CanEVER Audio celebrates over 150 pieces of ZeroUno DAC Digital Preamplifier sold to date with a Limited Edition release.
The ZeroUno DAC Limited Edition will be presented for the first time at the HighEnd 2019 in Munich. The ZeroUno DAC-LE will be produced in a number of 33 pieces only!
The circuit and mechanical design is that of the ZeroUno DAC. The same is valid for the software implemented. But a big effort is done in selecting and matching of the components installed.
All the passive and active components and are matched within 1%. The resistors at the output stage are all non inductive and made of carbon composition like the legendary Allen Bradley.
The upgrades just described are “simple” and intuitive but the tuning of the output stage returned an astonishing result.
The output stage of the existing ZeroUno DAC is playing already on a very high quality standard.
To improve that level of performances was a big challenge.
There are only two capacitors on the signal path, those that isolate the output vacuum stage.
Looking for a more liquid and open sound, CanEVER Audio found the perfect partner in the Mundorf Supreme Silver in Oil capacitors.
At all times, the Mundorf Supreme Silver in Oil sound effortless and natural. The listening experience is extended at both ends of the spectrum with excellent micro details in the midrange and high frequencies. The reproduction is exquisitely refined with an excellent balance between being analytical and musical. This is a real step forward, even if CanEVER Audio started from an already elevated level.
The USB board comes with full MQA decoding as standard and it is galvanically isolated from the source. These, added to the already present “battery Mode” function improves even more the s/n ratio of the ZeroUno DAC.
Last but not least, some refinement has been done on the aesthetics. Similar to the LaScala Power Amplifier. The tube cages of the ZeroUno DAC-LE are made of PMMA cylinders covered by a metal cap made from stainless steel.
An attractive classic retro style, was reached. The clean lines, with the tube cage made of glass and the front plate integrated into the front, give an even more elegant impression.
The ZeroUno DAC Limited Edition Digital Preamplifier will be produced in a number of 33 units only.
Sonically the HPA continued its victory lap with flying colors rich and fleshy. Dynamics continued trigger happy. That caused more emphasis difference across melodic arcs, between rhythmic beats. In my book, these two qualities—higher dynamic contrast, more finely hued tone colors—are a must if one enjoys listening at lower levels. It's then that things naturally tend to flatten out and get paler. The keener a system is at keeping its finger on the 'dying pulse' of low-level dynamic flickers, the more it grips our interest. The longer it can maintain color density, the less we suffer the effects of intruding whitishness as though winter were coming Particularly with headfi, long-term exposure to high SPL is fatiguing and dangerous. Listening lower will lengthen both our short- and long-term enjoyment of the hobby. Here Mario's weighting of the necessary qualities to make it so felt most apt.
... For the very fair price asked, CanEver's Italian-built DAC/pre with transformer-coupled 'chip-direct' outputs plus amplified quad-transistor class A outputs with remote volume control plus high-output headphone sockets wins our award which accounts equally for fine build quality and lovely finishing. Informed by his love of old-school valve circuits with signal-path magnetics and big-iron power supplies, Mario CanEver's ZeroUno HPA contains no glowing filaments yet still manages to evoke refined core traits of such sonics for all the gain without any of the pain. If that's not a win/win, I don't know what is.
From the Stereophile Web Site https://www.stereophile.com/content/recommended-components-fall-2017-edition-digital-processors
While digital processors with tubed output sections aren't new, the Italian CanEver Audio ZeroUno breaks with convention by looking less like a DAC than a 2A3-fueled power amp, its two Coke-bottle–style CV181 dual-triode tubes enjoying pride of place atop a distinctly attractive case. Under its skin is an ESS Sabre32 ES9018S chip, its eight internal differential DACs used in a quad-sum configuration.
Supplementing the ESS chip are multiple PCM and DSD filters of CanEver's own design, selectable via a menu system that also provides a switchable jitter filter, signal-polarity inversion, channel balance, and other niceties.
The ZeroUno supports PCM to 384kHz and DSD64 and 128 as DoP; newer versions of the CanEver DAC are said to provide MQA compatibility, though that was not available at the time of our review.
