My Pachanko Server is here. A bargain at 16k Euros?!

Bogan88

New Member
Aug 12, 2020
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Recently received my Pachanko Constellation Masterpiece server (formerly called Constellation SE+) and just want to share some initial impressions with you guys.

I had little knowledge of this company except for their digital cables which have received great feedbacks from a lot of people doing DIY servers. I had researched other choices before I took the plunge (I had an old thread ages ago about it).
  • Taiko. (love to try one but over what I am comfortable spending on a server)
  • Innuos Statement (similar price point, easy plug and play, 2 boxes)
  • Antipodes K40. (from NZ, close to me! a LOT of good reviews. specs look a bit meh on paper)

My current setup:

CH C1 (with HD streaming card)-T1-X1-M10- Marten Mingus Orchestra.

Network is optimised with dedicated power circuits w gigawatt inwall cablings, Sablon ethernet cables head to toe, SBoosters on modems, clocked SOTM and Uptone ER powered by Uptone JS-2.

I use ROON, despite a lot of people bagging it, it’s the best music interface I have tried and for a computer-illiterate like myself it’s great. I have tried Taiko Beta version TAS and CH’s own app. They are both terrible from a user experience point of view (sorry Taiko fans!)

So…. after hours of research and many many emails to Pachanko I spent my hard earn $ and went for it. Not knowing what to expect... this is a company that does almost zero marketing. At least I could find very little about them.

I belong to the camp that believes power is extremely important to digital playback, or any HiFi component for that matter. Over 20+ yrs of doing this, I have learned that #1 is the room, #2 is quality of the power supply. Without these 2 things optimised you are pretty much swimming against the current.

The 2-box power supply is a beast, and that’s what sets this apart. The rest are just computer parts and software to me. I have seen the internals and the amount of Mundorf caps that were packed in there is ridiculous. No wonder they need 2 boxes to fit everything in. Taiko has a beefy power supply too but it’s on a different price point.

The 2 LPS boxes are connected via a short umbilical and another custom DC cable with Neutrik plugs into the Server. Has a thick copper base plate and some cheapo rubber feet. I placed them on Voodoo Iso-pods. I believe Pachanko used to sell the LPS on their own (minus the servers) but they seem to have taken it off their website and just offering a low-spec LPS. Maybe the margins are crap as these aren’t cheap to make?

FYI, my previous Roon server was a Silent Angel Rhein Z1, powered by Uptone JS-2. And that served me well over 1 yr and tbh, for the cost (with a good LPS), it will kill a lot of more expensive servers. It convinced me that digital is the way to go in the future. I A/B tested the Z1 with standard adaptor vs LPS, it’s a must imo.

After some long saga with manufacturer/COVID delays, they finally arrived via DHL and Pachanko immediately dialed into the server and helped me setup and uploaded my music onto it. And after some tweaking from them, it was up and running in no time.

They came double-boxed with foam damping on the insides, and the idiots at DHL threw the box around a bit, luckily no major damage inside. I would prefer some better packaging for something at this price point, ie custom sized thicker foam and internal dividers. There’s also no instructions manuals or warranty card etc. For a small company, it’s ok.

I am waiting for their reference powercord to come (supposed to be included for this top-of-line model), so currently using an old PAD Dominus to power the LPS. They recommend plugging this into the High-current output of my conditioner, not the digital output due to how hungry the LPS is.

Quality is great. These low-production products worry me always as QC can be hit and miss. But it feels like a tank. The Server box is your generic DIY metal case, Taiko/Innuos have nicer looking bespoke designs imo. The LPS have heavy milled aluminium cases with integrated cooling slots. Not sure if it’s off the shelve design like the server but I haven’t seen this used elsewhere. Anyway, I like the look of the LPS. Back of server just look like a computer with standard USB slots etc, LPS power plug is Furutech NCF type. Pachanko was kind enough to change the colour of the power buttom LED to amber from the standard blue, to match the rest of my CH gear.

Bit of a pain to find room on my rack cos there are 3 boxes (with short cords) and the LPS are heavy! They don’t run hot so I can place them inside a cabinet with minimal air flow.



So… how does it sound?

I left them on 24/7 (the caps take a while to run in). But I usually leave my system on 24/7 anyway. So my initial impression after a few days of running in:

It’s Quiet. Very quiet background. Music just pops out at you and the holographic presentation is further improved (it was pretty good already!). Vocals especially is more palpable. I love listening to live recordings and the soundstaging/ and imaging is just magical.

It conveys music in a trueful way. I ran thru some older recordings and my old server seems to iron out more of the “nasties” while the Pachanko just tells it like it is. So good and bad with this. Good recordings sounds better, Poor recordings sounded worse. Does this mean the Pachanko extracts more details? I don’t know. It is what it is.

Any more details it will be bordering on fatiguing to my ears. Think Esoteric digital fatiguing. This is just enough details for me. I am more of a soundstage/image guy, my CH system is quite detail and resolving already. Bass is another area that was improved. The quality of the “thump” has further improved and it was one of things I wanted to play around with but given constraints of my listening room it was hard. I don’t have a big room but it’s well treated.

One thing that surprised me was the Tidal streaming was also improved. That I don’t quite understand as streaming is via the CH streaming card. I asked them and apparently it’s the software or file management via Roon that accounts for the change? Damn if I know but I am not complaining. It’s super responsive in Roon as well, which is prob due to a faster processor vs my old server.

