Superior tweeters seeking playmate. It's a mental ad I'd flown like an SOS for my ultra-light phenolic bipole tweeters in their massive aluminium horns. They'd asked whether (my) digital was simply incapable of delivering a fully elucidated top end without artifice or reluctance. Eventually they'd accepted that one can't have it all. Now Pasithea filled their hunger for more with unbridled radiance and brilliantine power. This particularly benefitted female vocals, soprano saxes and muted trumpets leaning heavily into their top register during peaks. Those should create that full-throttle shine without any frayed edges or electronic grit intrusion. My actual options until then were either energetic reluctance—the clouds didn't part fully—or with other DACs, the upper mid/lower treble band would tip into the strident or metallic. What I hadn't heard yet was clearing such ascents cleanly without taking a foot off the gas; or having a minor accident. Here Pasithea built out a real personal lead; as though reconstructing the four top octaves in the analog domain suddenly had more information to work with. Whatever the actual cause, this was the forte hinted at earlier: a Mahalia Jackson kind of "Power and Glory" gospel revelation. I'd seen the light. It was the ability to really lean into those registers without sensing dynamic or harmonic compression.
This quality also factored on large Middle-Eastern vocal productions. Here real string orchestras back very contemporary music. It's why I love certain Arab Pop. I enjoy the timbres of massed strings but rarely want to reach back centuries into classic symphonica. With Pasithea the civilized hordes of violins and solos of celli displayed uncommon energy. Sweetness no longer opposed power. Both existed together and the intended tugging on my heartstrings was stronger for it. Whilst still in the vicinity of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt, some of my most lyrical music from there errs on the side of excess reverb. The extra sorting powers which Cees had bequeathed on his current flagship converter made rather more sense of these questionable mixing and mastering decisions and their resultant deeply embedded blur. That made listening to such tunes a lot more enjoyable. Higher resolution thus meant more not less pleasure even with lesser productions!
For an example of separation powers, this dark track from Rubato's latest album features a lot of octave doubling and tripling, be it between clarinet and cello or three vocals where two higher voices act like the 2nd and 4th harmonic of the lowest-pitched voice. Not only was Pasithea fully up to rendering this deeply sonorous reading properly gravitational, she was particularly excellent at letting me hear how the various stacked/compound timbres come about.
For the same trick with a higher top voice by Eda Karaytug plus paralleled spiked fiddle and twin male vocals, this next one is a personal go-to attraction. The challenge is maintaining clear image localizations when timbres blend this perfectly. As with the previous cut, the Dutch DAC really met that high mark.
For exuberant power vocals, the blind Sheikh Ehab Younis of the elephantine lungs can always be relied upon to lift the roof, here on Erik Satie's famous "Gnossienne N°1" made over by the combined ensembles of Quadro Nuevo and Cairo Steps.
Handing the baton to Hiba Tawaji, background chorus and the promised Arab strings gets us at "Ya Habibi". Other artists of note in this genre are Abeer Nehme and Julia Boutros.
Detouring to some glossy Uzbek Ethno Pop arrives us at Yulduz Usmonova's particularly tinged pipes in a simple folk song adapted for the modern stage.
A visit to Anna Marie Jopek and Branford Marsalis demonstrates more audiophile production values, obligatory breathy female vocals but also the jubilant tonality of a jazzy soprano sax with richly hued string quartet and concert piano. Given such ace ingredients, Pasithea helped throw a positively enormous soundstage of precisely sorted depth markers and, as with the other numbers on this page, allowed me to play at unusually high levels without any subliminal stress.
To pick up a thread that for some readers might still hang, tonefulness as set by unusually lucid upper harmonics was a particular Pasithea strength. It bears repeating when an audiophile myth looks at valves to produce proper (fat?) tone. That often ends up with elevated harmonic distortion for the low overtones so a more euphonic also congealing effect. Unlike such attempts, I had zero tubes in the signal path and just precision autoformers for passive volume. Pasithea's take on the subject (supposition alert!t) seemed more about climbing the recorded overtone ladder higher than artificially enhancing its lowest rungs. Whatever the actual engineering science at work, the upshot was intense tone color despite—or rather because—of no warmth injection. That lowering this machine's noise floor would have these benefits I'd not foreseen. In my little black book, Cees Ruijtenberg has now wholly eclipsed his best-ever work at Metrum. With Pasithea, his take on modern R2R conversion has arrived at a higher octave. Judge this book by its cover and miscalculate on the very serious engineering inside. As we're told, it was strategically minimal power draw allowing a small supply for less self noise that helped arrive at this performance. For once bigger, heavier, hotter (and more expensive?) would be rather at odds with this sonic achievement.
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