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"The Tranquility Base is doing several things to improve the component sitting on top. It creates an active constant EM field which eliminates negative interaction between the components of a PCB (i.e. resistors & capacitors etc.). It blocks external EMI and RFI interference from entering the components.  It conditions the signal whilst traveling through the components. The included MIG footers and platform itself also address mechanical resonance control. There are 3 different platforms available: Tranquility Basik, Base and Base XL.

"Please make sure to leave the Tranquility Base turned on with the component on top for at least 72 hours before any critical listening and also make sure to start with the Silver Enigma tuning bullet in place. You can experiment with the Gray Enigma bullet later as it allows you to make the sound warmer if desired. 95% of the time silver is the bullet of choice…but it is a nice tool to have if you have a bright system or component. You should have 2 sets of MIG with the Tranquility Base, one set of three for under the platform, one front center no more than 1" to 1½" from the edge, two in the back corners again no more than 1" to 1½" from the corner edges. All 3 MIG should have the round side down, very important. The other set goes between component and base and you can play around with 2 different ways either ambient or pinpoint, please see MIG manual for instructions. Very important also: the MPC (Power Supply) for the Tranquility Base needs to be plugged in with proper phase. When you plug the MPC in with the wire going down towards the floor, the left leg is hot, the right neutral. Please make sure you know your AC outlet’s orientation to plug in the MPC the right way."

Sound. A selection of recordings used during testing. A Day at Jazz Spot 'Basie'. Selected by Shoji "Swifty" Sugawara, Stereo Sound Reference Record, SSRR6-7, SACD/CD (2011); Now the Green Blade Riseth, The Stockholm Cathedral Choir, Proprius/JVC, XRCD 9093, XRCD2 (1981, 1993/2001); Paganini for two, Gil Shaham, Göran Söllscher, Deutsche Grammophon/JVC, 480 246-5, XRCD24 (1993/2009); Stereo Sound Reference Record. Jazz&Vocal, Stereo Sound, SSRR4, SACD/CD (2010); André Previn, After Hours, Telarc/Lasting Impression Music, LIM UHD 051, CD (1989/2011); Assemblage 23, Bruise, Accession Records, A 128, Limited Edition, 2 x CD (2012); Audiofeels, Uncovered, Penguin Records, 5865033, CD (2009); Beck, Sea Change, Geffin Records/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 780, Special Limited Edition No. 01837, gold-CD (2002/2009); Beverly Kenney, Beverly Kenney sings for Johnny Smith, Roost Records/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-9731, CD (1956/2012); Beverly Kenney, Come Swing With Me, Roost Records/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-9732, CD (1956/2012); Coleman Hawkins, The Hawk Flies High, Riverside/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2030, SACD/CD (1957/2006); Depeche Mode, A broken Frame, Mute Records Limited, DMCD2, Collectors Edition, SACD/CD+DVD (1982/2006)...

...Depeche Mode, Ultra, Mute Records Limited, DMCDX9, CD+DVD (1997/2007); George Frederic Händel, Esther, HWV 50a, John Butt, Dunedin Consort, Linn Records, CKD 397, SACD/CD (2012); Jeff Buckley, The Grace+EPs, Sony Music Entertainment [Japan], SICP 2245-7, 3 x CD (2004, 2002/2009); Johann Sebastian Bach, Cello Suites, Richard Tunnicliffe, Linn Records, CKD 396, SACD/CD (2012); John Coltrane, One Down, One Up. Live at The Half Note, Impulse!, 9862143, 2 x CD (2005); Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum, Kling-Klang Produkt/EMI, 3349962, 2 x SACD/CD (2005); Ludwig van Beethoven, Overtures, Sir Colin Davis, Symphonie Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Sony Music Direct (Japan) TDGD-90013, Esoteric 20th Anniversary, SACD/CD (1986/2007); McCoy Tyner, Nights of Ballads & Blues, Impulse!, IMP 12212, 20-bit Super Mapping, CD (1963/1997); Me Myself And I, Do Not Cover, Creative Music, 005, CD (2012); Nat ‘King’ Cole, Love is the Thing, Capitol/Analogue Productions, CAPP 824 SA, SACD/CD (1957/2010); The Beatles, Rubber Soul, Parlophone/Apple/Toshiba-EMI, TOCP-51116, CD (1965/1998); The Modern Jazz Quartet, Pyramid, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-25125, Atlantic Records 60th Anniversary, CD (1960/2006); Wes Montgomery, Smokin’ At The Half Note, Verve, Verve Master Edition, 2103476, CD (1965/2005).

If you expect some kind of “best SACD player heard" declaration, I must apologize and say up front that although it is great, I’ve heard better. Granted those were far more expensive players but nonetheless better. Besides, if it were his best of the type, Ed Meitner himself hardly would offer a separate transport and D/A converter. To approach the XDS1 SE like that would be unfair then. I spent a lot of time spinning CDs on it almost constantly and it really was time very well spent. Spent means not lost but exactly the opposite – profitable, productive. As with any good machine, I heard something new and interesting to learn more. And then there was that platform. We will come back to it at the end of the test.

The sound of this player was very h different from what I once heard reviewing the CDSD SE transport and DCC2e SE DAC for Audio. It was different also from the best SACD players I know, separate combos from Accuphase and dCS (unfortunately I have not yet heard decks from Playback Design). First impressions can mislead. At first glance this was a quite warm sound. It also seemed that the treble was withdrawn and warmed up and the whole dominated by the midrange. I would not be surprised if many experienced audiophiles confirmed exactly that in the listening room of an audio salon.

It took me a few days before I came to what I will say now, namely that it’s a much more balanced sound than any of Ed Meitner’s earlier players I heard. There are top and low end present now although the midrange still seems slightly dominant. Whence does that initial impression arise? I think from a certain inertia of my own perception system based on habit. Just like seeing, when hearing something our brain tries to fit familiar patterns to recognize something we already know. That’s how the phenomenon of visual hallucinations works. The same is true for audio. If we hear a warm sound, we automatically associate it with a withdrawn treble. Yet that’s not the case for the XDS1 SE.

It’s a very open sound in fact. The raw amount of treble is actually the same as with my reference player and even slightly greater than with the Accuphase DP-900/DC-901 combo I reviewed And it is great treble at that. It very much reminded me of what I recently heard reviewing the AMG V12 Viella turntable - lots of detail but most of all coherence and beautifully rendered fleshiness in the mass of cymbals, triangles or whatever else was at hand. The better the recording, the better this manifested. It was absolutely brilliant on recordings from the 50s and on a large cross section of SACD discs regardless of their mastering dates.

The amount of treble can be estimated by listening to well-known recordings for the presence of sibilants and master tape hiss. That’s of course just reviewing methodology and has little in common with everyday listening but still is very helpful. It was with that intention I picked Love is the Thing by Nat ‘King’ Cole reissued by Analogue Productions. Most records from that label are masterpieces of remastering, especially the LPs but also SACDs. Their sound is very analogue in the common sense of the word - very smooth, liquid, consistent and a little on the warm side. Said album however is the complete antithesis. I have no idea why but Cole's voice here is not warm or crooning.  Fairly strong sibilants and a generally dominant treble generally ruin things. I know this (and other) recordings from original Capitola LPs as well as vinyl reissues from other labels. Vocals never sounds like they do here. Hence if a player rolls off the treble or suffers whatever else might be wrong with it, Cole will sound warm. You'll hear it instantly. Yet the XDS1 SE behaved just as I know it from my own player - without blurring or playing down the strong sibilants.