After upgrading to the CH M10 (from M1.1), I was thinking “this is it for me”, it’s 10 out of 10 already.

This new server just notched it up another 0.5, so it’s now 10.5 out of 10 :)


Is it a massive improvement over my old server? No, at the level of my system any upgrade is marginal and subjective. Don’t kid yourselves! I don’t have super-human hearing like some of you guys have, and I am not one of those who rave about putting an damping footer and how it “totally” transformed the system.o_O



But I would say the real world improvement I got is of the same magnitude as upgrading your speaker cables + interconnects. And for those who has an already good system/speakers that are resolving enough, this server makes a difference. And for those who don’t, spend money on room treatments then get better components first imo.

As for the Pachanko, I would defintely put it on your shortlist.

For 16k euros retail, it's both expensive and a bargain at the same time. That power supply ain’t cheap to make and Pachanko cables aren’t cheap either. Support been good and CHAN (who is one of the owners) has always been quick to reply my queries.

I can see Pachanko now has many new products coming up and several cheaper server models available too. I would say their lower priced models would be quite attractive for someone on a lower budget and fewer rack spaces:). I am usually quite skeptical of smaller audio companies as it’s quite a cut-throat industry, esp now with COVID etc. But imo Pachanko deserves to be considered amongst other hi-end servers.


Pachanko.jpg

Happy to answer any questions.
 

Bogan88

New Member
Aug 12, 2020
19
23
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41
Everything's been running in for ~2months now, left on 24/7. and I am still totally satisfied with the SQ since adding the Pachanko.

music just flows and I find myself glued to my listening chair for longer each night. (eg 2-3 hrs)

whilst I cannot remember the exact improvements since day 1, and Pachanko has kindly "dialed" into my server to do periodic updates (free service). Often done without me knowing, I just get a message that it's been done :)

Still smitten by how my Tidal streaming sounds now. I have re-visited many albums from Tidal that I have "added", but never enjoyed for one reason or another. Now they all sound "better". Who would've thought upgrading a server will impact on streaming. but it did.


also, they send me their new LAN cable. And compared to my 2020 Sablon LAN (I have head to toe-Sablon LAN), smoothness comes to mind.

Sablon has an edge in the bass department (system dependent), but the Pachanko is a killer in sound stage accuracy and streaming sounds less "digital". Which sounds like total BS for anyone who doesnt have the chance to experience digital streaming done "right".

This server (and LAN cable) leaves you surprised how far we have come in digital streaming. (and seriously how much better it can get).

So I still stand by my initial finding. Their stuff are a bargain compared to other "branded" stuff.
 

Addicted to hifi

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Sep 8, 2020
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Everything's been running in for ~2months now, left on 24/7. and I am still totally satisfied with the SQ since adding the Pachanko.

music just flows and I find myself glued to my listening chair for longer each night. (eg 2-3 hrs)

whilst I cannot remember the exact improvements since day 1, and Pachanko has kindly "dialed" into my server to do periodic updates (free service). Often done without me knowing, I just get a message that it's been done :)

Still smitten by how my Tidal streaming sounds now. I have re-visited many albums from Tidal that I have "added", but never enjoyed for one reason or another. Now they all sound "better". Who would've thought upgrading a server will impact on streaming. but it did.


also, they send me their new LAN cable. And compared to my 2020 Sablon LAN (I have head to toe-Sablon LAN), smoothness comes to mind.

Sablon has an edge in the bass department (system dependent), but the Pachanko is a killer in sound stage accuracy and streaming sounds less "digital". Which sounds like total BS for anyone who doesnt have the chance to experience digital streaming done "right".

This server (and LAN cable) leaves you surprised how far we have come in digital streaming. (and seriously how much better it can get).

So I still stand by my initial finding. Their stuff are a bargain compared to other "branded" stuff.
Digital streaming has come a long way and it will continue to improve.I’m glad your very happy with your new server.
 

pachankolabs

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Nov 17, 2020
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Hello guys,

Sharing with you some pictures of the last Dutch Audio Event. On the setup we use the Pachanko Constellation music server, Velvety Ether LAN and Stellar USB Nano Silver. Dac, Diretta Bridge and Amplifier are SPEC's one. Interconnects are Ikigai Audio and speakers are Fyne Audio F1.12.
 

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Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
3,734
1,079
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Australia
Hello guys,

Sharing with you some pictures of the last Dutch Audio Event. On the setup we use the Pachanko Constellation music server, Velvety Ether LAN and Stellar USB Nano Silver. Dac, Diretta Bridge and Amplifier are SPEC's one. Interconnects are Ikigai Audio and speakers are Fyne Audio F1.12.
very nice system.the horn speakers are very interesting.
 
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bryans

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Dec 26, 2017
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WOW what a music server. From the looks alone this has to be up there with some of the best ones out. I know cost is relative but it does seem to offer quite a lot for the money.
 
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bryans

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Dec 26, 2017
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After reviewing Pachanko's site I'm very intrigued. I'm going to be in the server market in a few months and will have them on my short list!
 
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TDX

Active Member
Jan 14, 2020
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After reviewing Pachanko's site I'm very intrigued. I'm going to be in the server market in a few months and will have them on my short list!
Please keep us updated what you choose in the end, thank you.
 

belancer

New Member
Sep 16, 2020
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The 2-box power supply looks impressive. The server itself seems to be a computer with upgraded OCXO clocks and components (RAM, PCIe card, etc.), tweaked software, housed in a Streacom FC10 case.
 

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