Not previously known as a hotbed of High End Audio, Spain has gone for quality over quantity. WADAX, a ten-year-old manufacturer whose main focus is digital electronics, has exploded on the scene with their Atlantis Reference DAC. In the world of the digital heavyweights, WADAX is in a class by itself, both functionally and physically. It's an assemblage of three units; the DAC and two power supplies, weighing in at a modest 180 pounds. That was not a typo.
According the company, "This is the product of over 30,000 man hours devoted by passionate engineers and scientists to develop the most accurate and musical DAC ever designed".Inside the Reference DAC are 23 individual printed circuit boards, each completely and independently shielded. It contains over 5500 discrete parts, so obviously the manufacturing and QC process must be quite demanding.
This barely scratches the surface, so to speak, of the thought and care that went into every detail of this all out assault on the state of the art in digital. It is reasonable to have very high expectations of a DAC with a six-figure price tag. In which case, would it be surprising that Wadax would be able to meet their claims in every regard?
One of the most astounding aspects to the Reference DAC design is that the jitter spec on it is a mere 12FS of jitter. A femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second. Normally jitter in a high end DAC is measured in picoseconds. A picosecond is one billionith of a second which is already an exceedingly small number. In fact it takes 85 picoseconds for light to travel just one inch. So a jitter spec of 12FS is a bit mind-boggling to say the least!
It's hard to know where they could go from here, but it's reasonable to expect great things. Viva WADAX!
With regard to the Wadax Reference DAC, if you wish to get the best out of a product of this caliber, you need to provide it with a signal of commensurate quality. WADAX makes that possible with their new Reference Server.
The Atlantis Reference Server utilzes Roon as the music server software. Interestingly WADAX was the first company to launch a Roon-based server, which was back in 2015. This highly refined server/streamer is implemented with custom drivers and Roon extensions which have been developed for the Reference Server. If you are familiar with Roon then you already know the user interface.
Of course Roon Playlists, be they for streaming or locally stored files, can be made anew or if they already exist in Roon they can be moved to the Reference Server. Playlist contents can be links to music on Qobuz oand/or Tidal online streaming services. Alternatively Playlist contents can also be links to locally stored files residing in the Server itself.
That being said, one of the important achievements of the Reference Server is the level of performance attained from quality online streaming sources, i.e. Qobuz and Tidal MQA. According to WADAX, the combination of the unique technology developed for the Reference Server with the Reference DAC via the Akasa optical link brings the sonic quality of streaming online music sources much closer to locally stored music files than one could ever imagine. WADAX believes, with their advanced technology, that playback from local SSD is now mainly focused on availability not quality anymore. By this WADAX is referring to 'Legacy' libraries: i.e. ripped and digitized LP's, unavailable/audiophile tracks not in online streaming services, etc.
Akasa Optical Link for Reference Server / DAC connection
What makes this Reference Server and DAC combo especially interesting is that there is an optional fiber optic link available to connect the Server to the DAC. It utilizes the AKASA optical cable between the transmitting module in the Server and the receiving module mounted in the DAC.
The theoretical advantage of utilizing a fiber optical connection is that certain types of digital "noise" or grounding issues simply will not be transmitted from the Server chassis to the DAC chassis. Theory goes on to say that this should provide the cleanest possible signal for superior sound quality. Don't believe in theories? You're welcome to visit and hear the difference for yourself.
Reference Power Supply
This is the optional outboard power supply for the Reference Server.
We expect to have our demo Reference PSU arrive at the store in mid-June 2023. So stay tuned for our listening evaluation after we have had some time with it.
This is the optional Reference DC Cable. It can be used between the DAC and it's two dedicated mono power supplies -- or between the Server and the outboard Reference Power Supply.
We expect to have our demo AKASA DC Reference Cable arrive at the store in mid-June 2023.
We expect the Reference Transport for CD/SACD playback to become available in early 2024.
Notably this can also be utilized with the Reference Power Supply as shown above.
This can use the same AKASA Fiber Optical connection as the Reference Server.
The Reference DAC has provisions for adding second AKASA Optical input.
More information will be forthcoming, so stay tuned.