Simaudio 810LP Phonostage

Canada’s Simaudio is one of those companies that builds premium products at fair prices. The top-of-the-line 810LP phonostage is a case in point. This very sophisticated product isn’t inexpensive at $12,000, but many companies would have charged much more for this level of performance. The 810LP features a massive and elaborate power supply employing 24 cascaded regulation stages built around Simaudio’s proprietary regulator designs. The result is ultra-clean DC powering the delicate audio circuits—Simaudio says the DC supply is as quiet and well-regulated as a battery supply. The fully balanced differential audio circuit is built from hand-matched transistors, and is mounted on a floating circuit board. This attention to detail pays off in the listening room, where the 810LP is as silent as a bank vault. This phonostage resolves fine detail with astonishing precision; cymbals hang in space, and the way their harmonic structure subtly changes with their decay is clearly audible. It’s this level of resolution that brings music to life. The 810LP is a transparent window on the LP front-end driving it, and is fully at home in the context of the world’s best electronics, loudspeakers, and associated equipment. (231)



Aesthetix Romulus CD Player/DAC

This all-tubed CD player and DAC is one of the greatest bargains in high-end audio today. What makes the Romulus special is that it sounds so “un-digital,” particularly at this price. Rather than sounding flat and congealed, the Romulus opens up the spatial presentation and gives instruments and voices room to breathe. The player has an expansive quality along with a sense of top-octave air and openness. The tonal balance is rich and warm in the bass, which, coupled with the treble smoothness, results in an immediately engaging and fatigue-free presentation. The Romulus doesn’t sound “tubey” in the classic sense, but neither does it sound like solid-state. The design and build-quality are beyond what’s expected at this price. If you have no analog sources, the Romulus can serve as a preamplifier and DAC with multiple digital inputs, provided you purchase the variable-output option ($1000). Thanks to an innovative hybrid analog/digital volume-control, there’s no loss of resolution no matter what the volume setting. (243)