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Daniel Hertz

Manufacturer: DANIEL HERTZ SA
Price (when reviewed): 13 200 EUR

Contact: Daniel Hertz SA
30141 Venice ⸜ ITALY


Provided for test by: DANIEL HERTZ


Images by „High Fidelity”, Daniel Hertz

No 242

July 1, 2024

DANIEL HERTZ is a company founded by MARK LEVINSON in 2007. At the time, it offered large, expensive split amplifiers and high-performance loudspeakers. The company's headquarters are in Switzerland, but you'll also find a branch in Venice, where amplifier production takes place. We are testing the MARIA 350 integrated amplifier based on a unique development called C Wave.

WHEN YOU’RE CALLED BY someone you've known for years for his products and recordings, whose name carries one of the most recognizable high-end brands in the world, it's hard for you not to be excited. And a little frightened. How do you talk to someone like that? What to ask and how to answer? How, finally, to respond to his proposal, because after all, he calls you with some idea or proposal. Even more so, if the caller is Mark Levinson.

Alan Tafel, preparing the chapter dedicated to Mark Levinson in the book Illustrated History of High-End Audio Volume Two: Electronics began it with the obvious, yet unique matter: Levinson has traveled one of the longest and comprised the largest number of stories ways in the audio world. For once, he’s a jazz musician, playing trumpet and double bass, who from 1964 to 1971 played with such notables as Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, McCoy Tyner, Paul Bley and others. The second layer was suggested by the subtitle of the chapter in question: Mark Levinson Audio Systems, Cello, Red Rose Music, Daniel Hertz. These are the companies he founded and ran, starting in 1972, when the company bearing his name was founded.

With the current one, named Daniel Hertz, he has come full circle. It's once again a company offering audio products for the premium consumer market - amplifiers and speakers - bearing a "meaningful" name. For here is Mark paying homage to his parents - his father (Daniel) and his mother, whose maiden name was Hertz. The subtext was also a return to his Jewish roots - Switzerland, where his grandmother lived. His newest company was registered there. And so, to answer an unasked question, Mark confirms that Heinrich Hertz, whom we know mainly by the abbreviation Hz which is a unit of frequency, was a relative of theirs.


WHILE TALKING TO MARK, I noticed the sun behind him - beautiful, full, not at all like from northern Europe. As it turned out, the creator of the Maria amplifier, which I wanted to tell you about, is currently living in Venice. And not coincidentally. On the one hand, of course, it's all about the sun, the place, the good vibes, etc. But on the other hand, the reason was mundane - it was there that the designer found people who were able to build his latest creation exactly as he wished, and in relatively small quantities. As he said, he is not concerned with selling thousands of products, but only as many as he can personally take care of.

With that we come to the main topic of this test, the Maria 350 amplifier. What are we talking about?

Maria 350 is a single chassis, all in one audio electronics solution, replacing the DAC, preamplifier, power amplifier, headphone amplifier and interconnect cables, fully programmable active crossovers and time alignment are enabled., accessed: 24.05.2024.

So, on the one hand, we are dealing with a classic amplifier equipped with a digital-to-analog converter. On the other... C Wave? Mighty Cat? What is it all about?


| A few simple words…


WHAT IS OUR C WAVE SOLUTION? It involves PCM digital audio. Since virtually all of today's sound world is digital, there is an opportunity to improve sound - music, soundtrack, cell phone sound, Internet services, amplifier sound, musical instrument sound, live performance sound and so on. While the only device that supports C Wave is currently the DH Maria amplifier, the technology can be implemented, in the form of the Daniel Hertz Mighty DSP chip, into any product.

Audio tests were developed during the Industrial Revolution, when electricity was a key element of progress. Tesla combined frequency (cycles per second), voltage and current (amps) to create the electricity that can today be found in electric outlets in every building in every country around the world. What's more, each electrical fuse has a specification made up of three values: V, Hz and A. Thus, it contains the names of three pioneers in the field of electricity - Volt, Hertz and Ampere - which is why they are written in capital letters.

