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George 47

Audiophellio SPDiF/USB Convertor

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Audiophilleo1 MKII SE USB to S/PDIF Processor with DSD Support and PurePower

James Duncan – Product Reviewer


The Audiophillio1 MKII SE USB to S/PDIF Processor with DSD Support and PurePower (RRP £1,529.00 at time of review) is a device that in a nutshell will take your computer based digital source material and then present to your DAC of choice the removal of another layer of sludge. Essentially giving you the best, cleanest start in the chain that delivers music to your ears. More information from:

http://www.audiophilleo.com/Audiophilleo1

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First Impressions and Setup

As soon as you remove the package from the box you are presented with a stunning silver flight case. Flip the clips up and you are presented with a certificate with your serial number and some quick start instructions. Delve a bit further and behind the certificate you find the devices snuggly fitted into individual compartments giving the impression that these people care.

In the case, you will find the USB S/PDIF converter itself, USB A-B cable from Wireworld, Purepower unit with its power cable, and a host of S/PDIF BNC adapters giving you various connection options and an infrared connector.

Set up is a doddle as the cables supplied have a sticker telling you where to plug them into and the labelling on the devices themselves is also clear. It literally took me less than 5 minutes before I was merrily listening to music. Nothing worse than something that is complex and requires you to follow a long list of specific instructions before the fun can start.

There are also some useful short instructional videos on YouTube created by the manufacturer well worth checking out - https://www.youtube.com/user/Audiophilleo

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Technical Bit

So, where does this pairing come in for you?

If you use a computer based source (be that a streaming bridge, a laptop, or even a NAS) connected to your DAC via USB, then this device will help you out tremendously. Many people over the years complain about how music stored on a computer sounds (fatiguing, terse and downright uninvolving). Electrical noise and jitter artefacts are often identified as the blame for these terse experiences many complain about. How then can we deal with these issues in today’s climate of convenience yet not sacrifice on musical engagement? Well this Audiophilleo pairing make a very good effort to eliminate these issues for you, and attempt to get you a more analog-like sound (where many even today still prefer to venture towards for true audio bliss and musical connection at an emotional level).

They do this via two main methods, one via Data re-clocking and two, power regeneration. The PurePower prevents high frequency noise from your computer based source of choice from entering the signal path via your DAC because there is no electrical connection between the two, clever stuff huh?

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So, with the Audiophillieo1 MKII re-clocking data timing before making its way to your DAC (the device with its OLED display plugs directly into the S/PDIF input on your DAC – or you can use one of the adapters to use a digital RCA cable between Audiophilleo1 and DAC) and the PurePower taking care of those pesky electrical noise elements, your DAC gets the best introduction possible and eases the way forward to that audio nirvana we all crave.

Additionally, you can use the Audiophillieo1’s built in dithered volume control, implemented in software with left/right channel tracking, as well as linearity. It uses a sub-Nyquist noise-dithered algorithm to deliver 0.5 dB attenuation steps from 0 to -20 dB, accurate to 0.05 dB, and 1.0 dB steps from -20 dB to -72 dB. What does this mean in plain English, you get a nice slow progression in volume rather than bigger increments, giving you more control over getting the right volume for you. If this is not for you and you prefer to just use your DAC/Pre-Amp to control volume, you can disable this feature in the software using the joystick on the unit itself.

In terms of sample rates, the Audiophilleo1 supports 24 bits up to 192 kHz – DSD64 over DoP. No driver is required for OS X, Linux and Windows XP operating systems for 192 kHz 24 Bits. Windows Vista and 7 require a driver however for 176/192 kHz. The SE unit (reviewed here), supports up to 384 kHz - DSD128 under Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10, OSX, and Linux.

For more on the technical side you can wing your way over to the manufacturers site here http://www.audiophilleo.com/Audiophilleo1 or if you really want to dig into how dithered volume control works you can knock yourself out with a read of Nika Aldrich’s article here - http://www.users.qwest.net/~volt42/cadenzarecording/DitherExplained.pdf

Sound

The system used in the review is comprised of: -  Auralic Aries Lightning Streaming bridge -  Lindemann Musicbook: 10 DAC/Preamp -  Octave RE 320 Power Amplifier - Audio Physic Codex Loudspeakers - ISOL-8 Substation Integra Power Conditioner and Studio Connections Reference cables.

Having spent many, many hours with my system as above, I know my favourite recordings extremely well. I’ve used some of those recordings for many years while auditioning kit for my own system. So, I like to think I’d know if any new addition enhances, diminishes or pretty much makes no real difference to my experience and enjoyment of said recordings. I typically go to Angus and Julia Stone – Down The Way and track ‘Draw Your Swords’. I know this track so well and for me it is jam packed with emotion starting with Angus Stone and bringing in Julia’s voice in the background. I usually play this track late at night when the street and house are quiet. I waited until the Audiophilleo devices were fully burned in before I subjected them to this powerful track. From soft instrumental at the start of the track to the point Angus utters the first line of vocals I was smitten. Just an ultraclean yet musical presentation that made me grin immediately. I’ve heard this track in lesser systems and while ok, never before has it been delivered with this level of precision. It left me motionless in my listening chair, not wishing to move a muscle. I was completely absorbed. As the track builds up with Angus almost shouting out towards the end, I quite honestly closed my eyes and felt I was there. This type of experience has been rare for me in all the system configurations I’ve had to date.

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Moving on to some Melanie De Biasio – No Deal and track ‘With All My Love’.  Again, jam packed with emotion, I just love her haunting yet soft tonal range. This again is a track that I normally like to play late at night and again remain motionless so that I can soak it all in with minimal distraction. With the Audiophilleo engaged, I just could not begin to believe how much more detail could be extracted from this recording. Some two and a half minutes into the track you get cymbals, soft vocals from De Biasio, then at 4 minutes and 13 seconds in you get hit by a huge bass drum thump. If you were too relaxed at this point, the bass wakes you fully up. I was gobsmacked.

Move on to any genre of music and the experience is similar, it won’t however make a sloppy recording sound less sloppy, and it won’t make an MP3 sound like a 16 or 24 bit FLAC File. However, feed it a well recorded and mastered file and you will be richly rewarded. After a period with these devices you’ll wish you had them in your system years ago, perhaps staving off the relentless hunger for upgrades many of us Hi Fi folk love to engage in.

Summary

If you love the convenience of having a large collection of music files, accessible to you with the flick of a finger on your smart device of choice, yet you want to maintain that emotional connection with your music, then this product offering from Audiophilleo should be at the top of your list. Out of the box it makes an immediate impact, but when fully burned in, you truly are in for a real tour de force experience, that I can promise you. If you have a weakness in your system, it will be further down the layer stack. The only real down side that I can see, if you are inclined to nit-pick, is that it does introduce 2 more boxes albeit small and more cabling. For the lift in performance and return of true musical engagement from digital files, I can live with these downsides very happily. So much so, I’ve decided to purchase this pairing myself, what more can I say?

A REALREVIEW by James Duncan

For further information on this review or if you would like a REALREVIEW on any of your products please contact the content team on press@hifiwigwam.com

 

 

 

Edited by George 47
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