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Super Audio CD Player + anti-vibration / noise reducing platform
emm Labs XDS1 Signature Edition +
Synergistic Research TRANQUILITY BASE

Price (in Poland): 32 500 USD + 11 860 zł

Manufacturer: EMM Labs, Inc. / Synergistic Research, Inc.

Contact: Unit 115 | 5065 13th Street S.E.
Calgary, AB T2G 5M8 | Canada
tel.: 403 225 4161 | fax: 403 225 2330

Website: /

Country of origin: Canada /USA

Products supplied for testing by: audiofast
Text: Wojciech Pacuła | Photos: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Andrzej Dziadowiec

Published: 1. September 2012, No. 100

Ed Meitner is a well-known name in audio circles all over the world. Incidentally, these happen to be both home audio as well as professional audio circles. Just like another specialist in the digital world, dCS from the UK, Meitner who is Canadian made his name in audio history by his A/D and D/A converters. His eight-channel converters (both sides) are used by many music companies and recording studios. There is, moreover, another similarity between the two manufacturers – they have both invested a lot of money and effort to refine the Super Audio CD format. That could not have been easy, given that the company that invented it – Sony – has been abandoning it for quite some time.
Perhaps the issue was not so much the format itself, but rather high resolution recording. It could be proved by the recent move of Ed Meitner, who in early July announced the availability of his new player that he called Meitner Integrated Playback System M-2. It is obvious what’s going on – it’s a ‘file’ playback device, regardless of whether the files are on a disc or a hard drive. The player does not play SACD discs anymore, only CDs, while its USB input accepts PCM files up to 24/192 and DSD (YES!).

But let’s get back to the XDS1 SE. It is a Super Audio CD player, sold under brand name emm Labs. That is important inasmuch as Ed Meitner currently owns two brands – the one above mentioned, and Meitner Audio (his previous companies were Musatex and Melior; he is also known for his association with Sony and Philips in the development of the DSD standard; most of SACD masters are made with his converters). Products from both current Ed’s companies are very similar, using the same technologies, but they are not identical.
Why does Meitner need it? Frankly, I do not know. Perhaps there is some truth to what can be found on English-speaking forums, namely that it is a result of a legal dispute between emm Labs Incorporated and Playback Design (see HERE). Meitner gave his official reason in his letter to Srajan Ebaen, in which he writes, “Meitner Audio is where we use EMM tech to develop more affordable products” (Srajan Ebaen, Meitner Audio MA-1 “”, March 2012, see HERE). Is it really so? I honestly don’t know.
The XDS1 SE is not a new device, as its basic version went into production in 2009, but it is still in the company lineup. As it soon turns out, its age does not in any way interfere with its sound, only with its functionality – no USB input and even S/PDIF shows its age. The player is not completely devoid of digital inputs, as it accepts signal up to 24/192 through either TOSLINK optical or AES/EBU.
However, since we touched upon the newest source from Meitner, the M-2 DAC/player, it is worth paying attention his choice of disc drive. It is a slot-loading CD-ROM drive, becoming increasingly popular in high-end. It needs to be said that the most respected are still classical CD or SACD drives – the former represented by the CD Pro-2 LF from Philips, and the latter by Japanese drives from Esoteric. In a separate category are players using multi-format ROM drives – for example Wadia.
The reviewed player uses the VOSP drive from Esoteric (VOSP = Vertically-aligned Optical Stability Platform). As we can read on the webpage of The Upgrade Company, the drive is manufactured by Pioneer to Esoteric specifications, and was originally designed for the SA-60 and DV-60 players. The latter uses another type of drive – VRDS-NEO. I don’t know if that’s really so. The drive is new, manufactured in Japan and controlled by programmable DSP systems. It’s made of plastic strengthened from the top by a thick metal sheet with a bolted-on massive, stainless steel disc, housing a classic clamp with a magnet. The tray is very solid, made of cast aluminum.

The role of the drive

How important in a player is the drive? You will get as many answers to that question as there are audiophiles and manufacturers. We can, however, roughly divide the answers into two categories – those for whom the drive mechanism is not important, only the accompanying electronic, and those for whom it is the most important part of the player. The first group comprises mostly engineers, mostly theoreticians, the second groups together empiricists, again mostly engineers.

