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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.94g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.10 in direct/integer mode 1;
Win7/64 HP Z230 work station with Qobuz Hifi & Spotify+; Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Voce II, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100
Headphone amplifiers:
April Music Eximus HP-1, Bakoon AMP-12R & HPA-01, Burson Soloist,Wyred4Sound mINT, Aura Note V2, Questyle CMA-800R [on review], Nagra HD DAC [on review], Lindemann Audio musicbook:15 [on review]
Headphones: Audeze LCD-2v2 & LCD-XC; HifiMan HE-560 & HE6; Oppo PM1; MrSpeakers™ AlphaDog; beyerdynamic T1 & T5p; Sennheiser HD800; AKG K-702; Aëdle VK1; Focal Spirit 1
Powerline conditioning: Vibex Granada/Alhambra [on review]
Review component retail inSwitzerland: CHF 8'600

ALO Audio Studio Six.
Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum. April Music Eximus DP-1. Aura Note V2. AURALiC Taurus. Bakoon AMP-12R, HPA-21 and HPA-01. Burson Audio Conductor. Crayon Audio CFA-1. Eddie Current Balancing Act. Lindemann Audio musicbook:15. Nagra HD DAC. Questyle CMA-800R. I've reviewed, owned and still own some very fine specimens in the headfi amp category. Some include DACs; others preamp functionality. Some are very expensive. Not surprisingly, as a dedicated headfi amp, Goldmund's HDA shares the top coin-crowding spot with Crayon's €7'950. But unlike the Crayon, it includes a superb BB PCM1798-based 32/384 DAC with DSD. Here it mirrors the €19'900 Nagra. Yet it costs less than half. Whilst clearly belonging in the extreme luxury class to whisper over the heads of all but the most committed, the Goldmund is also the best of this lot. Knowing that took all of 5 minutes. Afterwards this assessment merely deepened.

To jump right into that deep end, "sonically I think my tastes might be maturing. I used to be all about lightning-quick transients. Now it’s all about a meaty energized presentation. Meaty and energized rarely go together. And there’s the rub." That was reader Joe Eagleeye. What he rubs together with such eloquent brevity really does spark the thing which to my ears overrides all other audiophile concerns. It's that most elusive balancing point which, once set, beckons us to load up its scales equally for maximum contrast. More immediacy, speed and directness on one side; more body, weight and mass on the other. That's the ideal middle path up that mythical mountain of unattainable perfection.

Here the Goldmund combines the speed, lucidity and energy of Bakoon, Crayon and Questyle with the gravitas of Aura Note's big ICEpower block tapped through a load resistor and Burson's trademark warmth and punch. My first trip with the Swiss HDA—headphone dac amplifier—was with Sennheiser's HD800 and Audirvana set to 352.8kHz upsampling. Regular readers know that my sonic allegiances lie with Audeze; that by contrast I find the Germans a bit sizzly and lightweight; that only once before had I heard 'em utterly transformed during the mighty Crayon's test. Now the Goldmund repeated that unexpected feat to what seemed an even more profound extent yet included a clearly top-notch converter. The word award came mixed in with awe. This ticked off all possible boxes. Then it slyly departed again as something that'd been settled right off the bat. It required nothing further. Game over. Brevity really is the soul of wit.

The end.

USB; paralleled Toslink/coax with optical priority; analog; standard serial port for control and future updates; power mains with 115/230V adjuster; power IEC.

That one.