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This review first appeared in the November 2009 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity. - Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula

CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime
Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Preamp: Leben RS-28CX
Power amp: Luxman M-800A
Integrated amp: Leben CS300
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version
Interconnects: CD-preamp Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52, preamp-power amp Velum NF-G SE
Speaker cable: Velum LS-G 
Power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp)
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip
Audio stand: Base
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD

Review component retail: €3200/$4399

Acousticbuoy is a Canadian company I’d never heard of. I did read an Enjoythemusic review of their Scorpio preamp but it was in fact post factum. At the moment their range of products consists of only two but that is about to change in the near future. The 2488 D/A converter delivered for review was built perfectly. Its chassis is made of thick aluminum slabs and the rippled front panel finish is very similar to Jeff Rowland which makes its surface anything but boring. The insides too are beautifully crafted. But for Simon, the company’s owner, most important were the goals and underlying assumptions for this project.

The basic belief was that “simple is elegant”. With this DAC you get a great manual which explains all these goals and assumptions with his specific rationale. Would it be so hard for other companies to do the same thing in such an elegant fashion?

The device accepts up to 24/96 signal delivered via S/PDIF on either RCA or XLR. It's a pity it won’t handle 192kHz as more and more digital sources offer such a signal like Blacknote’s DSS 30 Tube for example. Analog signal is sent out via RCA or XLR. The output voltage is bit higher than the norm—it's 2.5V here—so you must take this into consideration when conducting A/B comparisons. I had two players at my disposal, Ancient Audio's Lektor Prime and the Cyrus CD 8 SE with a fabulous new drive of their own design. I used two digital cables, Acrolink’s 7N-DA5100 and Oyaide’s FTVS-510. The DAC has its own three feet but I used the CeraPucs from Finite Elemente. Unfortunately I didn't have any digital streaming player at the time.

Discs used for listening sessions: Yoko Ono, Open Your Box, Astralwerks, ASW 88710, CCD; Depeche Mode, Peace, Mute, CDBONG41, SP CD; Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, What a Wonderful Trio!, First Impression Music, FIM DXD 079; Wynton Kelly, Kelly Blue, Riverside/JVC, JVCXR-0050-2; Sonny Rollins, Sonny Rollins & The Contemporary Leaders, Contemporary Records/JVC, VICJ-61337, K2HD.; Frank Sinatra, Only The Lonely, Capitol/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 792, gold CD; Wong San, Feel Like Making Love, Pony Canyon, PCCY-50014, HQCD; The Beatles, 09.09.09 [sampler], Apple/Parlophone/EMI, 6844142, 2 x CD; Cantate Napoletane Del’ 700, Capella della Pietà de’Turchini, Eloquentia, EL 0919; King Crimson, Lark’s Tongues in Aspic, WHD Entertainment, IECP-30006, HDCD/HQCD.

One can easily fall in love with this sound. It reminded me immediately of what I heard during the review of the Japanese Tri Corp. TRV-88SE amplifier. These machines have a very similar sonic signature and if I hadn't known that those devices came from different parts of the world, I might have thought the same man designed both. The main focus of  this imaginary designer would have been to achieve a very rich, somewhat warm and full sound that would deny the stereotypical digital signature n every possible way. When looking for products that belong into the same sonic family as the DAC2488, the first thing that came to mind was … a turntable. That already happened a few times before when looking for parallel sound types. This kind of sound—rich, with beautiful timbre and overall high culture—I got from the Kuzma Stabi S with Stogi tonearm and Dynavector Karat 17D3 cartridge. I received this set from the Polish distributor RCM and had to admit that the combination played extremely well (review in August's Audio). I really loved this set because for a relatively low price (low considering hi-end's prices that is), I ended up with a rich coherent sound that worked well for every kind of music.

I remembered the sound also of more expensive models from this manufacturer—the Reference with Stogi 313 Ref VTA tonearm here—so I couldn't miss the difference. It had a more precise sound with better resolution to make the less expensive model a bit colored but that was the intention of the Kuzma's designers. Regardless, the conclusion of both reviews was quite shocking for me. I could have lived with the Stogi and Stabi S but not necessarily with the Reference set. While it offered a more accurate sound with more information, the less expensive model better communicated with me. It simply presented/communicated the information from a record in a far more organized way.