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SACD Player
Soulution 745

Price (in Poland): 190 000 PLN (Polish Zloty)

Manufacturer: c/o Spemot AG

Cyrill Hammer | Industriestrasse 70
CH-4657 Dulliken | Switzerland
tel.: +41 62 285 30 40 | fax: +41 62 295 52 02


Polish Distributor: Soundclub
Country of origin: Switzerland

WWW: Soundclub

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Michael Reinchard/Soulution | Wojciech Pacuła

Soulution is an example of a company that based its success in audio business on solid engineering, “out-of-the-box thinking”, and swimming up the stream. Over last six years, as the company was founded in 2005, Cyrill Hammer Jr. and Roland Manz built for their brand a position of a serious competitor for biggest names in this business. What’s more their products quite often win this competition.
In July I tested the 540 player (test HERE), the most recent addition to Soulution’s portfolio. It’s a member of the “less expensive” line of this manufacturer. There is a range called ‘700’ though, more expensive, that was introduced in 2005. It hasn’t changed much since the very beginning – only some minor enhancements, and some completely new devices like the 745 Player that replaced the older 740. It’s an extraordinary longevity, although not so uncommon in the high-end world. After all, if you pay a lot of money for you audio rig you expect it to be damn good not only today but also in ten years, don’t you?
Intentionally or not, at first I was comparing the 540 Player with its predecessor, the two-box 745. Because despite many differences some basic elements of both designs are similar. Firstly, both are SACD Players. Secondly, they use the same Esoteric (TAEC VRDS-NEO) UMK-5 transport mechanism. Thirdly, its heart is an Edel S2 upsampling module using polynomial algorithm of the digital specialist, Anagram Technologies. And last but not least, the signal read from SACD is converted right away into 24 bit /384 kHz PCM signal. Additionally both devices may also work as D/A converters, although the newer 540 is additionally equipped with a USB port. Surely there are also differences between these two models, the most important being the fact that the 745 is a two-box design with a separate power supply module - 740U. More differences can be found when looking at the parameters – the 745's noise level is an order of magnitude lower (0.002% vs 0.0002%), its output impedance is 5 times lower (10 Ω vs 2 Ω), its output stage is 5 times more effective (0.2 A vs 1 A) and the power consumption is slightly higher (50 W vs 60 W).

My review system included Harbeth M40.1 Domestic loudspeakers, Ayon Audio Polaris III preamplifier and Soulution 710 power amp (you can find its review in the „Audio” magazine). Additionally I also used Leben CS300 [Custom Version] + Sennheiser HD800 as headphone system and Haliade Design Bridge (24/96) USB-S/PDIF converter that allowed me to use hi-res files from my laptop. I plugged the reviewed player to a Furutech FT-SWS ® wall socket, powered by a dedicated power line (Oyaide Tunami Nigo cable) with a HGP fuse. The rest of the system was plugged into the Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu, which was connected to a separate Furutech FT-SWS ® socket. Although the Soulution comes with a much better power cord than most devices do, I still chose to use the Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300. According to manufacturer's recommendation both boxes were placed on separate shelves, plus the main unit stood on Acoustic Revive RAF-48. The manufacturer states that the 745 delivers its full performance right out of the box, yet just in case I left it in „repeat” mode for a couple of days first.

We reviewed up to date:

  • Super Audio CD Soulution 540 Player, review HERE


Recordings used during test (selection):

