The transcendental Wadax Atlantis Reference



  • I like the Carmen room most in the AE show, i was sitting in the corner and still feeling the endless energy surrounding me, I was very sure that the soundstage and the musical realism was not just from the Lars and the horn, so I kept asking PT if the Wadax Tri and Atlantics drive the craziness. Basically, I am the first one to ask PT to arrange audition for the Wadax combo, I was shocked as expected, that is another level up for the AE showroom, especially when we were listening to some live music, soundstage is the first thing and the resolution comes in a very dense presentation, that contributes to another level of musical realism, and I can finally recall the image in the Carmen room during the AE show. Besides, I aslo listened to the JMF CD transport with the Atlantic, I prefer the source from the mechanical transport as always, that really make a difference in terms of natural and real presentation, I suggested PT to replace the AES cable with a Beethoven cable, That should push the performance to further extend. I listened to other CD transports before, I think JMF is precise and natural in sounding with unbeatable resolution that I can't find in other brands.  
  • Paul, Roman, Azzurri and Cassph,

    Thanks for sharing the feedbacks. Because of the Atlantis extreme capability to reproduce live recording music, I have tried various flagship interconnects in the position from the Atlantis DAC to the preamp to maximise its potential.  Finally, I came to the conclusion that FMR EE is the real deal in this position surpassing even Beethoven. The layering of soundstage and tonal shades is unveiled in an ultra organic manner. How each Musial note travels in space is a journey of its own if you are chasing the extreme live feelings. 
  • I visited AE the first time this week and PT has asked me to post my thoughts on the Wadax Atlantis Dac.

     "Unprecedented Natural Performance"

    Looking at the marketing material, my first reaction was, " its not very imaginative is it?! " in this day and age, where everything is either Ground-breaking or Game-changing, stating that the Atlantis is "natural" is synonymous to saying nothing, my suspicious mind says. Its all marketing talk and no substance, I thought. Are they selling a lifestyle B&O Dac? I thought.

    On the other hand, I have been on the look out for a digital playback system for my new system for the past year, ranging from 1 box to 5 box systems, some sound great with explicit details, others sound warm and "analog sounding" ad nauseum; but nothing I have auditioned have satisfied me ( I guess that sounds rather "snobbish", but frankly, none of the other digital systems I heard has me wanting to buy it.) At one point, I got so fed up I told myself "Like a computer, Just go out and get the latest Dac with the best technology/bits/femtosecond/whatever Dac and be done with it, then find a matching amplifier. " But my heart won't let me.

    The main problem I find with many current SOTA Dacs, is for want of a better word, Un-Natural: Oops!, I said the dirty word myself! 

    OK, straight out of a dictionary:

    "Simple Definition of unnatural

    • : different from how things usually are in the physical world or in nature

    • : different from what is normal in a way that is seen as wrong, disturbing, etc.

    • : not real

    Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary"

    Hmm, now you think this writer is Really snobbish, but if you bear with me, let me explain: I listen predominately to live classical and jazz. I collect live classical concerts of emotional value irrespective of recording quality. What I want from a Dac is to transport me back to the recording scene, the place, the smell, the noise, the atmosphere and the music, off-course.

    Whats' unnatural about alot of SOTA Dacs out there? Let me state the 2 most common ones:

    1. The music note: If any single music note could be divided into a leading edge, a body and a harmonic tail, most dacs highlight the leading edge so as to make it sound more "transparent" with a higher percieved "resolution". Other dacs emphasize the body and esp the harmonic tail of a musical note, somehow making things sound "warmer" and "more involving".

    2. Soundstage: This is the holy grail of many audiophiles. It has to be as wide and as tall and as deep as possible. Most commonly dacs exaggerate the width, making it look spectacular. Most do not resolve a natural( oh dear, that dreaded word again) depth, and importantly, the different players/musicians within the stage are usually distinctly separated from each other ( which appear again to give an impression of "high resolution", but this does not occur in nature. More importantly, the air, ambience and interaction Between the musicians in a stage is usually a distinct black void.

  • continued from above......

    With this preamble, lets look at the Wadax Atlantis Dac

    Well, I'm going to go straight to the point. This is the most..Natural Dac I have heard, and by a far margin. 

    The first thing I assess in a piece of gear is the hand clapping of the audience before the start of a concert in many live recordings. Its actually more difficult than you think. Clap your hands and you can hear flesh and blood colliding, not 2 pieces of paper/metal/wood. In alot of systems, the "high resolution" dacs, usually sound tinny. Indeed, you can pair these 'high resolution" dacs with cuddly warm tube amps and cables and what not, but then, timing usually suffers.

