Ayon Audio CD-07s Evaluation – Audio Drom

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Ayon CD-07s

Smooth liquidity is another typical element of the Ayon sound. The sound is analog-like, viscose, fluid, flowing, smooth. You may as well discard all these adjectives and replace them with the single formulation: the Ayon is a delight for ears. It is the companion for hours and hours of listening.

Ayon CD-07s Vacuum Tube CD Player Front

Function and form

EASE OF USE = 92%                SOUND = 93%                  APPEARANCE = 90%
In the CD-07s the tubes are hidden in its class A output stage which is built around Philips JAN 5687WB triodes that rest in ceramic sockets with gold-plated pins. Gerhard Hirt correctly promotes as short as possible and as simple as possible signal paths which is reflected in the reworked circuits that were developed to optimize the way electrons travel. The analog part of the player is dual mono and works with zero feedback. Its output terminals show very low impedance values to address different audio cable interaction issues – as a result the player should be less sensitive to interconnects. In the course of this review I experimented with few cables to find out that their sonic differences were heard as much as with another players, however, the length of a cable played less important role than with competitors, whis is already good.

Ayon uses R-core transformers with separate windings for input and output stages, the input stage employs its own power filtration system on top of that. As I was not aware of it during the review I did not experiment with how the sound would change when using different power conditioners with the CD-07s and rely upon the standard Supra MD-06 distributor that was available at the time of review. It may be interesting for a future owner therefore to explore benefits of a dedicated power conditioner or a self-filtering cord a la Lessloss DFPC.

The Burr-Brown (PCM1796 and PCM2704) D/A converters work with asynchronous upsampling Burr-Brown SRC4193 chip – a solution that represents industry standard. For PC freaks it is important to know that the USB input of the CD-07s can accept only 16bit/48kHz so the output of 192kHz is based only on upsampled inferior data. If you plan to use high sampling rate digital formats with the Ayon CD-07s, forget about it.

Bass management

WEIGHT = 91              SLAM = 93                ARTICULATION = 93

The bottom end extension and fullness is probably the first thing that grabs a listener’s ears. The CD-07s‘ bass is not digitally fragile and light, it is rich, solid, full and shakes the Earth to its core. The excellently recorded quarter-tone guitar in Through The Shadows ( Axiom of Choice, Unfolding) can, when played appropriately loud, penetrate a listener’s body and move his stomach the way when the bass gets more physical than audible, provided that you have a full extension speakers. For the main part of the review I had to use the Usher’s Mini Dancer Two DMD that are not full range speakers, yet the bass and its sheer weight was impressive.

Clarity & delicacy

DETAIL = 97                 AIR = 95                     TRANSPARENCY = 90

Good thing is the possibility to switch to 24bit/192kHz on-the-fly which opens the field for endless experiments with the upsampling. I remain to be very conservative as upsampling algorithms can, at best, only improve something that does not exist and the value of upsampling is questionable as such. Of course you can hear the difference but you can be never sure whether it is not caused by additional chips or a different set of DACs in the path of the signal. What actually may work is the different bit depth that may improve reading the digital data in time domain, but who can be sure?

The Ayon CD-07s can be switched on and off with a confidential rocker switch that is placed (like a lever to open your car’s bonnet) under the player’s chassis. It is very unusual yet it may help protecting the gear from your spouse or kids – without knowing the location of the switch it is pretty difficult to play music.

The machine is global – by removing the plastic protection from a switch on the CD-07s‘ rear panel one can simply select between 117V/60Hz and 234V/50Hz standards. There is also a toggle switch that changes the gain of the built-in preamplifier to regulate output sensitivity(2V/5V). That may be useful in case of less sensitive speakers or if a listener prefers to drive power amps directly with the CD player. The Ayon supports it perfectly as another toggle switch activates the variable output to control volume via the CD-07s. Apart from usual balanced and single ended connectivity (one pair of each) the player sports coaxial inputs and outputs plus a USB input. The last finishing touch is a very useful indicator of power polarity that warns in case you have reversed it.

Tonal accuracy

TIMBRE = 96                  DYNAMICS = 94                          TEMPORAL RESOLUTION = 96

The Great Opera Choruses, Wagner & Verdi SACD (Chesky Records) is a very appropriate torture test. The opera excerpts are recorded with a single point microphone in very unusual soundstage settings. Let’s take Wagner’s Parsifal – there is the big orchestra and the 50-head choir that is joint by another children choir at the very end. Chesky tried to capture the enveloping surround sound with different platforms that were cascaded front to back and left to right with orchestra sections placed on them. Thus the final sound, even in plain stereo, acquired spatiality and three-dimensionality, including nice vertical resolution. Through the CD-07s I received all those clues and the children choir was firmly locked at the back of the soundstage singing a level above heads of members of the orchestra. It is a pity that neither Ayon can replay the SACD or multichannel layer, yet the recording was very lifelike in the standard red-book format. With Accuphase E-460 amplifier and Dancer Mini Two speakers the player could fill the room with pulsating sound and the front wall just disappeared.

Spatial resolution

HOLOGRAPHY = 93                    SOUNDSTAGE WIDTH = 93             SOUNDSTAGE DEPTH = 94

The remote is a heavy slab of metal so it was nice to find that its bottom plate is protected by soft plastic padding that kept my furniture and a table free from scratches and assured firm grip in hand. Simple and clever.

I was delighted that with the Ayon’s remote control it was possible to control anything with Ayon badge. The only thing you need to do is to select the target (a player, DAC, amp or preamp) and basically all the functions are available. This system approach significantly reduces number of remote controllers that has to be on hand – one is enough!

Ayon Audio – 8390 E. Via De Ventura F110-194 Scottsdale, Arizona 85258 – 1-800-676-1085 Ext 2 – 1-310-601-7976 Ext 2