I have already posted the pics and the links for the Audiophonics.fr DA and DAW all-in-one amplifier here.
From my personal experience with AIO amplifiers, the integration of different PCBs with specialized services & functions, like DAC input /output, Wifi and BT input isn’t easy-peasy at all. You’ll get something wrong in the firmware, and your units suddenly lose a lot of their value.
No UPnP/DLNA? Meh!
Spdif input volume reset? Meh!
No 5Ghz network? Meh!
DSD doesn’t work? Meh!
You may imagine the task to avoid possible, visible and invisble traps with the internal ingredients, and then, when it works, you’ll need to get you device communicating correctly with all external service providers with - let’s say - kind of different views on importance for faultless playback on your device. The Hi-Fi world has seen more rewarding tasks to fulfill, I would say.
As much that I love devices like the MOON ACE or the Lyngdorf 3400, which I tested both thoroughly, I found that the level of hardware compatibility and software engineering isn’t a joke but a serious demand and kind of a mastership itself.
I have also seen devices like the ELAC, which just didn’t cut it - for many reasons, even they had great engineering on board back then.
Audiophonics.fr had now paired 3 devices, which are famed for their sweet price/performance ratio in their specific category:
- The Hypex nCcore NC252MP, which is a sweet spot in the Class D amplifier market, and used i.E. by Cambridge or NAD for their own AIO devices.
- The ESS9038q2m, a DAC chip that is imho now completly decrypted (ESS Hump, anyone ?) and which implementation recipes are well known to the industry.
- The WIIM - i.e. a Linkplay A98m based device/pcb , which seems to be the sweet spot for streaming and multiroom devices, if you won’t get your fingers/mind burned in DIYing a RasPi4 as streaming unit.
Looks smart, sounds great. Big PLUS: the price is unbelievable budget-friendly. 899 Euros, which translates into 750 USD, sans tax.
For a breakdown, take 200$ for the DAC, 150$ for the streamer, and you arrive at 400$ for the Hypex amp. Yes there is a tax advantage for that bill, but seriously …
I understand everyone who says/thinks: Hey, that’s all I want, no need to look further.
Or: That is the one I want to meet in my beach condo/block house in the woods / guest house in the garden – when on holidays.
You’re right – being all set is the objective of AIO-devices. That’s totally fair !
However, based on my experience, if you are going to have one of these units for your main system, I would give you the advice to buy the 200 Euro lower priced DA unit and add a streamer of your choice to the set up, because this might be the single part you may want to replace at first stage. What better option than to have it offside and available for quick exchange if necessary?
Perhaps untrue 4 you, but if you are like me in a silent love with PiCorePlayer on the Raspi, you may understand what I mean.
I have send a request to Audiophonics.frin order to get my hands on a review device, which I hope to pair with a pair of Q acoustics 3030i for presenting a mega sweet spot complete system for significanly less than 1500 Euros! I hope that will work out, fingers crossed.
Got thumps up from Chris, too, for presenting it on the frontpage, perhaps next year. Let the stuff fly in.