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Wattson Audio

Manufacturer: ENGINEERED SA
Price (when reviewed): 7690 PLN

Contact: Avenue des Sports 28
1400 Yverdon-les-Bains



Provided for test by AUDIO ATELIER


zdjęcia „High Fidelity”

No 223

December 1, 2022

WATTSON AUDIO is a brand owned by the Swiss company ENGINEERED SA. WA was founded in 2019 and specializes in digital audio sources. Its first product was the EMERSON file transport. We are testing its version with analog outputs, called the EMERSON ANALOG.

WO YEARS AGO, when WATTSON AUDIO introduced the Emerson Digital file transport and Emerson Analog file player, there were not many devices of this type in a similar price range. There were quite inexpensive and a lot more expensive ones. Today, the audio world is totally different and file players can be found at virtually any price.

One thing has not changed, however: Wattson Audio Emerson Analog is a really well-made product based on the company’s proprietary solutions, and not on sub-supplier modules. Given that these devices are made in Switzerland, where they are designed and manufactured, their relatively high price is no longer surprising. Products of this type simply are and will be more expensive than those made in China.

Emerson Analog

THE CONCEPT OF EMERSON DEVICES seems simple: they were to be “plug’n’play” products, , i.e., ones that we plug into the system and don't have to set or correct anything in them. I say 'devices' and not 'a device', because in the case of Wattson Audio we are dealing with two different products under almost the same name: an audio file transport, the Emerson Digital, and an audio file player, the Emerson Analog. The former offers only two digital outputs, S/PDIF and AES/EBU, while the latter only an analog output. In both cases, voltage is supplied by an external switching power supply.

The Emerson Analog is a tiny device. It measures 104 x 87 x 38 mm and weighs 387 g. Unlike a significant number of devices of this type, taking it in our hand we feel that we are holding something from a higher shelf. This is made possible by the solid aluminum casing and its peculiar shape. The casing is in the form of a cuboid, in which one of the walls is a quarter panel. This looks really cool, and it's no surprise that this layout has been repeated in the company's more expensive file player, the MADISON model.

This leads to the question of how the Emerson should actually stand on the shelf, that is, which of its edges should face the listener. It seems that the manufacturer has envisioned its positioning in such a way that the Ethernet input and power input are to be located at the rear, and the analog output at the front – there is a red LED to indicate the connected power supply. The rounded wall would then be on the right side.

However, this will only work if the interconnects we use are flexible and long enough to be easily bent and routed backwards to the amplifier. For me, it would be much more intuitive to position the player with the rounded side toward me. Then, however, the problem is the power cable, which goes under the Ethernet cable. Therefore, I would prefer to see its socket on the (then) rear panel. But this is just the reviewer's fantasizing. Let's set up the device the way that is convenient for us.

Let’s get to the point, though – the Emerson Analog is a UPnP/DLNA file player for WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, dsf, dff with PCM signal up to 24 bit, 384kHz and DSD64 files. There is an Ethernet cable input on one side and an analog interconnect RCA output on the other. Owners of Apple devices can control the player with the Wattson Music app, while those using devices based on Android, Windows, etc., need to search for an app themselves. I use the Bubble UPnP app. You can also play music using the Roon app, but only via AirPlay. /p>

The Emerson Analog supports Tidal and Quobuz streaming services, but does not decode MQA signal. If we want to do that, we need to use the Roon app - the device is Roon Ready certified. Files, including hi-res ones, can be played from a NAS drive. Unfortunately, it is not possible to connect a USB drive to the Emerson. As you can see, its functionality is quite limited. However, I believe the manufacturers wanted to focus on the basic task. Every additional feature brings an additional cost and (yes, yes!) deterioration of sound.

Despite the small size of the player, the manufacturer declares very good technical parameters. The player's software was written in-house, and the circuit is based on, as we read, "an innovative high-end timing and synchronization circuit." To achieve this, oscillators with, as the manufacturer says, ultra-low noise (< -135 dBc/100 Hz) and very low jitter (below 50fs RMS), were used. For this class of products, this is very good performance indeed.

The player is powered by a plug-in external switching power supply (5 V DC). However, the manufacturer refers to it as "medical grade," i.e. meeting higher requirements and featuring low noise, below 1 µV RMS (10 Hz-100 kHz). Also, the signal-to-noise ratio of the analog output is very good – 124 dB (SNR-A).


⸜ THE WAY WE LISTENED The Wattson Audio Emerson Analog audio file player stood on the Finite Elemente Pagode Edition Mk II rack. Its sound was compared to the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player and the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge file player.

The player was connected to the router through a system consisting of a double Silent Angel N16 LPS LAN switch with two of its modules in series, powered by the TIGLON TPL-2000A and LAN Tiglon TPL-2000L cables; read more → HERE. The router was powered from the JCAT Optimo 3 Duo power supply. During the test, I used the NAS Synology drive, but the main group of records was listened to using Tidal, with files in the basic FLAC 16/44.1 form.

