A Winning Formula

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Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula DAC. (Image courtesy of Aqua.)

I received the Aqua HiFi Formula xHD DAC about a week ago and immediately set about breaking it in, using the Innuos ZENith music server and the also just-arrived Sugden LA4 line stage pre-amp, which includes a balanced pair of inputs. I meant to run it 24/7 in order to reach the suggested 400 hour break-in time as soon as possible. As luck would have it, I assembled a play list of ‘only’ 16 hours and haven’t been at the Forge every day this past week, so I suspect I’ve only reached about 100 hours.

I was going to wait longer, but at a ‘mere’ 100 hours, the Formula is already astonishing. It really plumbs the depths of subtle detail, both timbral dynamic, teasing the tiniest shifts and inflections. Bass is fantastic: extended, forceful and tight as a drum. Instruments and voices have real body and clear placement in space, as opposed to the oft-encountered vague ethereal phantasm hanging about out there ‘somewhere.’

Despite the fact that the boffins at Aqua have brought an awful lot of tech to bear in achieving this level of performance, this still feels like some kinda magic . . .

All listening so far is happening with a generic XLR cable from Formula to Sugden LA4., continuing on to the Shindo Monbrison and, for this week, the DeVore Orangutan 96.  I’ll get around to both a better interconnect, explore a single-ended RCA connection to both the LA4 and Shindo Monbrison, switching in the Auditorium 23 Hommage a Ken and Rethm Maarga speakers, but I’m in no hurry. I’m enjoying the ride!

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