When people began to build speakers and amplifiers, there was a need to define their quality. A test measuring frequency response was developed to measure the ability of a speaker or amplifier to reproduce sound with respect to human hearing. It was determined that the lowest frequency heard by humans is 20 Hz and the highest frequency is 20 kHz. Audio band frequency response was developed to measure the accuracy of a speaker or amplifier in decibels. In the old days of audio, the response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz within +/- 3 dB was considered flat. Today, the best laboratory audio measurement systems can measure to within 0.1 dB.

Since it happened that two audio devices with similar frequency characteristics sounded different, additional measurements were developed, including harmonic distortion, total harmonic distortion (THD), inter-modulation distortion (IM) and so on. So it seemed that the matter was well described. But it wasn't.

One day I learned of the existence of Avatar, a $13,000 Windows-based health diagnostic software that made predictive measurements based on electroacupuncture voltage measurements. Avatar is quiet, non-invasive and generates consistent, repeatable measurements and computer printouts. We found that Avatar was able to accurately and consistently detect the presence of signal-to-PCM conversion in a given recording 100% of the time. The same program also confirmed that with C Wave, the negative effects of PCM were eliminated. In fact, test subjects performed better listening to music with the C Wave chip running than with no music at all.

In summary, listening to digital PCM audio made Avatar's measurements on test subjects worse than when they listened to no music; in contrast, music processed by C Wave made them "measure" better than without listening to music and significantly better than with digital music encoded in PCM.

Other trials included subjective tests in which people were asked to listen to ordinary PCM recordings and the same recordings with C Wave processing. Within 10 years, virtually everyone preferred the C Wave-processed recordings. My company, Daniel Hertz, began selling Master Class software (for Mac) in 2014, which includes A+ and EQ. A+ is the consumer version of C Wave, which is designed to enhance many recordings with subtly applied EQ to restore their tonal balance and make them sound more natural. No one has returned the Master Class, and users have reported great satisfaction with the results, even when using just the A+, without EQ.

When the Maria amplifier was introduced in 2023, we received similar reports from those who bought it, using different signal sources and speakers. We saw only positive reactions, with no negatives.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved our patent for C Wave based on objective measurements. But the reason for C Wave's approval is simple - the algorithm helps people get more pleasure from listening to music. It confirms something my mentor Dick Burwen taught me: audio is 50% science and 50% ear. And you need both. Dick, now 96 years old, is the man who inspired the creation of the C Wave algorithm and has been my mentor since I was a 26-year-old jazz musician who could barely change a battery.

Dick, one of the four founders of semiconductor company Analog Devices, is the designer of the original LNP-2 preamplifier circuit, the Cello Audio Palette block diagram, and the inspiration behind C Wave and my entire audio business. From him came the foundation of solid engineering and good measurements, as well as an appreciation of human hearing. ML


POWER AMPLIFIER • The MARIA 350 IS AN INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER, featuring digital inputs and therefore a DAC. The unit uses complete class D power amplifier modules. Levinson is very complimentary about this technology, especially offered by Hypex, which has developed modules called NCore. The manufacturer writes of them that they are "ten times better" than its previous technology, UcD. And then:

Due to the market response and demand for a system with real audiophile qualities we started developing a new technology that would become known as NCORE®. NCORE® technology combines the stability of UcD™ with improved load-independence, lower distortion and lower output impedance which amounts to a performance that can be classified as ten times better than its predecessor.

NCORE® is the first Class-D amplifier not just to nudge the best linear amplifiers, but to surpass them in every aspect relevant to sound quality. If you want the ultimate in clarity, resolution and musicality, size no longer matters. The efficiency of NCORE® is inversely proportional to its compactness.

Hypex NCore Technology, → HERE, accessed: 24.05.2024.

For his amplifier, Mark chose the NC502NP model offering 450, 500 and 320 watts at 2, 4 and 8 ohms, respectively. The manufacturer also adds that the main distinguishing features are "flat frequency response irrespective of load impedance", "nearly frequency independent distortion behaviour", and "very low radiated and conducted EMI". The control is based on a phase shift controlled self-oscillating loop taking feedback only at the speaker output. (→ NC502MP OEM,, accessed March 27, 2024). This is one of the best designs of its kind, which is why many high-end manufacturers are reaching for it.