Albums used in the test | a selection

⸜ ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM, Stone Flower (CTI Records 40th Anniversary Edition), CTI Records/ Tidal, FLAC MQA Studio 16/44,1 (1970/?).
⸜ ART BLAKEY, Moanin’, Blue Note/Tidal Master, FLAC MQA Studio 24/192 (1958/?).
⸜ PATRICIA BARBER, Clique, Impex Records/Tidal, FLAC MQA Studio 24/352,8 (2021).
⸜ KINGDM, Your Love (feat. Soran & Reo Cragun), Capital Records/Tidal, FLAC MQA 24/44,1 (2018).
⸜ MIRACLE OF SOUND, Level 11, Tidal, FLAC MQA Studio 16/44,1 (2020).
⸜ NIDAROSDOMENS JENTEKOR & TRONDHEIMSOLISTENE, Magnificat, 2L/Tidal Master, FLAC MQA Studio 24/384 (2014).
⸜ VOICES 8, Winter, Decca Classics/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (2016).


WHAT F****** POWER! The sound of the Swiss player has been shaped in a very specific and distinct way. Let’s forget neutrality and get rid of thoughts revolving around perfect frequency response equalization. The Emerson gives us, unequivocally and beyond any doubt, a dense warm sound with strong low bass. And perhaps this bass is, at least at first, most impressive.

Let’s play something like Your Love (feat. Soran & Reo Cragun) by the artist known as KINGDM, and we fall off the chair, armchair, or whatever we are currently sitting on. When, in turn, we play Stone Flower (CTI Records 40th Anniversary Edition) by ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM, everything will disappear around us and we will let go of the nerves, the running and all the craziness. I'm not saying Emerson is a "cure for all evil," it's not. It is simply a means to this end.

Bass power is one thing, and the way it is shaped is another. The tested device delivers it in an extremely complex way. The bass edges are soft, and some of the sustain is saturated. On the other hand, it itself is really resolving. Its control requires assistance from the accompanying system, which has to make sure that it doesn't sound too long. This is not a particular problem, however, and one quickly gets used to this presentation. And when it happens, we will miss this saturation everywhere else.

Perhaps that's why with Emerson I've listened for the longest time to tracks where human voices are most important. I have noticed that, when testing file players, I often avoid discs of the kind recorded by the VOICES 8 team, and that Valhalla Calling from the album Level 11 by MIRACLE OF SOUND does not always and everywhere sound equally engaging. Emerson is not "accurate" at all, it doesn't even try to be like that. And yet it is with it that both of these albums, and those I listened to afterwards, sounded incredibly engaging, even hypnotizing.

With the help of subsequent recordings, as well as comparisons with SACDs played from a reference player, I determined an interesting thing. Although the bass is thickened and deepened here, it does not affect the overall tonal balance the way we would expect it, or rather be afraid of. In any other case, it would be "overkill". The bass would drag all recordings down, muddying and slowing down the message, while here neither of the phenomena occurs. This causes our attention to be focused on the foreground, but it is not the case that the Emerson plays one-dimensionally. Its stereoscopics is very good and credible.

The dynamics of the tested player is perfect, just like its resolution. These are the elements in streaming that are the most difficult to master, and they are the ones that show whether we are dealing with mimicry (impersonating a high-end device) or truly genuine performance, like here. As a result, I listened to music louder than usual. The Emerson builds large-scale sound with a very "friendly" structure. The aforementioned Voices 8 album sounded beautiful, as it was finally able to unfold in time and space. Nothing about it was glaring, nothing made me turn the volume down.


THE EMERSON ANALOG IS ONE of the most pleasantly and nicely sounding file players in the market. There are some better, even much better ones, and there are some that play in a more nuanced way. You will also find many devices that produce more neutral sound, there won't be any problem with that. But finding anything so cool? So dense? With such volume? – that will prove very difficult to do.

The player warms and enlarges the musical message. It deepens and weighs down the bass. It shows a nice treble, but it is a "sweet" treble. Its most important elements are the inner pulse and coherence, its “organic” character, one might even say. The device plays contemporary pop music with the same commitment as swing performed by Frank Sinatra, or early music. "Involvement", by the way, seems to be the key word. The Emerson itself is involved in music and it involves us in it as well. A small, expensive little thing that can stand in any audio system.


THE CASING OF THE EMERSON ANALOG FILE PLAYER has been made of an aluminum block milled from the inside and finished using dark grey lacquer. The lacquer looks extremely mechanically durable and no fingerprints are visible on it. What a relief... From underneath, the casing is closed using an aluminum plate with small rubber pads glued onto it, preventing the Emerson from sliding on the shelf. On the front panel there are quite nice screw-on RCA connectors, and on the rear one there are Ethernet (RJ45) and power sockets.

The circuit has been mounted on two boards. The lower one houses the digital-to-analog converter and voltage stabilization circuits, while the upper one contains the audio file transport. The transport works with a strong ARM processor and substantial amount of Samsung RAM and Flash memory. The Swiss manufacturer created the processor software in-house.

A WM8742GEDS D/A converter from Cirrus (formerly Wolfson Microelectronics) was chosen to convert digital signal to analog. This circuit accepts PCM signal up to 32 bits and 192 kHz. If we supply the player with signal of higher parameters, it will be downsampled to that value. The circuit also supports DSD signal. The analog output is buffered by a single integrated circuit. This is possible because the DAC output voltage and not current signal. This narrows the manufacturer's ability to interfere with sound, but also simplifies the circuitry.

The device uses a 5 VDC switching power supply, purchased from the Chinese company Mean Well. This is one of the best power supply manufacturers, and even such a simple circuit deserves more than a shrug of the shoulders, all the more so because the model used by Wattson Audio meets standards allowing it to supply power to devices used in medicine. However, this is still a small switching power supply.

The device is perfectly made, both mechanically and electrically. Its only limitation is the power supply unit, worth replacing with a better component in the future.


Reference system 2022

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC