CH Precision's C1.2 DAC/Controller Joins Their Line-Up

CH Precision made a move equally smart and enlightening. Rather than devote endless minutes to introducing the new CH Precision C1.2 DAC/Controller, they harnessed many of their finest components together for a demo, which Jim Austin attended at a different time, in which Kevin Wolff compared the sound of various silver disc formats. Thanks to the wise music choices of Kevin Wolff and Roy Gregory, it was time well-spent.

First, however, a few words on the C1.2 DAC/Controller. Due September 1, it's available either in a stereo version that includes one HD digital input card ($36,000), or in Mono configuration, again with that sole card ($77,000). C1/C1 Mono owners can upgrade for $4000, with the upgrade installed by either dealer or factory. Ready to process DSD, MQA, DXD, and Roon, as well as to stream Tidal and Qobuz, the C1.2 promises a "massive increase in processing power," an all-new master clock, a significantly reduced noise floor, and MQA compliance for both disc and file replay. Users have a choice of inputs and expandable system capability that includes the use of external power supplies, a possible upgrade to "true three-box, dual-monaural DAC form," and the ability to accept/switch analog inputs. Additional input/output options come at additional cost, of course.

The demo also included Rockport Lyra loudspeakers and the D.15 CD/SACD player/transport reviewed by Jim Austin in the March issue, and CH Precision 10 Series amplifiers (below). We began with a Red Book CD test pressing of Buddy Holly, which sounded great. We then moved on to Cannonball Adderley performing "Autumn Leaves" on an MQA Blue Dot CD and noted that it sounded greater than great. Then we compared the L1 to the L10 with X1 outboard power supply. The latter surrounded instruments on a recording of Vivaldi's Cello Concerto in E minor with more air.

Comparing C1 and C1.2 models, the newer DAC/Controller, which promises four times the processing power, delivered better defined images, overtones, and subtlety. When Kevin Wolff added the T1 10MHz Reference Clock, I heard deeper color saturation and even more life and transparency. ("Are the images also bigger?" I asked in my notes.) Most important, I entered so deeply into the heartbreak the Mitsuko Uchida drew from the middle Andante con moto movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4 that I was immediately convinced that CH Precision gear is capable of laying bare a performance's emotional essence.

From a next-day discussion I had with Jim Austin, we may have had different reactions to how different formats delivered a snippet of Carlos Kleiber's classic, large-boned performance of Beethoven's Symphony No.7. The comparison was between CD (very musical), SACD (far more spacious and involving), and a UHQ Silver MQA CD (brought me closer, but perhaps at the expense of some air). This is a comparison I'd love to revisit in the future, preferably in my own system (whose different equipment decodes and renders MQA files/streams but cannot currently process MQA CD). Regardless, for a demo whose intent was to demonstrate how every upgrade CH Precision has made to its equipment matters, this was a time-well-spent technical and musical winner.