Country of Origin



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, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, COS Engineering D1, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; Crayon Audio CIA-1T [on review]; Audiozen Lysios [on review]; Audio Valve Baldur 300 [on review]
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of 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
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
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: Singapore currency $3'680 without headamp, $4'480 with [at publication time ca. €2'340/€2'850 respectively]

With A280 predecessor

Three strikes and you're in? If the topic were Sino brand Soundaware and my review triptych of them, you'd be in if just one writeup described a piece which teased all of your hot buttons. As a companion review to their D300Ref and MR1/P1, we'll spare ourselves the leafy-green niceties and head straight for the red meat. Soundaware headline the A300 as a "PCM & DSD integrated network streaming music player". To that we add the optional class A/B headamp with up to 30V on its 4-pin XLR. Either way, there's a linear power supply with Noratel toroidal transformer, 40'000µF of Nichicon filter caps and "high-capacity ultra-low ESR filter materials". Further on noise reduction, the analog gain block and the clock for the custom-coded FPGA—its firmware controls Bluetooth APTX, AirPlay and digital volume, locks to two femto clocks for the 44.1/48kHz sample-rate families and outputs I²S/DSD—are shielded by a copper/nickel/zinc alloy plate whilst the transformer and PCB get 5mm electroplating. An XMOS chip handles USB data whilst an integral SD card reader processes up to 265GB cards formatted in FAT32, EXFAT or NTFS just like the twin 500mA USB ports. Those can read up to 2TB of single-partition USB storage (no limits for HDD/SSD). Such sources make for an off-line server for locally hosted music which is then navigated with the basic built-in display. Other music sources will be networked via RJ45 and could come from sundry external drives. A 24/96 Toslink and 24/192 coaxial input handle further digital sources like CD/DVD players. To act as reclocker, USB bridge or digital transport, three digital 24/192 outputs offer 5V AES/EBU, 0.5V coax and Toslink whilst the internal CS4398 mono DACs output variable signal on 2.6V/5.2V RCA/XLR analog. Incoming file support is for ISO/DSF DSD128, .wav., .flac, .ape, .alac, .aiff, .aac and .mp3. Outgoing data density is up to 32/192 PCM and DSD64 via DoP. All of it fits into a 43x20x8.8cm WxDxH chassis that weighs 7kg. Finish options are black or silver. Global reseller Alvin of Vinshine Audio in Singapore includes free worldwide shipping.

For specifications on XLR, there's a published THD+N of 0.0006%, dynamic range of 118dB and residual noise of -135dB. For bulging headphone muscle, there's 1.5wpc into 32Ω, 1.75wpc into 200Ω and still 0.8wpc into 300Ω. For vegetables with the meat, there's a 16GB SD card, a power cord and a branded remote control. Now we're fully plated up. Served.