The former may include people from MSB, whose top system I reviewed some time ago for “Audio” magazine. In addition to very advanced electronics, fully discrete D/A converters manufactured in-house, the system featured the Platinum Data CD IV transport with a computer CD-ROM drive housed in a typical 5.25” enclosure. Roy Gandy, the owner of Rega, thinks similarly, and in an interview with Sam Telling he said this:
“The mechanism itself is relatively unimportant, except where it concerns reliability. The aspect related to the quality of sound is entirely dependent on mechanism control, error correction and digital data processing systems.”
Sam Telling, “Keep the customers out”, Stereophile 35, no. 7 (July 2012): 22. At the other extreme are the companies using drives from Philips and Esoteric, only to mention Jadis, Vitus Audio, Ancient Audio, Orpheus, Esoteric, dCS and emm Labs, as well as many, many others. A somewhat different manufacturer, although belonging to the same group, is Accuphase, using its own drive, based on Sony optics. Myself, I am wholeheartedly in the second camp.
Theoretically, Roy Gandy and other engineers belonging to the first group (including also people from Wadia, Primare, Denon, McIntosh, etc.) have a lot of arguments in their favour – zero is zero and one is one after all, while error correction mechanisms in CD are so efficient that drive quality should not have any effect on sound. However, audiophilism is an area where such certainties are constantly tested, over and over again, and where book theories are approached with suspicion. Because a simple, well prepared listening test, with various drives and converters, is enough to hear what I can hear each and every time: each drive “sounds” a little different, that is it modifies the signal in its own way. Plastic junk and metal beauties sound different. And even among the latter it is easy to point out differences between drives from Philips and Esoteric – they simply sound different! Those who claim that it is impossible, because “the book says otherwise” at most deserve a forgiving smile – they are like scientists who enthusiastically argued for centuries that the Earth is flat.

Synergistic Research TRANQUILITY BASE

The player was tested together with an anti-vibration / noise reducing platform. The slash sign was necessary because, although the platform from US-based Synergistic Research is on the one hand designed to minimize vibration, its main task is to minimize RF noise inside the device, where it originates. It was originally designed to work with computers and hard drives, where RF noise is particularly problematic. It turned out, however, that it equally well affects audio devices sitting on it. For that purpose, the manufacturer used Active EM Cell which, I assume, is some kind of coil.

To further investigate the matter, I went with my questions to the source, that is, to Peter Hansen, the head of Synergistic Research. I quote his reply in full, because it is helpful to understand what’s going on:

Hi Wojtek,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Please click the link below for an explanation on how the Tranquility Base works.


The Tranquility Base is doing several things to improve the component sitting on top of the platform.
1) It creates an Active and constant EM field, which eliminates negative interaction between the component in the PC Board design (i.e. resistors & capacitors etc.)
2) It blocks external EMI and RFI interference from entering the components
3) It conditions the signal while it is traveling through the components
4) The included MIG footers and the Platform also take care of mechanical resonance control

There are 3 different platforms available:
1) Tranquility basik
2) Tranquility BASE
3) Tranquility BASE XL

Please click the link below for more detailed information on the 3 different Tranquility Bases.


Please make sure to let the Tranquility Base be turned on with the component on top for at least 72 hours before doing any critical listening and also make sure to start with the Silver Enigma Tuning bullet in place. You can experiment with the Gray Enigma Tuning Bullet later on, as it allows you to make the sound warmer if desired. 95% of the time the 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’s with the Tranquility BASE, one set (3ea) goes under the platform, one in the front center no more than 1” to 1 ½” from the front edge. Two in the back corners again no more than 1” to 1 ½” from the corner edges. All the 3 MIG’s should have the round side down, very important. The other set goes between the component and the Tranquility BASE and you can play around with the 2 different ways, either Ambient or Pinpoint, please see the MIG manual that came with them for instructions. Any questions regarding this please let me know.

ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: The MPC (Power Supply) for the Tranquility BASE needs to be plugged in with the right Phase. When you plug the MPC in with the wire going down towards the floor, the left leg is HOT, the right leg is Neutral. Please make sure you know your AC outlets HOT and Neutral orientation so you plug the MPC in the right way. Again VERY important.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions, it’s important that you get to experience this AMAZING game changing product at its full potential.

Look forward to hearing from you.

