Oh my, oh my - Aries Cerat Helene DAC

I can't stay silent - today we received Helene DAC, "baby" DAC from Aries Cerat. What a baby, what a beauty. From the very fist second the sound was sublime, digital rarely gets better than this - in form of Kassandra DAC only probably. I am not saying this lightly, just compare Helene to all the big guns, you would be surprised. Rich, transparent sound, real body of instruments, timbre to die for, as analog as possible, but most importantly, natural music flow, touching your heart and soul. Be warned, after listening you might need to sell some very expensive equipment. But there is solution - you buy Kassandra LE, thus may be less painful.
 
Is someone here who had the chance to compare the Helene Dac versus the APL DSD Dac-Range maybe the SR MK2? I own the APL AR Dac which is stunning for it´s price in detail, Dynamic and soundstage. But it lacks a bit in timbre mostly with human voices to my feeling. Upgrading the Dac to the SR2 will cost me 70% of a Helene Dac. So I am Not sure what to Go for. Kind Regars
Sorry for this so late answer . I have a friend who recently purchased a Kassandra II dac and he also owns the top APL dac however not the mkII.
I had the opportunity to listen extensively to both of them while the APL is an excellent dac , for me there is no doubt I much preferred the Kassandra as it offers a so much organic and musical sound with infinite shade of colors .
I go often to concert and it is so much life like with the Kassandra .
The Kassandra is for me the most musical satisfying dac I ever listened to . Since the Kassandra is out of budget for me I am also considering the Helena .

Jean-Michel from France
 
Hello John

I firmly believe that you will really like what Helene will do to your system.Die hard analog fans are now "digitally" converted with Helene as it happens with all our d/acs.

Best
Stavros
Oh how I wish Stavros, my numbers don't allow me to try it yet. A pending move back to Australia and hifh reconstruction are in the wings... so I must be patient and continue to push myself to success again!
 
I think Ares Cerat gear is in a different category sonically compared to most of the competition, although I have heard the Dave/Blue I have not heard the combination with the MScaler, I think the Ares Cerat Helene has a closer 'flavor' to the best from Lampizator and Aqua Hifi...
All the other DACs I've heard sound significantly different than the Helene; the Rockna, the Metrum, the Yggdrasil, the Terminator for example.
And I wonder about the TotalDAC series comparisons...
 
@Aries Cerat

How big is the impact of the server with Helene?
I know the Helene is double reclocked via the USB Input so the Impact of the server might be reduced, but anyway I suppose the source should play a major role.
Can you please shed some light on this?
Thanks

Matt
 
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At my friend’s home who owns a Kassandra , we tried as a source the APL top cd drive as well as our home made excellent diy server .
The diy server was the clear winner over the APL top cd drive ( 30 000€... ) .
Also we tried the internal clock from the Kassandra and the external clock coming from the server .
The latter was also clearly the best .

These different experiment show that the Aries Cérat dac like any other dac is very sensitive to the quality of the source.

Eventhough manufacturers of dac keep advertising they are building products which are not sensitive to the source , it is not like that .

We did not used usb , we used the aes/ebu input . I still think aes is the best input . USB is plagued with many difficulties .
The new Grimm mu1 which seems to be an excellent server has only aes ebu output as they felt it was the most qualitative link to use to connect to the dac .
 
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@Aries Cerat

How big is the impact of the server with Helene?
I know the Helene is double reclocked via the USB Input so the Impact of the server might be reduced, but anyway I suppose the source should play a major role.
Can you please shed some light on this?
Thanks

Matt
Hello Matt

Our d/a as all d/a converters do differentiate server and transport qualities.
We made AB comparisons and even changing one part on the server, that can be clearly be audible.This is independent of the internal reclocking.

What i personally do not like, it the over-ocd about servers and transport. A 30k with a Helene will not sound better than a Sig with a plain PC as transport. Funds allocation is important.

Of course many top servers today are a big step up in digital and that is price--non-dependent.

Some anectodal info, our first shows, from back in 2010,we used to have a plain old laptop as source( back then computer audio was overlooked), to show how good digital can sound ,even with an off the shelf pc properly configured laptop, paired with a good d/a converter.I think we used that same laptop up to and 2014.

Now, if we used a top server ,would the result be better? Of course yes ,no doubt.
But, back then there were not that many, and second and most important, we wanted to make a point with the laptop.

