HiFi Critic June 2012 Review of Audio Note DAC 5th Element. Found it. Enjoy!
Conclusion from Martin Colloms:
"When this review was first proposed, my first reaction was hysterical laughter. UK houses cost a similar amount on average. How would a CD player like this sound in a complete system made up using comparably priced components? And what would such a system cost? A million pounds? I have tried to answer these questions by extrapolation and with an extensive set of listening sessions with a variety of audio components and listeners. But my basic task is to observe and report, and my finding is that this CD ‘transport’/DAC is outright marvellous, newly defining the inherent quality of Red Book digital audio, which can be so much better than we had imagined was possible. It poses the question: “Why has it taken a specialist valve audio manufacturer to achieve this after 30 years of highly informed digital engineering by the audio industry as a whole?” While there is some hi-res audio material now, it is also clear that CD has been potentially ‘hi-res’ all along, but we never truly experienced it. Instead we’ve suffered the distortions and masking of digital filters, op-amps, and accompanying digital noise, for all these years. While very few examples will be made and sold at such extravagant prices, we owe a debt to the Audio Note UK team for showing just what is possible. Here is a CD player which really can give high end analogue a run for its money."
This review was one of my disappointments with Martin Colloms - it was carried with a pair of Wilson Audio Sophia III. I owned a pair for some months and IMHO it is not up to level of being used in a review of a 2x96k GBP digital system. BTW, I also deeply disagree with his bizarre rating system. As always YMMV.