Wadax Reference Dac and Server arrive

Mike Lavigne

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If you choose Taiko, I can understand that. I think you keep Taiko because of your relationships, not for the quality Wadax Server has the proprietary optical interface and it is clearly not normal music server like other companies. I don't think other interfaces can beat it at this time and near future. Maybe in next May or Jun, we can know the information about Wadax Server fully.

I said that not because I owned Wadax but because I also compared and listened them so much that I could give my decision.

Just my 2 cent opinion.
thank you for that feedback. we have people buying expensive gear all the time based on relationships more than listening.

OTOH selling or buying gear at the bleeding edge of performance, sometimes gets bloody. that edge moves and takes no prisoners. i live there, and have for many years.

i don't mean to infer i know more than the next guy about what might be the bleeding edge, we all can have our own opinion.
 
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Mike Lavigne

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Big news! Congrats and look forward to reading about your ongoing adventures with the Wadax. That’s the corroboration that keeps Wadax at the top my interest list.
Lloyd, i will do my best to relate things for you as i go along. i know how much you love your Zanden digital, and your CD's. i suspect that the Wadax Ref dac, and a new Wadax Ultimate Reference transport, would take things up a notch or six for you. this might be the performance leap that gets you out of your seat. never heard redbook anywhere close to this......and maybe the Transport sounds better?

hear one if you are able.
 
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spiritofmusic

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Mike, it's always been notable in the past that you've listed improvements for most gear you've rated in quite calm terms. This time you sound way more emotional and reactive, using more declaratory language. I think we can read a lot into that.
 

Kingrex

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Hello all. I was fortunate to spend the afternoon with Mike and friends. First off, thank you Mike for having me. And again, sorry to get my time mixed up. I arrived a little over an hour early. It was nice chatting with Elliot of Bending Wave.

Being early I got to sit in the best seat for about an hour and just listen to music. Mike had the Wadax DAC and server in place. Mike asked me if I thought it sounded like vinyl. I had to say I had no idea. His system is so --------.. it's just beyond anything I hear day to day. Its tuned incredibly well. It is the most live system I have ever heard. Elliot put on a Ginger Baker album. Mikes system plays drums with speed and dexterity. The horns are present. I found myself sitting through song after song with my eyes closed and head bobbing all around. If I was alone I would have been air thrashing the drums.

Eventually everyone else showed up. Mike played half and hour to 40 minutes of the Wadax for everyone, then put the MSB/Taiko in. It was immediate and striking how different they were. No one did not hear it. It was easy to hear the change.
After maybe a half hour of that he put vinyl in. We did a few songs on vinyl. We even did an album that was direct to disc. And then put the Wadax back in with the same cut that was direct to tape, then pressed to vinyl.
The big take away was the Wadax was very similar to Mikes CS Port phono rig. If it were not for surface noise on the vinyl, I might have a hard time distinguishing which source was used. I'm sorry to say it, but the Wadax did not sound like the MSB. Not at all. The MSB was somewhere not vinyl like. It was making its own sound. What really irritates me is I see no way to approach the type of playback Wadax creates with digital, outside focusing on my vinyl and making that better. But that sucks because I stream or play file 90% of the time.

And here is another kicker. We didn't play a single optimized file stored on a hard drive with the Wadax combo. Every song was Roon streaming Qobuz. And the Wadax absolutely slayed it. I am 100% serious in saying, a good clean record played against a streamed file, both of the same mastering are virtually indistinguishable. Honestly, I may have preferred the Wadax to CS Port. Both came alive and set your body moving and grooving the music.

Hands down, the Wadax combo is the most vinyl like recreation of digital music I have ever heard. It did not sound digital at all. AND, almost every track we played was 44.1. Plain oll Redbook streamed from Qobuz files. The Wadax combo has ended my belief that digital and vinyl are both great, but have their own sonic signature. For all intents and purposes, digital through the Wadax is fairly indistinguishable from vinyl on many levels.

Elliot played jazz and vocal music all day. Music that seems to be Mikes preferred music. I know he likes large scale classical, but we did not play any. I did ask Elliot to put on The Who. I could see someone more focused on Rock preferring the MSB. You would hear the difference between the two. You would hear the Wadax is more true to the source. But you may gravitate to the MSB. It was flatter, but meatier. Most rockers I know gravitate to bass. The MSB had weight and heft. I am going to say its not there on the source. But I like body when I have Lynrd Skynyrd cranking in my room.

I never heard the Wadax DAC fed with the Taiko. We heard the combo. We also did not hear the MSB feed with the Wadax server. Mike is going to have to dissect that pairing. Together, the Wadax combo is outstanding. How much is a function of DAC or function of server or synergy was not investigated while I was there.

Rex
 

spiritofmusic

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Rex, fantastic feedback, it seems the Wadax has found some hard to find buttons for digital (for those of us who are vinylphiles first and foremost) and pressed them all.
My thought to you on your likely "comedown", slumming it with mere terrestrial streaming Lol...use the experience as a roadmap to bridging that analog/digital divide. I got lucky w the CDP I found some eight years ago, it just visits places I find that only the best analog does. And thus it makes me very happy indeed.
In the last 12 months I've heard Audiophile Bill's horns on Mayer 10Y and 46 tubes that present sound so far in advance of any spkrs/tubes combination I've ever heard, at any multiple of the price. I literally had withdrawal symptoms for weeks Lol. I vowed to work harder to make my current system at least open the hymn book if not actually hit a few notes in Bill's direction. And have got somewhere. And for me, that's a major triumph.
So, use Mike's Wadax sound as a template to try and begin to approach. You now know what you like and what you don't. That's gotta be a start.
 
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spiritofmusic

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Everything is something. Until it isn't. Classic post modernism.
 