Of course back then ,computer audio was a heresy ,but we are heretics anyway.

Merry Christmas to all the guys in WBF.

Stavros
 
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At my friend’s home who owns a Kassandra , we tried as a source the APL top cd drive as well as our home made excellent diy server .
The diy server was the clear winner over the APL top cd drive ( 30 000€... ) .
Also we tried the internal clock from the Kassandra and the external clock coming from the server .
The latter was also clearly the best .

These different experiment show that the Aries Cérat dac like any other dac is very sensitive to the quality of the source.

Eventhough manufacturers of dac keep advertising they are building products which are not sensitive to the source , it is not like that .

We did not used usb , we used the aes/ebu input . I still think aes is the best input . USB is plagued with many difficulties .
The new Grimm mu1 which seems to be an excellent server has only aes ebu output as they felt it was the most qualitative link to use to connect to the dac .
Hi. How can you switch between the clock of the Kassandra and that of the, Server?
 
Hi. How can you switch between the clock of the Kassandra and that of the, Server?
There is a knob on the DAC which allows for AES or SPDIF digital input to use either the internal clock signal of the DAC or the clock signal carried by the digital input AES or SPDIF
 
@Aries Cerat

Hi Stavros,

do your DACs benefit from software upsampling prior to sending to the DAC or does it make sense to send even Redbook files bit-perfect to the DAC?

Thanks and Merry Christmas

Matt
 
@Aries Cerat

Hi Stavros,

do your DACs benefit from software upsampling prior to sending to the DAC or does it make sense to send even Redbook files bit-perfect to the DAC?

Thanks and Merry Christmas

Matt
Hello Matthias, allow me to chime in awaiting Stavros's reply: in all the years that i am playing and working with Aries Cerat DAC's , i have always clearly favoured the bitperfect playing and that is also what i recommend my customers, start with bitperfect.

The Helene or the Kassandra will expose the drawbacks of such processing because of their very transparent yet equally natural rendering. Though I recognize as well that in the end it is a matter of how the rest of the system looks like, personal taste, way of listening and music genre.
 
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@Aries Cerat

Hi Stavros,

do your DACs benefit from software upsampling prior to sending to the DAC or does it make sense to send even Redbook files bit-perfect to the DAC?

Thanks and Merry Christmas

Matt

Hello Matthias and Merry Christmas.

I would recommend running our d/ac as bitperfect.

We and many affiliated did try several on the fly up-sampling software or offline up-sampled material. Native fs is consistently better.

Cheers
Stavros
 
Hello Matthias and Merry Christmas.

I would recommend running our d/ac as bitperfect.

We and many affiliated did try several on the fly up-sampling software or offline up-sampled material. Native fs is consistently better.

Cheers
Stavros

Hi Stavros,

the best server for bitperfect playback seems to be a Taiko Extreme.
Do you have clients who feed one of your DACs with the Extreme?
Thanks

Matt
 
Is there a consensus about the best sounding input of Helene and other AC DACs?
Thanks

Matt
Hello Matt and Happy New Year to you and family.

We have some AC dac users that use Taiko, not sure if they write in this forum to get some feedback.

I personally prefer USB input, though some clients that have excellent AES sources, seem to use that input extensively.

Best wishes
Stavros
 
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Helena is not capable of playing DSD, is that correct? Can you guys clear this issue? Thanks

The Aries Cerat DACs do not playback DSD natively or MQA, just PCM.

I wouldn't say this is an issue unless convenience is of the utmost importance. You can batch convert (drag and drop) all of your DSD library to PCM at 384k/24bit with DBpoweramp or similar software if you want to not have to worry about playback of DSD files. Takes a day to make the conversion typically based on an average size DSD library and then you are good to go moving forward
 
The Aries Cerat DACs do not playback DSD natively or MQA, just PCM.

I wouldn't say this is an issue unless convenience is of the utmost importance. You can batch convert (drag and drop) all of your DSD library to PCM at 384k/24bit with DBpoweramp or similar software if you want to not have to worry about playback of DSD files. Takes a day to make the conversion typically based on an average size DSD library and then you are good to go moving forward
It does not play MQA either? Hmm :( I heard you can play it through streamer which supports MQA? Is true? Thanks for your response
 

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