After their strong showing at the Scalford show this year I hope some of you will now be familiar with Jolida . Also my rave review of the Fusion CD player may have raised them up your flag pole so to speak. They certainly deserve more attention than they get here and in the press.
The build quality of this – the £600.00 Glass FX DAC II – justifies the asking price. Nicely built, it looks strikingly handsome with it’s thick glass roof and nice brushed aluminium face plate. It even has a little window in the front so one can admire the blue glow of the valves. I had high hopes for this. After my very positive experiences with the Jolida Fusion CD player – which I miss dreadfully but simply cannot afford – at £2650.00 the CD player should be good. My hope was that the Glass FX DAC II would give me that sound, but for a more accessible £600.00 asking price.
And it nearly did. There’s something of a house sound at play here. A house sound that is not coloured, just somewhere between valve and solid state. They seem to have aimed for the best of both with their designs and come close to achieving it here.
As is clear from the photos, this DAC offers good choice of connectivity, with USB, Toslink and Coaxial inputs available. The signal is converted using Burr Brown chip-set and the out put stage is powered by a pair of 12AX7 vacuum tubes. The aim being to to add some analogue warmth to the sound, and indeed they have succeeded.
The sound is really quite analogue, there is an openness and space between vocals and an airy sound to top registers, but where this DAC really succeeds is that it achieves that without sacrificing bass control. Bass was – in my system at least – bordering on being over controlled, but still the sound has presence.
Listening to Kate Bush’s Ariel showed just how controlled it was, this is an album that I love, but which has a tricky deep woolly bass line, it sounds bloated on the best solid state kit, and did here too. But what was telling was that it really was no more bloated than the recording. Everything else was incredible, Rolf Harris’ voice especially eerie – in a good way.
Atoms for Peace, Amok was beautifully rendered too. Thom Yorke’s voice had a velvety tone to it, which was highly enjoyable. The only slight down side for me was the merest hint of softness to leading edges. Some will prefer this, but I favour a slightly punchier sound. This subtle and subjective “weakness” lead to me to explore more dynamic recordings. However, with Led Zep, the Chemical Brothers and Orbital I found that I simply enjoyed the music. The slight softness to the dynamics was as often a plus as a minus and really didn’t detract at all.
This is something of a bargain given its abilities. It feels like it will last forever and sounds so good I can’t imagine much of a second hand market appearing for them any-time soon.
Seek one out for demo. Also worth noting that Robert at Aired Audio (the distributor) says he’s had real success in modifying these, and that he believes there’s even more to be had from them. I can’t wait to hear more about this and will add to the review once I get info from Robert on the tweaks.
Contact Robert at Aired Audio for more information.
Discuss the review here.