The front panel's middle is at least 30mm thick while its sides are closer to 15mm. Its shape reminded me of a wave. The thickest roughly flat part in the center houses a very nice blue display easily legible from my chair (at roughly 3 metres and no longer being 20, that was quite an achievement). On either side are three metallic push buttons each in small recesses. The left ones control menu and volume up/down, those on the right input selection up/down and phase. Obviously the elegant solid metal remote duplicates those manual controls. The rear panel features an abundance of inputs and outputs. Let's start with the former. There are 2 x analog RCA, 1 x analog XLR. Five digital inputs include USB, Toslink, AES/EBU, coax and BNC, plus, for a surcharge, LAN. USB, AES/EBU and coaxial accept up to 24/192PCM and DSD64. Ethernet (not yet featured on my loaner) adds native DSD up to 11.28MHz and 32/384 PCM to exploit the full potential of the DAC circuit. As for outputs, there are XLR/RCA analog plus BNC digital for an external digital processor (DSP/room correction). The final USB port is for firmware updates. Rounding things out is a small ground switch, IEC socket and mains on/off switch. The circuit is based largely on the Audio Aero La Fontaine because it was a newer design than the former La Source flagship. Vermeer Audio wanted a more up-to-date solution with USB and LAN capable of hi-res PCM and DSD.

 
Georges Noblet left, Bruno Ginard right.
The Model TWO uses 32bit/384kHz conversion circuits, a major evolution of the previous S.T.A.R.S module. It features an ultra-low jitter master clock based on a high-grade natural quartz crystal. Vermeer explain that it allowed them to achieve a new level of noise and digital artefact reduction for less than 1┬Ás of RMS Jitter. The power supplies of this tube hybrid design were re-engineered for maximum efficiency and reliability, with different circuits for both the analog and digital boards. All modules feature their own voltage regulators. The analog and digital stages have their own dedicated power supplies to eliminate all residual noise and interference between them. Vermeer then implemented the latest generation Mosfet ICs to lower the noise in the signal path. Their top-quality boards with 24K gold contacts and 70ppm copper traces support perfect data flow. The output section uses cryogenically treated Thomson 6021 N.O.S. subminiature tubes, one per channel. These run in cathode-follower mode with a Mundorf silver/oil coupling capacitor. Being directly soldered to the board, these tubes aren't easily replaced but their extreme life expectancy makes up for it. Before we get to my listening impression, here's a short chat with CEO Bruno Ginard.


Can you tell me about key people behind Vermeer Audio and what exactly each of them does?
Vermeer Audio team is composed of people from various backgrounds, all of them passionate to add value to our business. Georges is 65 years old, has been a hifi professional from 1980 - 2000 but has many other skills. He is also a professional photographer, a painter with a 1986 UNESCO prize and an art restorer. He participates in all our listening tests of prototypes and components and is one of our designers.


Henry is 60 years old, a business man, former executive manager and founder of nearly a dozen companies specializing in mechanical engineering and sheet metal work. He is also passionate about the arts and music. He takes an active role in the technical and industrial development of Vermeer Audio and in our sub-contractor relationships. Sabine is 45 years, our back office manager and she can easily communicate with all our distributors as she is trilingual and previously worked before for Audio Aero. She is also a good moderator for listening tests and upcoming projects. At 30, Boris is the youngster of the team and our webmaster in charge of our site and all future products. I am  50 and have always been a music lover/audiophile as far as I remember. I am a private banker who decided to live his passion by establishing a hifi company. I am in charge of technical development and the management of Vermeer Audio. We outsource most our research and production to quality subcontractors with whom we have long-standing relationships.


How did you come to take over technologies from Audio Aero and why? Most designers prefer to make their own product from scratch.
It all started with Audio Aero. I was one of the shareholders before its cessation of activities. The Audio Aero products were amazing and the firm was visionary, capable to develop what for its time was a remarkable CD player (Capitole), one of the first DACs that was also an analog and digital preamp and whose final two models of LaSource and LaFontaine had universally acknowledged success as some of the best CD players and converters to market. When Audio Aero went bankrupt, my associates and I decided to take over what was left of the firm by 2015. The success of an audio product is a difficult challenge and we could not risk to start from nothing.


I know that you offer some services to Audio Aero owners. Could you elaborate?
We assure after-sale service of the LaSource and the LaFontaine with some compatible parts except for the Esoteric transport which has to be serviced by Japan.
How much of Audio Aero is in the TWO? It looks very much related to LaFontaine?
Correct, we wished to launch our first product based on the LaFontaine platform due to its undeniable success. We chose LaFontaine because it was far more scalable than LaSource. The TWO has the circuit board foundation of the LaFontaine and in particular the analog output stage with the 6021 tubes. However, we developed a completely new power supply mainly for the D/A chip and circuit, including the digital clock. Our goal was to design a new DAC starting with LaFontaine to obtain a sonic result as close to the former LaSource as possible. Regarding the external enclosure, the TWO is based on obvious LaFontaine design cues as a tribute to the former model. Future Vermeer Audio models shall be different. Finally we wanted to work with subcontractors of the first rank to assure high quality and reliability.


I already have my own opinion but could you tell us what sort of audiophile should be interested in your product? What are its strongest qualities?
The TWO was designed to be a 21th century DAC/preamplifier intended for audiophiles and demanding music lovers everywhere. In my opinion its main quality is the ability to extract the maximum 'musical emotion' from any digital data file whatever its origin. During the last Munich HighEnd show, we were delighted to see the public tap their feet during most of the music played with our system rather than to sit stoically on their chairs calculating the relative highs and lows. During our demonstration, this was the best return we could hope for from a public which did not yet know us.
Do you see any features of this design which could be further improved?
We consider the TWO 98% final. We still work on improving the remaining 2% - mainly the output capacitors and internal digital cables between the different boards.
What can you tell us about the forthcoming ONE and THREE? When do they come and what should we expect?
The model THREE is under development and will launch in 2018. It will be the entry-level model positioned at half the price of the TWO. Regarding the model ONE, we see it as an uncompromised state-of-the-art effort that will be positioned above the Audio Aero LaSource.