PROCESSOR • As the creator of the amplifier told me, however, the choice of power amplifier was only to complement the heart of the device, which is the Daniel Hertz Mighty Cat. It's a programmable chip, in which an algorithm called C Wave is stored. The creator spoke about it in "A few simple..." and knows what he's talking about. He has been in the professional industry almost from the beginning, and with the Cello company he entered this river up to his neck. Analog and later digital tape recorders were part of his work. But when he discovered the SACD format, when he recorded musician friends in his store on Sony's prototype DSD recorder, he already knew what was - in his words - "wrong with PCM." Nota bene, these recordings were released on SACD discs on the Red Rose Music label.

C Wave works a bit like a processor delaying a selected part of the signal by precisely calculated time intervals. The brain, however, is supposed to interpret these delays positively, as if, as Mark told me, it were "listening to a cassette tape." Once again, let's recall the company materials contained in the so-called "White Paper":

Even though many music lovers know that there is a big difference between pure analog audio and PCM digital audio, no one until now has been able to measure why, in spite of all the advanced audio measuring equipment available.

DH C Wave patent shows why. It’s not an audio problem. It’s the difference between the way the human brain responds to the continuous waveform of pure analog vs the non-continuous waveform of PCM digital audio. C Wave is a finely tuned reverb algorithm that fills in the spaces of the non-continuous PCM digital audio sampled waveform using original music information. With C Wave, the human brain responds like to a continuous waveform. These tests show that C Wave not only eliminates these negative effects, but makes listening to PCM processed recordings of music beneficial for human health.

It's a digital circuit, so ideally, we should send a digital signal to the Maria 350. The best input for this is the USB input, but we can also use the RCA input, for example, sending a signal from a CD transport. It is unusual for this class of equipment, but the amplifier also supports digital signals via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, from mobile devices compatible with these systems. An off-the-shelf chip from Rakoit Technology was used to handle them. Mark says that even from such sources, the sound from the C Wave can be very pleasant.

If necessary, you can also supply the amplifier with an analog signal - there are three pairs of RCA inputs on the rear panel. It is accompanied by input circuits previously developed for preamplifiers from this company, and they are very high input impedance one at 1 MΩ (!). This is a special circuit, even though it uses ordinary JRC4580 operational amplifiers. The analog signal must, of course, be converted into digital. This is taken care of by a Cirrus Logic CS5381 ADC. It performs sampling, A/D conversion and anti-aliasing filtering, generating 24-bit values for the left and right inputs in serial form at sampling rates of up to 200 kHz per channel.

The Maria 350 is not only an amplifier that works with speakers, but also a full-fledged headphone amplifier. The head of the company emphasized this in a conversation with me, pointing out that in both cases the digital signal is processed in a Mighty Cat circuit. The output of the headphone amplifier features, again, JRC4580 chips.

CHASSIS • The device's chassis is unusual for this type of device. The consensus in the audio industry is that amplifiers operating in Class D need to be heavily shielded because they generate a lot of noise. The same is true of digital circuits. Levinson has done the opposite, with which it referred to the solutions of the British company → DNM DESIGN.

Its creator, Mr. Denis Morecroft, proceeded from the assumption that metal near electronic circuits does shield them, but also has a bad effect on their operation, giving back some of the absorbed electromagnetic energy, but with a delay. So in his amplifiers, since 1984, he has used acrylic for housings, and made heat sinks out of ceramic. Following his lead, in the early 2000s Keith Eichmann designed the RCA Bullet Plug, now offered under his new company KLE Innovation (more → HERE ˻PL˺). Let's add that a similar premise accompanied the creation of amplifiers from ASR Audio Systeme (more → HERE).

The Maria 350 amplifier also has an acrylic enclosure. These are black plates, covering all the walls of the unit. The idea of minimizing metal can also be seen with the fantastic speaker terminals, set on Teflon plates rather than directly on the rear panel. The terminals can be tightened with a special wrench, clipped into the rear panel.

Let's add that the analog signal between the DSP board and the amplifier is carried by two interconnects from the Italian company C.T.E. Cablaggi of Padua, and the chip in which the C Wave is stored is the D2Audio D2-74083-LR. The circuit board was made by Elegant Audio Solutions, an American company based in Austin, Texas, a specialist that carries out various OEM projects for audio companies.

SYSTEM • And now - the amplifier in question comes in two versions: a two-channel one, that's the 350 model, and a four-channel one, the 800 model. For Mark Levinson is a fan of system solutions, and the Maria is, in fact, part of a system that, in addition to it, also includes speakers and cabling. Along with the device we get the copper cables it should work with.

And this is where things start to get even more interesting. I remember well, I remember it vividly, because it interested me immeasurably, how in the Japanese magazine "Stereo Sound" I saw advertisements and then tests of products with the Daniel Hertz logo. These were powerful power amplifiers with preamplifiers with an input impedance of 1 MΩ, as well as high-performance loudspeakers with horn tweeters. Priced as befits a Swiss high-end, they looked excellent.

The company's current range of speakers is similar and similarly priced, while all amplifiers have been replaced by Maria (BDW - that's the name of the designer's wife). Mark Levinson's new amplifier is simply cheap against this background. Just over 13,000 euros for a device intended to work with speakers costing from 13,200 euros for the "budget" Amber Midnight model is not much. Even more than 33,000 euros for the Maria 800 model designed to work with the 223,000 euro M1 speakers that require bi-amping is just as little. As it seems, the amplifier is now the centerpiece of Levinson's vision.


HOW WE LISTENED • The Daniel Hertz Maria 350 integrated amplifier was compared to a split reference amplifier, consisting of the Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier and Soulution 710 solid-state power amplifier, as well as the Ayre EX-8 2.0 integrated amplifier. During the test, it stood on its feet on the top carbon shelf of a Finite Elemente Pagode Edition Mk II rack.

During the test I used the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player as a source, but the main listening was done with a Lumin T3 file player working as a file transport. And that's because after the analog input section the signal is converted to digital anyway. The amplifier was powered by the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable, and the Harbeth M40.1 speakers were connected via the company's Daniel Hertz cables, that come with the amplifier.


⸜ TAB SMITH, Jump Time, Delmark Records/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (1991).
⸜ PAUL WELTZ, Ode an den Bass, Columbia | Sony Music Entertainment Germany, SP, FLAC 24/48 (2024).
⸜ KENNY BARRON, Beyond This Place, Artwork Records/Tidal, FLAC 24/96 (2024).
⸜ ELBOW, Audio Vertigo,Universal Audio Music Operations Ltd./Tidal, FLAC 24/96 (2024).
⸜ MILES DAVIS, Kind of Blue, Columbia | Sony Music Entertainment/Tidal, FLAC 24/192 (1959/?).
⸜ MILES DAVIS, The Complete Birth of the Cool, Capitol Jazz/EMI 4945502, CD (1957/1998).
⸜ CHARLES KRIGBAUM, The Art Of The Fugue By J.S. Bach, Red Rose Music RRM 5, „Mark Levinson Recordings Archives – Volume 5”, SACD (2001).
⸜ GIUSEPPE TARTINI, Diavolo. 6 Sonatas, wyk. Adrian Chandler, Le Serenissima, Signum Classic/Tidal, FLAC 24/96 (2024).
⸜ JOHN RUTTER, Visions) wyk. Daniel Hyde, King’s College Cambridge Choir, Collegium/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1(2016). ⸜ HANS ZIMMER, Dune: Part Two, soundtrack, Motion Picture Artwork | Warner Bros. Ejtertainment and Legendary/Tidal, FLAC 24/48 (2024).

» HIGH FIDELITY’S Playlist: Accuphase PS-550 is available at TIDAL → HERE


I START WIT SAYING, to put this test in context: I don't know whether the Maria amplifier makes the digital signal health-promoting or not. I understand the idea behind the research behind it, I also acknowledge information about objective measurements that suggest such a relationship. But it's impossible to confirm it with listening tests. At least not directly.

For I can confirm something that would be indirect evidence that the device proposed by Mark Levinson does indeed make music flow freely, that it has a kind of softness to it, that makes listening pleasant. But it should also be added that this is what I have been looking for in audio for years, and that I have been criticized by many for these choices. And also that this is often how SACDs sound, especially those for which the DSD signal was encoded directly from the analog "master" tapes, or which were recorded that way, without going to PCM. This is also how many good, those of the best, class-D amplifiers sound. Finally, this is how the sound of many top 300B amplifiers is built.

