For the first time ever I decided to grand the GOLD Fingerprint award to the product that costs less than interconnects used to hook it up.

Summary

During the CD-35 test I listened to both CDs and SACDs. I have to say that the difference between them was not big, and with the upsampling to DSD it was actually small. The discs when converted to DSD256 sounded incredibly emotionally mature. I prefer simple solutions and changing the format always seems risky to me; I believe that music should be played in the format in which it was recorded. Therefore the PCM to DSD upsampling never appealed to me and for me (even in the case of the most expensive devices) it always confirmed my intuition resulting in a sound full of artifacts.

What people of StreamUnlimited managed to prepare together with Gerhard Hirt is a completely different story. Upsampling changes the sound in a very significant way (besides it also increases volume by 4-5 dB). These are not subtle adjustments, but a transition from a very good, tasteful hi-fi to a full-blown high-end performance. The best digital sources present a slightly better differentiated sound stage in the back, their performance is also more detailed and dCS Vivaldi delivers even smoother one.

However, none of the players that I listened at home wasn't able to deliver such a rich, saturated performance as Ayon did, nor such a big scale of the sound nor so large instruments. When one presses “Play” CD-35 fills the space between loudspeakers tightly with sound, and if particular disc includes such signals – equally dense sound surrounds listener.

I've never heard anything like that before. I'm not claiming that this is the best possible performance, because it is not. But it is, however, one of the most interesting sounds that I heard from any audio device. For the first time ever I decided to grand the GOLD Fingerprint award to the product that costs less than interconnects used to hook it up.