Genesis Technologies Digital Lens Page 5
In addition to revealing more timbral detail, the Lens also made instruments more separate and distinct. The presentation provided a greater impression of individual instruments in space. This quality helped unravel complex passages: quieter instruments could still be heard in the presence of louder ones. The Lens made it easier to follow individual threads, from woodwinds in symphonic music to sax and trumpet during unison phrases in jazz. A good example of the latter was the ensemble playing on Teodross Avery's In Other Words (GRP GRP-9788), in which this remarkable young sax player works out with trumpeter Roy Hargrove in some straight-ahead blowing. The Lens kept the sax and trumpet from congealing, and better maintained the two instruments' identities.
Throughout the auditioning, I had the impression that instrumental timbres were portrayed with greater realism—acoustic guitar had more "guitarness," piano more "pianoness." Listen, for example, to the piano in the previously mentioned Istomin/Seattle recording of Mozart's Piano Concerto 21. The Lens made the piano sound more coherent and focused, while simultaneously taking off a bit of the glassy character on transient leading edges. I also heard this smoothing of timbres in other instruments. Acoustic guitar had less of a mechanical hardness and more warmth and beauty; woodwinds lacked the glare that tends to make them sound synthetic; and strings had a liquid sheen rather than a hard edge. This slight softening of timbres, combined with the resolution of fine detail, was, I concluded, responsible for the heightened sense of timbral realism with the Lens.
A higher-resolution presentation is often in conflict with a sense of ease and musical relaxation. Not with the Lens. Although the Lens made the sound more vivid and alive, it simultaneously decreased etch and the hard mechanical character that often overlays the music. The result was more music and less fatigue.
Putting the Lens in LaserDisc mode, which bypasses the memory and its jitter reduction, let me hear the difference in sound quality due to the more powerful RAM approach. With the Lens in LaserDisc mode, the sound was still better than with no Lens, but the magic was gone. The soundstage noticeably narrowed and become less deep, and the sense of transparent air between images was reduced. Instrumental textures lost some of their liquidity, and the trace of glare and mechanical hardness returned. The bass also softened, losing the super-taut quality that I'd been enjoying.
Most of my listening was in Dither 1 mode (bits 18, 19, and 20 dithered). I found that Dither 2 (bit 15 dithered) tended to close-in the presentation, slightly reduce clarity, and reduce top-octave extension compared to Dither 1.
An Audio Alchemy comparison
A logical point of comparison for the Lens is Audio Alchemy's similarly priced ($1695) DTI•Pro 32. Both units are jitter-reduction boxes that offer "resolution enhancement," although via very different techniques. The Audio Alchemy approach of adding extra bits seems more sophisticated than simply dithering the signal. But the Lens's RAM-based de-jittering can't be matched by a dual-PLL system such as that used in the DTI•Pro 32.
Both products improved the bass, tightened soundstage focus, better resolved low-level detail, and made the presentation bigger and more airy. The Lens excelled in the bass, which was tighter and better-defined than with the DTI•Pro 32. The Genesis box also produced smoother and more liquid instrumental timbres. I also thought the Lens was more open and extended in the upper treble, and produced a bigger soundstage. Overall, I preferred what the Lens did in my system.
If the Lens is indeed able to completely isolate the transport and its interconnect from a digital processor, it should make every transport and interconnect sound identical.