Kingrex

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So, use Mike's Wadax sound as a template to try and begin to approach. You now know what you like and what you don't. That's gotta be a start.
For years I have used my vinyl and digital to better understand what each are doing. My digital definitely showed me where my vinyl was colored. My vinyl showed me where my digital was flat and lacking dimension.
In the past, returning from Mikes made me hate turning on my stereo. My stereo has much improved in the last 2 years. Today I am not unhappy. But I am aware the clarity and life like presence are not there.
Oddly, my tubes sound more like Mikes 468 than my Dartzeel 108M1 sounds like Mikes 468. Those 468 paired with the Dartzeel preamp are really something special. I have 0 awareness the 468 are SS or tube. They blur the line so well, if I did not know the amp (behind a curtain) I would not know.
I am a little frustrated with digital. I love what my Mojo DAC does for the money. I spent $5500 on it. But its not as good as my vinyl. And my vinyl has issues. But my god. The cost of Wadax. Even if trickle down got each piece to $30k, that would be a $60k digital package. Thats more than my system bought new. In short, I will never own a Wadax product.
 

spiritofmusic

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Well, at least we're in the same boat of being reasonably format agnostic, seeing the pros and cons in both, and using optimising one format to push the other to match or excel.
This is a good topic for its own dedicated thread (hint hint Lol).
All I can say is, there are some data points and conclusions to take away that you can use...even if a $250k digital front end is not exactly of this world.
 
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Audiocrack

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Everybody knows Mike is a gentleman in every inch and of course he does not want to offend (or maybe a better way of saying is: he wants to ‘protect’) the ‘Taiko family’ that has been so good him …. but read between the lines and I believe it is pretty clear what is going to happen if (only) the quality of the music reproduction is taken into account …
 
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Kingrex

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Funny how when the MSB came out all we heard was how it sounds like vinyl but now it doesn’t?
If you had the opportunity to sit for 5 hours in Mikes room and transition through the offerings as I had, you would understand exactly what I stated above.

If you did not have the Wadax, you would say, wow your digital sounds great. Especially if time were spent playing rock or other more processed music. We heard what the Wadax excelled at.

Insert the Wadax and play jazz you may hear in a small local night club and you will immediately get the leap in performance it brings to digital playback. It is a no doubt about it, immediate, apparent shift to a more alive, tangible and real to life experience.
 

dminches

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Everybody knows Mike is a gentleman in every inch and of course he does not want to offend (or maybe a better way of saying is: he wants to ‘protect’) the ‘Taiko family’ that has been so good him …. but read between the lines and I believe it is pretty clear what is going to happen if (only) the quality of the music reproduction is taken into account …

That’s not how i read it. I think Mike wants the Wadax server to be best but I think he sees there is a risk since it depends on Roon. There is a risk to relying on Roon since they have their own goals. What he does know that is that the Taiko team wants to be able to control everything, which is why they are writing their own software.

Maybe Wadax has their own software plans as well. I am not sure about that.
 
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Kingrex

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Everybody knows Mike is a gentleman in every inch and of course he does not want to offend (or maybe a better way of saying is: he wants to ‘protect’) the ‘Taiko family’ that has been so good him …. but read between the lines and I believe it is pretty clear what is going to happen if (only) the quality of the music reproduction is taken into account …
We never heard the Wadax feed by the Taiko. The Taiko is $22k??. The Wadax server $120k??? Come on. Lets keep the Taiko comparisons to Innuos and Aurender. When my server meets its end, I will consider a Taiko. Consider. I'm more in the $9K range in component pricing.
 

Audiocrack

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We never heard the Wadax feed by the Taiko. The Taiko is $22k??. The Wadax server $120k??? Come on. Lets keep the Taiko comparisons to Innuos and Aurender. When my server meets its end, I will consider a Taiko. Consider. I'm more in the $9K range in component pricing.
I do not know the price of the Taiko but the Wadax reference server’s price is definitely not usd 120k. Anyway, let’s see what is going to happen …..
 

dminches

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We never heard the Wadax feed by the Taiko. The Taiko is $22k??. The Wadax server $120k??? Come on. Lets keep the Taiko comparisons to Innuos and Aurender. When my server meets its end, I will consider a Taiko. Consider. I'm more in the $9K range in component pricing.

The Taiko is a little over $30k. I don’t think it should be compared to the Wadax based on price since they run completely different software which is critical.
 

spiritofmusic

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nonesup

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In Europe Taiko + USB Card… .. € 31,500 (21% VAT included)…. $ 35,800
 

Mike Lavigne

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That’s not how i read it. I think Mike wants the Wadax server to be best but I think he sees there is a risk since it depends on Roon. There is a risk to relying on Roon since they have their own goals. What he does know that is that the Taiko team wants to be able to control everything, which is why they are writing their own software.

Maybe Wadax has their own software plans as well. I am not sure about that.
all these server questions are understandable. i can only say i'm playing the long game; yet, once my ears hear something, going back has never yet been an option for me. i am all-in. and 'risk' is too strong a word for me to associate with Roon after my Wadax experience.

i'm agnostic about most digital design concepts; since my understanding is so surface. maybe i care alot about hearing native files, but only because of my listening experiences.....not because of some technical issue. all that said, i appreciate the huge design and build effort behind the Extreme, and the same for the Wadax. those things matter. but i'm not equipped to judge except for what i hear.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
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And what about tape comparisons , none of that ?
Now you're fightin' dirty Lol. I've heard amazing tape, and nothing's getting close to it.
both days we played vinyl that was 'next level' to my own ears. and i have a number of tapes that are untouchable. but the Wadax brings these type thoughts into the realm of reality for the first time. it's not crazy talk.

if i get my own files loaded at some point, i may be able to speak more to this.
 
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