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CD Player / D/A Converter / Preamplifier
Aesthetix ROMULUS

Price (in Poland): 31 500 zł

Manufacturer: Aesthetix

5220 Gabbert Road Suite A | Moorpark, CA 93021
USA | tel.: 805.529.9901


Manufacturer’s website:

Country of origin: USA

Product delivered for test by: Soundclub

Text: Wojciech Pacuła | Photos: Wojciech Pacuła; Aesthetix (nr 1)
Translation: Marek Dyba

Published: 3. April 2013, No. 108

Our everyday life becomes more and more digitized. Nobody is surprised anymore with hybrids (also lingual) like: „Transport CD/DAC”, „DAC/CD Player” and so on. The modern language follows the reality we live in, and it reflects the minds of people using it, regardless of it being a good or bad thing. And the reality of audio world is as follows: a status of physical music carriers degrades in a fast pace while the importance of computer music files grows in a mind blowing rate. So nowadays, when a respected company introduces a new CD Player it means that either somebody in this company went crazy, or that there is some clever strategy behind it. Which one is it – well, that depends on to whom this product is addressed.
I still remember very well a conversation I had maybe 3 years ago with Adam Shaw-Cotteril, Sales Director of Cambridge Audio. We met in a very friendly, comfortable surrounding of Bartek Łuczak's photo studio, that same that is responsible for how great „High Fidelity” looks like. We sat, sipped our tea and chatted about new CA products, including their new files player NP30. I remember asking an obvious question then – does this product mean the CA would resign from making CD Players? Adam shook his head and answered: absolutely not, we shall continue to manufacture CD Players as long as customers will listen to CD records. One could think that this is the only correct answer and that there is nothing special about it. But if you take a look at my reviews published under „The Editors” title, you will see, that each audio journalist has his own opinion about the future of Compact Disc. Some of them claim that people will use CDs for many more years, some say that the era of CD is already over.

What do I think about it? One thing is obvious to me – the countdown for CD has already started and it will become obsolete sooner or later. In the mid-priced segment of the market CD Player will extinct pretty soon literally „murdered” by so many manufacturers offering some sort of decent files players. It might take longer in the entrance level market segment as until now manufacturers failed to offer some cheap and easy to use (that is very important) products. It looks like the situation in high-end world is quite different though. I think that's where the CD and SACD Players will last longest, 10 maybe 15 years. There are many reasons for that, but the most important one is that only recently we started to experience the real magic of music played from CDs. Only the relatively new generation of players has been able to present the true top performance of what can be obtained from a CD, so it would be difficult to kiss that good bye so quickly. It has been achieved via progress made in the fields of both: players and Compact Discs manufacturing (for CDs I mean new generations of discs like: Crystal Disc, SHM-CD, HQCD, Blu-spec 2, SHM-XRCD24, CD-R copies of master tapes and so on). There is one more factor that discourages owners of high end systems from starting using music files – it seems that even the best labels aren't still ready for preparing files in a proper way, and that goes in particular for hi-res files. Most of them already learned how to produce a very good sounding CD, but music files seems to be still a terra incognita for them, with many traps waiting along the way to a good sound.
That's why Audio Research introduced recently a new model of a CD Player, the CD9, that's also why Aesthetix released Romulus – these are high-end devices for high-end systems. What's interesting is that the latter offers its new product in two versions, with and without a CD transport mechanism. If you're not planning on using CDs you can go ahead with a D/A Converter, including USB input, called Pandora, that costs around 24 kPLN. But if you want to keep spinning CDs, that's not a problem either – go with the version with z classic, Red Book CD transport outsourced from TEAC, and that will cost you additional 4 kPLN. In this case what you have is a CD Player and D/A Converter integrated in one box. There is one more option for both models which is a volume control that will cost another 3,4 kPLN. So if you chose all options you'd arrived at the top version which is a CD Player/DAC/Preamplifier kind of device. That's exactly the version we have under review.

Some of the particular features of this device are:

    • TEAC CD transport mechanism, designed particularly for Red Book CD playback, • power supply based on two power transformers, • oscillators (four) – ultra-precise, low jitter oscillators sitting right next to the DAC chip • asynchronous USB input licensed from Gordon Rankin's Wavelength Technologies, digital inputs accept following PCM signals: 32 kHz, 44, 1 Hz, 48 kHz, 88,2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176,4 kHz, 192 kHz, up to 24 bits, • the digital inputs sit in interchangeable slots, • two modes of USB input – one works as USB class 1 (accepting signal up to 24/96, no need for a driver for PC computers), other works in class 2 (24/192, requires a driver) • optional additional USB input, • proprietary digital filters in DSP Motorola DSP56362 chip, • Burr-Brown PCM1792A DAC chips, • analogue section built around tubes: 2 x 12AX7, 2 x 6DJ8/6922.


