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CH Precision
1 Series
D1.5 + C1.2

Price (when reviewed):
D1.5 – 160 000 PLN ⸜ C1.2 – 151 000 PLN

ZI Le Trési 6B
1028 Préverenges ⸜ SWITZERLAND


Provided for the test by: SOUND SOURCE


translation Marek Dyba
photos by "High Fidelity"

No 234

November 1, 2023

CH PRECISION is a relatively young company from Switzerland, founded in 2009 by Florian Cossy and Thierry Heeb. A year later it released the D1 SACD player, which was soon joined by amplifiers, preamplifiers, and a phono stage. We're testing a two-box SACD player in its basic version, with a stereo D/A converter.

HIS SWISS COMPANY entered the market ready. No trial runs, no scaling up or down of its lineup. And at the same time: zero compromises. We know of few such "births," and they usually result from large outside investments. Such was the case with the TAG McLaren brand, replacing Audiolab, and such is the case with Continuum Audio Labs and its sister brand Constellation Audio. The former quickly disappeared from the map of the audio world, while the latter is clearly struggling. As for the latter it does introduce new amplifiers fairly regularly, and there is a chance that it will become part of the audio landscape.

The problem with such companies is that they are run from the back rows by technocrats and financiers. And that's a fatal combination in an industry where you need to know a lot about how it works and what, in fact, it needs. And above all, you need to know audiophiles, because they are - like any perfectionist group - an extremely non-normative community. In a word: money is not everything. However, if you know what you are doing, know the industry, money helps, a lot. This is the case with CH PRECISION. Its founders have been involved with the industry for years, even if we didn't know it. And they have "always" dealt with the top high-end segment in it.

There are two founders: FLORIAN COSSY and THIERRY HEEB. Cossy is an engineer who earned his degree from the Federal Polytechnic University of Lausanne. That is, at the university where Stefan Kudelski, founder of NAGRA, studied physics and physical engineering since 1948 (more → HERE). And that obliges. As does his first audio-related job, the design department of another Swiss company, GOLDMUND, he was associated with from 1995 to 1999.

They worked there together with a friend, Thierry Heeb. When they left the company, they set up their own design studio called ANAGRAM TECHNOLOGIES. Heeb is a senior researcher at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland and specializes in DSP processing of audio and video signals. In this duo, he handles digital signals and Cossy handles analog ones.

While Goldmund was an equipment manufacturer, Anagram was a programming and subcontracting company. Very soon its products, especially its excellent upsamplers, began to be used by big brands - mainly Swiss ones, such as Soulution (more → HERE) and French, like Audio Aero. But they were also subcontractors designing entire file, CD, and SACD players and D/A converters, for example, for Audiomeca, Cambridge Audio, Lindemann and Orpheus, as well as many other major players whose names are protected by contracts. Interestingly - some of those brands no longer exist, and none, except Cambridge Audio, offer digital disc players.

As we read in the company profile entitled CH Precision System Theory, available on the manufacturer's website, ten years later one of the company's Asian representatives asked why they wouldn't build their own products and start selling them under their own brand. In turn, he assured them that he would open the door for them in Asia, primarily in Japan. A few months later, in December 2010, the first product was ready: D1 SACD player. This is how CH Precision was born. Already in its name, which included the first letters of the founders' surnames Cossy and Heeb, it referred to the legendary Swiss precision.


| A few simple words...

co-owner, designer

WOJCIECH PACUŁA Why did you start with an SACD player at a time when everyone around was saying that "the Compact Disc format is dead," much less SACD?
FLORIAN COSSY Optical discs have always been popular in Asia, even though their popularity in Europe and in the USA was declining. When CH Precision was created in 2009, its main markets were Japan, Korea and China. There wasn't that many high-end players at that moment - compared to amplifiers for example - so when we introduced the D1 in these markets it was an immediate success.

WP Why do you still support this format? I ask because everyone says that the file is the future of audio.
FC Today, optical disc formats (and especially SACD) are still popular in Asia. Despite the controversy surrounding MQA in streaming applications, we have also found real advantages when it is applied to CDs and MQA CDs has rekindle interest in optical disc replay in other markets too. But the real resurgence in disc replay is because increasingly, critical listeners and music lovers are realizing that it is more stable, consistent and offers more musical results than all but the very best file replay.