Compact Discs
  • Art Pepper, Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, Contemporary Records/Victor Entertainment, VICJ-41524, (2006), K2 CD.
  • Audiofeels, Uncovered, Penguin Records, 5865033, (2009), CD.
  • Clan of Xymox, Clan of Xymox, 4AD, CAD503CD, CD.
  • Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM UHD 045, (2010), UltraHD CD.
  • Glen Gould, Bach: The Art Of The Fugue, Sony Music/Sony Classical, SMK 52 595, The Glen Gould Edition, (1997) SBM CD.
  • Jean Michel Jarre, Magnetic Fields,Epic/Sony Music, 488138 2, (1997), CD.
  • Bill Evans, Everybody Digs Bill Evans, Riverside/JVC, JVCXR-0020-2, XRCD.
  • Carol Sloane, Hush-A-Bye, Sinatra Society of Japan/Muzak, XQAM-1031, CD.
  • Grabek, 8, Polskie Radio, PRCD 1372, CD.
  • Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch Records, 524055-2, CD+DVD; review HERE .
  • Leszek Możdżer, Komeda, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9516-2, CD.
  • Stan Kenton & June Christy, Duet, Capitol/Toshiba-EMI, TOCJ-9321, CD.
Super Audio CDs
  • 30th Anniversary. Original KI Pearl Collection Box, STS-Digital, 6111100, SACD/CD.
  • Stereo Sound Reference Record. Jazz&Vocal, Stereo Sound, SSRR4, SACD/CD.
  • Stereo Sound Reference Record. Popular Selection, Stereo Sound, SSRR5, SACD/CD.
  • Art Pepper, “…the way it was!”, Contemporary Records/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2034, SACD/CD; review HERE .
  • Dead Can Dance, Into The Labyrinth, 4AD Warner Music Japan, WPCB-10076, SACD/CD; review HERE .
  • Dead Can Dance, Spiritchaser, 4AD/Warner Music Japan, WPCB-10078, SACD/CD; review HERE .
  • Kazumi Watanabe, Jazz Impression, Eve Records, EWSA 0163, SACD/CD.
  • McKinley Black, Beggars, Fools and Thieves, Stockfisch Records, SFR 357.4065.2, (2011), SACD/CD.
  • Michael Schlierf, Clouds And Silver Linings, Stockfisch, SFR 357.4070.2, SACD/CD.
  • Miles Davis, Seven Steps To Heaven, Columbia/Sony Music/Analogue Productions, CAPJ-8851, (2010) SA, SACD/CD.
  • Nat “King” Cole, Love is the Thing, Capitol/Analogue Productions, CAPP 824 SA, (2010), SACD/CD.
  • Peter Gabriel, So, RealWorld/Virgin, SAPGCD 5, SACD/CD.
  • Sonny Rollins, Plus 4, Prestige/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2006, SACD/CD.
Audio files
  • Al Di Meola, Flesh on Flesh, Telarc, źródło: HDTracks, FLAC 24/96.
  • Brian Eno, Craft On A Milk Sea, Warp Records, WARPCDD207, 2 x 180 g LP + 2 x CD + 24/44,1 WAV; review HERE.
  • Charlie Haden & Antonio Forcione, Heartplay, Naim Label, 24/96 FLAC.
  • Kankawa, Organist, T-TOC Records, UMVD-0001-0004, Ultimate Master Vinyl, 4 x 45 rpm 180 g LP + CD-RIIα + 24/192 WAV; review HERE.
  • Mikołaj Bugajak, Strange Sounds and Inconceivable Deeds, Nowe Nagrania 001, 45 rpm LP+CD+WAV 24/44,1; review HERE.
  • Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve, 24/96 FLAC.

Japanese versions of the discs are available at CD Japan.

Listening to the Soulution 745 SACD Player was an extraordinary experience for me. As always when listening to top players, I learned some things, verified some others, and broaden my perspective considering digital media and audio in general.
As I will try to show you it is an extraordinary player, totally different from any other, although a bit similar in its sonic character to the three-box Jadis JD1 MkII+JS1 MkIII, but going even further up the „top-high-end” hill.
It's not a perfect player – there is no such thing regardless the price level, but the balance of pros and cons definitely works in favor of the Soulution. It's easy to fall in love with this sound. I should add that as I had a chance to listen to the Soulution 540 Player before, I knew what to expect. It’s because Soulution is a very predictable, in the best meaning of this word, manufacturer and the 540 was created on the basis of the 745 design, with some simplifications in the power supply and output stages, so I could expect that the sound should be similar in character.

