Author Topic: Aqua La Voce DAC  (Read 2506 times)

Offline Air

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Re: Aqua La Voce DAC
« Reply #45 on: July 02, 2018, 09:15:28 AM »
@Gavin, Adriano, Talib and Nidri
Thanks for the visits over the past week or two. It was great meeting and re-connecting  :mates:
We listened to some amazing music and my Deezer playlist has now some new favourites that I immediately shared with my family and friends.

In terms of the equipment, your comments said it all, except maybe that I was totally surprised how well the amp(Pathos TT) and Rosso Fiorentino Fiesole's worked together given that the Fiesole is rated at 86.5 dBSpl (2.83V/1m)and the TT a "measly" 35W of single-ended power. It seems of one of those elusive combinations that this synergise and make music. I will share more about these components under Airmusic section.

The focus of the visits was, however, the Aqua La Voce S3 dac. Once again, those who listened to the S3 (and we compared it to quite a few other designs) said it all I believe. My own impressions are that it is a component that excels at tonality, harmonic structure, dimensionality and creates a huge soundstage and that all of this is done not at the expense of drive and detail. It has a liquidness that I think once heard, it is difficult, at least for me, to live without. It weaves the music in an organic whole that sets it apart from other designs and components. As an analogy, I would say it is the same virtue that a very good SET brings to the party. Most of the other Dacs that in my humble view sounded more mechanical and hifi like.

Keep in mind that the listening sessions was never intended to be a "shoot out" we merely wanted to get a good understanding of what the S3 sounds like against a number of other design.

So we also were particularly interested in how the S3 compares with the S2, The pcm1704 based unit. Firstly I think that the 2 versions share many qualities such as the liquidness, the ability to articulate the subtle harmonic structure of the music and the organic ebb and flow if music. They also share that elusive quality to present detail in a relaxed and integrated manner into a coherent whole, that SET like quality. this quality is what I think many would say is like a good analogue set up. This makes that one can listen to music, even at high sound levels without getting tired at all. One of the visitors remarked that usually, he finds that a system irritates his ears after listening for 30 minutes but he can keep on listening to music with this Italian system without any of that irritation(after an hour and a half). They also have the same dynamic ability and drive.

So where do they differ? I would say that the S3 has more meat around the bones, it has more fullness to the sound and a richness than the S2. Nidri's comment was initially that he refers the S2 as he is used to the presentation, and I then remarked that the S2 has a slightly more laid back presentation. In the end, after some further listening and listening to another Dac, Nidri then said he thinks the S3 has even more detail and a holographic soundstage than the S2. I agree with this observation.

Finally, I would say that the S3 is midway between the S2 and the La Scala. It almost sounds as if there is a valve in the output stage. I would never feel done in with the S2, but I would think that it would be a very good match for a system that is slightly full and ripe. Let's say a small valve amp, maybe a single-ended system or an EL34 system with a rich-sounding speaker. The S3's fullness will do wonders for a system that is perhaps slightly lean or neutral.

I am sure there are great products out there but happy, very happy that my path crossed with the Aqua units.



Offline Stanp

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Re: Aqua La Voce DAC
« Reply #46 on: July 11, 2018, 10:26:36 AM »
Well, my S3 arrived yesterday, thank you Stefan, AKA Air.

Had the S2 just been made DSD compatible, I would have been more than happy because the S2 is a wonderful DAC. But Aqua have excelled themselves with the S3, there are indeed sonic improvements. I must state now that I am writing this review relying on my memory of how the S2 sounds, we all know that this is far from ideal, however, I can't do otherwise.

I listened to the S3 until midnight- that is how good it is. I played my favorite Jazz artist- Carol Kidd- two of her SACD's. Her voice and the instruments sounded so incredibly real. Then I listened to Best Audiophile voices- xrcd; once again it sounded so natural. Lastly I listened to Fiona Joy Hawkins- genre - New age. She is an excellent pianist. I like using this CD to evaluate a system, because I know it well and a piano is a great instrument to do an evaluation. Her playing the piano sounded so realistic, across the whole spectrum.

Listening to the acoustic guitar on Carol Kidds CDs sounded like the real thing.

What stands out to me when comparing the two DACs, is that with the S3, the bass is more defined and deeper. The imaging is slightly better.

The best compliment that I can give Aqua DAC's is that they make music sound like a live performance.

I am now very content with my source. I will never sell this DAC because I don't need anything better than this. To me it is perfection. I highly recommend the S3 to any potential DAC buyer. Stefan, thank you once again for this superb DAC  :thumbs: