Ideon Audio Ayazi mk2 D/A processor & 3R Master Time Black Star USB clock Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Analog sources: Garrard 301 turntable in a Box Furniture Co. plinth; Thomas Schick 12" tonearm and headshell. Technics SL-1200G turntable; Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua cartridge; Hana Umami Red cartridge; Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge; Ortofon SPU Classic G cartridge; Zu/Denon DL-103 cartridge.
Digital sources: Sonnet Morpheus DAC; Denafrips Iris digital-to-digital converter; Sonore opticalRendu; Small Green Computer sonicTransporter i5 server running Roon Core.
Preamplification: Shindo Aurieges preamplifier; Sutherland Little Loco phono preamplifier; Lejonklou Entity phono preamplifier; Parasound Halo JC 3+ phono preamplifier.
Amplification: Line Magnetic LM-845IA (used as a power amplifier); Pass Labs INT-60; Ayre AX-5 Twenty.
Loudspeakers: Altec Valencia 846A.
Cables: Interconnect: Auditorium 23; Linn Silver; AudioQuest Firebird and Thunderbird; Speaker: AudioQuest Thunderbird Zero; Auditorium 23; AC: AudioQuest Thunder and Hurricane; Triode Wire Labs Digital American. USB: AudioQuest Diamond; Ethernet: AudioQuest Diamond.
Accessories: Box Furniture Co. Heritage stand; Box Furniture Co. amplifier stand; AudioQuest Niagara 3000 power conditioner; Sonore opticalModule; Sonore Audiophile Linear Power Supply, DJM Electronics GigaFOILv4-INLINE Ethernet filter; Vinnie Rossi MINI PURE-DC-4EVR 9-Volt DC Power Supply; IsoAcoustics OREA Bordeaux isolation footers; Ayre/Cardas Myrtlewood blocks; Feickert Next Generation Universal Protractor, AudioQuest Anti-Static Record Brush; Last Stylus Cleaner; VPI Industries HW-16.5 record cleaning machine.—Alex Halberstadt

Ideon Audio
Distributed in the US and Canada by Audio Skies
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 975-7099

MZKM's picture

Why do so many Hi-Fi brands forgo balanced connections? This unit is $4000. Many amps have an input sensitivity >2V, so you’d thus have to deal with lower wattage or use an active preamp.

Kursun's picture

I for one, can't understand usage of balanced lines.
Balanced lines, separate neutral and ground wires are required in instances where there is great distance between mikes for example and pre inputs, as in stagework and large recording studios.

As you mention at homes, average source signal levels are as high as 2Vs and average distance between source and other components are usually less than 0.5 m.

There shouldn't any use for balanced lines or connections at home. Yet they are often used on high priced equipment to give the illusion of high-end.

On the other hand, phono cartridges could benefit as their outputs are extremely low and susceptible to picking up hum.This is the only component in home audio where balanced lines could really help. Yet this fact is easily ignored by the high end crowd.

MZKM's picture

I’m not talking about balanced for increase performance, I’m talking about balanced as it 2x the output, 4Vrms being standard.

If this unit put out 4Vrms via RCA, I’d have no complaints. But it doesn’t, which leads to a smaller pool of amplifiers that can be paired with it without limiting the wattage.

Do note that even 4Vrms isn’t enough sometimes; the Purifi amp for instance, if you forgo any input buffer (for max performance), it requires something along the lines of 11Vrms!

Jack L's picture


Why single out Purifi classD amp's "abnormal" input sensitivity 11Vrms vs standard 2Vrms used by most most, if not all, brandname power amps ???

Like it or not, you demand tooooo much for unbalanced RCA jack output level which has been the standard since day one decades back.

Besides, not many audio guys like Class D sound. Not me for sure!

Purifi even offers optional "Amp Connector Board" to boost its "abnormal" low sensitivity 11Vrms to 1.5Vrms for full ouput power !!

Listening to analoge is believing

Jack L

MZKM's picture

I’m not demanding >2Vrms from the RCA outs.

But, if they don’t offer balanced (standard is 2x so 4Vrms), then the amp options are narrowed.

There is no excuse to not adding balanced output for any stereo DAC >$1000.

MZKM's picture

I’m not demanding >2Vrms from the RCA outs. But even a Denon surround sound receiver (X6700 specifically) can output > 4Vrms from it’s RCA outputs without clipping (clipping starts close to 4.5Vrms).

But, if they don’t offer balanced (standard is 2x so 4Vrms), then the amp options are narrowed.

Some amps have XLR only inputs. The excuse could be then to go buy an RCA->XLR cable, or your source could just already have XLR outputs.

Jack L's picture


Bingo. I can't agree more.

The primary functioin of balanced audio transmsssion/connection is to eliminate RFI noise airborne/ground noises into the audio signals passing thru the cables/interconnects.

Historically, paired balanced equal impedance line transmission was used for long long distanced telephone landline voice transmission, since day one decades back. It is to cancel out any common mode RFI noise at the receiving end of the transmission. So that the voice calls are still clear & noise-free hundred miles away.

Balanced equal impedance line connections for audio are commonly used in recording studios, auditoriums & outdoor audio PA functions where miles of audio cables are involved

That said, some long established recording studios still retend single-ended unbalanced cable systems.

For home audio where audio cables/interconnects are toooo short relative to professinal audios, to worry about RFI noises problem.

Yes, you hit the bullseye by pointing out "they are often on high priced equipment to give the ILLUSION of high-end."

Technically, balanced input/output can be provided effeciently & cheaply by using operation amplifiers (Op-amp) IC chips. Op-amps always come with normal & inverted (differential) inputs - balanced inputs. Such op-amp chips cost dirt cheap for a few buck a piece.

Marketing for higher price ! 'Hi-tech' balanced differential inputs along with conventinal unbalanced RCA jacks !!!

As a die-hard analogue guy, I would not touch any audio amps with op-amps in the signal path, balanced or what not. My skeptical ears can't take any IC chip sound, sorry.

Listening to analogue is believing

Jack L

georgehifi's picture

MZKM: "Many amps have an input sensitivity >2V, so you’d thus have to deal with lower wattage or use an active preamp."

Yes, it's so easy to have far higher output gain from sources today with volume control and go direct without any negatives. (And as a bonus also have less distortion/colouration, than having an active preamp and another set of interconnects in line)
These manufacturers that refuse to give it, probably also sell active preamps, or have a buddy that does.

Cheers George

Jack L's picture


Yes, for better sound, for sure.

But the problem is not many programme sources with balanced outputs also come with level control, e.g. DAC, CD/DVD players.

So how can they be hooked up DIRECT to power amps with balanced inputs only, e.g. Benchmark power amps.

Don't worry. There are already PASSIVE balanced control boxes come with quality Japanese-made 4-gang volume control, available dirt dirt cheap from Amazon. Virtually a balanced signal straight-line passage with volume control.

Better sound & money saving for sure, than any active preamps for balanced signal volume control. This is physics.

As I said above, balanced audio is a sales gimmick for home audio.
No need for me technically & sonically (op-amp sound !!!).

Listening to discrete analogue is believing.

Jack L

cognoscente's picture

Streaming a song costs the same amount of power as (buying and) downloading it once. Streaming (and data sharing in general such as on social media, the internet is one of the biggest polluters), eating meat, traveling and having a fireplace and bbq is not the future

MhtLion's picture

Based on what I read here, you seem to have a limited experience with a DAC. Sure, you may have a ton of experience just not written here, but what I am picking up personally from your review is that you are not a DAC fanatic and you may not have an experience with other more established DACs around its price point. The question is - why is your review worth anything? Are you a professional reviewer knowing in and out of a DAC and its industry? Or, is your review just as good as any personal review on Amazon? You may be the former, but I'm leaning toward the latter.

MZKM's picture

All I care about is wether they know what to talk about. I don’t care if the person doesn’t even like music, as long as they are able to hear subtle changes and able to identify the changes occurred that resulted in that change (maybe the volume control is analog which has a large channel imbalance, altering the imaging/soundstage as the volume control is changed).

MhtLion's picture

For me, I do not care if a $20,000 DAC sounds heavenly when it actually sounds similar to a $2,000 DAC. I read 3 DAC reviews from Alex. Every time, I cannot stop thinking 'no.. I don't think he knows a DAC. He does not sound like a DAC guy'. There are many products that sound wonderful. But, when a reviewer recommends a product, he must know how it compares to the competition. I have no idea who Alex is. Maybe he is/used to be a musician. Perhaps he can dive into the music deeper than most. But, say a grammy winning musician goes to an audio shop and listens to a DAC and loves it to death - it does not matter if he only heard 3 DACs in his lifetime. I personally find that's not much different from a five-year-old finding the next greatest toy of all time every time he steps into the target.