Like you, I also own a large collection of optical discs and so far, although streaming files offers a different listening experience and wider access (so more musical opportunities) it rarely if ever matches the performance of optical discs, whether they are CD, MQA CD or SACD. We see the demand for high-end optical drives remaining and even increasing until the performance issues around file replay are fully resolved.

WP How is the DSD signal routed inside D1.5 and C1.2?
FC The DSD stream within the D1.5 is directly converted in 24bit PCM format at 8x Fs (352.8kHz or DXD) when using the internal DAC boards. When the D1.5 transport is connected to the C1.2, the DSD stream from the D1.5 is carried over the CH Link HD and then converted within the C1.2 directly into 24bit PCM at 16x Fs (705.6kHz). This is true for DSD 1x, 2x and 4x as well when using the C1.2 with a streaming board.

WP The PCM1704, an excellent DAC, cannot convert a signal with a sample rate above 96 kHz. How did you "force" it to convert higher frequencies?
FC Often, when people talk about the PCM1704, what they’re actually referring to is the combination of the PCM1704 with its DF1704 partner oversampling chip. The DF1704 accepts a 96kHz maximum input frequency (2xFs) but then oversamples that 8x to 16xFs (705.6 or 768kHz) which it outputs to the PCM1704. As we don’t use the DF1704 but use our own DSP based algorithm, we can accept DXD data rates without problems without reducing the incoming stream’s sampling rate.

WP Is file transport your design?
FC Yes, this is our design and we're constantly working on it to support new formats. We employ OEM hardware, but the software that controls the Ethernet streaming board is done 100% in house. One benefit of this has been the opportunity to work with both MQA and Roon, offering the end-user maximum flexibility.

WP What is the origin of the mechanism you use? Did you write the software for it yourself?
FC The D1.5's MORSe CD/SACD mechanism is based on the flagship transport from Denon/Marantz. We keep the optical elements and the software associated with them, but completely rebuild all the mechanical elements. The motor and the new, precision machined laser swing-arm are precisely mounted to a new ‘sled’ that weighs over 1kg.

That is then floated on an alpha-gel suspension, tuned to below AC mains frequencies. The transport is mounted on a massive aluminum frame that couples it directly to the player’s base plate and mechanical grounding system. The entire MORSe mechanism weighs over 3kg. Together with highly developed power supplies and clock circuitry, these ensures that the reading process and the resulting data stream is effectively isolated from outside influence and intrusive error mechanisms. .



THE BASIC PRINCIPLE that has dominated the way this company operates has been to design all its products in modules. This is how some studio equipment used to be designed, for example, tape recorders, samplers, etc., and later on this is exactly how computers began to be built. So we have a "base", i.e. a motherboard, power supply, control (software) and a case. The devices can be bought in their basic form and, over time, more cards can be added that look like, for example, ones we know from Accuphase devices.

The appearance and chassis of the devices have also been unified. In addition to power amplifiers, all other components, grouped into two series: the basic "10" and the top-of-the-line "1", share the same circuitry. This is a huge cost reduction, and at the same time a certainty that all will fit together even after many years. Because, remember, CH Precision equipment is expandable and upgradeable. That's why, in all these years, only two products were replaced by newer ones: the D1 player became the D1.5, and the A1 amplifier became the A1.2. But even for their owners, provision was made for, as it reads: "a very attractive" modification path.

Modularity and compatibility are keywords. It's easy to see how this works by following the options available to those looking to buy an SACD player. They can start with the D1.5 model we're testing, as it is - in fact - a complete SACD/MQA-CD player, with analog RCA, XLR and BNC outputs (that's a high-impedance link). The next step could be to buy an X1 power supply for it, or to add an external C1.2 DAC - that's the set we're testing.

We can then turn the C1.2 into a mono version, consisting of three boxes: a control and two DACs. Previously, similar solutions could be found from Ancient Audio and Esoteric. Each of these modules can be powered by an external power supply. This is how we put together a digital sound source consisting of eight devices. To top it off, we can add a T1 clock, increasing the number of components to nine and raising the price to an astronomical 886,000 polish zlotys (plus 50% more for additional cables). That is - well over a million. And all this starting from a single chassis and 160,000 zlotys for the D1.5.


THE PRODUCER DESIGNATES THIS DEVICE as a SACD transport/player. By doing so, it indicates its dual role: in the basic version, it is a disc player, which with the addition of the C1.2 DAC can be turned into a two-box SACD player. In it, the D1.5 will act as a transport, and the C1.2 as a DAC. If we want to further improve their interoperability, we need to buy cards with BNC sockets, that will allow us to synchronize their clocks, clocking the transport with the DAC's clock.

