Aries Cerat Kassandra II Ref DAC: Wow!

This is just an initial report on the Aries Cerat Kassandra II ref DAC and it contains only one word. WOW! And this is only the "baby" dac from AC.

kassandra.jpg
 

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853guy

Active Member
Aug 14, 2013
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#2
This is just an initial report on the Aries Cerat Kassandra II ref DAC and it contains only one word. WOW! And this is only the "baby" dac from AC.
Hey Morricab,

That's exciting news.

Keep us posted on words two, three and four...

Best,

853guy
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
11,410
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#3
This is just an initial report on the Aries Cerat Kassandra II ref DAC and it contains only one word. WOW! And this is only the "baby" dac from AC.
definitely looking forward to hearing more about this!
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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#4
May 30, 2010
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#5

Ken Newton

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Dec 12, 2012
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#6
Just found an interesting online review of this DAC:
http://www.monoandstereo.com/2016/04/aries-cerat-kassandra-mk2-dac-review.html

The review is particularly interesting in terms of some of the design details provided. The Kassandra's architecture very much reminds me of the upper Audio Note DACs. For example, both utilize the AD1865 DAC chip, both utilize transformer I/V and both utilize an transformer-loaded vacuum tube analog gain stage. It also appears to me the Kassandra is probably a digital-filter-less design (NOS), as are the Audio Note DACs, but I didn't see this specifically mentioned in the review.

However, there are major differences in the two architectures as well. Most obvious is that the Kassandra utilizes a massively parallel implementation of multiple AD1865s, whereas Audio Note utilizes a single AD1865. The digital input reciever (S/PDIF) and jitter suppression architectures are likely also quite different. All told, I wonder if Cerat and Audio Note DACS share a more similar sound character than not.
 
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morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Switzerland
#7
Just found an interesting online review of this DAC:
http://www.monoandstereo.com/2016/04/aries-cerat-kassandra-mk2-dac-review.html

The review is particularly interesting in terms of some of the design details provided. The Kassandra's architecture very much reminds me of that of the upper Audio Note DACs. For example, both utilize the AD1865 DAC chip, both utilize transformer I/V and both utilize an transformer-loaded vacuum tube analog gain stage. It also appears to me the Kassandra is probably a digital-filter-less design (NOS), as do the Audio Note DACs, but I didn't see this specifically mentioned in the review.

However, there are major differences in the two architectures as well. Most obvious is that the Kassandra utilizes a massively parallel implementation of multiple AD1865s, whereas Audio Note utilizes a single AD1865. The digital input reciever (S/PDIF) and jitter suppression architectures are likely also quite different. All told, I wonder if Cerat and Audio Note DACS share a more similar sound character than not.
Multiple paralleling of chips lowers noise, increases linearity and dynamics. Double reclocking reduces jitter and massive power supply with tons of filtering for rock stable tube output stage. How these differences translate into sound vs. AN upper models is unknown to me as I have not heard top AN converters.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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#8
Just found an interesting online review of this DAC:
http://www.monoandstereo.com/2016/04/aries-cerat-kassandra-mk2-dac-review.html

The review is particularly interesting in terms of some of the design details provided. The Kassandra's architecture very much reminds me of that of the upper Audio Note DACs. For example, both utilize the AD1865 DAC chip, both utilize transformer I/V and both utilize an transformer-loaded vacuum tube analog gain stage. It also appears to me the Kassandra is probably a digital-filter-less design (NOS), as do the Audio Note DACs, but I didn't see this specifically mentioned in the review.

However, there are major differences in the two architectures as well. Most obvious is that the Kassandra utilizes a massively parallel implementation of multiple AD1865s, whereas Audio Note utilizes a single AD1865. The digital input reciever (S/PDIF) and jitter suppression architectures are likely also quite different. All told, I wonder if Cerat and Audio Note DACS share a more similar sound character than not.
as I mentioned on the 'other' AC K thread, this Mono and Stereo review, that I did enjoy reading and appreciate the effort put forth, has little comparative information with anything, in spite of it's effusive and entertaining language. it mostly talks about the emotional response to CD's played and not even any files. hopefully Brad will bring more meat to the table with some real comparative info with other relevant top level dacs.
 

BruceD

VIP/Donor
Dec 13, 2013
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#9
Hmmm Interesting observation with the apparent similarity to the Audio Note UK Dacs--I've owned both the AN 4.1X Bal and DAC5 Signature--used with a TLO and Jadis JD1 Drives /Stereovox Tombo Dig Link

In both cases the sound was glorious smooth and yes(Sic!) analogue in presentation. However I found the combos whilst pleasant and enjoyable the seemingly lack of impact and dynamic contrasts was a slight concern--whether this was due to the NOS design not sure.

Both sets have now gone from my "repertoire" and the Impact and Drive has returned in spades to my CD playback with the NAIM CD555--that is one helluva Player:D!

