSD128 over USB and PCM192 on all other inputs. Dimensions are 43x38x12cm WxDxH.
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"The name's Jay's; just Jay's." There's a new agent in town with license to thrill. And it's not a he/she. It's a binary it of complementary halves; or thirds if we consider the transport's split personality; or quads with the DAC's split-off AC/EMI filter. What gender confusion; yet so very modern. "Call me them. We're from China, proud of it and the best yet from Jay Ho." That we just had to hear for ourselves.
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