⸜ MECHANISM - The device plays Compact Disc, Super Audio CD, as well as MQA-CD. Very interesting is its mechanism It was developed by CH Precision independently and is called the Mechanically Optimized Reading System (MORSe). Its basis is a drive manufactured by some specialist, but heavily modified by replacing almost all the components underlying the optics and motor. It is a heavy, rigid design.

Its base is, weighing 2.2 kg, the module on which all the mechanics are mounted, made of aluminum blocks. The optical system is attached to the brass block weighing almost 1 kg. The whole is decoupled from the chassis by four Alpha GEL anti-vibration pads, elements developed by the Japanese Taica Corporation, selected to dampen vibrations down to 25 Hz. The board's pressure pad is made of a polymer called PEEK - an organic, thermoplastic polymer from the polyaryletherketone family, used in a wide range of engineering applications.

⸜ ELECTRONICS - The device offers four digital outputs as standard: CH-Link HD, S/PDIF, AES/EBU and TosLink. Through all of them you can send a PCM signal 16/44.1 or 24/88.2 (upsampled), as well as DSD - through CH Link in its native form, and through the others in the form of DoP or upscaled to PCM 24/88.2, or 24/176.4. In the player we can also pre-decode the MQA signal to 24/88.2, if our DAC does not have such a decoder. If it has, it is better to "output" it without "unpacking".

The device can be equipped - like the tested unit - with D/A converters and mono analog output circuitry. The manufacturer used a proprietary circuit named with the acronym CH-PEtER (spline filter algorithm). It's a 32-bit (fixed point) synchronous upsampler - which is, after all, the company's cornerstone - that converts DSD and PCM signals into DXD. A board with an input for the clock allows synchronized clocking with the D/A converter or the use of an external T1 Reference clock.

The manufacturer notes the techniques it has used not only to reduce jitter, but also to reduce distortion, which he calls "time smearing", that is, "time blurring". We find a similar term in MQA's materials when they write about the digital filters they use. The Swiss specialist points out that few companies are addressing this problem and that it is an inherently analog problem, even if it involves a digital signal.

In an interview with “Stereophile” magazine, Florian Cossy and Thierry Heeb said:

I would say that one very important point in digital products apart from the pure software part is that it's actually analog design . If there was a broad theme, that was it. Even if the signals or the electrical signals are supposed to be digital, basically just two levels, a zero and a one, as soon as you get into an electronic board, they are actually analog signals, current or voltage flowing through components.

That is especially true, for instance, for clock signals. If you just consider clock signals as being a shift between two values between zero and one, you don't really get what clock is. The most important point in clocking is in the time domain, with finite resolution. Basically, it boils down to an analog signal again.

⸜ JIM AUSTIN, CH Precision D1.5, "Stereophile," March 2023, pp. 38-39, more → HERE, accessed 05/10/2023.

Wolfson/Cirrus Logic sigma-delta chips were used to convert the digital signal to analog, but with self-written filters.

⸜ CONTROLS - The player looks great, and has a fantastic mechanical design. But also its controls are exceptionally refined. A sizable (800 x 400 pixels), easy-to-read AMOLED display sits in the middle of each device from this company. Although it is large, the black glass visible on the front of the devices is much larger than it. A similar design is used by Soulution, incidentally, also a Swiss company. The display reads all the necessary information about the disc and signal. Therefore, it's a pity, really a pity, that the option of reading CD-Text, present on many CDs as well as all SACDs, was not used.

The device can be operated using the double knob on the front panel, from a remote control or via an app. The knob control in devices other than amplifiers is known from studio equipment, and in the home products we owe its introduction to Sony. I don't know if you remember, but somewhere in the mid-1990s it began equipping its CD players and later MiniDiscs with knobs that could be used to jump between tracks, turn playback on and pause it, and in MiniDiscs to edit material and enter captions; the latter feature was revolutionary for me, as it enabled me to cut my music preparation time before a theatrical performance to a minimum.

