CLONES Audio, based in Hong Kong, has been one of my favorite small, artisanal hifi purveyors for a few years now. I was turned on to CLONES Audio by some very knowing ears. In my direct experience, their Gainclone amplifiers are something special. The products are superbly made, and the product line is well thought out. The best part is the products are affordable. The proprietor of CLONES Audio calls himself Funjoe, and he is an especially talented designer and a very passionate individual.
I’ve been around the block with a CLONES Audio components, including their 25p power amplifier, 25iR integrated amplifier, and others. I found the components to offer exceptionally high value considering the price, build, and sound quality. CLONES currently has a very capable American importer with Mark Sossa of Well Pleased AV on board. This is most welcomed news for those interested in the brand.
Funjoe recently poured much of his talent and resources into developing his statement digital component, the Asher DAC. The DAC retails for $2300. It covers all bases resolution wise, and delivers all the currently in demand features. On paper, it even seems future proof. So what do you get with the Asher?
-DSD 64/128/256 and DXD (384KHz 24bit PCM)
-Galvanic isolation module for USB section
-UltraLow Phase Noise Femto Master Clock Module
-High quality power supply with separate toroidal transformers for Analog and Digital section -UltraLow noise discrete regulator modules for digital part
-ESS Reference audio (ES9018) 32 bit DAC (4x per channel)
-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
My job is to be objective, but I can’t help but be impressed at the feature set at this price point. Femto clocks are generally very expensive options, seen in far costlier digital components. Built-in volume control, phase inversion, a remote control unit, AES/EBU inputs, as well as I2S inputs makes the package very attractive. I believe Funjoe can do this because he really believes in building the very best product he can, with few compromises, yet still making it affordable.
To sum up Funjoe’s philosophy in what he wants to give his customers, he says, “I know some of you might think I do things in an obsessive way. Not many of you will care. But I want to say I insist on those obsessive ways just because I really want to do the best that I can! You all may not know the difference but I do. So I can’t cheat myself if there still is room for improvement. Details are everything…”