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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, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Gaia reclocker, Avatar CD transport, Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport; Preamp: icOn 4Pro SE; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant, 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: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room so no wall behind the listening chairs
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/80Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Zu Submission; 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: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 150
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R, Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1, Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Vinnie Rossi L2; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: TBA
Parallel or series? If you're Cees Ruijtenberg, that's a tricky question. "As you probably know, we took over customer support of Metrum Acoustics very early when the new owners did absolutely nothing. The result was their bankrupting my former brand so a curator stepped in. During the first Dutch Corona period he tried to sell their assets. In those very uncertain times, nobody was interested. So we decided to buy it back. To fully support Metrum again was most important to rebuild our good standing with dealers and customers from before. But to now operate two brands with virtually the same product is crazy of course. So we decided to keep Sonnet because by now we have modular components like streamers, converters and amplifiers. We'll come back with all-in-one models for Metrum 2.0. However, that should take a while. For Sonnet we'll soon have a higher-spec converter beyond Morpheus. That was planned for sooner but because of the catastrophic Asahi Kasei fire in Japan—I used their excellent digital receiver—I had to redesign everything for Morpheus and the upcoming model. Hopefully we'll have first prototypes in May."
Acelec Model One on Irish Ardán Audio desktop stands driven by Bakoon AMP-13R for extreme nearfield listening.
To recap, in 2018 Cees sold All Engineering of which Metrum Acoustics was a part. All Engineering's new owner formed an alliance with Marco Manunta of M2Tech to market Metrum and M2Tech under the M2Tech Audio BV umbrella. Part of that sales agreement had Cees remain associated for four years to train people and create new products. Later Marco and he realized that the new ownership wasn't up to the task and pulled out. By April 2020 that umbrella company had ceased trading. By then Cees had already postponed retirement both because he wasn't paid all of his sale installments and because he still had too many audio ideas he wanted to see to fruition. So he'd launched Acelec for loudspeakers—October 2019 review of his Model One above—and Sonnet for electronics. "Lion Kwaaijtaal owns the Quality Products production company which I'd worked with for years. He suggested that I set up Sonnet to realize new ideas. This safeguards both Metrum and Sonnet regardless of my presence in the future. Lion Kwaaijtaal has always worked in the background within the hifi industry so means a lot to different brands. Our collaboration and partly the enormous success of our Morpheus led Lion to invest in a production facility which takes place entirely in-house from metal work to SMD assembly. This advantage of controlling all these processes under one roof helps us keep our products affordable."
Enter Corona. Cees subsequently reacquired Metrum to refurbish its now tarnished reputation whilst Sonnet Audio had already released next-gen Metrum designs. More recently AKM's factory destruction enforced redesigned PCB to back up his time line.
Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport ⇒ Sonnet Morpheus ⇒ Pass Labs XA-30.8 ⇒ Acelec Model One in 2019 review system.
Now we better appreciate the opening parallel/series question. It's not about electrical impedance. A popular saying reminds us that getting old ain't for wimps. Neither is running a company during times of economic turbulence, much less three. It requires resourcefulness and a marine's ability to improvise, adapt and overcome. To make your recall of Sonnet's Morpheus total, here's my November 2019 review. With Cees now culling names from mythology, what will his upscale new DAC go by? Mephisto? Not likely. Great demos are fab, demons not so much no matter how powerful.
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