Channel D has become so well-known for its audio software that it’s easy to overlook the fact that the company makes impressive phono preamps as well.
Engineering guru Dr. Rob Robinson set up one of the better-sounding rooms at AXPONA 2016 to show off Channel D’s reasonably priced Seta Model L phono stage ($3,800). Working in tandem with that piece was a system containing a Music Hall MMF 9.3 turntable ($2,300), Lynx Hilo AD/DA converter ($2,500), Synology DS-513 RAID 6 NAS 9 TB music storage unit ($1,700), Channel D Pure Music and Pure Vinyl software ($129 and $299, respectively), a Mac Mini controlled using screen sharing and a MacBook Air ($799) and an Apple Cinema Display with TrollTouch resistive touchscreen overlay.
Needle drops played on the system showed remarkable fidelity to the original vinyl, with unmistakable analog warmth, weight and solidity, and realistic instrumental layering. I also love the graphic interface, which shows a spinning LP.
Looking around the room, I got the impression that Robinson makes decisions very carefully and methodically, whether he’s designing a product or planning a show demo.
Here’s how he explained the unusual system he assembled in Chicago: “We omitted the analog two-way electronic crossover of the Wisdom speakers — what we feel is their Achilles heel — and used the built-in crossover feature in Pure Music/Pure Vinyl, in conjunction with six output channels from the Lynx Hilo DAC.
“This improved definition and removed the slight haze caused by the analog electronics and its multiple and complex op-amp based filters. The system was tri-amped with the Hegel driving the panels and pro audio digital power amplifiers driving the bass and sub-bass speakers, which all were located behind a backdrop.”
Not stopping there, he said the bass also was time-aligned to the Wisdom panels using the digital delay feature in his software’s crossover. This allowed him to position the subwoofers for best tone and coverage, while the panels were placed for best imaging.
If the sound of that system wasn’t stunning enough, Channel D suggested that even better fidelity will be possible using its Seta Model L Supreme phono preamplifier. The unit, which retails for $7,949, was unveiled at AXPONA, but on static display only.
The Supreme was described as a low-noise, ultra-wide-bandwidth balanced and direct-coupled phono stage which features rechargeable batteries that also can run the Lynx converter. Channel D claims the unit will deliver improved definition, imaging, clarity and resolution. The battery power supply itself is said to reduce noise and improve dynamics.
If, indeed, the regular Model L can be improved upon, Channel D really would have scored a coup. Hopefully, the company will have a live demo of the Supreme at T.H.E. Show in Newport.