Nowadays, for some reason, this fantastic solution has been abandoned and only a few companies, like Hegel, recall it. CH Precision offered something more, a 2.0 or maybe even a 3.0 version: two, concentrically aligned knobs. With them we'll handle playback, but we'll also be able to navigate the menu. And there we will set the absolute phase, brightness of the display, but also upsampling on the digital output or not. In the test we found that for CDs it is better to apply it, while with MQA-CD - not. Also there we will determine in what color the information will be given due to the type of discs played. To tell the truth, I don't like such solutions and would prefer to have CD, SACD or MQA-CD logos displayed. It would be nicer and more functional.

The remote control comes in the form of a small aluminum unit with only basic buttons on it. And now - this remote control can be magnetically "pinned" to the right side panel of the player. This way we are sure that it will not be lost to us.


THE MANUFACTURER CALLS THE C1.2: "DAC/Controller." It is a stereo digital-to-analog converter that, when equipped with an Ethernet module, turns it into a full-fledged file player. What's more, the unit also offers an adjustable analog output, so it can replace a preamplifier. And with the addition of analog input boards, it can become the heart of an entire system.

In designing the C.12, the designers were most concerned with maintaining the timing and amplitude of the signal. As they write in the company materials:

When designing any high-end DAC, both noise and jitter are crucial. We have developed an entirely new MEMS (microelectromechanical systems - ed.) based, shunt-controlled and thermally compensated clock for the C1.2, significantly improving clock accuracy (as well as providing highly advanced options for clock and external reference clock synchronization).

C1.2 Digital to Analog Controller, →, accessed 5/10/2023.

⸜ INPUTS • The factory version of the converter offers four digital inputs: CH-Link HD, AES/EBU, S/PDIF and Toslink. If we need it, we can also add a USB input and Ethernet with file transport. CH-Link supports: PCM up to 32 bits, 768 kHz and DSD up to DSD512 (8x). Other inputs allow the transfer of PCM 24 bits, 192kHz and DSD in the DoP protocol.

Let me remind you that Sony and Philips, the creators of the SACD standard, failed to develop a commercial standard for the transmission of DSD signals, which to some extent contributed to the format's withering. Few companies have dealt with it on their own, such as Accuphase with HS-Link, dCS with a dual XLR link, Playback Design with PLink, or Ayon Audio using a professional 3 x BNC link. The DoP (DSD over PCM) protocol was developed to overcome this limitation, allowing DSD signals to be sent over a USB connection.

⸜ CONVERSION • Unlike the digital-to-analog conversion modules that can be fitted to the D1.5 player, here manufacturer reached for the long out-of-production Burr-Brown PCM-1704 chips.

These are multi-bit chips based on the R-2R architecture, once extremely highly regarded by manufacturers and audiophiles. This design uses four chips per channel, so it can convert digital signals up to DXD. Since these circuits do not accept DSD signals, they must be converted to PCM before the signal reaches them. Here, too, all signals are upsampled to DXD and only converted to analog signals in this form.

As we mentioned, the converter can operate with either fixed or adjustable output voltage. Adjustments are made with a knob, as in an amplifier, and the indication appears in beautiful color bargraph form on the display. The maximum output voltage is not high, at 2.55 V RMS for RCA and 5.1 V RMS for XLR, so the power amplifier should have reasonable input sensitivity. The adjustment is precise with 0.5 dB steps, and we can set the balance between channels with the same resolution.

Optional inputs include additional digital inputs - up to three in total. An Ethernet audio input (UPnP/DLNA) allows playback of files from streaming services or NAS drives: PCM up to 24 bits, 384 kHz (768 kHz for uncompressed formats), as well as DSD up to DSD512 (22.5792 MHz), natively or using DoP. Decodable file types include WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, AAC and MP3 (PCM) as well as DSF AND DFF (DSD). And you can add a USB input to play digital signals from an external file transport. It supports PCM signals up to 24 bits, 384 kHz and DSD signals up to DSD128 in DoP protocol.

In total, up to eight different cards can work in the C1.2.

The analog output circuits are discrete and made with transistors. They operate in class A in a symmetrical circuit. The RCA outputs feature nice sockets from Furutech. There are also BNC outputs, designed to connect CH Precision devices via a high-level link. If you recall, similar solutions were once offered by Krell (Krell Current Audio Signal Transmission - CAST), and today by another Swiss company darTZeel (DarT). They help bypass the limitations of analog signal transmission between two gain stages.

⸜ FEET • I haven't talked about this when discussing the player, but it's high time to touch on the incredibly refined chassis. It is made entirely of aluminum in such a way that it vibrates as little as possible. Its important part is also the anti-vibration feet. The CH Precision devices come with solid feet featuring rubber rings. Once the unit is placed on the shelf, however, we can equip it with a proper decoupling system. It is based on long, nylon-looking pins ending in metal blades that screw into the four corners of the chassis.