All the Best,
Peter Hansen


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, Abroken 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 Handel, Esther, HWV 50a, dyr. 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, dyr. 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).
Japanese editions are available from

If you expect from me some kind of declaration that it is “the best SACD player I have ever heard,” I have to apologize and say it up front that although it is a great device, I’ve heard better SACD players. Granted, they were much, much more expensive, but better nevertheless. Besides, if it were the best player of that type, Ed Meitner himself would not offer a separate transport and D/A converter system, now would he?
However, to approach the XDS1 SE like that would be unfair. I spent a lot of time with it, spinning CDs almost all the time and it really was time very well spent. Say “spent” I do not mean “lost,” but exactly the opposite – “profitable”, “productive.” As with any good device, so with this one I heard something new, something interesting, and I learned something. And then there was that platform… But we will come back to it at the end of the test.

The sound of this player is very much different from what I once heard, reviewing for “Audio” the CDSD SE transport and the DCC2e SE DAC. But it is different still from the best SACD players I know, that is separate-type combos from Accuphase and dCS (unfortunately, I did not hear players from Playback Design).
The first impression can be misleading. It is, at first glance, quite warm sound. It also seems that the treble is withdrawn and warmed up, and the whole is dominated by midrange. Well – I would not be surprised if many experienced audiophiles confirmed that in a listening room of an audio salon. It took me a few days before I came to what I can say now. Namely, that it’s much more balanced sound than that of any Ed Meitner’s players I've heard before. There is top and there is low end, although midrange still seems to be slightly dominant. So where does that initial impression come from? I think from a certain inertia of my (our) perception system, based on our habits. Hearing something new (just like seeing), our brain tries to fit that into familiar patterns, to find something that we already know. That is where the phenomenon of visual hallucinations, etc., come from. The same is true in audio. If we hear warm sound, we automatically associate it with withdrawn treble. And it is not the case with the XDS1 SE.
It’s a very open sound. The amount of treble is actually the same as with the reference player and even slightly more than the Accuphase DP-900/DC-901 combo system, which I once reviewed for “Audio.” And it is great treble at that. It very much reminded me what I recently heard reviewing the AMG V12 Viella turntable. Lots of details, but most of all coherence and beautifully rendered ‘fleshiness,’ mass of cymbals, triangle, or whatever else we have at hand. The better the recording, the better it came out. It was absolutely brilliant on recordings from the 50s and on a large part of SACD discs, regardless of time of their recording.

Treble amount can be estimated by listening to well-known recordings for the presence of sibilants and master tape noise. These, of course, belong to testing methodology and do not have much in common with everyday listening to music, but they are very helpful.

It was with that intention that I listened to Love is the Thing by Nat “King” Cole, issued by Analogue Productions. Most of records from that label are masterpieces of re-mastering work, especially LPs, but also SACDs. Their sound is very ‘analogue’ in the common sense of the word, very smooth, liquid, consistent. A little on the warm side. The said album is complete opposite. I have no idea what’s going on, but Cole's voice here is not warm, it is not a “crooner.” Fairly strong sibilants and generally dominating treble ruin it. I know these (and other) recordings from original Capitola LPs as well as vinyl reissues by other labels and the vocal never sounds like it does here. And now listen – if a player has rolled off treble, withdrawn, fuzzy, or whatever else is wrong with it, Cole sounds warm. You can hear it instantly. The XDS1 SE sounded in that aspect just as I know it from my own player, without blurring the strong sibilants.
The same is true with a new recording from Linn Records, a solo cello album by Richard Tunnicliffe, playing Bach’s Cello Suites. The instrument was recorded in such a way that it exposes some of its higher frequencies, you can hear the bow, the cello is quite up front, as if helped a little by both acoustical environment and mic positioning. The Meitner’s player showed this very quickly.

So why there is that feeling of “warmth” I spoke about at the beginning? I think, based on my experience with other digital devices, that it is a derivative of digital filters employed, which eliminate the “ringing” before and after signal impulse. I heard that before with players from Meridian and Ayre (both companies use an “apodising” filter) and I hear the same thing again – it’s just smoothed out sound, but no artifacting, no artificial elimination of the diversity of textures, but instead showing their true color, nearer to their nature. That results in smooth, liquid sound that conveys impression of being warm. That impression, however, is derived from our habit of listening at home environment, especially to digital players. Yet there is another part to that story. The Meitner’s player modifies sound attack in midrange and to a lesser extent on both ends. We could say that it slightly calms it down. Sometimes that leaves us with the impression of a bit distant sound. Due to its excellent resolution nothing really slips by, there is no veiling. Still, various recordings show similar character, i.e. regardless of the type of music, recording technique, etc., it is always very cultural, very vivid sound. Be that Beck on Sea Change, or Jeff Buckley on a tree-disc set Grace, or Kraftwerk from Minimum-Maximum or finally Coleman Hawkins on The Hawk Flies High – the end result is similar: elegance, stability, vividness.

