Desktop Headphone System of the Year
Questyle ‘Golden Reference’ Stack
Like dCS’s powerful Vivaldi digital playback system, the Questyle stack relies on four separate boxes to deliver what might just be the ultimate in headphone performance. Essentially dividing digital playback and headphone replay into separate DSD-ready DAC, preamplifier, and two monophonic amplifiers designed for balanced dual mono Current Mode headphone systems. This means, only the best of the best possible headphone systems need apply, but they are met with some of the finest audio we’ve ever heard wired to a pair of ‘cans’. The gold finish might be cosmetic, but each component in this stack features higher tolerance, better specification components, all mounted on a custom thick-film ceramic PCB for the best possible performance.
In our test, Alan Sircom was awe-struck. “The performance of one goes with and builds upon the performance of the others,” he said, “and there’s a sense that if you start with any one device, the others will logically follow.”
Reviewed in Hi-Fi+ Issue 137
Portable Audio Component of the Year
iFi Audio Micro iDAC2
The word ‘Micro’ is partly misleading, as the only things ‘micro’ about this product are its size and its price. Its aspirations and performance are anything but! Replacing the popular iDAC, the iDAC2 is a major refit for the brand, right down to changing the DAC chip itself, from ESS to Burr Brown’s True Native architecture, allowing full DSD256 and 24-bit, 384kHz PCM performance. The iDAC also includes a 350mV Class A amplifier section free from coupling capacitors in the output stage, and a scaled down version of parent company AMR’s Zero Jitter circuit.
When testing the iFi iDAC2, Eric Neff was blown away by how so much performance can come from so small a box “The recreation of the recording environment is preserved, allowing the artist’s delivery the completeness it deserves.”. He also found the iDAC2 had “a highly engaging presentation across a variety of headphone styles.” He also felt “It has the power to drive most headphones without issue, and the Burr-Brown chip implementation allows for the delivery of the audio file natively without conversion degradation.” In short, it’s a little marvel!
Reviewed in Hi-Fi+ Issue 134