To describe the sound of the 745 it is easier to compare it with great turntables. I'm not going to call it „analogue” sounding as this might mislead you. I'm just saying that it creates the sound in a similar way – there is no aggression in the sound, there is fabulous soundstage and amazing coherence. Just like listening to some great turntable, so with the Soulution you will never hear any annoying components of sound, no distortions that might be so irritating when listening to digital players. It's a bit mellow, relaxed sound. It also delivers incredible resolution, but it's a different resolution than I usually describe when reviewing digital sources.
It's tonality is quite easy to identify: it is clearly warm, with saturated midrange, that is so „ripe” that it momentarily becomes even a little nasal, and a powerful, deep, very well differentiated bass. The latter is extremely impressive as very, very few other players can deliver something similar (among those I listened to there are only Jadis JD1 MkII+JS1 MkIII, Ancient Audio Lektor Grand SE and Lektor Air, plus digital streamer Linn Klimax DS, and to some extent SACD Soulution 540. Maybe also C.E.C.-a TL1N+DX1N.
The 745 takes at least one more step up the high-end hill, adding to its sound something I also heard with the Harbeth M40.1 Domestic – something like a soft, „resilient” cushion placed under the whole presentation. High quality turntables offer similarly saturated sound, while many other, very precise, resolute digital players lack this special „something”, let’s call it a „soul”. And it is this great bass and warm, slightly rounded treble that are what defines the sound of this device.

I already mentioned resolution. Also in this aspect the Soulution sounds more like turntables do – it's a part of the same parallel I began a few paragraphs earlier. The sound in its richness and differentiation is not based on precise attack, punch and huge number of details, but on very rich, well differentiated tonality. It is a profound difference defining (in my opinion) the difference between „analogue” and „digital” sound. This player proves (again – in my opinion) that „analogue” is not synonymous with playing vinyl record as it can be delivered by the best digital players as well – and by the 745 in particular. I'm not claiming that Soulution SOUNDS like turntable, but only that its resolution is similar to what I know from vinyl (rather than tape) playback. Because when it comes to dynamics, micro-dynamics in particular, the 745 sounds like a very good, but still digital player, i.e. it can't go as deep into the recording as turntable can, can't handle the shading, differentiating as well as turntable, which makes the latter sound almost „live-like”.

The Soulution, because of its warm tonality and slightly laid back sound, might seem a bit too relaxed sounding device. And it might actually be true. I ran most of my listening sessions via my headphone rig (Leben CS300 [Custom Version] + Sennheiser HD800) and on the one hand it seemed to be an advantage of this player, as every recording sounded interesting, but on the other hand most of them sounded slightly alike. Tonality, timbre were shown in a beautiful way, also greatly differentiated, which allowed me to „see” many well known recordings in a new light. The point is that there were very few recordings I didn't like, and I knew that there should have been more of them.

Let's take Beggars, Fools and Thieves by McKinley Black for example. This recording was done by Günter Paul for Stockfisch. It's a good example as I heard this artist performing live during this year's High End in Munich (my report HERE). She played there with a guitar and a pre-recorded piece (half-playback). I played this recording right after I got home from Munich and I was deeply disappointed. I listened to High Noon, which had also been the first tune played during the concert, and first of all I realized that it was a really poor recording – quite unusual for Stockfisch – and its dynamics was absolutely different from what I had heard in Munich. There was no comparison, none at all!!! Maybe that's why high-efficiency stage audio systems are reference for some audiophiles.

With this particular recording the Soulution clearly proved that the SACD layer is much better than the CD, but it was unable to bring out the voice to the front and it didn't handle too well the quite nasal way the voice was recorded. I could clearly hear some recording (mastering?) failures, like some high tones spiking from underneath laid back upper midrange. Surely this presentation was not coherent. Even though the player tried to put all that together the result was even lesser dynamics and thinner tonality.