    Secondly, many hands clapping together in a concert will instantly give you a sense of the dimensions of the concert hall. Thirdly, if the dac can resolve so far, in a live concert with top rate musicians, you can sense the aura of anticipation of the audience, the emotional temperature. With Wadax, you hear all that, loud and clear. The handclaps are meaty, and with a different concert hall, you hear a different acoustic, this sound is different whether its from the Hong Kong City Hall, the Tokyo Suntory Hall, The Wigmore Hall in London or the Musikverein in Vienna.

    If you assess the soundstaging capabilities of the Atlantis, my opinion is that it is not wide, it is not tall and it is not particularly deep.

    But its Proportional in size. In terms of size,the soundstage of the Musikverein is very different from the intimacy of the Wigmore, for example, and the Atlantis reveals that, well very naturally.  

    Also, the perspective of the soundstage is life-like. Many a time, lets say of a violin recital, the perspective of the soundstage may be mid hall, but the size of the violin wound be as big as a double bass, standing right in the middle, hanging in mid air. Whats worse, it resolves the vibrations of the sound board of the violin as though your ears are exactly next to the violin itself, this is disconcerting to me ( I know and I understand many audiophiles like it, but just not me). I feel tired with it, I cannot relax because my brain cannot make sense of the disconcerting experience. With Atlantis, you hear the violinist standing at the right height in the hall, and you hear not only his violin, but how the violin tone progresses towards you, not in a laser like beam, but as a wave as it travels in 360 degrees to the back and side walls, radiating like a wave towards you. Because the dimensions of the soundstage is not exaggerated, listening to the Atlantis is a very comforting and relaxing exercise.

    More importantly, the Atlantis resolves the movement of air in the space between the musicians on stage. You can sense the movements of the musicians and their interactions in chamber music.
    The musical note: most dacs resolve each musical note as a sharp entity. Altantis resolves the musical note in a Balanced manner. The leading note is not as sharp (as in real life), the body of a note is just as it is, and the harmonic tail is neither too long or too short. It does not impart a fixed coloration to sound. If the sound is ugly, its ugly.
    As a corollary, Atlantis resolves very well the transition of sound from one musical note to the next. Many Dacs have high resolution of each musical note, followed by a complete void of nothingness ( which some claim to denote "high resolution") before the arrival of the next musical note. Atlantis resolves the void between notes with meaning and substance. 
    Atlantis Times neutrally, it does not exaggerate by giving a "tap your toe" rhythm , if not called for. I have never heard Glenn Gould's 1980s Goldberg timed in such a sophisticated manner.
    As regards tone, I'm not sure. It was over-gorgeous when paired with the JMF universal transport, neutral but with a bit of grunge when paired with the wadax hermes server. The hermes server sounded as though the PT's ground lug fell off and the the power cable came from the local computer shop. When I enquired about the differential prices of the 2 transport/servers, I understood why. 

    If you read this far, or perhaps, if you tend to read the last sentence of anything first, I wasn't thinking about the above at all during my audition. I was immersed onto the music within the first 5 minutes of my first CD. My heart noticed something extraordinary. It was relaxed. My heart rate was way down. I switched to the next CD, with live music from the Hong Kong City Hall, and I was there,  With the crowd, as opposed to being an outsider, looking into the crowd.
    The last time this happened, I bought the gear.
  • Joyung, Thanks for such quality and indepth write up on the Atlantis. You really know the acoustic characteristics of many hall! Did you attend concerts in all of those? I really admire you really know what you want. The direction is clear.
  • Jeff
    Thanks for your encouragement, esp from a Guru like you on this forum. 
    I don't actually know acoustics, but if you've been to these concert halls regularly in the past, you somehow have many fond memories.
    I would also add that not all Live concerts are great recordings, but if they are well recorded, it can somehow capture the moment and the emotion, that studio recordings usually cannot match...usually.

    I do know what I want.
    I want to relive those memorable concerts where you have an emotional connection with the artist/group in question. It may be a beautiful voice with touching lyrics that resonances with your heart, your heart beats heavily, you start to blush and tears of contentment starts to flood.

    It could be your favorite pianist playing Beethoven's Op 111, where you are just transcended to another level of reality, which can only be described as a sense of Beauty or Other-worldliness. 

     The direction is clear, I just don't know how to get there !
  • Guys

    what power cable are you using with Atlantis?
  • Dalby Ode power plus Extreme Linebacker.  Following PT.
  • I am using Dalby power cord with Atlantis too. Seems to have enormous synergy 
  • Piano Tuner
    edited October 2016
    2 X Thales simplicity arm with Madake and zero mono cartridge playing through Wadax Trio/Atlantis phono/dac system, Robert Koda K15EX preamp and Zanden 9150 mono amplifiers. 
  • 重達32kg的超級伺服器!

  • 在香港三為一體。今週稍後時間會在鋪安裝。