Reference Sounds – Wilson Sasha V with Wadax Atlantis Reference and D’Agostino
Thursday, 12 October, Michael Huigen, Robin Bruinsma, and Nick Spier of Reference Sounds kindly hosted a private session for yours truly, colleague and friend Werner Ero, and mutual friend NK.
Having attended Reference Sounds demos before, knowing just how hospitable Michael and Nick are, and being in the company of two close friends, this was shaping up to be a very nice day, almost no matter the audio system. But this was not just any audio system, very far from it!
We were about to witness a full Wadax Reference front end consisting of the hugely imposing Atlantis Reference Server and Atlantis Reference DAC, complete with the optional proprietary and visually very impressive Optical Link system. This front end was connected via Transparent Audio Ultra Balanced interlinks to a Dan D’Agostino Momentum HD preamplifier, which was connected via Transparent Audio Reference Balanced interlinks to a Dan D’Agostino Momentum MxV S250 Stereo Power Amplifier. The loudspeakers were none other than the new Wilson Audio Sasha V, connected with Transparent Audio Reference speaker cables.
The entire system was powered by Transparent Audio Power Cables. The Wadax components were set up side by side on the custom side table, while the amplification end was set up on an HRS EXR Audio Stand.
Naturally, I will provide my listening impressions, but first, I must provide more in-depth information about each component. They are all just too special!
Wadax Atlantis Reference Server
The Reference Server is driven by a heavily regulated, multi-stage power supply derived directly from the supplies developed for the Reference DAC. The Server contains 3 large proprietary power transformers, 5 stages of power supply regulation, and over 200 discrete parts. It is optimized for the rejection of external conducted and radiated emissions while also extracting and eliminating the naturally generated electromagnetic noise inside the chassis. Mechanically, it is decoupled from critical circuitry to avoid any possible cross-contamination into the critical digital circuitry.
The chassis is machined from 150 kg of high-spec aluminum alloy and made into a complex and ultra-rigid construction that doesn’t just isolate vulnerable data from the outside world, it isolates the individual sections within the server itself, mechanically and electrically grounding each critical section, preventing the transfer of mechanical or radiated energy from one to another. The entire structure and its parts are classified and assembled according to their mechanical and vibratory behavior to create a sophisticated mechanical cascade designed specifically to transport and dissipate structural energy.
Rather than off-the-shelf components, Wadax built their own USB physical layer driver to ensure accurate data transfer. The server even provides adjustable mechanical support for the cable, which prevents heavy high-end cables from leaning too heavily on the connector.
Atlantis Reference Server rear – note the massive size of the AKASA connector and the adjustable mechanical USB support
The server provides a unique solution to the issues inherent in data encoding, transfer, and cable connections – Digital Waveform Control. The Wadax digital components employ a proprietary MusIC Chip 2 technology, a feed-forward error correction system that compensates for time, amplitude, and phase errors in the D-to-A conversion path. Using the same technique – adding the inverse of the transfer function error to the signal – Wadax realized that it would be possible to compensate for the bit waveform distortion in the USB interlink.
This is achieved using Digital Waveform Control, a set of three rotary knobs that allow users to adjust/compensate for errors in the rise-time and amplitude of the sent signal as well as the spacing on the return channel (counteracting echoes and reflections). Users can establish 3 pre-set compensations to match the replay characteristics of different streaming services or locally stored files.
Wadax AKASA Optical Connection
Having developed the DWC feed-forward correction, Wadax set out to further advance the interface technology, developing their own proprietary optical connection to optimize the transfer of the musical files. Working with a leading Japanese optical engineering corporation to create the fiber optics and Neutrik for the connectors, Wadax designed and built the AKASA optical interface.
AKASA is a proprietary solution that requires the installation of dedicated driver and receiver boards in the Reference Server and Reference DAC. AKASA further raises the performance bar, according to the manufacturer, eclipsing all existing digital standards and challenging the musical performance of all available audio sources.
Next: Wadax Atlantis Reference DAC