Aries Cerat Kassandra Ref 2 vs. Lampizator Pacific DAC

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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Hello fellow audiophiles

After I learned quite a lot on this forum from quite a lot of people, I think it is time to give something back to the forum.
I realized, that it is very hard to almost impossible to compare the top offerings from different brands because dealers rarely have competing brands in their portfolios and if they do, it is never the higher up models in the same price bracket.
Some people commented that they would love to hear the Aries Cerat Kassandra, but that it is hard to find dealers for demos, let alone for comparisons.

My dear friend M owns a wonderful system consisting of Aries Cerat Impera 2 preamp and Concero 65 Mono amps and a Lampizator SuperKomputer feeding a Golden Atlantic DAC.
M at the time was a die-hard Vinyl man at heart and felt it was time to improve his digital chain to close the gap to his Vinyl rig consisting of Brinkmann Bardo TT and DS Audio DS-W2 pickup and phono preamp system.

In his system, the two obvious contenders only could be the Aries Cerat Kassandra Reference 2 for the same aesthetics as his preamp and mono amps, as well as possible system synergy as an All-Aries Cerat chain and the Lampizator Pacific DAC as the new top model way above his trusty and beloved Golden Atlantic DAC.

M's Aries Cerat dealer and good friend was kind enough to provide M with a Kassandra for about two weeks to get accustomed with the DAC and to be able to squeeze out the best sound from it.

I was able to borrow a Pacific DAC from a very good friend of mine for this compare.

So we were in the probably unique position to compare those two top DACs even in a home situation with a (for me as well) very familiar system. How privileged we are!

I want to stress that we were very curious ourselves about this compare and that we are free from any bias.
We optimized both DACs individually for the best performance and even took notes. For example they needed opposite polarity, both in power and in speaker phase to sound their best. We also did meticulous volume level matching to ensure fair conditions for both contenders.
We chose 4 reference tracks we are all very familiar with that offer a wide variety of demands to a system.

The "we" I'm talking here are 4 very experienced listeners with very different backgrounds but sharing the same level of curiosity and love for audio and music:

M, the owner of this wonderful system and so to say the initiator and host of this event, one is the owner of the Kassandra, one is a mutual audio friend and I am the last to complete this quartet.


Kass-Pac[2].jpg

Kass-Pac_front[1].jpg

We switched back and forth several times and the more we familarized us with the charcteristics of the DACs we came to the following strengths:

Kassandra:
Very robust foundation with a lot of ooomph and visceral bass, well-balanced

Pacific:
Building upon the high achievements of the Kassandra with a slightly different bass presentation, being more taut than visceral

3 of the 4 of us clearly preferred the Pacific because of the for us considerably higher transparency and resolution without any hint of being too clinical or sterile. The stage was huge, reaching far wider and deeper and higher than the room boundaries with the Pacific.
Only the Kassandra owner preferred the Kassandra over the Pacific.

This very extensive and meticulous compare resulted in M ordering a Pacific DAC with matte silver top to blend in with his existing Aries Cerat gear in his outstanding system.

AC-Pac[1].jpg

M-Pac_front[1].jpg
 

Al M.

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I want to stress that we were very curious ourselves about this compare and that we are free from any bias.

Who is ever free from any bias?

The Lampi should not stand on top of the Kassandra (first picture). Every component should have its separate place in a rack, otherwise the comparison is not exactly under equal conditions.

Anyways, thanks for the interesting report.
 
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Audiophile Bill

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Thanks for the report, Christoph. I do prefer both your choice of colours of the Pacific than the regular.
 

Alrainbow

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Great write up cris.
I do have a couple of questions I'm very curious about in reading your great comparison

Power phase adjustments , please explain how this is done ?
How does this effect the sound ?
Is this done to all power products in the chain ?
Is there a sequence used to achieve the best effect.

Next phase adjustments at speakers inputs

How is this done ? meaning is a phase track used ?
Is this an adjustment due to one dac being out of phase with the other ?
Or is this done as an objective sound to all there who Felt it was best ?

Very curios I have read somewhere about this but can't seem to recall where.
It does make sense to me so please help me here
Thanks in advance
 
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wisnon

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Dec 12, 2011
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They used Euro schuko plugs so just had to invert them and lusten to see what they liked better. It will be very clear what sounds better. For speakers, just swap cables left for right, I imagine.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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Great write up cris.
I do have a couple of questions I'm very curious about in reading your great comparison

Power phase adjustments , please explain how this is done ?
How does this effect the sound ?
Is this done to all power products in the chain ?
Is there a sequence used to achieve the best effect.

Next phase adjustments at speakers inputs

How is this done ? meaning is a phase track used ?
Is this an adjustment due to one dac being out of phase with the other ?
Or is this done as an objective sound to all there who Felt it was best ?

