This review first appeared in August 2017 on By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of Dawid Grzyb or fidata - Ed.

Reviewer : Dawid Gryzb
DAC: Lampizator Golden Gate(Psvane WE101D-L + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.)
Transport: Asus UX305LA
Amplifier: Trilogy 925 integrated, Sanders Sound Systems Magtech separates
Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8, Pure Audio Project Trio10 Timeless, Reflector Audio Bespoke P15
Speaker cables: Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept, Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence
Interconnects: Forza AudioWorks Noir, Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence
Power delivery: Gigawatt PF-2 + Gigawatt LC-2 MK2 + Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept/Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence
Rack: Franc Audio Accessories Wood Block Rack
Music: NativeDSD
Retail price of review component: €7'500

File-based playback has become an integral part of many a heavyweight hifi enthusiast's system. Most of us have become used to costly transports that connect to the home network. The next step was the need for adequate music storage/retrieval. Today's fidata HFAS1-S10U covers that and more. But back to the beginnings of personal computers. These served as hifi transports and in fact still do for many of today's enthusiasts. The USB interface enabled and propagated that despite skeptics calling USB fit only for printers and other computer peripherals. Today's status quo of course proves otherwise. USB audio has become the de facto standard which the vast majority of manufacturers cater to. Not just that but devices which exploit it keep getting better and better. I'm far from claiming that this equates to the pinnacle of audio and beats both black and silver discs. USB audio simply exists as a separate path alongside these two old-school options and has been a hot topic for years already. And nothing indicates that USB audio will slow down any time soon. What DAC today doesn't sport a USB type B socket?

Clearly USB gained popularity because of its enormous convenience. It opened up access to massive music libraries stored on various drives. Add the ability to feed our hifi stack via the network and from services like Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal. That's unquestionably another huge draw. Plus, one very easily controls it all from the comfort of the couch via tablet remote. Frankly, I couldn't picture things to get any more user friendly and easy. The presumably next step of iris or voice control takes us too far off into the future. In the present, we quickly learnt that our ordinary computers were the weak link. Neither their hardware nor their software were ever really meant to process audio at top priority. Things of course have improved over the last few years as our knowledge on the subject grew. Still, one must perform serious hardware/software tweaks to DIY a computer for full audiophile competitiveness. And not everyone knows how to do that or even wants to.

As I remember it, first Linn and later Lumin and Aurender stepped into this very breach. All three bowed proper audiophile streamers whereby we mean digital transports that stream music files—which either reside on a NAS or on their own built-in storage—to a DAC. These decks are quasi computers but designed to prioritize music playback. These solutions are quite costly and have been around for years but more affordable options now exist. Into this scene Japan's fidata step to join the high-stakes races of streaming audio. The brand is part of the much larger I-O Data company. To see established IT firms shift staff and resources to spin off their own audio brand is nothing new. Usually it happens due to proprietary tech that is found suitable for audiophile applications. Or, a big operation's main man is an audio enthusiast who wants to make his first commercial steps in the hifi game. Lumin are an offshoot of Pixel Magic Systems Ltd. and today's fidata are another of the sort. More examples can be found with ease.