Art Dudley noted shortcomings in the ZeroUno's manual, especially when it came to navigating its software menu—we're told that this, too, has been refined in current production—but forgot those complaints after noting that the Italian DAC made his favorite files sound more colorful and "less hi-fi" than what he's used to hearing from digital playback.
“…….I’ve heard no other digital product that succeeds quite so well as the ZeroUno at letting music sound like music. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!”
The natural sound and the rhythm of the music have been the key objectives during the design process of the ZeroUno DAC.
This is achieved by:
- audiophile grade components
- discrete tube output stage with low noise and audio grade power supply
- DAC interstage coupled by special wounded Lundahl amorphous core transformers
- SABRE ES9018S DAC chip with proprietary audiophile firmware
- independently (quasi battery) powered USB input to eliminate electrical noise
potentially induced by the USB cable from the connected computer
- four layer mother board for minimum internal wiring avoiding ground loops
and electromagnetic induction
- dedicated power supply architecture
- comprehensive noise reduction for all digital circuits
- ultraprecise clocks
- The circuit of the ZeroUno DAC is based on the ESS SABRE32 ES9018S DAC chip
- For optimum performance the SABRE chip runs on a proprietary implementation of special developed firmware
- One motherboard based on a four-layer PCB with extra thick copper traces to achieve ultra-short signal paths with minimal wiring, to avoid electromagnetic induction of noise and to insure perfect grounding
- Discrete built power supplies for the digital and the analogue section using two toroidal transformers, last generation of ultra-low noise rectifier diodes and high quality audio operational amplifiers AD797
- Discrete built ultra linear power supplies for the heating power and for the high voltage of the tube output stage using two toroidal transformers with last generation of ultra-low noise rectifier diodes, double π filter, audio grade resistors and capacitors
- Comprehensive noise regulation for all digital circuits
- Jitter free operation by patented high performance algorithm
- Integrated 32 bits volume control with a residual noise below -130dB for best performances even if at very low output levels
- On board output level setup to match different sensitivity of the direct connected power amplifiers
- PCM and DSD digital roll-off filters as well as asynchronous sample rate conversion of the Delta-Sigma DACs are user selectable in the set-up menu
- Voltage-compensated, ultra-low phase noise and low jitter crystal oscillators (clock) acts as master clock. Two separated clocks for sampling families of 44.1, 88.2, 176.4, 352.8 kHz and 48, 96, 192, 384 kHz
- DAC output stage with shortest possible signal path based on custom made amorphous audio transformers produced by Lundahl with first order discrete analogue filter for best THD and digital noise suppression
- True Class A discrete built analog tube output stage with zero negative global feedback for use with 6SN7GT tube family, including the CV181
- Separately powered USB chip by a “quasi battery power supply” using a 1,0 Farad super-cap to avoid any distortion induced by the connected computer (no connection to the +5V powerline of the USB cable)
- USB input based on XMOS xCore audio chip with bit perfect transfer for 16bit, 24bit or 32bit data in PCM format up to 384 kHz including support for native DSD and DoP
- 4 Digital-Inputs: 1x USB 2.0; 1x true S/PDIF 75 Ohm BNC or, optional, true AES/EBU 110Ohm XLR; 1x S/PDIF RCA; 1x S/PDIF OPTICAL
- USB input compatible with following audio formats via PC and MAC:
- PCM: 44.1; 48; 88.2; 96; 176.4; 192; 352.8 and 384 kHz up to 32 bits
- DSD (DoP): 2.822 MHz / DSD64, 3.072 MHz, 5.644 MHz / DSD128
- SPDIF inputs (AES/EBU,BNC, RCA) compatible with PCM signals from 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192 kHz, up to 24 bits. The OPTICAL input accepts music files with a resolution up to 24/96 kHz
- LCD Display with variable brightness, changing letter size for better reading from listening position
- Infrared remote control with direct function keys for volume, balance, absolute polarity, mute and setup menu
- No drivers required for LINUX or MAC OSX
- USB Audio 2.0 driver available for Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10