Aqua La Scala MKII Optologic Dac Owner Testimonial

Arcadia Audio

Industry Expert
May 6, 2020
32
22
15
50
www.aquahifi.com
Please find a wonderful and very detailed testimonial we recently received from a very happy Aqua La Scala owner....

Aqua La Scala MKII Optologic Dac

Review and overall results following 4+ months of intense listening


Contextual Notes – About the DAC:

• I did own many high-quality DACs in the past 5+ years
• The latest I was listening to and from which the comparison was done is the APL DSD-S XE DAC from Alex Peychev
• I also have a super CD Reference unit in the Esoteric X01 D2
• I have been carefully listening and testing the Aqua La Scala since early October 2020
• The La Scala has been tested using the following tubes: Telefunken 12AT7, Genelex Gold Lion 12AT7, PSVane 12AT7-T MKII, Shuguang 12AT7 Natural Sound

Contextual Notes – Test System:

• Amplifier: Pass Labs XA 30.8
• Preamp: ModWright LS 36.5 / PS 36.5 using 6H30 Reflektor Tubes from 1982
• CD: Esoteric X01 D2
• Streamer: Aurender N100-H
• Buffer: Custom Buffer B1 – Nelson Pass version
• Analog: VPI + ZuDL103 Grade 2 (plus Retip from Peter at SoundSmith) + Allnic H1201 Tube Preamp
• Speakers: Verity Audio Parsifal Anniversary
• Cabling: Top IEC, AC and Speaker cables (Shunyata, Siltech, Synergistic Research, Audioquest, others)
• Dedicated Power hooked to a Vibex 11-R Conditioner
• Entire system upgraded on Synergistic Research Orange Fuses
• Entire system sitting on specific anti-vibration, upon best results (SR Mig 2.0, Symposium Rollerblocks 2+, dedicated platforms)

Summary of my Test Notes:

Please find below a summary of the notes taken along the MANY listening sessions that took place over the last 4+ months.
The result and the conversations with audio friends resulted in having two of them buying a Aqua La Scala, following myrecommendations!
Summary of my Test Notes (after four Months):
• The Aqua La Scala is much smoother.
• Less digital.
• The tones of the instruments are more precise and much closer to reality.
• The realism of individual and group instruments is significantly increased.
• The stage is much wider, but above all, much deeper. Sometimes it feels like there is no wall at the back. It's like being in a spaceship and traveling through musical space!!!! This is what I describe, as with many reviewers, as a 'Complete dark background' or 'Black background'...
• The tops are less sibilant, softer and more textured.
• The attacks are much more precise, but without being exaggerated.
• Same results with the cymbals; the attacks with the tips of the sticks, made of wood or plastic, are much more real; we can also feel much more after-tones and overtones.
• The bass is rounder, deeper, warmer, faster and more precise.
• The mids are also softer, while being more dynamic, which is quite remarkable...! They also have a better attack and a better precision, which adds to the rhythm...
• The rhythm… AMAZING! The space (next point) created between the instruments, combined with the precision of the attacks, bring energy and flexibility to the rhythm and musical swing in a simply diabolical way... nothing less! Ihave never wanted to dance so much on my couch!
• Space = WOW! For most audio devices, space brings an analytical aspect to listening. It creates a detachment between instruments (the Nagra VPA 845 are a good example), which makes realism incoherent, and it greatly diminishes the listening experience. In the case of the AquaLa Scala, it is quite the opposite! The space created between the instruments is so flexible that it feels like each note is floating in space, while being in motion. It's really striking with the percussion and drumming. But everywhere and all the time!!!!
• Regarding details, it is the same as for Space and Rhythm. The Aqua La Scala offers even more micro details and information. But again, not in an analytical way, but to bring realism: the slackening of the hand on the neck when the guitarist changes chords, the snapping of the string on the double bass, the overtones and harmonics on the cymbals, the fine crackling in the voice and the breathing, the movement of the keys on a saxophone, etc. All of this makes the listening experience much better than the APL, or any high-expansive DACs I have been listening to, and with any digital sources heard...!
• The subtleties come and appear every day, every time you listen to a song you've listened to a thousand times...
• The rendering is much more 'Live'; you want to close your eyes so much the artist or the band are in your living room. When you close your eyes, you can touch them... from far away, just like when attending a concert!
• The voices have a more beautiful grain, more realistic and more comforting...
• Once it was broken in, with the right cables and tubes, no aggressivity; I listened to it at more than 98db with my wife, who is very sensitive, and she was completely amazed... and so did I!
• The Aqua La Scala is also not Forward. The artists are well placed and the 'Front' (Lead artist), is not too forward, but just well positioned in a slight half moon pointing forward.
• Acoustic instruments are much more real and natural.
• An image that came to my mind: it's a bit like adding 845Tubes in my Pass Labs!
• Piano: the texture, the grain of the wood and strings, the movement and the hammering, the pedalboard, the tones, the acoustics, everything is really more natural than with the APL...
• The overall dynamics, because of all the previous points, is simply amazing!
• The structure and audio signature between the Aqua La Scala and the APL are totally different. In another galaxy... We are much more engaged in listening.
• It gives shivers, tears, joy, and only happiness!!!!
• It's the first time I can compare a recording on my digital kit, in real time, with my analog kit... and I must admit that it's a disturbing!!!

Well Done !! BRAVO !!!
 

