dCS 972 D/D converter Associated Bits
Source transport was the Theta DaViD, a 24/96-capable machine.. It sat atop a trio of Black Diamond Racing Cones screwed into Those Things carbon-fiber squares atop a Signal Guard II anti-resonance platform. The Signal Guard was itself suspended on four PolyCrystal-coated brass footers and set up on the top shelf of a PolyCrystal Rack. This effectively decoupled the DaViD from the environment at large. For whatever reason, the DaViD sounded better with its display left on.
I used a number of digital datalinks between the DaViD and the 972. For 16/44.1 source material, I preferred XLO The Limited S/PDIF on the single RCA output on the DaViD marked "PCM only," while 24/96 discs from Chesky, and especially Classic, sounded better with either the AES/EBU connection (using XLO The Limited, TARA The One, and a Theta-supplied cable), or another length of The Limited on BNC connectors from the DaViD's "PCM" and "AC-3" outputs.
The 972 was placed on a PolyCrystal shelf on a trio of small 'Crystal cones. The 972's output sounded best, hands down, on a pair of XLO The Limited AES/EBU 1m datalinks run in Dual AES mode. The Elgar sat on the top shelf of the same rack and sounded best on a trio of jumbo-size ceramic DH Cones. I'd been strongly encouraged to run the Elgar from its balanced outputs directly into the amps using the Elgar's hi-rez digital volume control and no active preamp. Switching the Elgar to its 2V peak output mode, I wired it up to YBA Passion monoblocks, a pair of bridged Classé Omegas (a tremendous 1600W per channel), and Forsell's The Statement dual-mono monster. The VTL Wotans glowered menacingly; they didn't like being driven directly by the Elgar's analog output stage. (I suspect the processor overdrove the giant tube amps' inputs.) Loudspeakers were our JMlab Utopias optimized with Argent RoomLenses and ASC Studio Traps.
I also spent some time listening to the 972/Elgar through the Nagra PL-P, the YBA Signature 6 Chassis, and the BAT VK-5i. A special-order cable from Canorus converted the Elgar's XLR analog outputs to RCAs; I also tried the processor's single-ended outputs. (Of course, it was run balanced into the differential-input BAT preamp.)
Interconnects and speaker cables were at various times TARA The One, Synergistic Research Designer's Reference, Cardas Golden Reference, and XLO The Speaker Cable. The big Class;ae amps arrived trailing four Cardas Golden Power Cords, a pair for each dual-mono stereo chassis. I made excellent use of them on all three amplifiers, in addition to Synergistic Reference Master AC Couplers. The front-end was powered up by MIT Z-Cord IIs on the DaViD, dCS 972, and Elgar, all battened down into an MIT Z-Center. More Z-Cord II was fitted between the Nagra and BAT preamps and an MIT Iso-Duo. When listening through the 6 Chassis, I used YBA's own elegant-sounding, ground-lifted power cords into the Iso-Duo. All MIT boxes were tethered to the wall with MIT-Z Cord, and a Z-Stabilizer was plugged into the quad 30A hospital-grade sockets serving the amps, as were a pair of Coherence Systems Electraclear EAU-1 power conditioners.—Jonathan Scull