In order to get to the compartment intended for them, we first unscrew the metal caps. For this we use a small suction cup, included with the device. Next, we put pads under the feet that are made - as it seems to me - from a material similar to POM, that is commonly used by turntable manufacturers. In its surface there is both an indentation for the spike and a round indentation for the rubber in the feet, allowing them to be perfectly aligned with the spike setting.

Then we screw in the pins adjusting the level of the device at the same time. A small screwdriver is included for this purpose. Since the pins are slightly recessed in the hole, it would be difficult to pull them out. That's why a small magnet is mounted on their top surface, which the screwdriver "catches". Simple, and brilliant solution.

Here's something else, just as cool. CH Precision devices can stand on the supplied discs, on separate shelves, but they can also stand one on top of the other. To decouple them mechanically, instead of caps, we screw in a smaller POM disc from the top, which is the base for the unit's spikes above. Simple? Brilliant? Yes, and Yes!


⸜ HOW WE LISTENED • The player stood on a Finite Elemente Master Reference Pagode Edition MK rack - the DAC on the top carbon shelf, and the transport on the middle shelf, plus on top of KRYNA Palette Board anti-vibration platform. It was compared to the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player (№ 1/50).

The latter was equipped by me with:
- Siltech Triple Crown power cable and interconnect,
- Divine Acoustics GALILEO anti-vibration feet,
- Nordost QPoint generator with QSource power supply,
- Nordost QKore artificial ground,

The D1.5 transport was powered by an Acoustic Revive Absolute Power cable, while the C1.2 DAC was powered by an Acrolink 8N-8100 Performante Nero Edizione (№ 1/15) cable; test → HERE. Both were connected to a Nordost QKore artificial ground and connected to each other via a CH Link cable. The signal from the analog outputs was sent to the Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier via Siltech Triple Crown RCA interconnects.


⸜ MAYO NAKANO PIANO TRIO, Miwaku, Briphonic BRPN-7007GL, Extreme Hard Glass CD-R (2017).
⸜ MADONNA Ray of Light, Maverick | Warner Bros. Records 9362-46847-2 | WE 852, CD (1998).
⸜ KEITH JARRETT, The Köln Concert, ECM Records/Universal Classics & Jazz | Tower Records PROZ-1087, „ECM SA-CD Hybrid Selection”, SHM-SACD (1975/2017).
⸜ DEAD CAN DANCE, Into The Labyrinth, 4AD/Beggars Japan WPCB-10076, „Audiophile Edition”, SACD/CD (1994/2008).
⸜ GEORGE MICHAEL, Older, Epic | Aegean/Sony Music Labels SICP-31544-5, 2 x Blu-spec CD2 (1996/2022).
⸜ CZESŁAW NIEMEN, Katharsis, Polskie Nagrania „Muza”/Warner Music Poland 9 77373 3, „Limited Edition SACD Hybrid”, SACD/CD (1978/2023).
⸜ OLIVER NELSON, The Blues And The Abstract Truth, Impulse/Universal Classics & Jazz UCGQ-9040, „Acoustic Sounds SACD Series”, SHM-SACD (1961/2023).
⸜ VARIOUS, Rock Hi-Res CD Sampler, Universal UCCU-40126/7, CD + MQA-CD (2018).
⸜ VARIOUS, 2L MQA-CD, 2L 2L-MQA-CD-2021, MQA-CD (2021).


EVERY TIME I listen to a top audio product I wonder how it's possible for the best devices in the world to play so differently from each other while still fulfilling the basic principle of high-end, guaranteeing an emotional connection with the performer. On a "common sense" basis, it should be that the better the product, the less it adds from itself and the more faithfully it captures what was recorded during the recording session, right? And if that's the case, then at the very top the differences between the two should be negligibly small. Nothing is further from the truth.

Audio is an area in which it is impossible to render a live event in an exactly the same way. It's physically impossible. From recording techniques to post-production to playback, these are just imperfect tools that sound engineers, often artists, use to create an "impression" of participation for us, so that we suspend disbelief for a moment and let ourselves be carried away by the music. Audio is thus a function of human beings. Therefore, the higher the audio quality, the greater the role of personal choices of engineers and designers. This is the case this time as well.

