Aqua Formula - new upgrade, retrofittable!

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Hmm, the review isn’t really much more favourable than the measurements.
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Larry, I read the review as a bit lukewarm, tbh.
“...highs, softer and didn’t float...less vibrant...bass was less heartstopping...”, and a dozen more less than stellar comments.
 

asiufy

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Jul 8, 2011
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Compared to his reference, a dCS. Now, if you're not interested in dCS and you want a different sound DAC, that's the Aqua.
 
May 30, 2010
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Hmm, the review isn’t really much more favourable than the measurements.
Perhaps at some point some designers are purposely adding "distortions" to emulate the nice sounding defects of analog, creating their own sound signature ... I find difficult to accept that designers were not aware of some "problems" shown in Stereophile measurements.
 
Jan 28, 2018
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Larry, I read the review as a bit lukewarm, tbh.
“...highs, softer and didn’t float...less vibrant...bass was less heartstopping...”, and a dozen more less than stellar comments.
But the last paragraph:

“Aqua Acoustic Quality's Formula xHD is an extremely fine-sounding DAC whose warmth and ability to decode files of extremely high resolution should win it many admirers. Many will also applaud its designer's rejection of digital filters, oversampling, upsampling, and MQA. Thanks to the Formula xHD's ability to smooth over digital's rough edges, I don't hesitate to recommend that it be auditioned by anyone with $17,000 to spare, and whose system suffers from bright or harsh sound, or who values, above all else. the warmth and bloom often ascribed to analog sources.
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content...-xhd-da-processor-page-2#vuffjMHrjUYHEVqV.99”

I think the Formula sounds good. I suppose I could improve things if I spent a lot more money on a dCS or MSB DAC, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I wonder if the dCS Network Bridge is worth getting for my Aqua. Thoughts? I need my Mac Mini to allow me to stream from the Naxos Music Library, an amazing resource. I can’t rely totally on Roon and Tidal.
 

asiufy

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Jul 8, 2011
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Francisco,

Granted, this is the new xHD version, but in the original Formula, it was sort of consensus that the XLR output sounded better. Now JA finds these "problems" with the XLR out... Go figure...
 

asiufy

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Then the last paragraph:

“Aqua Acoustic Quality's Formula xHD is an extremely fine-sounding DAC whose warmth and ability to decode files of extremely high resolution should win it many admirers. Many will also applaud its designer's rejection of digital filters, oversampling, upsampling, and MQA. Thanks to the Formula xHD's ability to smooth over digital's rough edges, I don't hesitate to recommend that it be auditioned by anyone with $17,000 to spare, and whose system suffers from bright or harsh sound, or who values, above all else. the warmth and bloom often ascribed to analog sources.
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content...-xhd-da-processor-page-2#vuffjMHrjUYHEVqV.99”

I think the Formula sounds good. I suppose I could improve things if I spent a lot more on a dCS or MSB DAC, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I wonder if the dCS network bridge is worth getting for my Aqua. I need my Mac Mini to allow me to stream from the Naxos Music Library, an amazing resource.
Larry,

I agree with that section of the review. One of the reasons we picked up the line, and we like the brand, is that it's a warm sounding DAC. But unlike other similarly warm DACs, it doesn't trade resolution for that warmth.

Oh, go with a server, like the Innuos, instead of the bridge. It'll do Roon Core for you, and sounds great with the Aqua.
 
Jan 28, 2018
49
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Larry,

I agree with that section of the review. One of the reasons we picked up the line, and we like the brand, is that it's a warm sounding DAC. But unlike other similarly warm DACs, it doesn't trade resolution for that warmth.

Oh, go with a server, like the Innuos, instead of the bridge. It'll do Roon Core for you, and sounds great with the Aqua.
Thanks for the recommendation. I haven’t decided what direction I want to take as far as the digital front end. The technology moves so quickly that it is hard to know what to do.

I see the Innuos needs a hardwired network connection. It’s possible, I would just need to run fifty feet of Cat5 wire. I have Verizon Fios. I had them run the fiber optic cable fifty feet into the bedroom near my computers when maybe I should have had them stick the network box behind the stereo to give it a drop and run fifty feet of Cat5 to the bedroom. Now, I need fifty feet of Cat5 back to the stereo. The fiber optic cable is much smaller than the Cat5 and is easier to hide. Oh, well.
 

asiufy

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Yeah unfortunately most of the servers are wired, with the possible exception of the Auralic Vega/Vega G2.

There are also several fiber to network/Ethernet adapters out there. At some point I'll experiment those, as some people claim they actually sound better than a straight through CAT5/6 cable...

cheers,
alex
 

wisnon

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Dec 12, 2011
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Thanks for the recommendation. I haven’t decided what direction I want to take as far as the digital front end. The technology moves so quickly that it is hard to know what to do.

