HiFi One—Stillpoints—Wadax—Echole

So you want cutting edge? Innovation? I’d say the team in the HiFi One room have you covered. I hope I can do this elevator-speech version justice—the Wadax PRE1-Phono solution provides you with a custom RIAA curve optimized for your turntable to nanovolt level signal precision. They refer to this process as "mapping." How do they do it? Wadax created a laquer "master" that is played on your turntable and the Wadax musIC chip in the PRE-1 captures the associated data and sends it, wirelessly via the Internet, back to Wadax where they analyze and optimize the RIAA curve in your PRE1-Phono based on the data they captured directly from your turntable. Or maybe I should say!

And really, that's not even half the story since that PRE1 can be configured as a line-level preamplifier, preamp with integrated DAC, with the above mentioned phono stage, with "WADA optimized PureDAC mode," and as a phono stage with step-up amplifier. You should visit the Wadax website for the whole story.

If that wasn't enough, Wadax makes the whole enchilada from the Hermes Universal Player to the preamp and loudspeakers. The system we listened to included the PRE1-Phono Universal Pre with Direct Cartridge Input ($32,500) which means the associated Spiral SG1.1 was "mapped," the fully active Wadax SPEAK 1.5 speakers ($44,625/pair), cabling from Echole Cales, and the rack was the Stillpoints 42 Series ESS 42-40-4 (12,665) with a bunch of the Stillpoints ULTRA footers ($900).

We listened to the same track from an LP before and after mapping (through two different outputs on the PRE1) and the difference was not subtle—my notes read "difference in resolution akin to microphone placement. More decay, focus, more natural, more dynamic, more engaging, more. . .", which is where I gave up writing about the improvements.