Pink Faun Dual Ultra Arrives At Believe High Fidelity - Analog Is Obsolete

Believe High Fidelity

[Industry Expert]
Nov 19, 2015
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Hutto TX
ibelieveinhifi.com
Been some time since I contributed, but this is well worth the wait. As many of you know we are pretty fanatical about analog. I have over 3k invested in setup tools from multiple protractors, microscopes, software, levels, etc to achieve the absolute maximum performance from any cartridge investment. So this may come as a shock to those reading this but we have now reached a stage in the digital playback that is making me rethink the need for analog playback when digital is now at the level that analog is having a hard time keeping up. With many looking for a reason to drop analog due to the tediousness of it (cleaning, storage, stylus repair, brushes, etc) this is going to be the motivation you were looking for.

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For the 12+ months since the Ultra has debuted we have done a fair amount of comparisons with the top performing offerings on todays market. Many may not know this, but we have been at the forefront of streaming playback ever Linn released their first streamer to sunset their CD offerings. Many years later we ended up building our own servers trying dozens on Linux distributions and Windows with all of the optimization software that was available. It wasnt until I was able to hear the Pink Faun at Munich and get a chance to really get to know the designer that we ended up representing them. At that time the 2.16X was their flagship player and it wasn't until 2021 the Ultra came out to take the spot as the new SOTA server in their portfolio.


The result of the past 12 months is a clear understanding of the hallmark characteristics of the Ultra. The noise floor addressed through their custom designed PSU, clocks, and chassis designed is pretty evident when you are listening to a 100+ db sensitivity speaker system. Any noise that would be highlighted through such high efficiency was not there. Bass has more depth and feels tighter and well defined. Resolution is crazy with clarity of separation down to the smallest of details.

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But I am not here to talk about the Ultra in its standalone form. The name of the game is the Dual Ultra or as I would like to call it the Ultra X. This thing makes my dick hard. I can count on one hand how many times over the years I have been absolutely blown away by a single product change to a system, let alone the same product in the same system. This is one of those times and easily in the top 3.


I would like to be very clear in saying that as a standalone product the Ultra is going to fall into that comparable product scenario where if put against many other competing products of the price and design it would be a decision of virtues as to which is the best to your ears. In this highly subjective hobby everyone hears the same thing differently and with their own "filter". However, it is with absolute conviction that I can say that in the dual mode X configuration it is no contest. There is such a giant chasm of performance that throws all of that subjectivity in the trash. You cannot unhear what it does and it is hard to go backwards.


And it doesn't stop there. One of the major talking points is the network and its impact on the performance of playback. So much so that there are oodles of products that as an aggregate would probably cost more that the price of one single Ultra server. Well Pink Faun has implemented a feature called 'Play and Relax". You can create a playlist, add songs to that playlist, and set the playback mode to "Play and Relax." This mode effectively turns off the network card of the Ultra server making control of the unit disabled until the playback of the entire playlist is completed. In this mode your performance makes an instantaneous boost which is another major leap I might add. Obviously this disabling of the network is going to make playing something from Tidal or Qobuz impossible and if you listen primarily through this methods and not a local library then you would still need to have that network investment.


This is the epitome of definition. So much so that it is hard to describe or quantify as it would necessitate that you have some measure of experience that would make that understanding possible. The closest explanation I can give that would be relevant is auditioning a midfi system in one room, getting up to go into a Hifi system where everything is upgraded and hearing that major leap that takes place between these two systems. Detail is vastly improved and instruments and voices has a clarity to them that is surreal.

One of my test tracks is Blue Tofu Battle Between that I snagged a while back after finding out that JV uses it as one if his reference tracks when auditioning equipment. I really hate the song, but it is very well recorded and has a lot of scale and attack to it. When played back on the Dual Ultras it is ethereal. Sound emanates like a 3 dimensional space when the tempo of the music increases in scale and immediately recedes it is not heard, it is felt. The EDM style tck, tck, tcking that happens during the quieter parts of the track have their own distinct layering that permeates into the room. So real and articulate.

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Bassssssss. This part I love. Mid bass and deep bass are so well controlled it feels as though the Pink Faun is the amplifier making visceral grip of the drivers like a genital cuff. I don't notice any extension in the bass thus far, but it is overwhelmingly tighter and with a greater felt impact.

Another reference track I use is Mary Did You Know by Peter Hollens. Peter is an artist that layers himself for each song rather than using instruments. It is perfect for seeing how well that layering sounds on your hifi system. This happens to be a great track recorded in a church with a lot of ambience giving a sense of how much depth a particular component delivers to maximize that laying effect. When played back on the Pink Faun Dual Ultra, the layering and ambiance feels similar to being surrounded with multichannel system where everyone of his voices seems to being coming from a specific channel all around you. It is kind of freaky!

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It has only been a few months so there is more evaluation to do but those are the highlights. Naturally, there is no such thing as a free lunch so lets wrap up with a couple of drawbacks.

1) No Roon. If you like managing your library and invested the $500+ for a lifetime subscription for Roon Labs you may be disappointed to know dual mode only works with Stylus, the native player designed by Pink Faun. You can use Roon in a single Ultra, but not in the dual configuration

2) Stylus is not Roon. While RAAT is inferior in its audio performance compared to most other playback software, the software is still the benchmark. Stylus is not the best GUI we have used and it is not the worst either, but if we are comparing to Roon as s benchmark then it does leave a lot to be desired in its navigation and beautifulness in managing your media library.

3) Network outage. Sometimes a storm comes in and if you don't have your modem/router plugged into a UPS it takes down your network and may reset your IP address when you are using DHCP. This is not isolated to PF Ultra as this is something all servers can face if a static IP is not assigned, but when in dual mode it can also mess with the dual settings and you will need a quick remote session to redo those settings to get back in business.

To recap:

If you are a camera guy this would be the level of detail going from a 8MP Micro 4/3's to a 100MP Medium Format
If you are a car guy this would be the equivalent of going from 500HP to 5000HP
If you are a videophile this would be the equivalent of going from a 720p TV to a 16k TV
and If you are an audiophile this would be the equivalent of of a full system upgrade


"Whatever Joshua, you are a shill"

I have heard this time and time again. To date, many of the top audiophiles in the community here have discovered for themselves whether I am blowing smoke or not. And they have done so with their own wallets and not with opinion having never heard it before. This is going to be another one of those times. And as a lover of Analog, seeing so many not get the best out of their system from not having the best installation and optimization of their cartridges, I can say that even if it were done properly it would still have trouble keeping up with Pink Faun in Dual Mode. And I seriously mean that.

I have made a intro tutorial to the interface and navigation which is on our Youtube Channel here

 
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Hi Joshua,
Can you put into context how much of this inspiration comes from new v.4 software that has been released?
 
Hi Joshua,
Can you put into context how much of this inspiration comes from new v.4 software that has been released?
I wish that I could. My listening session as very sporadic. i usually binge all at once for a few weeks and then nothing for over a month or two. So telling the difference between releases becomes a challenge as when I do my listening tests it is for that particular config or release in that moment and then a back for forth between it and other products that we have in the stable that day.
 
Hi,

I like your enthusiasm but no need to report on the flaccidity of your phallus lol.
 
Hi,

I like your enthusiasm but no need to report on the flaccidity of your phallus lol.
Bill, I normally love a crotch shot in advertising, just not this particular one.
Literally "lowest" common denominator.
 
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Dual Ultras is indeed a special combo.
After listening to a single Ultra it is hard to believe can be significantly bettered.
Dual ultras just sound more natural. Its not subtle what occurs here.

Another point I feel thats worth mentioning and I have verified this after extensive testing of dual ultra and also after a number of discussions with Jord.

Using Dual Pink faun servers renders audiophile switches obsolete.
In a dual Ultra setup the first server cleans up the signal before sending it to the second unit. Putting a high end switch in front of the servers offers no sonic benefits.
My customer moved his high end switch out of chain. This switch is one of the higher priced on the market so its quite a significant financial bonus.
 
Dual Ultras is indeed a special combo.
After listening to a single Ultra it is hard to believe can be significantly bettered.
Dual ultras just sound more natural. Its not subtle what occurs here.
Another point I feel thats worth mentioning and I have verified this after extensive testing of dual ultra and also after a number of discussions with Jord.
Using Dual Pink faun servers renders audiophile switches obsolete.
In a dual Ultra setup the first server cleans up the signal before sending it to the second unit. Putting a high end switch in front of the servers offers no sonic benefits.
My customer moved his high end switch out of chain. This switch is one of the higher priced on the market so its quite a significant financial bonus.
So the Dual Ultras are directly connected via ethernet cable?
And you do not need a switch even not in front of the first Ultra?
Thx

Matt
 
So the Dual Ultras are directly connected via ethernet cable?
And you do not need a switch even not in front of the first Ultra?
Thx

Matt
That is correct. Sorry I missed this q
 

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