I had planned to play ten, maybe twelve discs before I started listening to the tested player in an analytical way. As it often goes with plans, however, everything went haywire as soon as I fired up the first track from the MAYO NAKANO PIANO TRIO's Miwaku disc. Admittedly, it's not an SACD disc, but it was made in the best way possible today, that is, it was burned from master files onto a glass-backed CD-R. And it sounds better than the vast majority of SACDs I know.

And I abandoned my plan already with it, because the CH Precision system has clearly defined vectors by which it directs the listener's attention in the direction chosen by its creators and a clear picture of what they wanted to achieve. And they were primarily concerned, the way I read it, with showing the sound as perfectly as possible without blurring it. It would probably be more intuitive for readers to start the test by discussing timbre, dynamics or even spatial aspects. These are important elements, and we will address them as well. Far more important than them, however, is what I'm talking about: timing.

| D1.5 as an SACD player

COMPARISON of the D1.5 working as a standalone player with a system in which it is only an SACD transport is deceptive. And that's because the differences between the two are large, perhaps even very large. That's one thing. But the other is, after all, that the D1.5 is simply a excellent disc player costing 160,000 zlotys, and it will be money well spent. Its sound is close and palpable, and it has wonderful resolution of all sub-bands.

Still, it is also the case that it is the C1.2 that "does" the work. It moves all the layers in the stage further away, while building larger, much more three-dimensional phantom images. The presentation is dark, but also remarkably selective with it. The D1.5 itself also shows selective, discrete sounds, but is less refined in this than the DAC. There is also a big difference in the organization of sounds. The player blends them lightly, showing less shading regarding distance, color and dynamics.

To reiterate: as a standalone SACD player, the D1.5 is a wonderful example of the marriage of technology and art. To start only with it is a good idea. But once we hear what the C1.2 brings to the sound we will do our best to expand the system with this converter sooner or later.

THE TESTED PLAYER delivers recordings in an uncommonly precise manner. There is no shadow of fuzziness in the attack of the sound, not even a suggestion of roundness. Its decay is equally precisely drawn. What does this produce? It gives a sound that is remarkably clear and selective. I don't think I've heard such a clear and precise sound from digital media before, except maybe the full dCS Vivaldi 2.0 system, and even that not quite. If memory serves me correctly, the closest to this vision was the Weiss DA502 D/A converter (more → HERE).

The dCS I mentioned, however, has some softness in the sound, which makes the presentation seem a bit warmer with it, as if it has been smoothed out. This is not the case, I know it's a super-accurate device, in some, not fully color-balanced systems sounding even brightly, but this impression remains. The CH Precision, on the other hand, has no smoothing in its sound. And it doesn't need it. For along with transparency it offers something even more important: resolution. This is, to repeat myself, probably the most resolving SACD (and CD if we're talking about that) player I know.

So it was interesting - I should even say super-interesting - to play MADONNA's Ray of Light album. Recorded initially in Cubase computer station, on an old Atari ST computer, it was completed in Pro Tools. Cubase worked with 16-bit, 44.1 kHz parameters, and presumably so did Pro Tools. Its sound is a bit dark and doesn't have very good definition, but it has a consistency that only few pop and rock recordings in later years achieved.

And it was this lack of definition that was shown by the tested player in a way I had not experienced before. But not only was it shown, because it was also slightly corrected. The device shortened the mid-bass decay and brought order to the recording. But while the CH Precision seems to play an open sound, it is not a bright sound. The hissing voices in Madonna's vocals were given less "directly" with it than with the Ayon Audio player, and this is, after all, a player that focuses on fullness, not openness.

Similarly, as far as I remember, this aspect was treated by dCS and Accuphase players (→ DP-1000/DC-1000). At the same time, the Swiss device does it even better, that is, it better combines the opening of the sound with the lack of brightness. And it is perfectly sensitive to any changes in the distance of sounds from the listener, whether due to manufacturers' decisions or the physical distance of the microphones from the sound source.

With the Miwaku album, it could be heard that the microphones above the drums, responsible for the sounds of the brass, were quite close to them and were set up in a rather attenuated space. And due to that with the Swiss player they were closer to me than with the Ayon. But already KEITH JARRETT's piano from the The Köln Concert - we are thus moving on to the SACD releases - was shown in a fuller way, and yet it had an outstandingly well-placed space. Which shows that the differentiation the tested player offers is absolutely incredible.

I don't know why, but for a long time it seemed to me that this recording was made in an open space, that it was an outdoor concert. This was indicated by the high timbre of the instrument and the specifically captured sounds of the audience, represented only by high notes. As it turned out, the producer's idea was to make the decrepit little practice piano sound as good as possible, and to do so, the low end of the band had to be cut - hence this "open" space.

With the tested device, however, it had great fill - a thing that rarely happens. Only the ESOTERIC K-01D showed it just as well, even though it's a completely different device in terms of tonality. Perhaps the truth of a recording shines through no matter what the technique is used, as long as it's high-end technology. The thing is, the player in question in this test does a remarkably good job of differentiating the distances of sound sources from us and from each other. That's why Jarrett's piano had a higher volume than usual with it, and I could finally hear the acoustics of the room, rather than the sound fading far behind the recording venue.

That's why the pianist's singing, sometimes irritating, sometimes confusing, made sense this time - emotionally and artistically. I really understood that this was not a mannerism, but simply the musician letting himself be carried away by his emotions. These emotions were conveyed not by the emphasize of the sound, but by the maximum resolution, giving us access to signals of such a low level that the vast majority of other players do not notice them, or if they do, they cannot show them in such a precise way in time domain.

I've already noticed it with Madonna, also with Jarret, interestingly enough, but especially with the DEAD CAN DANCE’S Into The Labyrinth album. Recorded in 1993 at Quivvy Church, a former church converted by Brendan Perry into a recording studio, it has an incredibly wide frequency response. This is also helped by a 2007 remastering by Mobile Fidelity for the SACD disc. The big timpani hit at 2:07 of the ˻ 1 ˺ Yulunga (Spirit Dance) with the reference player was low and dense. With the CH Precision it was shown with a slightly less saturated low midrange and not as low.

This is because the Swiss device goes in the direction of resolution and building on it with timbres, which sometimes gives this very effect, as if it plays shallower. This is not the case, this is a device with extremely low bass, yet its energy seems lower than with the Ayon. This is not a problem, it’s just this element the Austrian device has perfected, making it sound a bit like an analog tape recorder, but you should know about it. The Swiss device, on the other hand, did a much better job of showing the timbral dissimilarity of individual instruments and portrayed them on a better organized soundstage with more dimensions.

Both presentations were, to me, top-notch but at the same time so different that it would be difficult to explain to someone who does not know the specifics of audio. Because the tested system, for example, better showed the differences between the cymbals opening track No. ˻ 9 ˺ Epitafium (dla Piotra), ending CZESŁAW NIEMEN's Kathasris album. Released on an SACD disc, Damian Lipinski's remaster is phenomenal and has showcased with CH Precision the timbres of the various synths in a beautiful way.

But Ayon has done something else that makes it such an incredible device: it completed the presentation, saturated it. That's why, when the intro played on drums is followed by Niemen's wide and deep voice, which has many layers, it was the Austrian player that filled the space with it in a denser way. Although it was the Swiss device that better distributed the voices in space, the Ayon showed them in a slightly more organic way.

As listening to MQA-CDs showed, the tested system fills out the sound the better, the higher resolution signal it gets. Therefore, even the very light, brightly realized ˻ 10 ˺ Shout by TEARS FOR FEARS, included on the MQA-CD sampler (MQA Studio 24/352.8) gained in depth and spatial aspects when it was decoded in C1.2 Even then, however, I had no doubt that it felt best, so to speak, with SACD discs. It gave me everything I could ask for with it.

⸜ FILES - Knowing this, I listened to files for a while. With an Ethernet DAC card, the CH Precision turns itself, from a rating standpoint, into an audio file player. And it handles it very nicely. I had both resolution, and space, and timing precision, I started my assessment in this review with. I only lacked the filling and density that I heard with SACDs and CDs, as well as some softness and tiniest details. It's not a bad sound, it’s absolutely not like that, to be clear. But a good, expensive file transport will bring out more color and give better filling from this DAC.

Files played directly from the Swiss device have a slightly, for my taste, contoured character. Everything is accurate, powerful, energetic, but sometimes even too accurate. In the sense that there is something missing behind the sound, behind the attack. On the other hand, it was with the files that the presentation settled lower on the bass, which was simply stronger than when I played the files with the Lumin T3 as a transport.