Maybe I exaggerate a bit… I mean, not with my description but with my diagnosis. Because I did not mean that the Soulution did something wrong. It rather tried to make recordings sound better, make it sound less „digital”. But because you can't do something like that without leaving some „signature” on the sound, you get what you get – a specific presentation.
But it was also the 745 that allowed me for the first time to comfortably enjoy SACD Love Is The King by Nat King Cole in Analogue Productions re-edition. The point is that every stereo version of this recording (on this one you can find mono, stereo and multichannel versions) sounds worse than its mono version (with more sibilants, brighter sounding). And as we know Cole at this stage of his career was a „crooner”, a mild balm to listener’s heart, so any harshness in his voice simply ruined the presentation. The Soulution nicely showed the differences between both versions although the mono wasn't so significantly better any more. In the mono version his voice was delivered with wonderful timbre, it was rich and very well defined – it was the first time I heard this recording in this way. I loved it very much and the Soulution won my heart once again (it did it before with the whole discography of Clan of Xymox – the best presentation of these recordings I'd ever heard!).
Similar thing happened with the recording prepared by Ken Ishiwata for the 30th anniversary of his work for Maranz. Before I had not found it too interesting but it was only until I listened to this disc played by the Soulution. Surely an important factor was it being a SACD disc as the 745 clearly showed that it was hi-res recording. The general sonic character of both CD and SACD is similar with the 745– both sound more like SACD but when playing CD it seems to deliver a bit less of everything. But tonality, timbre, dynamics, soundstage – regardless the kind of disc these aspects always sound similarly well. It was some kind of surprise for me as the 540 didn't make SACDs sound clearly better than CDs. Here, even though the signal is converted from DSD to PCM the final result is as good as from a very good, puristic SACD player.

And that might be the clou of this test: the Soulution 745 delivers sound that is a mixture of qualities of SACD player and turntable. It takes from both its tonality, timbre, smoothness and resilience to digital distortion. There are also some flaws taken from both, but even if you pay a huge amount of money for your audio device you need to agree for some compromise. This Swiss player will present each recording in a very nice, even beautiful way, and each of them will deliver some new details, impressions. Dynamics will be a bit unified, and treble always smoothed. Bass will surprise everybody with its power, richness and differentiation. It is really neither analogue nor digital sound – it's something in between. Additionally it does really great as DAC for files playback (I played them from my PC via USB-S/PDIF Haliade Design Bridge (24/96)), delivering better performance than from CDs. The resolution of this player is great, very turntable-like. This player re-defines what most people understand under the „digital player” term.


Super Audio CD 745 Player is an impressive device, much larger than its smaller brother – the 540. The width of the front panel is 480 mm, and the whole device (two boxes together) weights more than many integrated amplifiers. Casing is made of thick aluminum plates in natural color, except for side panels that are black.

754 | Front and back

Front is very „plain”, meaning there are very few components there, and those present seem to be perfectly placed. Most of the space is taken by a large plate with a display behind it. The latter is not too big and it doesn't display CD-Text from CDs, or from SACDs (pity!). There is no information about signal rate delivered via digital input, which is really inconvenient. It's a red dot-matrix display. It will show you track number, time, present state of the transport (stop, start, pause) and the information if the device is on. The last feature is just a gadget as when the player is off the display is also off and three LEDs are on – so there is no way you could mistake the present state of the device. The only thing that tells you that SACD disc is in is the letter „S” before track number count. Shame, as SACD logo is one of the nicest in audio business. There are small push buttons in the middle of the front panel that are basic controls, and above them there is a slot with the drawer coming out after a special flap goes up. The latter is not a simple cover usually mounted on the drawer. It's a real flap that goes up and down upon pressing the „eject” button. There is a similar solution in D-08 Luxman – there it serves as isolation from external world – it dumps vibrations and protects from dusts. On the right side there is also a rotary control that facilitates operations inside menu.
On the back panel there is clear distinction between digital and analogue section. The latter includes both balanced and unbalanced outputs. The manual states that balanced and unbalanced circuits are completely separate, to avoid any distortion between them. It would only be fair to say that the same solution has been used for years by Accuphase, and it is called „Direct Balanced Filter”. There are three digital inputs – AES/EBU, RCA and TOSLINK, and same three outputs (the last one only for CD playback). Additionally there is a BNC output and input that can be used to synchronize this device with external master clock.
There are also multi-pin ports that are power inlets. There is a separate inlet for digital section and for analogue one. All plugs and pins are gold-plated of top quality - very „Swiss”…

