Begin typing your search above and press return to search. Press Esc to cancel.

Ideon Absolute ε digital converter

There are two big and obvious issues with the Ideon Absolute ε. The first is it is bloody heavy! It comes supplied in a flight case, which adds to its shipped mass (but also makes it highly unlikely to be damaged in transit), but a solid billet of aluminium machined out to make a full-size clamshell case is never going to be light. Add in the transformers and you are looking at a DAC that weighs in at a healthy 28kg, which is more than many power amplifiers.

The other issue is burn in. While the DAC sounds good straight out of the box, it does go through one of those ‘good, then bad, then good again’ warm-up curves, and the whole process takes hundreds of hours to finish. To make matters worse, that warm-up requires a little more than just having power running through it and it seems to condition faster if you actively feed it digits from different sources. I’m not altogether sure whether this was simply hasty listening on different sources, but I had the distinct impression that if you gave the USB 100 hours and the S/PDIF input 300 hours of running in, you could hear the difference in performance between the two inputs. This sounds odd because once you get past the input stage, the datastream is passing through the same circuit, but it might be because that USB port has its additional noise-filtering circuit.

I used the Ideon DAC in balanced mode (if you use it in single-ended, it’s essentially a down-shifted balanced mode rather than single-ended operating in pseudo-balanced) into my Burmester 088/911 Mk 3 pre-power amp and from there into Wilson Audio Duette 2 loudspeakers, using Nordost cable throughout. I fed it a diet of USB from my Melco N10 music server as well as S/PDIF from both a Naim Uniti Core and a Hegel Mohican CD player.

This is a DAC of rare subtlety and finesse, like a synthesis of all the good things of all the best DACs with none of the idiosyncrasies. It demands you take it seriously and approach its settings with careful consideration, ideally performed over weeks of listening. None of which makes it good for the quick-fire movements of a review sample, where such a device is in constant short supply. The same likely holds in demonstrations, where no matter how much run-in, that finesse of combining the DAC with your tastes and your system takes weeks, all of which cannot be performed in a single listening test no matter how involved. That isn’t meant to excuse the Ideon DAC – because no such excuses are needed or demanded – but suggests that no matter how good that listening experience in the demonstration room or in a home audition, there’s still a lot more to be had from the Ideon Absolute ε.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

Tags: DIGITAL CONVERTER IDEON ABSOLUTE ε

Read Next From Review

See all
Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc Isolator feet
REVIEW

Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc Isolator feet

Feet don't fail me now! Clever isolation feet from Franc Audio use ceramic to isolate your components from the world entire, according to Jason Kennedy.

Davone Meander all-in-one system
REVIEW

Davone Meander all-in-one system

Classic Scandinavian design and clever, innovative all-in-one streaming technology... what's not to like?

Thales TTT-Slim II, Simplicity II, X-quisite CA turntable, arm and cartridge
REVIEW

Thales TTT-Slim II, Simplicity II, X-quisite CA turntable, arm and cartridge

With a battery-driven turntable and clever tracking pivoted arm, Swiss turntable brand Thales is one of the hidden treasures of audio.

PrimaLuna Evo 400 integrated amplifier
REVIEW

PrimaLuna Evo 400 integrated amplifier

PrimaLuna represents a fine mix of high-end audio and pure-valve performance without stratospheric pricing, but does the top integrated amp in the company's popular EVO line cut the musical mustard?

Sign Up To Our Newsletter