CAF 2021: The Voice That Is, TIDAL Audio & The Ideon Audio Absolute Suite

Saturday morning at CAF 2021 began with a pre-show bang in the Newtown Square, PA dealer The Voice That Is room and a presentation of Athens, Greece-based Ideon Audio and their Absolute Suite of digital products.

The Absolute Suite is comprised of the new Absolute Epsilon DAC ($44,000), Absolute Time reclocker ($8900), and Absolute Stream ($19,900) ($72k for the stack). The fully balanced DAC is built around the ESS Sabre ES9038PRO D/A chip but Ideon employs custom code to bypass some of the internal processing to achieve the sonic output they’re after. The Epsilon DAC also houses 16 separate power regulators, three ultra-low jitter and ultra-low phase noise femto clocks each with its own dedicated power supply, and Ideon’s Triple Distillation USB input, a proprietary three-stage noise eradication circuit that eliminates digital noise from the input signal. The output is direct coupled, with no caps in the signal path, and the 28kg (~62lbs) chassis is milled from a single block of aluminum. The Epsilon DAC is built on a modular design, with an eye toward seamless future updates.

The Roon Ready Absolute Stream includes a re-clocking circuit with femto clock architecture, a hand made over-spec’d custom power transformer, four separate ultra-low noise linear power supplies, and a proprietary ultra-low esr bypass power filter all housed in a matching aluminum 22kg (~49lbs) CNC milled chassis. The Absolute Time USB & SPDIF re-clocker also includes the Triple Distillation USB input while the same care and attention paid to power delivery and noise elimination found in the DAC and Stream are employed in the Absolute Time which resides in its own matching 15kg (~ 33 lbs) CNC milled chassis.

The system context for the Absolute Suite included the 20th Anniversary Limited Edition TIDAL Audio Contriva Speakers ($69,000 and up depending on finish), the North American Premier of the TIDAL Intra Amplifiers ($33,000/pair), TIDAL Prisma Preamplifier ($40,000), Innuos PhoenixNet Switch ($3499), the Computer Audio Designs Ground Control-1 ($1995) and GC-3 ($4500), Equitech 2RQ Balanced conditioner ($6545), Ictra Design Proto-AS Rack ($22,500), with the new Classic Legend 880 Series Cables from Siltech.

We listened to a number of tracks after the presentation proper by Michael Vamos of Audio Skies, the US Ideon distributor, and while most of the music was not familiar, there was no mistaking the liquid yet dynamic and natural sound that appeared in room as if completely free from the speakers. This was another system I wish I had the time to spend more time with, just me, an iPad as remote, and an endless stream of music…