⸜ ADJUSTABLE OUTPUT • In my system I use the beautiful Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier. I have a firm belief, backed up by dozens, if not more, tests of players and DACs with adjustable output, that they play better with the signal further amplified and buffered before it goes to the power amplifier. In my opinion, a high-quality linear preamplifier is the true "heart" of an audio system.

On the other hand, however, I realize that many audiophiles prioritize the advantages of eliminating one device from the track, both sonically and financially. That's why, incidentally, reacting to the raised eyebrow of Tomek Folta, host of the Krakow Sonic Society meetings, when I told him that I wasn't going to test this option, I changed my mind. And I wasn't going to, because for me a complete system is, as I say, a system with a preamplifier.

So it was no surprise to me that the CH Precision player played a class better with the Ayon Audio preamplifier. It was fuller, more resolving and simply more powerful playing. The surprise for me was that the basic parameters of this presentation did not change. Everything I wrote about above remained and was dominant. What changed was not the scale of these elements, but their character.

With the CH Precision's internal digital volume control, it plays softer, more silky, as if we had mounted tubes in it. It's still a resolving and selective sound, still better in this respect than anything I've heard from me so far (except top turntables). But now it was a more pleasant sound, with a gently velvety attack and with a slightly softer decay.

Therefore, if you don't want to spend an extra 200,000 zlotys on a preamplifier, it's better to invest that money, for example, in a power supply for a DAC and/or transport. And only if money doesn't play a role, an external preamplifier will push the sound of this system one step further, preserving all its advantages.


WHILE THE TESTED PLAYER is just the beginning of the journey its owner can take, and that is because it is exactly seven devices away from the top version, it is one of the best digital sources I have heard, and in several respects the best. I've never heard such resolution, such selectivity and such definition of all sub-bands in my room before. Also, the idea of the presentation as a whole was unbelievably well thought out and arranged.

What I get from my player, and what I've also heard from the Esoteric player, is the richness I'm looking for. This is not an absolute category, as the CH Precision in a more realistic way shows, for example, the attack and dynamics of drums. But sometimes it favors precision over something that makes the sound organic. Both presentations are absolutely natural, that is, they allow us to suspend disbelief for a moment that we are participating in a real musical event. But they are natural otherwise.

In contrast, Accuphase and - above all - dCS players combine these two categories, that is, selectivity and organicity, each in a slightly different way. They are smoother and denser. But none of them are so ultimatively resolving and so orderly in what they do.

It was an important lesson for me. I learned something again, and I will apply this knowledge in my work. I now know how resolving CD, SACD formats are and how good MQA-CD (!) sound. I also understand how quickly and in an orderly way an attack of sound can be given without sharpening or hardening it. This is a beautiful example of human genius. A well deserved ˻ GOLD FINGERPRINT ˺. .

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

⸜ D1.5 Disc types played:
CD, CD-R, CD-RW: stereo PCM 16-bit, 44.1 kHz (redbook), MQA-CD
SACD single layer and hybrid stereo, DSD 1 bit, 2.8224 MHz (scarletbook)
Frequency response:
- DC-20,000 HZ for CD
- DC-35,000 Hz for SACD
Max. output voltage
- Balanced (XLR) 3.1 V RMS
- unbalanced (RCA) 1.55 V RMS
Dynamics:>96 dB for CD, >120 dB for SACD
THD: <0.002% for CD, <0.0012% for SACD,
Display:8 00 x 480, 24 bit RGB, AMOLED
Power consumption (standby mode): < 1 W
Power consumption (normal operation): 100 W max.
Dimensions: 440 x 440 x 133 mm (W x D x H)
Weight: 22 kg

⸜ C1.2
Conversion type
- linearized R-2R, 4x PCM1704 per channel
- 24 bits/705.6 kHz and 768 kHz
DSP processing: CH-PEtER upsampler, synchronous, DSD to PCM conversion and resolution conversion
Max. output voltage
- Balanced (XLR) 5.1 V RMS
- unbalanced (RCA) 2.55 V RMS
Signal-to-noise ratio: > 120 dB
Total harmonic distortion + noise: < 0.001%, full scale, 22 kHz
Dimensions: 440 x 440 x 133 mm (W x D x H)
Weight: 20 kg

THIS TEST HAS BEEN DESIGNED ACCORDING TO THE GUIDELINES adopted by the Association of International Audiophile Publications, an international audio press association concerned with ethical and professional standards in our industry, of which HIGH FIDELITY is a founding member. More about the association and its constituent titles → HERE.


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