Very curios I have read somewhere about this but can't seem to recall where.
It does make sense to me so please help me here
Thanks in advance

Hi Al
We did all the polarity and phase adjustments by ear.
What sounded best to the 4 of us we marked and proceeded with the best sounding options per DAC.
We only did this for the DACs, so only one variable in this compare.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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They used Euro schuko plugs so just had to invert them and lusten to see what they liked better. It will be very clear what sounds better. For speakers, just swap cables left for right, I imagine.
Exactly :)
 

Alrainbow

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Dec 12, 2013
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Ty cris all understood now. Wow how much more money is the Sandra ? Was the Sandra owner upset or should I say how much ?
 

christoph

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kodomo

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http://www.kempelektroniks.nl/en/244/kemp-elektroniks/products/accessoires/ultimate-polarity-checker

I have this, it really works and takes the time out of guess work. If you have tube equipment, it is not nice to turn it on and off again while trying stuff. This one does not just simply show the polarity of the outlet, but shows you the best orientation of outlet and plug as it measures them together, it goes in between the outlet and the plug. I had many power plugs from the same brand with different phase in the same orientation.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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http://www.kempelektroniks.nl/en/244/kemp-elektroniks/products/accessoires/ultimate-polarity-checker

I have this, it really works and takes the time out of guess work. If you have tube equipment, it is not nice to turn it on and off again while trying stuff. This one does not just simply show the polarity of the outlet, but shows you the best orientation of outlet and plug as it measures them together, it goes in between the outlet and the plug. I had many power plugs from the same brand with different phase in the same orientation.
Hi Kodomo
Thank you very much for the tip regarding your polarity checker :cool:

Myself, I already have that one: https://www.oehlbach.com/de/power/phaser

But we didn't use it because we were faster by ear. It was very obvious to hear which polarity sounded better.
And I would have had to completely unhook the piece of gear to check with the Oehlbach Phaser.
No cables at all allowed for correct results.

Don't you have to unplug all cables from the piece of gear you want to check with your device?
 
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christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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Who is ever free from any bias?

The Lampi should not stand on top of the Kassandra (first picture). Every component should have its separate place in a rack, otherwise the comparison is not exactly under equal conditions.

Anyways, thanks for the interesting report.

Which one would you say has the worse conditions in this constellation?
 

christoph

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2015
2,695
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Principality of Liechtenstein
http://www.kempelektroniks.nl/en/244/kemp-elektroniks/products/accessoires/ultimate-polarity-checker

I have this, it really works and takes the time out of guess work. If you have tube equipment, it is not nice to turn it on and off again while trying stuff. This one does not just simply show the polarity of the outlet, but shows you the best orientation of outlet and plug as it measures them together, it goes in between the outlet and the plug. I had many power plugs from the same brand with different phase in the same orientation.

I just checked, with your device, you also have to unhook completely:
"Operating the UPC is child’s play. First make sure the piece of equipment whose power polarity you mean to test is fully unplugged. There can't be any connections whatsoever to any other equipment. Make sure there is no hidden connection either by way of a ground wire, a physical contact with another apparatus or a conductive shelf of some sort. Also don't touch the gear whilst taking your measurements. Now plug the UPC into the outlet you want to use for the component. Here we assume a grounded outlet with protective earth or PE. With the UPC plugged in, one of the LEDs on top will light up. This indicates which associated pin is 'hot'. It is advisable to mark that on the outlet soon."
 
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spiritofmusic

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I'd have thought the Pac on the Kass would have put the Pac at more of a disadvantage, tbh.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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kodomo

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Apr 26, 2017
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I just checked, with your device, you also have to unhook completely:
"Operating the UPC is child’s play. First make sure the piece of equipment whose power polarity you mean to test is fully unplugged. There can't be any connections whatsoever to any other equipment. Make sure there is no hidden connection either by way of a ground wire, a physical contact with another apparatus or a conductive shelf of some sort. Also don't touch the gear whilst taking your measurements. Now plug the UPC into the outlet you want to use for the component. Here we assume a grounded outlet with protective earth or PE. With the UPC plugged in, one of the LEDs on top will light up. This indicates which associated pin is 'hot'. It is advisable to mark that on the outlet soon."

Yes, you are right but you do this just once for all your outlets, equipment and power cables with their corresponding equipments and you are set. It also shows how different cables react to different equipments in terms of noise as it measures and shows them. I like that too. But you say you were faster without an aid so my position is different than yours. Sometimes these things are not obvious for me. Also I want all to be in phase.
 
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christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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Yes, you are right but you do this just once for all your outlets, equipment and power cables with their corresponding equipments and you are set. It also shows how different cables react to different equipments in terms of noise as it measures and shows them. I like that too. But you say you were faster without an aid so my position is different than yours. Sometimes these things are not obvious for me. Also I want all to be in phase.

We will do that for the whole system some time later (maybe in autumn or winter) but I want to check the findings by ear anyways :D
Paranoia ahoi :oops:
 

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