Recordings used during test (a selection)

  • MJ Audio Technical Disc vol.6, Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing, MJCD-1005, CD (2013).
  • Adam Makowicz, Unit, Muza Polskie Nagrania /Polskie Nagrania, "Polish Jazz vol.35", PNCD 935, CD (1973/2004).
  • Artur Lesicki Acoustic Harmony, Stone & Ashes, Fonografika, 559040, kopia z ta¶my-matki, CD-R (wersja CD: 2010);
  • Bogdan Hołownia, Chwile, Sony Music Polska, 505288 2, kopia z ta¶my-matki, CD-R (wersja CD: 2001).
  • Czesław Niemen, Katharsis, Muza Polskie Nagrania, PRCD 339, “Niemen od pocz±tku, nr 9”, CD (1976/2003).
  • Czesław Niemen, Spodchmurykapelusza, Pomaton EMI, 36237, CD (2001).
  • Depeche Mode, Heaven, Mute/Columbia, 47537-2, maxi SP, CD (2013).
  • Diorama, Even Devil Doesn’t Care, Accession Records, A 133, CD (2013).
  • Frank Sinatra, Sinatra Sings Gershwin, Columbia/Legacy/Sony Music Entertainment, 507878 2, CD (2003).
  • John Coltrane, Coltrane, Impulse!, 589 567-2, “Deluxe Edition”, 2 x CD (1962/2002).
  • Józef Skrzek, Podróż w krainę wyobraĽni, Polskie Nagrania/Metal Mind Productions, MMP CD 0541, CD (1978/2009).
  • Komeda Quintet, Astigmatic, Muza Polskie Nagrania /Polskie Nagrania, "Polish Jazz vol.5", PNCD 905, CD (1966/2004).
  • Lars Danielsson, Mélange Bleu, ACT, 9604-2, “ACT: Nu Jazz””, CD (2006);
  • Lucy Ann, Lucky Lucy Ann, Mode Records/Muzak, MZCS-1121, “Mode Vocal Collection”, CD (1957/2007).
  • The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out, Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment Hong Kong, 883532, "K2HD Mastering CD", No. 0055, CD (1959/2011).
  • The Oscar Peterson Trio, We Get Request, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 032 UDC, “Direct From Master Disc. Master Edition”, gold CD-R (1964/2009).
  • Tomasz Stańko Quartet, Lontano, ECM, 1980, CD (2006).
  • Wes Montgomery, Echoes of Indiana Avenue, Resonance Records, 195562, CD (2012).
Japanese version of CDs and SACDs available at

Digital sources built in the last few years offered much more sophisticated sound than those built before. The same goes for D/A Converters, which is rather understandable, but also for CD and Blu-ray Players. At the time of this test I also reviewed multi-format players: Marantz UD7007 and Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD for „Audio” magazine, and I was surprised how 'mature' sound both of them offered regardless of what sort of disc I was spinning, or what files playing. There are many reasons why such a progress has been made in the recent years and one of them was finding ways to deal with jitter, which is kind of a digital distortion. The other key factor was for manufacturers to finally realize that music is not just a group of sounds that need to be delivered in most precise fashion. They finally realized how complex the music was, how many relations between timbre, pace, resolution, selectivity, focus, micro and macro dynamics had to be also reproduced properly to get finally to a really good sound.
The interesting thing about the former factor (that is obviously my opinion, not everybody has to agree with it) came strictly from engineering work – problem was measured, recognized and solution was found. Truth to be told these measurements started only after audiophiles complained about their CD Players being not so perfect as expected. The latter factor arrived from listening sessions that helped to understand correlations between elements of music that have to be reproduced in order to make music sound good, natural. That approach, taking into account both – engineering work, measurements and the result of listening sessions allowed manufacturers to arrive at the point they find themselves in now, creating a really good sounding digital sources.