Do you see what I mean? - While this is not a confirmation of whether the C Wave circuit works or not, you can clearly hear that the Maria amplifier has a distinct sonic signature, the description of which can be reduced to a short phrase: complete calmness. This is not about calming dynamics, because it is extraordinary with the tested amplifier, but about inner peace. In this type of case, I usually use the term "stress-free", which would be justified by the research conducted in terms of the algorithm used in Maria to "cure" the digital signal. After all, stress-free means as much as 'left alone with the music'.

Any audio component should do? - Well, seemingly so, but in the real world this is not the case. The vast majority of audio products involve us in the reconstruction sequence of the music by telling us that we need to put all the provided details together by ourselves. This is why the bright, open sound is so tiring, in my opinion. Although ostensibly this is what live music sounds like, the drum cymbals are bright and resonant, and the snare drum can be deafening. A trumpet played hard, which I will allude to Levinson himself, blown in a strong way can stun with power and attack.

But recordings are not a live event. Therefore, in order to make us think they are, we need to reach for the tools that make it possible. Boosting the treble is counterproductive, in my opinion, because it only highlights the frailty of the recording technique, any technique, and the playback system, any system. In my opinion, it should be as I hear it in my system and as, albeit with modifications, as I hear it with the Maria amplifier.

First of all: this is a sound that in short listening session is not impressive. In truth, it is not clear what to think of it. It is somehow "transparent" to the music, as if it has no "character of its own". Listen to it longer, however, and it will turn out to be something deeper, that this lack of character is an appearance resulting from the fact that there is no mechanical intermediation between us and the music - or so it seems to us, at least.

Listened to right at the beginning TAB SMITH from, released in 1952, album entitled Jump Time, it sounded incredibly soft and had a great flow. I didn't get the impression that anything was too bright, too dark, too low, too high. It was flawlessly smooth and internally tight playing. Although seventy-two years had passed since the release of this album somehow the "patina" of time had been lifted from it, as all sub-ranges had their role to play. And even the lack of upper treble and bass didn't matter, because the whole thing was so internally integrated.

I mean something like what happens to us in the real world - when we talk to someone on the phone, even if their voice is severely distorted, we know who we are talking to and understand what they are saying. Here I had the impression that the amplifier does something similar. That is, it delivers the sound in such a way that we stop paying attention to detail. Treble, bass, space, etc. don’t really matter, because we perceive everything organically, as a whole. We are somehow "blind" to the categories typical of the perfectionist audio industry.

I heard the same thing in a wonderful piece Ode an den Bass by an artist using a cluster of the name PaulWeltz, and who lives in the Black Forest in Germany (that's where, by the way, Dual automatic turntables were manufactured, and today turntables of this type branded by Pro-Ject). His first piece was Misfits from February 2021, so we're talking about a really fresh name. Ode an den Bass is his latest track with, as you might guess, bass as the leitmotif.

With Maria the thing was as follows: the bass was low, very dynamic, but also intrinsically soft, that is, it did not attack me with contour. Listening to this track I felt like turning it up more and more, because at each volume level I was getting a bit more information, but without unpleasant sharpening, buzz or shrillness. And that's how the piece needs to be listened to, we hear, after all: "Hundertdreißig Dezibel, keiner spricht..." (eng. "One hundred and thirty decibels, nobody says anything...").

In fact, the same was true when listening to the excellent track Lowers' Leap by English band ELBOW, a single from the album Audio Vertigo. It's based on the low sound of a bass guitar played more like a lead instrument than a rhythm instrument, and it comes with Guy Garvey's vocals with the added track transformed as if he were singing through a vocoder. And again - I wanted it to play very loud. Because it was so immersive and all-encompassing.

Not once did I catch myself analyzing tonality, dynamics or space. I heard it all. However, the tested amplifier has a unique ability to "overrule" the classical ways of evaluation. When I focused on the sound itself I could tell that it was a rather warm, soft rendition with a wide panorama and excellent dynamics. The tonal differentiation it offers is outstanding, but completely different from what is offered, for example, by the Aavik I-880 amplifier (test → HERE). It's like two different continents, equally large, equally attractive, but yet completely incompatible.