754 | Inside

As already said, the 745 also differs from the 540 in its internal design. It's surely not a minimalistic device with a half empty casing. It's a multi-section, multi-level design that really uses most of its quite huge internal space.
On the right side there is a drive mechanism. At first they used StreamUnlimited JPL-2580 M in CD version – meaning in the 740 CD Player. After some time Soulution started to use Esoteric (TAEC VRDS-NEO) UMK-5, that also allowed to play SACDs and that turned the 740 CD into the 745 SACD Player. The owners of the 740 could easily upgrade their devices by replacing one drive mechanism with the other. In both cases the drive mechanism is bolted to a copper anodized plate, and this one via thick, sorbothane washers to a solid aluminum base.
On its left side, on top of a metal “can” holding display circuits, they mounted the upsampling module. As already mentioned, it is a Edel S2 with Anagram Technologies Q5 and ATF upsampling algorithm. Soulution definitely has its way when it comes to upsampling and oversampling. They use only synchro-upsampling (with 8-times oversampling), converting 44.1 kHz signal to 352.8 kHz, and DSD from SACD to 384 kHz PCM. Same circuit changes 16 bit signal into 24 bit. It's a true extrapolation system and not just adding 8 „empty” bits. That is why the section in the D/A converter doing the same thing is turned off in the 745. In the back there are three-level digital and output sections, and to the side there is a four-level analogue section. These are very complex, advanced circuits with multiple voltage regulators and high quality passive elements, like Dale resistors and WIMA capacitors. The Burr-Brown PCM1792 chips work with their maximum sampling rate - 384 kHz. These are PCM chips that accept DSD signal. Since it would be converted inside to PCM anyway (actually there are no real 1 bit DSD converters anymore), the manufacturer decided to convert the DSD signal to PCM right after it is read from the disc. The converter blocks are run in dual-mono mode, and are supported by a super precise master clock generator.
The current-to-voltage converter uses an internal bandwidth of 80 megahertz and operates in the A class mode.

740U | Front and back

Faceplate is simply a flat aluminum plate without any controls or indicators. At the back there are two multi-pin ports and an EIC inlet integrated with a fuse and mechanical switch.

740U | Inside

It's a really impressive power supply. Inside there are four large PCBs and a smaller one – the one for Link-system. There are ten different voltages delivered outside. There is a large AC filter right after the IEC inlet. The drive mechanism has a very efficient chopper power supply (shielded). The digital and analogue sections have their own, separate power supplies with four transformers. There are multi-stage voltage regulators and lots of BC and Elna capacitors on PCBs.

Technical specification (according to the manufacturer):
Power consumption (standby/on): <0.5 W/60 W
Output signal (XLR/RCA): 2 V rms/2 V rms
Peak output current: 1 A
Output impedance (XLR/RCA): 2 Ω/2 Ω
Frequency response: DC-100 kHz
THD: <0.0002 %
S/N Ratio: -140 dB
Channel separation: >130 dB
Dimensions: 480 x 167+115 x 467 mm

Polish Distributor:


ul. Skrzetuskiego 42 | 02-726 Warszawa

tel.: 22 586 32 70, fax: 22 586 32 71



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  • 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 &#8486; 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 platform under Leben CS300