One has to be impressed mostly by the improvements in the low price level – that mostly goes for D/A Converters like: Cambridge Audio's DACMagic 100, Arcam's rDAC, even rLINK, or a Cambridge Audio Topaz 5 CD Player. Each of them costs less then any element of my system. It's a real pleasure to find gems like these among really inexpensive devices, and I'm pretty sure it was not easy to make sound like they do. Equally significant changes are happening in the high-end audio. The character of the changes is similar to those already described, but the consequences of these changes are much more complex.
But there is still a thing that concerns equally entry level rLINK and herewith reviewed high-end Aesthetix. These are choices that designers must make during designing process. Simply there is no ultimate natural, nor neutral, nor 'absolute sound as such – there is no such thing. What you can achieve is a bit less or bit more natural/neutral sound. And it gets even more complicated – two devices that you would describe as similar sounding in terms of neutrality and/or naturalness of the sound will in general sound very different, day and night different,t like for example the Romulus and M2TECH Vaughan DAC.

The sound of this CD Player/DAC/preamplifier might be defined as warm. It is rich. It is liquid. It is pleasant to listen to. All these features of sound reminded me of some other very good players like Mark Levinson No.512 SACD or emm Labs XDS1 Signature Edition. All of them have somehow similar sound signature, that some might define as an 'analogue' sound, which in fact is rather a natural sound, although not necessarily perfectly neutral. You might be surprised seeing that I'm contradicting these two terms: natural and neutral. Strange, right?, as you might think that neutral sound must be also natural, meaning similar to what we can hear in the real life. But the audio world sets its own rules. One of them says that live music is something different from what might be caught on tape (or in file – recorded anyway). That's why neutral doesn't have to mean also natural, it's more a description of choices designers made, and of preferences of a listener.
And the Romulus, or I should say, its creators, refer to, or focus most of all on the beauty in music. That's in short what you get when you decide to drive with this device a power amplifier directly. Indeed, in my system I preferred the sound of Romulus driving Soulution from the system even with ultra-minimalistic Ayon Audio Polaris III [Custom Version] preamplifier. It did not change when Soulution was replaced with Dan D’Agostino's Momentum Stereo.

With or without preamplifier in a system?

This question has been around 'forever', but the answer is still the same – it depends... I'm not trying to avoid giving a clear answer, it truly depends in a particular system on two main factors: what is the class of a preamplifier integrated in a source (that's a situation when you might even think about skipping having a separate preamplifier), and is it capable of driving particular power amplifier. Usually designers of a power amplifier have in mind that it would most likely work with a regular, separate preamplifier, that could offer proper gain, that buffers signal and deals with volume control. So when one decides not to use a preamplifier and thus connect a CD Player with adjustable output signal directly to a power amplifier, one should base such decision on his experience, and on whether or not he likes the sound. And while the intuition might tell us that „less is more”, so skipping one, two, or more gain stages should result in a better sound, in fact usually what we get is quite the opposite. It does work mostly when the whole system is designed to work this way, like the one made by Ancient Audio, for example, which includes a CD Player/preamplifier and power amplifiers.

Maybe 10, or 15 years ago a similar sound signature was offered by Wadia players. It was warm, three-dimensional sound, with slightly softened attack, and warm midrange made CDs sound really nice despite problems CD Players had at that time. That's why Wadia was such a popular brand at that time and it was a popularity well earned.
But the perception, also of a sound, changes over time. Today Wadia's sound would be perceived as significantly colored. Sure it would be still a very nice sound, but slightly dull, with resolution and selectivity that could not compete with what is offered by presently manufactured digital players. Romulus somehow reminded me of the sound of Wadia 851, but without its 'problems'. It delivers a warm, but not 'warmed up' sound – there is a difference. ‘Warmed up’ means ‘colored’, while ‘warm’ – means ‘rich’, and is opposite to a ‘cold’ sound. This expression doesn't carry so much weight as 'warmed up'.
Aesthetix delivers huge, 'free' sound, which reminded me of Ayon Audio CD-5s Special. But it seems that Romulus offers sound with better focus. Bass might not be so well extended, so thunderous, but I don't think anybody will complain about that.
The instruments are shown quite up close to the listener, and they seem very palpable. I think it is a question of slightly emphasized lower midrange, but it is really not some obvious coloration. It looks like it is a premeditated choice, because it makes the sound of Romulus what it is – it creates its volume, size and dynamics. A feature that everybody liked so much about old Wadia, and now about, for example, Mark Levinson No.512 and emm Labs XDS1 Signature Edition is how three dimensional they sound was.

Romulus joins this club, delivering not only large, but also palpable, „physical” objects throughout the whole frequency range.
The picture stays very clear, sharp though. This is a high-end Player in every aspect, including resolution. To verify that, I listened to some CD recordings and compared them with the copies of their master-tapes that I had on CD-Rs. That's how some labels prepare their special formats like UDH - First Impression Music, and T-TOC. Differences between master-tape and 'regular', pressed CD are quite significant and always in favor of CD-R copy. I think this is why such formats like XRCD are so successful – part of the recipe was to shorten the 'path' between recording studio and final product. But even than there are still several stages and each of them might introduce some distortions. Anyway – differences were clear and Romulus presented them nicely without hesitation. It relayed much better dynamics, better focus and simple better, more interesting overall presentation from CD-R. It did it in its own way though. It showed clearly differences between sizes of instruments and the distance between them and listener. This confirmed my early impressions. Changes in dynamics were also clear, although not so significant – a regular, pressed CD delivered 'flatter' dynamics; CD-R more 'explosive' one – both of these features were slightly emphasized by Romulus.

The performance of this devices might seem slightly limited as its selectivity is not as good as of some other high-end devices. Recently I had a discussion with Andrzej Kisiel, chief editor in „Audio” magazine, during which he asked me how would I define a difference between resolution and selectivity. He was right to point out to me something, that I maybe subconsciously already knew, that too much or too little selectivity is a always a problem. But on the other hand resolution can't be too good, it is always not good enough.
So if we understand selectivity in this way, than when talking about Romulus we should say that there is bit too little selectivity. This is not perfectly clean and clear sound with everything perfectly 'visible'. One could even recognize this sound as less open than what one remembers from other devices with similar sonic signature. And in some way one would be right. Strong, crisp cymbals on Coltrane, Niemen's Katharsis, electronics on new Diorama's Even Devil Doesn’t Care - all that was bit too quiet, it sounded bit too nice. If I remember correctly I used exactly the same words when I summarized a review of Devialet D-Premier AIR. Both devices show the music in a slightly more beautiful way than it really is, they don't allow any harshness, brightness, or any graininess in the treble. Bass is gently softened at the very bottom, but the rest of it is truly taut which creates impression that all of it is equally well controlled. But the impression is not the same thing as a certain fact, so after some intense listening one might arrive at conclusion that one would appreciate a bit more dynamics from a kick drum, for example. That's a trade-off for something else, that's a real life.

The most important thing

When reviewing a multipurpose device, like Romulus, a reviewer has to consider many things that can be skipped when dealing with other type of device. He has to sort its properties, decide which might be the most important for potential buyer, which were important for its designers, and which are important for him. Yes, for him – in this case, for me. The most important question I ask myself when listening to any device is: do I like it? It seems like a subjective approach? Maybe, but I think it's the only one that makes sense, objective sens. Gathering experience from dozens, hundreds, or even (yes, it's been THAT many years already) thousands of listening sessions with different devices, using all my experience also from other fields, I always try to get to the point, and the point being: the „good” sound, which is as close to what I can hear on live concerts, as only possible, after taking into consideration one, but CRUCIAL correction – I need to remember that recording is a totally different world from live performance, so it can't sound the same.
In this particular case I needed to ask additional questions: how does this device perform as a CD Player, as a D/A converter, as a CD Player/preamplifier and finally as DAC/preamplifier. Plus there is one more additional question – how does USB input perform – I know it's a part of D/A converter, but quite a particular/significant part nowadays.

The answer to the question no 1 is very simple – I've never thought that a device at this price level could offer such a great performance. That's an assessment of the device as a whole. Another device I reviewed recently that performed so well was Ayon Audio CD-3s, but still Romulus surprised me with its finesse. Tonally Ayon's sound was similar, and it had more to offer in terms of functionality. But it was Romulus that made me spend long nights listening to the music via my headphones. Of course I realized that there was slight emphasis on lower end, and I knew that definition of sounds could be better, but I still loved this sound. The Austrian player delivers bigger, more open sound, which should work in many systems where Romulus might seems too warm sounding, or too restricted.
It was no coincident that I compared it to much more expensive players like Levinson and emm Labs (it might also not be a coincident that all three of them come from USA) – they all share similar „spirit”, similar „view” on music, on what's more, and what's less important. All of them present instruments as 3D objects, the acoustic surrounding is nicely presented, but only what's close to the instrument, all the rest is quickly gone. All of them are mostly about sustained part of sound, all put some emphasis on lower midrange which makes the sound even more palpable.
Additional pros of Aesthetix are USB input and volume control. It is one of very few digital players that doesn't need an external preamplifier to sound very good. And it is because of its specific tonality. Mine version of Solaris III, reworked by Gerhard Hirt himself, added some more richness to the sound. But after some time I realized that I didn't need that as the definition of sound wasn't as sharp, as without it. System without preamplifier offered better selectivity, but not necessarily less rich sound. I checked that with my Soulution 710, and with Dan D’Agostino's Momentum Stereo, which are two very differently sounding devices.
And there is one more thing – an USB input is licensed from Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio. Gordon's creation called Streamlength Asynchronous USB, used by Jim White, the owner of Aesthetix, is one of the best solutions on market. Jim simply made a good use of the licensed technology based on programmable XMOS chip. That ensured that Romulus, when used with computer as a source, delivers very rich, colorful, dynamic sound. Sound was even more 3-dimensional as from CD, and the differences between instruments were even clearer. On the other hand dynamics and resolution were slightly worse. In general the class of performance you get from a CD and when USB input is used, is the same, at least as long as the latter is used in a proper way.


It doesn't really take me much effort to declare in a short form what I think about Romulus. It's a very simple case, really. Sound delivered by it is enchanting and involving. Its additional functions complement the CD Player perfectly, and I mean both, USB input and a volume control that were both implemented in a clever way. It will not fit into all possible systems though. If your system already lacks a bit of resolution, selectivity, or it delivers plenty of bass than I would suggest looking for some other player, like Ayon CD-3s for example. But if your system is well balanced, or maybe its sound could use a bit of richness/weight, than Romulus might be your Mount Everest, Northern and Southern Pool, your musical nirvana.


The test was an A-B comparison with the A and B known. Manufacturer used just five, small, rubber feet under it, which seems to call to the future owner to replace them with something better. I used three Finite Elemente CeraBalls, and than placed it on Acoustc Revive RAF-48H platform. I used Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version power cable. This player was tested in my system with Ayon Audio Polaris III preamplifier, but during most listening session Romulus drove directly either Soulution 710 or Dan D’Agostino Momentum Stereo power amplifiers. It was clear it performed better without an external preamplifier in the system. A Windows 8 computer with SSD 128 GB, 8 GB RAM and Jplay5 software player on board was connected to the USB input with Acoustic Revive USB 5.0 PL cable.


Romulus from Aesthetix is a very good example of fast growing subcategory of digital sources, that combine in one box two, and sometimes even three different devices, that are usually sold separately. In this case it's a CD Player, D/A converter with USB input, and a preamplifier, a three-in-one device. There is one thing missing that is included in its Austrian competitor Ayon Audio CD-3s – analogue inputs. There is one special thing about Romulus – you can order it with or without CD transport, when it's without it's called Pandora. That confirms that it is truly a CD transport and a DAC put in one box, and not just some marketing line to describe a CD Player with digital inputs.
Romulus is quite large, solidly build device, but it differs a bit from other devices. Usually CD players and DACs have their insides closed in all sorts of shielding to protects the circuits from EM and RF noise. When you have a look at Romulus, you'll see that a transport, a microprocessor for a display, and two power transformers are enclosed in shielding cage right next to the front of the device. But there are large slots in the shielding to allow access of air for cooling purposes. The whole enclosure is build of thick aluminum plates, but the top cover has a form of a grid actually, also to allow better heat dissipation. That grid allows you to see through it, so tubes and some circuits are visible from outside.

The enclosure is quite large and rigid. The looks is also different from many other devices. Usually the front panel is bigger than the outline of the device, sometimes outline and front have exactly the same size. It looks different here – the front panel rather fits into the outline created but side panels, top cover and bottom. The shape of push-buttons is characteristic for Aesthetix – a triangle, that refers to company's logo. In the middle of the front panel there is a large, blue display that combines alpha-numeric LED modules. It's divided into two sections – the smaller one indicates the time of particular CD track, or the sampling frequency for digital input, and the larger displays number of tracks, number of particular track, or the actual volume. The latter is shown only for a short moment for a CD playback, and all the time, when any digital input is used. The are also some blue LEDs sitting next to display to indicate a repeat mode, phase, and locking the signal from external transport. I guess these would look better if the shade of blue was the same as display's, I also think that they shine too bright. Push-buttons allow you to change active input, to activate 'mute” mode, to switch the display off, and, if you have to, to operate a CD player. Most of us are used to having button opening a drawer placed next to it – Aesthetix decided to place a „mute” button there instead – that's w bit counter-intuitive. The remote control could use some work too – it's not pretty, and not very handy either, although you can use it to control volume, change the phase, and chose which part of the display should be active.
The back panel is divided into sections. On the left side there are outputs: balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA ones (it is a balanced device), in the middle there is a power inlet and remote trigger, and on the right there are digital inputs – this layout looked a bit Accuphase-like to me. There are three slots for digital inputs boards, but the reviewed unit had only two used –one with USB input, and the other with AES/EBU, RCA and TOSLINK sockets. All inputs accept signal up to 24 bits and 192 kHz. There is a small switch next to the USB input that allows user to chose between Class 1 USB input that accepts signal up to 24/96, and Class 2 USB accepting 24/192. If you decide to use the latter, for Windows you'll need a special driver delivered by manufacturer. The USB input works in asynchronous mode, which means that signal is buffered in receivers circuit and than re-clocked with DAC's own precise oscillators.

The cover is fixed with Velcro – surprise, right? But it makes tube rolling very simple. You can also try to listen to Romulus with top cover off – that changes the sound slightly too. The electronic circuit is divided into three parts. In the front there is a large can with transport mechanism and power supply. The transport mechanism is a Red Book TEAC's CD mechanism It is not very quiet and it's made of plastic, but it works fast and reliable. The rest of the circuit, that is not closed in a can, is divided into two parts with a vertical shielding. The smaller circuit is for digital inputs, the larger for D/A converter. The USB input is based on XMOS chip, with Gordon Rankin's software created for his own D/A USB Wavelength Audio converters. Streamlength Asynchronous USB was so innovative, and worked so well in many different implementations that it became very popular and many brands licensed it to use it in their own products, which Aesthetix did too. The circuit is mounted on a replaceable, vertical board, that might be upgraded/replaced in the future (possibly for a circuit that will process also DSD and PCM 32/384). Other digital inputs deliver signal to AKM AK4118 receiver. RCA and AES/EBU inputs are buffered with impedance matching transformers. Both boards are installed in the larger, horizontally placed motherboard with a large Motorola DSP chip that holds also Aesthetix proprietary digital filters. Also a signal from CD transport goes there. Next to this chip sits its own nice oscillator, and there are four more next to the DAC chips.

On the other side of the shield there is a very nice D/A converter section. There is a Burr Brown PCM1792 DAC that accepts balanced current signal. Usually I/U conversion is done inside a chip (very few companies like Ancient Audio for example, do that in a passive way), because it ensures low level of distortions and noise. Aesthetix decided to use tubes for that purpose. Not any tubes, but selected NOS ones (New Old Stock) - Telefunken's E83CCS, that are cooled and shielded with EAT Cool Damper metal dampers. These tubes are coupled with the next section sporting 6922EH Electro-Harmonix, with parallel REL-CAP capacitors. The same, but larger values, capacitors couple 6922s with output. There is a simple volume control section right before the latter. So it looks like quite a complex preamplifier with a buffered output rather than a simple circuit with attenuator in the output. That's an option that is mounted on a vertical board plugged with gold plated pins. Attenuator is not a typical circuit – it's a hybrid design with a chip that executes attenuation in 1 dB steps with a beautiful resistor ladder, with precise, metallic resistors switched with relays in 6dB steps. The power supply is also quite complex. It works continuously, also in „standby” mode, which is indicated with LEDs that are on. Each section has its own regulators, each sports a large number of Nichicon caps. Separate transformers power DAC section, transport mechanism, and digital section.
It looks as well made as all other sections of this device accept for a CD transport mechanism. It does its job very well, although it can't match the quality of top drives from Philips or Esoteric. Taking into consideration that one has to spend only additional 4 kPLN for build in CD transport I wouldn't look for an external one – all those cables, distortions and so on are not worth it.

Polish Distributor
SoundClub Sp. z o.o.
ul. Skrzetuskiego 42
02-726 Warszawa

tel.: 22 586 3270 | fax: 22 586 3271



  • 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