Horses for Courses

BruceD
 

Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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#10
Hmmm Interesting observation with the apparent similarity to the Audio Note UK Dacs--I've owned both the AN 4.1X Bal and DAC5 Signature--used with a TLO and Jadis JD1 Drives /Stereovox Tombo Dig Link

In both cases the sound was glorious smooth and yes(Sic!) analogue in presentation. However I found the combos whilst pleasant and enjoyable the seemingly lack of impact and dynamic contrasts was a slight concern-whether this was due to the NOS design not sure.
I have heard a NOS DAC that is incredibly dynamic and incisive, and has lots of drive. It's the $ 1.4 K BorderPatrol DAC:

https://parttimeaudiophile.com/2017...usb-digital-to-analogue-converter-se-version/
 
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bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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#11
Hmmm Interesting observation with the apparent similarity to the Audio Note UK Dacs--I've owned both the AN 4.1X Bal and DAC5 Signature--used with a TLO and Jadis JD1 Drives /Stereovox Tombo Dig Link

In both cases the sound was glorious smooth and yes(Sic!) analogue in presentation. However I found the combos whilst pleasant and enjoyable the seemingly lack of impact and dynamic contrasts was a slight concern--whether this was due to the NOS design not sure.

Both sets have now gone from my "repertoire" and the Impact and Drive has returned in spades to my CD playback with the NAIM CD555--that is one helluva Player:D!

Horses for Courses

BruceD
That's an audionote kondo signature
 
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awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,385
239
285
Canberra Australia
#12
ha ha

lets not try to pidgeon hole the aries effort

the Dac No usage is interesting cf the audio note

though on an 'industrial' scale' lol

Ken's comments on the advantage of multiple DAC are pertinent

This is offset by the noise introduced by the Tube output stage

If we agree, currently, the output is limited to 21 bits no matter what the implementation of DAC or output

Then sound quality becomes most obvious trait

Being an owner of NOS audio note Meitner implementations

I look forward to an SQ evaluation of the Aries Cerat

I hope for my bank balance it's total rubbish and the growing R2R DAC are better at a 10th the price :)....!
 

Audiocrack

Well-Known Member
Aug 10, 2012
2,069
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333
#13
That's an audionote kondo signature
Not so with the Kondo (set) amplification imo: within their watts limitations the Kondo amps are very dynamic. The contrast between soft and (loud)er parts of the music are presented in a fascinating eay (to my ears anyway). You have heard the Kagura amps yourself at Bob's place. I have heard the Kagura amps in Paris: they are very strong and dynamic amps.

And the same applies to the Kondo g1000 preamp I heard in the same set up in Paris. Btw, according to the owner the G1000 sounds much more dynamic and powerful than the M1000 mk ii he owned before he bought the G1000.
 
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bonzo75

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#14
HI AC, with lower levels, the M7 for example, that is very much the case. The kagura I don't think is optimal for Magico and I liked the m1000 at Detlof, but we are taking different levels here.
 
#15
Hmmm Interesting observation with the apparent similarity to the Audio Note UK Dacs--I've owned both the AN 4.1X Bal and DAC5 Signature--used with a TLO and Jadis JD1 Drives /Stereovox Tombo Dig Link

In both cases the sound was glorious smooth and yes(Sic!) analogue in presentation. However I found the combos whilst pleasant and enjoyable the seemingly lack of impact and dynamic contrasts was a slight concern--whether this was due to the NOS design not sure.

Both sets have now gone from my "repertoire" and the Impact and Drive has returned in spades to my CD playback with the NAIM CD555--that is one helluva Player:D!

Horses for Courses

BruceD
Interesting. I have the Audio Note DAC 5 Special with Duelund copper cast caps. I came 'alive' once I removed the AN Caps. I can see it may not be the most transparent DAC in terms of 'hifi' but I am having trouble finding another DAC I like better so far. Heard the CH precision C1, Esoteric K-01, MSB Platinum, some others. TBH the sound I am getting right now is just so 'right' in my system, nothing to forward or over bright, digital etc. I use horn speakers and the Stax 009s so maybe I get more transparency at the other end? It can be about synergy as well as a DAC v another DAC in any given system.

I have heard the Naim CD555 but that was a while back, so can't really comment on it.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Switzerland
#16
Hey Morricab,

That's exciting news.

Keep us posted on words two, three and four...

Best,

853guy
Next two words: Chromatic spray

typical high end dac is like light (music) through a prism...some color (tone) separation but a bit crude and frequencies (harmonics) blended together vs. Kassandra is light (music) through a high end spectrograph. There are tonal subtlties you never knew were there before until something separated it out for you.

A new dimension of harmonic resolution to my ears.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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#17
Words 4 and 5: spatial resolution

This means the fine details of soft and loud sounds all organized in space laterally, front to back and vertically. There is almost microscopic detail in the soundfield and soft sounds do not get drowned by louder sounds. In some ways it is as detailed as the more analytical DACs...but its not (see post above and below as to why) analytical at all.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Switzerland
#18
Word 6: Integration

Despite having very high resolution: spatially, amplitudinally and chromatically the picture sticks together as a whole integrated sound.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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#19
Word 7: Dynamics

Both micro and macro dynamics are the best I have heard. From soft to loud explodes but from softer to soft also "pops". Startle factor is the very high.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
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#20
Meitner MA-1 sounds flat and synthesized with crude tonality in comparison. That is the only head to head with digital so far. Against good analog (top Transrotor (3 motor magnetic drive...can't remember the model), SME V arm, Transfiguration Proteus and Allnic phonostage) it is very competitive though and gives the eb and flow of music in a very analog manner. The Analog rig mentioned is around $50K and the Kassandra is around $20K. It is the first digital we have tried that is competitive with this highly resolving analog setup.
 
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