I see the Innuos needs a hardwired network connection. It’s possible, I would just need to run fifty feet of Cat5 wire. I have Verizon Fios. I had them run the fiber optic cable fifty feet into the bedroom near my computers when maybe I should have had them stick the network box behind the stereo to give it a drop and run fifty feet of Cat5 to the bedroom. Now, I need fifty feet of Cat5 back to the stereo. The fiber optic cable is much smaller than the Cat5 and is easier to hide. Oh, well.
CAT6 or above mate and never, ever CAT5e. Cat 7 is very best of the lot. For SQ, Windows slays Linux every time, but of course the purpose built Linux Streamers/Servers have best user experience. Thank me later!
 

asiufy

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For SQ, Windows slays Linux every time, but of course the purpose built Linux Streamers/Servers have best user experience. Thank me later!
This is far from universal truth.
 
Jan 28, 2018
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This is far from universal truth.
LOL, I'm not getting into that argument. ;-)

If you want to move the needle, sound quality wise, upgrade your amp, that's my opinion. Get an amp you can't lift.

I don't have Cat anything at the moment, I'm streaming wirelessly but I will consider Cat 6, 7, or whatever. I'm sorry my age is showing with my references to Cat 5.
 

asiufy

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Jul 8, 2011
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If anybody's curious about the Aqua Formula xHD, we're showing it at THE Show this next weekend, Grove 1 room. And, if DHL helps, we'll also have the Innuos Statement music server.


cheers,
alex
 

wisnon

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Dec 12, 2011
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LOL, I'm not getting into that argument. ;-)

If you want to move the needle, sound quality wise, upgrade your amp, that's my opinion. Get an amp you can't lift.

I don't have Cat anything at the moment, I'm streaming wirelessly but I will consider Cat 6, 7, or whatever. I'm sorry my age is showing with my references to Cat 5.
me nether

it is not up for debate. i throw out pearls of wisdom and people accept or not. I am not selling anything, so am not bothered either way.

i agree that low Z amps matter and matter big. transports also matter. try thee Memory Player software suite and you will understand what extreme jitter killing can do. ..why you dont need a fancy clock when your data structure is properly and cleverly done. fundamental understanding is key.
 

sbo6

Active Member
May 19, 2014
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Two years after purchase I finally had the Aqua Formula xHD upgrade performed. In somewhat of a nutshell here's my experience:

With Alex's help I shipped the DAC to Aqua in Italy which was returned upgraded in about 3 weeks which went flawlessly. Also, while having the DAC upgraded to xHD I had the fuse replaced with a Blue Quantum fuse. In terms of break - in, while most of the upgrade goodness occurs after ~120 hours of break - in I found that at about 200 hours it settled down.

A few setup comments: Before the upgrade I found upsampling PCM to sound best, however with the xHD I now find DSD upsampling to be superior. In my experience hearing quite a few DACs I always thought that upsampling to DSD sounded a bit brittle and thin whether upsamping DSD or PCM. On several Esoterics I noticed this and as such I stayed away from DSD upsampling. That's not the case with the xHD - DSD sounds fabulous upsampling to Quad DSD. More below.

The difference between the non xHD upsampled to 384K PCM versus xHD also upsampled to 384K PCM (highest upsampling capability before the upgrade): Added bass weight and tightness, ability to hear further into the music (more detail), further effortlessness, more detailed spacial cues and in a nutshell just plain more real.

The difference between the non xHD upsampled to 384K PCM versus the xHD upsampled to 768K PCM yields additional information without sounding overwhelming, fatiguing or overly analytical.

xHD upsampling to Quad DSD: I know many folks swear by DSD files (and true native DSD recordings) and I'm now a believer. Playing DSD upsampled to Quad DSD is other worldly good. The amount of information is staggering, the sound stage layering in depth and width is another level better and again, the realism is better than I expected my speakers could articulate.

Net - I'm quite satisfied with the upgrade, worth every penny. I'm in no rush for a DAC upgrade and if I did jump, it would be to the TD12 in the distant future. Thanks for the assistance Alex!
 

asiufy

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Jul 8, 2011
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Net - I'm quite satisfied with the upgrade, worth every penny. I'm in no rush for a DAC upgrade and if I did jump, it would be to the TD12 in the distant future. Thanks for the assistance Alex!
Your comments are pretty much in line with my perception and other people's. The soundstaging and specially the ambiance retrieval capabilities of this DAC, which was already pretty world class, got even better.

Glad to be able to help :)

cheers,
Alex
 
Likes: sbo6

Blue58

Active Member
Jan 20, 2013
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London, UK
Some photos of Aqua’s Munich setup from their Facebook page showing the new LinQ. 8A123BFC-401E-4205-8815-39CE37DD05BC.jpeg 2BE34AC3-3D1C-420F-95A8-9E97561D96F8.jpeg
 

Blue58

Active Member
Jan 20, 2013
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London, UK
The LinQ is the box on the middle left shelf. A modular network interface. We await further details of what it does.
So no, it’s not a Formula upgrade.
 

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