Players, CD Transports
Mephisto II.x Transport
Lurné - the man and chief designer behind Audiomeca -
developed one of the most musical CD transports/players
available today. A friend of mine owns this transport and uses it
together with an Orpheus Labaratories DAC (which includes upsampling
conversion by Anagram Technologies - as does the Mephisto CD player).
This is the best and most enjoyable performance from CDs I've
experienced so far. Resolution, timbre, rhythm and timing are superb.
One can listen for hours to his beloved CDs and have a lot of fun.
Definitely worth the asking price, if you are willing to spend that
much cash for your equipment.
only caveat: Older Mephisto transports/players tend to
have problems reading some
kinds of CDs (for example, a burnt disc or a disc produced with
implemented copy protection). As far as I know, this is no longer a
problem with the .x version.
Küng CD modifications
Küng is an electronic engineer born in Vorarlberg - one of the
nine provinces of Austria, and has lived for quite a while in Vienna,
Austria's capital. Martin is specialised in CD-player/DAC-modifications
as well as in producing accessories to enhance your listening
pleasure, for example, special power filters and various cables
(power cords, speaker- as well as interconnect cables). Why do I
mention him on this list?
easy. Let's say your budget is restricted and you can't afford world
class CD equipment for EUR 5,000 plus. But you have a decent CD
player in the EUR 700 to EUR 1,500 range. With Martin's modifications
- which can be ordered in stages to fit your budget needs - you come
'pretty damn' close to the performance level of state-of-the-art
equipment and save a lot of cash, which you can use to buy more great
music on CD. His modifications of a CD player comprise improvements
in the power supply, super clean voltage regulation, etc.
Additionally, he has developed over the years a deep knowledge of the
interaction of components and materials used, to the advantage of his
modifications (this has to be highlighted, especially in our European
ROHS times - see my link to a TNT-Audio interview with Graham Slee
under 'Interesting Topics' on this site).
Küng-modified CD players show improved musical flow and rhythm
as well as a better coherence of the musicians playing, attributes I
would describe as more 'analog'. Martin modified my Philips CDR-650
and my Alesis Masterlink HD-recorder, both with great results. The
latter I have used and will use to record live music, especially the
acoustic blues sessions of my buddy Konrad 'Bones' Windisch.
will be more info in the near future about Martin's excellent
accessories (I'm the proud owner of some of these products in the
meantime) and how they improved my system.
you are interested, you can contact Martin under martin.kueng"at"chello.at
or freeflowaudio"at"hotmail.com ("at"=@)
Analogue Converters (DACs)
DAC1 has had a lot of positive press in the last years and
deservedly so. I bought my copy in early 2005 and connected with my
Philips CDR-650 or my Alesis Masterlink, both used as a drive only,
there is more resolution, drive and improved bass definition. To get
the most musical pleasure out of your DAC1, please make sure that you
listen in the fixed output level position (to be set at the rear of
the DAC1, i.e. bypassing the volume control). This way, and
used in unbalanced mode, this DAC is a superb value and a bargain.
you can use the DAC1 in balanced mode (which I can't) then it seems
to be worth reading Robert
H. Levi's review in Positive
Feedback regarding the improvements when setting the DAC1 to the
0dB output position (factory setting is -20dB). Please note, while
Levi opened his DAC1 for the review to change the setting, extra
caution is necessary when doing so; for example, make sure the power
cord is disconnected before opening the equipment.
to different internet fora, the DAC1 seems to be a desired object
for various upgrades. Hmm, maybe something to think about...
Variodac (Martin Küng modified version)
encountered this about 12-year-old bitstream DAC, which is no longer
in production, recently. Martin Küng, the Austrian electronic
expert and master of digital audio modifications lent me his highly
modified Variodac for the testing of my Tentlabs CD player used as a
drive. And the performance of this handy DAC won my heart with its
wonderful musicality, rhythm and flow. The icing on the cake is that
this little gem can be used as a minimalist preamp, too. It provides
a voltage amplified line stage with volume control, a pair of
analog cinch outs and one pair of analog cinch inputs as well as
SPDIF and optical digital inputs. (The latter was eliminated by
Martin for sonic reasons.). An additional feature of the Variodac is
its remote control, which allows for setting of the volume levels
from the listening spot - very convenient.
modifications are primarily extensive power supply mods (incl. a
special power transformer), added super clean voltage regulation as
well as mods of the voltage volume control. All this results in my
opinion, in one of the bargains in high end audio. A superb
minimalist preamp and DAC, which opens up the window to the music,
original Micromega Variodac can be found on Ebay for approx. EUR 250
to 350. Then add Martins modifications which will set you back
additional EUR 750, so for a total of EUR 1,100 you will get a
wonderful musical DAC, which can also function as great sounding
preamp. I own the modified Variodac in the meantime, it's that good ;-)
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