Interestingly, that applies to a greater extent to CDs than to SACDs. The XDS1 SE is a Super Audio CD player. And even though it indicates SACDs as the main media it was designed for, however, experience shows that our home collections are mostly built around CDs.
The device plays both types of discs in a very similar manner, at least in terms of color. That shows the sonic characteristic “imposed” by the manufacturer, but also allows you to enjoy the records irrespective of their format. Ultimately, a large part of poorly recorded, or simply badly converted (from PCM to DSD) SACDs sounds worse than well-engineered CDs. Naturally, that is not as much the triumph of Compact Disc technology as the weakness of DSD mastering, but the fact remains nevertheless.
On the other hand, best SACDs sound simply spectacular on Ed Meitner’s player. Their tonality is very deep and differentiated; cymbals have beautiful color and weight. And, importantly, bass is tight and active. It is slightly softened, but not in the way it once was with devices from Meitner. The dynamics of SACDs is significantly higher than CDs which sound somewhat “austere.” They do not sound bad, I already said that,; they sound really very good, but at the same time it is quite obvious what the SACD format is all about.

Synergistic Research TRANQUILITY BASE (vs. Acoustic Revive RAF-48)

The Synergistic Research Tranquility Base is nominally an anti-vibration platform. In fact, however, that is secondary, as its primary role is to minimize RF noise in the device sitting on it. That is achieved by a set of small modules based, I assume, on Tesla coil – so function Synergistic Research mains filters. The modules are powered by a small, wall-wart power supply, and the output current can be adjusted by plugging in small cylinders with blue LEDs – the platform comes with two of them. I could not hear any difference between them. Under the modules is a screen plate, to which you connect a wire fitted with a mains plug on the other end. Obviously, ground is coupled with earth pin. It is fairly easy to understand how it works, and even easier to hear it – just remove the power supply and unplug the earth wire.
The change in sound is quite substantial. The player sounded much better with plugged in, powered platform. The changes mostly concerned midrange and treble. Treble was richer, better separated, more vivid with the powered up platform. So was, too, midrange. I really liked it because it gave music more sense, gave it “weight.” The sound was clearer and more lucid, without any brightening.

I was very curious to see how the U.S. platform fares against my reference, air floating Acoustic Revive RAF-48 anti-vibration platform from Japan. The difference in price between the two is double, and if anyone said that the AR is expensive, you should think twice about it…
The emm Labs player sitting on the RAF-48 platform sounded more austere. It was perfectly audible, as I wrote above, that the Synergistic gives the sound some golden glow, showing treble in a cleaner, but also more saturated way. That was lacking with the AR. But bass seemed better articulated, better differentiated with the Japanese platform. The difference was not significant, but it was repeatable and audible with each record.
The Synergistic Research Tranquility Base is a very interesting product. It clearly influences the sound and in a good way at that. It is prohibitively expensive, but it is worth at least a listen, just to be aware of what can be achieved. I think it is very versatile, that is it will improve the sound with each type of device.


The XDS1 player has its own way of presenting music. Its sonic color can be compared to analog devices such as the Rega P1, the Transrotor Zet1 or the already mentioned AMG Viella V12. To a large extent, it also resembles the sound of my Harbeth M40.1 speakers. Not fully, as there are notable differences, but when it comes to color shaping, these two products are very similar.
For at first glance it seems that they are both warm, with withdrawn treble. Well, they are not. If you know what to look for, you only need a short listen to such albums as Pyramid by The Modern Jazz Quartet or How the Green Blade Riseth by The Stockholm Cathedral Choir, to capture it. Cymbals are strong, full, and red-blooded. Midrange seems dominant, but it has no rough edges and hence is saturated and liquid. And bass is active and not sloppy – in fact, the Canadian player is better in this respect than almost any other digital source I know. It can differentiate the bottom end color, show its different shades, etc.
The player, however, has its own sound signature and modifies the signal in its own way. Its resolution is excellent. Yet its selectivity can only be termed good. It is a part of the “dowry,” brought in by Ed Meitner’s approach to signal processing, including PCM to DSD conversion. Calming down of sound attack, slight averaging of dynamics – these are the components that add up to it.

The player was auditioned together with the Synergistic Research platform. This is the first time that some other board’s sonic characteristics were better than the Acoustic Research RAF-48 air floating platform. I have not seen anything like that before. The platform, reducing the RF noise in the device placed on it, improves its treble quality by adding weight, musicality, improving sustain. That is an outstanding achievement!
The player listened to with the platform, of which you need to think as an integral component of that system, is not for everyone. It slightly averages the recordings, showing everything in the same nice, vivid, slightly warm way (that is how we receive it in the end, regardless of where it comes from). It has excellent, strong, nicely saturated bass. Soundstage is expansive, but without a clear focusing on sound sources.
In the end, it’s simply a very nice sound. Operating the device is very cool, and drive mechanism quality is excellent. It is a pity that there are no RCA and USB inputs, but I think we cannot have everything. It is a well-made device that will bring much joy to those who say the sacramental ‘YES’ to Ed Meitner’s choices. In my opinion, which is naturally subjective, the emm Labs XDS1 integrated player is better than the separate-type combo from the same manufacturer.

Testing methodology

The player was tested against my reference player, the Vitus Audio Masterpiece MP-D201 DAC and the AMG Viella V12 turntable. The player comes with its own Kimber Kable power cord and it was tested with it.
Testing had a character of A-B comparison with A and B known. Music samples were 2 minutes long; whole albums were also auditioned.
The player sat on the active Synergistic Research Tranquility Base platform, which in turn was placed on the Base Solid VI [Custom Version] rack with wooden shelves. See the bottom of the page for the list of other accompanying components.


XDS1 SE player

The XDS1 SE player is based on an earlier design from emm Labs, the CDSD. They both share a very similar enclosure, the same transport drive, very similar electronics – especially the use of discrete MDAC-1 D/A converters, the MCLK-1 clock and the MDAT data processing system (or actually mdat). When it comes to differences, we read on the website, “How did we make the XDS1 the best player we've ever created? In general terms, by simplifying. We decreased complexity. Shortened critical signal paths. Reduced parts count while increasing parts quality.”

Front and back panel

The unit is housed in a solid aluminum enclosure, made of well-fitted panels. The front panel is the most generous, additionally thicker around the drive tray. After opening you can see that right under the top panel a large two-sided circuit board is mounted. It serves both as a vibration suppressor as well as a screen for the circuitry inside.
The enclosure is silver and the tray is graphite black. The drive tray is a very precise aluminum cast so there is no need for grill, usually serving to “mask” inaccuracies in the drive tray.
Above the drive you can see a large blue LCD display. It does not boast a high contrast but its large digits are easy to read. It can be turned off. Smaller characters show the type of inserted disc – CD / 2-channel SACD / multi-channel SACD – the drive status as well as whether absolute phase inversion is turned on. Unfortunately, the player does not support CD-text showing the titles of individual tracks and the entire album (which we got used to in the era of network players). On the right side, slightly recessed, we have buttons controlling the drive, including absolute phase control and layer change. On the left side is a single ‘standby’ power switch.
The back panel presents us with widely spaced RCA and XLR analog outputs (the device is fully balanced), digital outputs – AEC/EBU and optical ST – and digital inputs – optical TOSLINK, and AES/EBU. The emm Labs OptiLink ST output is used to send out DSD signal (to the DAC2 converter only). There is also an IEC mains socket with a mechanical switch, as well as USB port for device’s software upgrades and RS-232 port for wired remote control.


In the middle we see the VOSP drive – solid, made fully of metal, with a cast tray. Its control mechanism is located nearby, under a screen. The X Drive system, as it is called, is manufactured by Esoteric, on their boards, using entire battery of DSP chips. There are two bords. The top, smaller board houses two chips from Sony – the CXD1885Q and the CXD1881 – signal decoders for CD and SACD. The bottom board is even more interesting, because it sports a very large DSP chip and another, not much smaller, marked Yamaha YSS-994. The latter is a complete home theater decoder, decoding the lossy Dolby Digital and DTS signals. It is clear that Meitner buys a ready-made package – the transport drive and control system that Esoteric uses in their multi-format players. On the other side of the drive, along the whole depth of the player, runs an extended switching power supply called the X Power System SMPS V.3.
It seems that the most important part is an audio circuit mounted on a high-end printed circuit board (looking like made of Arlon, material developed for military and medical applications). It is many times more expensive to manufacture than conventional fiberglass printed boards. The material is a ceramic based sintered composite. The board is shielded from the bottom with a thick plate.
In the center of the circuit board there are three shielded modules – two m dac-1 converters and one m clk-1 clock. Both are custom designed by Ed Meitner. The m dat-1 (Meitner Digital Audio Translator) is unique for the reason that it does away with oversampling. Oversampling is an interpolation method used in the reconstructive filter, well-proven in the frequency domain – the resulting analog waveform is perfectly linear across the frequency range. Meitner abandoned that technique because of its very poor behavior in the time domain, where the analog waveform is distorted by errors in the form of pre and post ringing. The solution employed in the XDS1 SE manages to eliminate both pre and post ringing! In the words of Keith Howard, Ed Meitner, although he does not boast with that, designed a three-stage adaptive filter system, as described in the US patent no. 5,388,221 titled Adaptive digital audio interpolation system. The patent was filed on May 5th, 1992 by… Edmund Meitner. [Keith Howard, “Changes the ringing”, Hi-Fi News & Records Review 57 no. 07 (July 2012): 99]. The system works differently with the signal rich in transients than with the slow-changing signal.

After D/A conversion the signal is fed to classic medium power transistors. There is only one gain stage, working in fully in Class A. Right next to the transistors we can see vertically-plugged voltage controller modules. The outputs are switched by relays. Most components are standard grade, except for a few Wima capacitors.
Underneath the audio circuit board is a slightly larger, ordinary fiberglass circuit board, housing digital input and output systems. It also houses a large Xilinx DSP comprising an upsampler, since all signals – both CD and SACD – are upsampled to DSD 5.6 MHz / 1 bit, double the standard SACD rate. Originally, the solution was used by Sharp while Accuphase has for years been developing a similar system known as the MDSD (Multiple Double Speed DSD). Current professional DSD recorders, such as the Korg MR-2000s, allow recording of the DSD signal either with classic DSD sampling frequency, or – as here – double that frequency.
Let’s mention one more acronym – MFAST (Meitner Frequency Acquisition System). This is another Meitner’s patent, concerning the signal receiver. Typically, digital signal is received by PLL (Phase Lock Loop) circuits. It is a good, inexpensive method, but burdened with high jitter. Ed Meitner developed its own receiver without PLL.

Remote control

The remote control is aluminum made, quite handy. What we have here is inputs selector, direct access to tracks, display off control, absolute phase control and transport control. There is also the ‘Mute’ button.

The device is manufactured in Canada. It comes with a very good Kimber Kable PK14 power cord with WattGate plugs.

Technical specifications (according to manufacturer):

Output impedance: • XLR - 300 Ω • RCA - 150 Ω Output voltage: • XLR - 5 V (+15.5 dBu) • RCA - 2.5 V (+9.5 dBu) Digital inputs: AES/EBU + Toslink Digital outputs: ST EMM OptiLink + AES/EBU Dimensions (W x D x H): 435 x 400 x 145 mm Weight: 17 kg

Synergistic Research TRANQUILITY BASE

The player was tested together with an active anti-vibration / RF noise reducing platform from Synergistic Research. The platform is manufactured with unique attention to details. It is not very high. The outer edges are coated with aluminum tape. There are no right angles, because all edges are rounded – just like Apple mini computers, to which design the platform makes explicit reference. The top is black and made of nine-layer laminate. Below we have an active layer with Active EM Cell modules and a shielding layer at the bottom. The platform has three connectors on the back – one for the module with a blue LED, one for the earth cable, which plugs into a wall socket, and one for the wall wart power supply. The plug is high-class! The platform design is not so much concerned with controlling vibration, as reducing RF noise.
Together with the platform we get two sets (three each) of MIG cones (Mechanical Interface Grounding). The acronym corresponds nicely with the shape of cones – they do look like the jet fighter’s nose – rounded and hollow on the inside. One set of cones is used to support the audio component; the other set supports the platform itself. The manufacturer suggests various configurations – with two cones up and one down or the other way round.

Distribution in Poland:

FAST M.J. Orszańscy s. j.
Romanowska 55e, | 91-174 ŁódĽ,
tel.: 42 61 33 750 | fax: 42 61 33 751




  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition, review HERE
  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
  • Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE), Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III [Signature Version] with Re-generator Power Supply
  • Power amplifier: Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version, review HERE
  • Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro; 600 Ω version, review HERE, HERE, and HERE
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300 (article HERE, preamp-power amp: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE
  • Stand: Base; under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD and preamplifier
  • Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS [Custom Version]; review HERE