Mark Levinson's amplifier builds a large foreground, clearly bringing out the vocals from the background, as do the instruments on the sides of the wide panorama. 'Brings out' may be the wrong term, but I don't really see if I could replace it with another. What I mean is that they are not cut with a razor blade, but rather 'extruded', as in molded. We don't really know where the reverb or other instruments end and begin, but we can "feel" it perfectly.

Interestingly, when the recording is cleaner, for example, it is based on acoustic instruments, then the selectivity of sound sources increases significantly. So when I heard Immanuel Wilkins' saxophone in the We See track by Thelenious Monk, announcing the album Beyond This Place by KENNY BARRON, released on May 10, I heard it right in front of me, at a distance given by the reverb. The leader's piano was spread across the channels, with his left hand on the left and his right hand on the right. Although it's a piece played only as a duet, I had the impression that there were several additional instruments playing, as so emotionally dense was the presentation.

Here, too, I had to concentrate to "see" the elements I'm talking about, because they were not given explicitly. Compared to it, the heavily compressed PaulWeltz and Elbow recordings I listened to earlier, especially the vocals, seemed much closer to me. This album was played in an equally relaxed manner, but further into the stage, without pressing me. Which leads me to another conclusion: although it doesn't seem so, or at least not at first, the Daniel Hertz Maria amplifier is an exceptionally resolving device that differentiates events superbly.

Again: I think the vast majority of my brethren in the audiophile faith will snort in disbelief, because it is, after all, a presentation without clear intrinsic qualities, that is, without their clear accentuation. And I say to that, that this is precisely its intrinsic characteristic: presenting music as something subcutaneous, as something that passes "above" the mechanics of the recording. So this is not an "audiophile" amplifier, or at least in the sense that it will be difficult to enthuse about this or that aspect of sound with it. And that's because it doesn't accentuate anything, or at least nothing we're used to.

But when I played So What loud, really loud, from MILESA DAVIS' Kind of Blue album, available on Tidal as 24/192 FLAC files, I got an incredibly saturated soundstage extending laterally beyond the speakers and, thanks to the double bass, extending far back. You see, Mark Levinson is a trumpeter, as he often emphasizes. One of the best reissues of early Davis albums, the Birth of Cool disc I have was just remastered by Levinson, using Cello equipment, another of his ventures. Maria showcased the instrument fantastically, as it was strong, accurate, and without cutting it out of the background.

HEADPHONES • Speaking with me, Mark Levinson pointed out several aspects of his amplifier, and one of the more common ones he brought up was the equivalent importance, he said, of the output for the speakers and the headphone amplifier. As I wrote, these are two separate devices. I assume there will be smaller products in the future, such as a DAC/headphone amplifier, hence the importance the manufacturer places on the latter.

I know hundreds of integrated amplifiers featuring a headphone output, and in most cases they are there just for users’ convenience, for those who want to use this option every now and then, but are not fans of it. The exceptions that would prove the rule are really rare. Of those that come to mind here and now are, first and foremost, the Polish Fezz Audio Silver Luna tube amplifier and the Japanese amplifiers from Leben, the CX-300 and CS-600X models (tests, respectively, → HERE, and → HERE); the latter serves me precisely as a headphone amplifier.

Maria is the first solid-state amplifier in a long time about which I could say the same, and even add that it is one of the best headphone amplifiers I know. The smoothness, calmness that the amplifier exudes with speakers will find be obvious also with headphones, But the whole will sound significantly different. Headphones will show the fast, lively side of the device. Which shows that the power amplifier module is responsible for the warmth as such, and the Mighty Cat chip is in turn the provider of smoothness and fluidity, but also dynamics.

I did the main part of the listening test in this section by listening to classical music. Holy Week, when I listened to Maria, happens to be the time when I went to the Misteria Paschalia concerts almost every day for many years. This time we decided, my son and I, to give them up. This is because for a long time the concerts in this series have been not as good as they used to be, and the whole thing has been less well conceived. This year Vincent Dumestre was put at its helm, maybe it will change something, but we will have to wait a year, maybe even two, for the results of his work.

Hence a lot of classical music. Both the violins of ADRIAN CHANDLER, playing GIUSEPPE TARTINI sonatas with the Le Serenissima ensemble, and JOHN RUTTER's Visions, performed by Daniel Hyde and with the choir of King's College Cambridge, presented in a really good way in Dolby Atmos, sounded stunningly spacious, but also in a saturated way. What I said when listening through the speakers, that is, the ability to differentiate layers here was shown even better, even stronger over the headphones.

It was a full-bodied sound, but rather energetic and "jumpy", so to speak. There was no exaggeration in it, it wasn't overtaking bars, but the whole thing pushed forward strongly. There was no foreground emphasis, yet when PaulWeltz sang the first "Und der Bass...", he was shown at arm's length. But I knew it was more about strong compression, not about the amplifier approximating the sound.

The bass is full and pure with this unit, although it doesn't go as low as - for example - as with the headphone amplifier → dCS LINA. But the Maria amplifier added energy and momentum to the track in question, a kind of élan vital. It also worked out perfectly with the Elbow's track, in which the guitar and synth effects, spread out to the extremes of the channels, were shown very extensively, but also in a surrounding way.

Even in powerful, dense moments, i.e. when we hear "Shake, shake...", there was no tipping of the sound towards being jazzy, although the sound was brighter then. This is not an amplifier with as saturated and deep a sound as what I get with the Leben, but it's not a difference in class, but a difference in style. And yet it comes with excellent resolution, not at all that obvious in headphone amplifiers. Even my Leben can't do something like that... Because, no matter what, Maria 350 is an excellent DAC/headphone amplifier.


AS I SAID: I CANNOT CONFIRM ANY of the manufacturer's claims about the impact of C Wave technology on me and my brain. I realize that this is an important part of the Daniel Hertz company's identity and its key technology. However, I can confirm that the amplifier, without getting into what's under its "hood," is an incredibly, unbelievably musical. Listening to the music through Maria 350 was a real pleasure for me, I even looked forward to subsequent listening sessions.

Which, by the way, confirmed what I have intuitively applied in my testing and research for years: it's the whole that counts, not the details, what's underneath, not on top. When JORDAN RAKEI sang in the Learning track, with the chorus singing the title song "Learning" behind him deep in the stage, I had the feeling that they were just doing it for me, right here and now. But when I heard the power of the drum beats in the song Beginning Are Such Delicate Times, which opens the soundtrack for the second part of the film Dune a powerful space shared with thousands of people opened up before me.

There is also differentiation. When in Harkonnen Arena we have a wall of sound, when in Southern Messiah a choir sings far in the depth of the stage, it was all perfectly differentiated and powerful. And that, after all, is what HANS ZIMMER was all about. As he told "Sound On Sound" magazine, with classical instruments he wanted to create a sound, "like out of this world" (more in: Dune: Hans Zimmer & FriendsHERE, accessed March 27, 2024). The Maria amplifier perfectly conveyed these intentions.

Because, that's my impression, this device, like other high-end audio products that I like rather than just appreciate, doesn't accentuate this or that, doesn't point out this or that. It presents the sound as a whole, in addition in a way that allows us to listen to it for a very long time without fatigue. At the same time, it differentiates the sound perfectly and is remarkably resolving. It plays with very low bass, only that it's a warm bass and rather soft than punchy. The same is true of the upper range. I'm familiar with these qualities from other high-end amplifiers operating in Class D, but what I heard with the Maria was even better.

So if you're looking for a device to show off the advantages of your audio system, for analysis, etc., spend your savings elsewhere, that too will be money well spent. However, if you are looking for a device that puts music directly into your room, rather than a collection of sounds that you have yet to put together in your head, the Daniel Hertz Maria 350 may turn out to be your last amplifier ever. It's not a perfect device, there are none like it, but what it does - it does beautifully.

THIS TEST HAS BEEN DESIGNED ACCORDING TO THE GUIDELINES adopted by the Association of International Audiophile Publications, an international audio press association concerned with ethical and professional standards in our industry, of which HIGH FIDELITY is a founding member. More about the association and its constituent titles → HERE.


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Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC