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DSD sounded wonderful via the Asher, presented in a way that reminds one of what makes DSD so appealing. Namely, the analog like ease and the added bit of naturalness. I enjoyed a slew of ripped SACD titles including various Moody Blues, Miles Davis, and Bob Dylan albums. One that stood out was the Japanese SHM import of B.B. King’s Live At The Regal. The recording puts you right in the club with King and his extraordinary band, and the Asher brought the full power of the performance and the ambience of the venue to the listening room.
With only a handful of DSD128 albums in the library, I chose the wonderful Suryodaya by Robert Gupta and Badal Roy, and the excellent Seminole Star by Quiles & Cloud. To my ears, DSD128 is the sweet spot for DSD, and the Asher only strengthened this view. These all acoustic recordings were just amazingly present. Both these albums are recommended, not just for the immaculate sound, but for the content.
I tried to the various filters for both PCM (Fast/Slow) and DSD (50/60/70 kHz) and ultimately left it at the Fast setting for PCM, and at 50 kHz for DSD. I did not experiment with the Polarity setting. I briefly tried the built in volume control and it was indeed of very high fidelity. Tons of usable range there was an amazing immediacy when plugged directly into my Simaudio 760A power amp. I did ultimately prefer running the DAC through my tubed preamp because of the added tube magic, and because I also have reel to reel sources. But I have to say, If you have no other sources, I see no reason to run a preamp. It will eliminate a second set of interconnects and will require one less box. The Asher comes standard with a remote control, by the way, which tips the balance even further.
There are a lot of DAC models on the market to choose from. And just about all them now decode DSD, even higher sample rate DSD. When deciding on a DAC for your system I believe that sonics come first, and then feature set, build quality, and the design follow. Funjoe of CLONES Audio has hit it out of the park on all fronts in my humble opinion.
The sound of the Asher DAC is absolutely on par with DAC models I have had in my system over the past year costing more. In some cases it outflanks them on feature set and definitely equals them in build quality. I make no claim it is the last word, spending much more may get you more, but boy, I can see most astute listeners being quite impressed.
If you are searching for a smartly designed and implemented DAC, that decodes all known resolutions, with built in volume control and user selectable filters, the Asher DAC should be on your very short list. It sounds excellent and is supported by a reputable US importer/dealer. Contact Mark Sossa at Well Pleased AV if your curiosity is piqued. Very highly recommended product.
CLONES Audio Asher DAC
: $2300http://wellpleasedav.com/ www.clonesaudio.com
- DSD 64/128/256 and DXD (384KHz 24bit PCM) compatible
- Galvanic isolation module for USB section to eliminate computer noise from the audio signal
- Ultra-Low Phase Noise Femto Master Clock Module
- Power supply has separate toroidal transformers for analogue and digital section
- Latest Ultra-Low noise discrete regulator modules for digital part
- Remote Control Feature
- AES/EBU, COAX, OPT up to 192kHz
- USB/I2S: PCM 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384kHz; DSD64, DSD128, DSD256
- ESS Reference audio (ES9018) 32 bit DAC (4x per channel)
- Automatic oversampling for precise output filtering
- VFD display for input, sample rate, volume control, and configuration
- Remote control with features such as control and phase inversion
- Defeatable – 32 bit volume control
- 1x Coax input
- 1X BNC input
- 1x Toslink input
- 1x AES/EBU input
- 1x I2S input
- Proprietary drivers for 32/64 bit Windows XP, Vista, 7 and Mac OSX
- Factory selectable mains 115/230VAC
- Dimensions: 12.5 x 10 x 3.5
- Weight: 6kg
- 2 year warranty
DAC: Bryston BDA-3
Server: Bryston BDP-2
Tape Deck: Revox A77, Revox B77
Preamp: Aric Audio Unlimited
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55, Simaudio 760A
Speaker: Bryston Mini T
Cables: WireWorld analog and power, Acoustic Zen, Element Cable, DH Labs, iFi
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks and Svelte Shelves, Shakti Stone, Bryston BIT-15, Salamander rack
Music Server: SOtM sMS-100 w/ Battery XPS
Preamp: Aric Audio Expression, Belles Soloist 3
DAC/Streamer: Simaudio 280D w MiND
Power Amplifier: Onkyo M5000R
Tape Deck: Sony TC-350
Speaker: Magnepan MMG, Spendor S35R
Cables: WireWorld analog and power, DH Labs
Accessories: Cable Pro Noisetrapper, iFi iPower, Audience aR6