Haute Fidelité Magazine
Review by William Savignac
La SOURCE CD/SACD Player: Article " HAUTE FIDELITE " March 2010
The French company Audio Aero can be proud of
their latest creation: La Source.
Created for the audiophile as an essential "must have" piece of equipment, this brilliant player is the definitive reference.
It was very ambitious to create one of the finest integrated sources on the market, but Audio Aero have moreover done it with panache.
Audio Aero have shown their ability in managing
high level projects from design concept to production. La Source is their latest
achievement, combining the latest digital technologies with the best and most
musical analogue circuits from the past.
Before starting our critical listening, we connected La Source
to our reference amplifier through an external preamplifier, then, we connected
it directly. The result is beyond any dispute and so significant, in terms of
transparency and air when La Source is directly connected to the power amplifier.
Once that is established, we take part in an awesome festival of timbral beauty
and tonal accuracy. The realism is raised to a degree where we are under the
impression that we are listening to real instruments and artists in the flesh.
Every register enjoys amazing accuracy of reproduction in terms of colour, harmonics
and depth of sound. The deep bass and the sub-bass flow with a remarkable tension
and power. We had never heard the double bass on the track Use Me, from
the album Companion by Patricia Barber performed with such accuracy. The instrument
takes shape in front of the listener with an ideal amount of air around it,
and stands out on the stage in all its glory.
The treble is simply sublime, full of detail giving the true colour to even a cymbal or to a triangle. The expressiveness and the purity of the medium easily reach the level of the best players on the market. The harmonic fusion of the bass and the treble is faultless and gives a unique credibility to the reproduction.
You will have realised by now that la Source places the bar extremely high on our scale of usual criteria for judgement and the dynamics are one of a number of the special features of this player which is above and beyond the normal range. As proof, we listen to the track March from Military Fanfare. Of all the listening tests in which yours truly has participated, it is the first during which the brass section and the percussions in the orchestra have poured forth with such energy. The bass drum takes on unbelievable realism at the point of impact, reproduced with such energy, with all the mass of the ball-shaped mallet striking the drum-head membrane. The brass section is rendered with a vibrant stinging attack which is ultra-rapid and perfectly distinct. The speed of analysis associated with the fabulous richness of tones contributes to the sensation of dynamics split between macro and micro, particularly evidenced with Requiem of Mozart, energetically conducted by Nikolaus Hamoncourt. When the choir starts singing Dies Irae, the song is lively, the voices mix together, while remaining intelligible and able to be located on the stage, but with the differences of intonation of each individual chorister remaining instantly discernable. The ability to restore micro-information from recordings, both in terms of nuances and focus while remaining true to the original recording, is absolutely unique.
The stability of the stage and its sonic presentation is superb, and it goes without saying that its remarkable potential for resolution will of course obviate the use of accessories and cables matched to the same calibre. To confirm our impressions, we have compared la Source to a very high-end European player, and with this other player we immediately noticed some hesitancy or vagueness of both the image and position of the instruments. Nothing of the sort with Audio Aero: each instrument is precisely defined and separated from its neighbour by an extraordinary range of harmonics, by a sonic essence supplying the volume on demand to instrument or voice, and by an extremely rare sensation of virtual presence.
We knew that the digital circuits developed by Anagram ABC
PCB were impeccable, as were the valve analogue stages created by Audio Aéro.
However, we could not imagine that there could be such a synergy: La Source
literally disappears while it delivers the whole of the original recording as
it was captured on the master tapes.
The neutrality is obvious from the moment the music starts playing. Straight away, we can feel the air which circulates between and around the musicians, we recognize each instrument by its own natural timbre, we can distinguish one voice amongst others on a stage or in a recording studio, and we can picture the exact location of the performance by the multitude of information and ambient sounds, as decoded and portrayed by La Source.
This player is able to create a liaison between the notes of music; while conversely the analytical and demonstrative players of their competitors place commas between the frequencies.
What a real breath of fresh air it was to listen to La Source ! We attach great importance to the emotion reproduced by a system, that which enables the artist to be projected into the listening arena. You will realise that la Source is just such an instrument, which can set the record straight in terms of musicality, neutrality, detail, nuances, dynamics, stereo image Its manufacture is absolutely exemplary, as are the technical solutions, which were adopted by its maker. It also makes sense that you will only do justice to this equipment if the entire system is of a similar pedigree. And if you consider la Source as a fully fledged combined CD player and preamplifier at the very high end, then its high price level will be totally justifiable...............William Savignac
Manufacture ***** 5...Tone ***** 5...Dynamics ***** 5...Imaging ***** 5...Transparency ***** 5...Quality/Price: Not Applicable
Translation by Ron Tabor
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