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
1,296
305
240
Round Rock, TX
Congrats, I'm glad he's enjoying it!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arcadia Audio

Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
4,615
1,984
265
50
Australia
Please find a wonderful and very detailed testimonial we recently received from a very happy Aqua La Scala owner....

Aqua La Scala MKII Optologic Dac

Review and overall results following 4+ months of intense listening


Contextual Notes – About the DAC:

• I did own many high-quality DACs in the past 5+ years
• The latest I was listening to and from which the comparison was done is the APL DSD-S XE DAC from Alex Peychev
• I also have a super CD Reference unit in the Esoteric X01 D2
• I have been carefully listening and testing the Aqua La Scala since early October 2020
• The La Scala has been tested using the following tubes: Telefunken 12AT7, Genelex Gold Lion 12AT7, PSVane 12AT7-T MKII, Shuguang 12AT7 Natural Sound

Contextual Notes – Test System:

• Amplifier: Pass Labs XA 30.8
• Preamp: ModWright LS 36.5 / PS 36.5 using 6H30 Reflektor Tubes from 1982
• CD: Esoteric X01 D2
• Streamer: Aurender N100-H
• Buffer: Custom Buffer B1 – Nelson Pass version
• Analog: VPI + ZuDL103 Grade 2 (plus Retip from Peter at SoundSmith) + Allnic H1201 Tube Preamp
• Speakers: Verity Audio Parsifal Anniversary
• Cabling: Top IEC, AC and Speaker cables (Shunyata, Siltech, Synergistic Research, Audioquest, others)
• Dedicated Power hooked to a Vibex 11-R Conditioner
• Entire system upgraded on Synergistic Research Orange Fuses
• Entire system sitting on specific anti-vibration, upon best results (SR Mig 2.0, Symposium Rollerblocks 2+, dedicated platforms)

Summary of my Test Notes:

Please find below a summary of the notes taken along the MANY listening sessions that took place over the last 4+ months.
The result and the conversations with audio friends resulted in having two of them buying a Aqua La Scala, following myrecommendations!
Summary of my Test Notes (after four Months):
• The Aqua La Scala is much smoother.
• Less digital.
• The tones of the instruments are more precise and much closer to reality.
• The realism of individual and group instruments is significantly increased.
• The stage is much wider, but above all, much deeper. Sometimes it feels like there is no wall at the back. It's like being in a spaceship and traveling through musical space!!!! This is what I describe, as with many reviewers, as a 'Complete dark background' or 'Black background'...
• The tops are less sibilant, softer and more textured.
• The attacks are much more precise, but without being exaggerated.
• Same results with the cymbals; the attacks with the tips of the sticks, made of wood or plastic, are much more real; we can also feel much more after-tones and overtones.
• The bass is rounder, deeper, warmer, faster and more precise.
• The mids are also softer, while being more dynamic, which is quite remarkable...! They also have a better attack and a better precision, which adds to the rhythm...
• The rhythm… AMAZING! The space (next point) created between the instruments, combined with the precision of the attacks, bring energy and flexibility to the rhythm and musical swing in a simply diabolical way... nothing less! Ihave never wanted to dance so much on my couch!
• Space = WOW! For most audio devices, space brings an analytical aspect to listening. It creates a detachment between instruments (the Nagra VPA 845 are a good example), which makes realism incoherent, and it greatly diminishes the listening experience. In the case of the AquaLa Scala, it is quite the opposite! The space created between the instruments is so flexible that it feels like each note is floating in space, while being in motion. It's really striking with the percussion and drumming. But everywhere and all the time!!!!
• Regarding details, it is the same as for Space and Rhythm. The Aqua La Scala offers even more micro details and information. But again, not in an analytical way, but to bring realism: the slackening of the hand on the neck when the guitarist changes chords, the snapping of the string on the double bass, the overtones and harmonics on the cymbals, the fine crackling in the voice and the breathing, the movement of the keys on a saxophone, etc. All of this makes the listening experience much better than the APL, or any high-expansive DACs I have been listening to, and with any digital sources heard...!
• The subtleties come and appear every day, every time you listen to a song you've listened to a thousand times...
• The rendering is much more 'Live'; you want to close your eyes so much the artist or the band are in your living room. When you close your eyes, you can touch them... from far away, just like when attending a concert!
• The voices have a more beautiful grain, more realistic and more comforting...
• Once it was broken in, with the right cables and tubes, no aggressivity; I listened to it at more than 98db with my wife, who is very sensitive, and she was completely amazed... and so did I!
• The Aqua La Scala is also not Forward. The artists are well placed and the 'Front' (Lead artist), is not too forward, but just well positioned in a slight half moon pointing forward.
• Acoustic instruments are much more real and natural.
• An image that came to my mind: it's a bit like adding 845Tubes in my Pass Labs!
• Piano: the texture, the grain of the wood and strings, the movement and the hammering, the pedalboard, the tones, the acoustics, everything is really more natural than with the APL...
• The overall dynamics, because of all the previous points, is simply amazing!
• The structure and audio signature between the Aqua La Scala and the APL are totally different. In another galaxy... We are much more engaged in listening.
• It gives shivers, tears, joy, and only happiness!!!!
• It's the first time I can compare a recording on my digital kit, in real time, with my analog kit... and I must admit that it's a disturbing!!!

Well Done !! BRAVO !!!
It’s a good thing when a customer is very happy with his purchase
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arcadia Audio

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