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Retro Digital comes to town: The Avatar CD Transport from Denafrips

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  • Retro Digital comes to town: The Avatar CD Transport from Denafrips

    Do you ever see something on the web and right away, your first reaction is "I gotta have one, muy pronto!"


    For whatever reasons, the new Denafrips Avatar CD transport struck that chord for me.

    As an aside, how many of you knew that in 2019 vinyl outsold CD's? Some will say, "Of course!" Others (like me) might say, "Hmmm, strange times we live in...


    Now, the funny point about this discussion, is that until the Berkely Alpha DAC I bought quite a few years ago (2009), I didn't find that any digital solution up that point which I'd heard (which included high end SACD setups, like the Sony SACD-1) imaged as well as the phono setup I had in the late 70's. Not nearly. Yeah, no ticks, no pops, and quieter, but quite deficient in the imaging area. We can probably write a lot of that off to the relatively poor jitter characteristics of consumer digital up until that point...

    Of course, these days, too, digital is usually about streaming- online, or over a local network, or a combination. I have a pretty complex setup for that, and it's in storage in Idaho! So listening checks have been done mostly using a Tascam CD-01U through my Denafrips terminator, using the AES-EBU output (go see how many commercial CD players or transports have AES-EBU built in... crickets)





    It gets the job done, but truthfully I have no idea how good the clock and other aspects are... it plays disks, and if you use a fairly capable DAC, (and especially if you use it in conjunction with a Mutec MC3+ for reclocking) then the results have been workable, as I don't really have a good listening setup in my temporary domicile anyway.


    Enter new product, Denfrips Avatar, stage left...

    (BTW, as soon as I saw the announcement for this transport and the basic details, I pre-ordered one- about 3 months ago. Turns out, according to the sales manager, I was the #2 order they got for these... )

    Here's a good intro article from 6moons...


    https://6moons.com/audioreview_articles/denafrips6/

    They haven't gotten to the complete review yet, like me, they had problems with FedEx not able to get the transports through clearance for over 2 weeks, and in my case shipping was switched back to DHL- which then actually arrived two days early, on Wednesday, instead of the promised Friday delivery.


    I am not normally one for unboxing photos, but I thought it might be appropriate because these guys do such a good job on this. Vinshine Audio in Singapore is the worldwide distributor, and for the USA, there is no local sales option- you go through Vinshine. Shipping packaging is obviously a concern...

    But the results, as I'll show here in a few pictures, are very much like the DAC and other products I've bought from them.

    The package was quite heavy- think of the construction of the Avatar as being akin to a half height version of the Sony SACD-1 or SCD-777- so it's much heavier than you'd expect. This is the inner box- very heavy cardboard.


    Click image for larger version

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    Open it up, and you can see the high density foam and corner protectors, along with the CD weight.

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    Pulling out the foam inset, the top of the transport window is visible.


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    Removing the upper packing block, the whole unit and the remote control milled of solid aluminum are visible.


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    What isn't visible is a power cord or manual. The latter you'll have to download from the Denafrips site (Easy Peasy) and the power cord, you can supply your favorite premium or cheapie one, depending on your taste and preferences.
    the AudioWorx
    Arvo Pärt
    Isiris MLBL
    Modula MT
    Natalie P
    M8ta
    Modula Neo D CC
    Ardent
    Modula MT XE
    Modula Xtreme
    Isiris
    Wavecor Ardent

    SMJ
    Minerva Monitor
    Calliope
    Ardent D

    In Development...
    Isiris Mk II updates
    Calliope CC
    Obi-Wan
    Saint-Saëns Symphonique
    Modula PWB
    Calliope CC Supreme


    Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
    Just ask Mr. Ohm....

  • #2
    A few more pics for your viewing pleasure

    A few more pics for your viewing pleasure

    I set it up just to see it light up and handle a CD, and see how the transport cover works.


    when I picked this up out of the box, I realized they hadn't lined the shipping carton with lead to make it seem heavier- the tear down pictures on the previous link will give you an idea of the high build quality.


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    The transport cover is a manual affair, but is monitored by the internal circuitry...


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    BTW, it uses an EL panel, and the refresh rate is such that sometimes the camera doesn't get a complete scan- hence the missing parts of letters or numbers in several pictures I took. Nothing is amiss to the human eye, though.


    This is a pioneer CDM mechanism that has some very carefully done mechanical support...


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    Sliding the door shut with the finger indent will be registered by the internal circuitry, and it will then be ready to play.


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    Of course, to actually make some music, you're going to have to choose between the many output options, some of which, if you're not a digital engineer, you may not even recognize the name- several flavors of I2S are supported, for example...


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    Eeny, meeny, miney, moe...

    And you'll want to check the manual about the function selector DIP switch for configuration of I2S outputs...

    Most of you may say, "I2S? Huh? What's that? Why bother?"

    It's a digital format used mostly inside of equipment, but select manufacturers including PS Audio and others are supporting it externally with special versions of HDMI or Ethernet cable configurations. It transmits both the clock and the data on separate lines (less jitter) but requires more than a 1 or 2 wire connection. I have a network renderer that can provide I2S outputs, as well as a USB audio to I2S converter. And the Denafrips Terminator supports several types of I2S input directly.

    Also, this transport has some fairly special internal clocks... but more about this later...

    I have to finish some work for Steve and pack and head Back to the Future in Idaho...


    To be continued...
    the AudioWorx
    Arvo Pärt
    Isiris MLBL
    Modula MT
    Natalie P
    M8ta
    Modula Neo D CC
    Ardent
    Modula MT XE
    Modula Xtreme
    Isiris
    Wavecor Ardent

    SMJ
    Minerva Monitor
    Calliope
    Ardent D

    In Development...
    Isiris Mk II updates
    Calliope CC
    Obi-Wan
    Saint-Saëns Symphonique
    Modula PWB
    Calliope CC Supreme


    Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
    Just ask Mr. Ohm....

    Comment


    • #3
      That is some beautiful equipment. I haven't had the opportunity to hear any of their gear but by all accounts it sounds as good as it looks. At least that seems to be the case with the Hestia and Hyperion.
      Lee

      Marantz PM7200-RIP
      Marantz PM-KI Pearl
      Schiit Modi 3
      Marantz CD5005
      Paradigm Studio 60 v.3

      Comment

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