CAD 1543 DAC Mk II, Audio Transport, Ground Controls, & Cabling; Aesthetix Mimas Integrated, Boenicke W8 SE speakers, Bibacord Interconnects, HRX SXR Rack

July 5, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

After trying more than once to get into the CAD room at Munich High End, I ended up hearing a significantly smaller version of their system in Long Beach. This time, the hybrid integrated amplifier was the excellent Aesthetix Mimas ($7000 without optional modules), which I’ve reviewed for the August issue of Stereophile, and the speakers the diminutive Swiss Boenicke W8 SE ($12,500).

When I entered, the voice of the great, irreplaceable mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli singing Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” was hard to distinguish. (Yes, two rooms in a row playing Bartoli: life is good.) Perhaps a faulty rip resulted in a presentation where beauty vied with distortion, for the next track, by Leonard Cohen, was distortion-free and exceptional in its midrange beauty. Despite a bit of wiriness and the occasional cupped vowel, colors were gorgeous and the presentation had a gratifying openness, a quality many high end systems don’t achieve.

Computer Audio Design—CAD—of London, is fascinating in combining old with new: Their 1543 DAC Mk II Resistor Ladder NOS USB DAC ($12,000) uses a vintage DAC chip, and their CAD Audio Transport (aka CAT) is a $14,000 server with streaming, SSD storage, and automated CD ripping. Also from CAD: the GC1 ($1995) and GC3 ($4500) passive EMI/RFI absorption devices and I and II USB cables. From other manufacturers: Bibacord Interconnects and a HRX SXR Rack.

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