When it comes to the best DAC / Headphone amplifier in the world goes, the air is thin.
Then one might fall a dozen devices. Starting this year, you can expand the list - since AudioValve the Luminare with USB - DAC board presented.
The in the EAR IN magazine 2-3 / 2015 presented AudioValve RKV Mk III belongs the handful headphone amplifier which for me absolute world top class belong. The Luminare represents the latest evolution of the headphone amplifier from the Kassel factory AudioValve. And I fall right now with the door into the house - in the presented stage with built-in USB DAC will cost the unit 4.200 Euro retail.
So consider carefully whether you are reading this test further, or whether they do listen to the Luminare once
The ALLINONE - allrounder
The amplifier circuit is based on the developer Helmut Becker preferred tube circuit which even in RKV Mk III
has been used and the different modes of operation allowed. It is immensely powerful for a headphone amplifier.
Depending on the mode makes the Luminare 4 to 5 watts per channel. On the front there are connections for virtually everything it on headphones gives. This starts with two combination jacks that either a 6.3mm stereo plug or a 3-pin XLR connector to record. Here, up to two headphones asymmetrically with the conventional plugs or alternatively a symmetrical Headphones are connected via two XLR connectors. Also, for the symmetrical connecting headphones more commonly used 4-pole jack connector can be found on the front. Moreover, Helmut Becker finally come to meet the many Stax fans.
The headphones were on RKV 2 operate only using the attachment Verto, which provided the bias voltage and the high signal voltages for operating electrostatic headphones are necessary. When Luminare you have this option built the same so that the front and a Stax-6-pin socket for Stax - Standard and -Pro Headset "graces". Overall, one can at Luminare so well run as any reasonably standard headphones.
On the back there are two entrances, implemented between which on the front can be switched on. Input 1 can be asymmetrically is via RCA or balanced XLR via. The second pair of RCA jacks next input 1 is a signal output of the pre-amplified and volume-controlled signal outputs - the Luminare can therefore be used as preamplifier
(as DAC and). Input 2 simply provides two parallel RCA jack pairs, so you can loop through the input signal easily.
Optionally the Luminare like our tester can be equipped with a DAC board. This is obviously not a solution of the bar, but a specially developed for use in Luminare board, on a converter is a suitably programmed XMOS chip, the digital PCM data 24-bit / 384 kHz and DSD processes up DSD128. Input 2 automatically switches from analog to USB at once into the USB port to a digital signal bears. The second analog connection is therefore retained.
Among the three modes of Luminare amplifier circuit is OTL Mode to clear preference for normal headphones. This mode is for headphones with an impedance of 50 ohms - applies here: the more, the better. And what of Luminare kindled here music is breathtaking bend. Common criteria can hardly cite. That tonality, dynamics, Timing, resolution and whatever else used to assess is, simply are perfect, should be self-evident. Here it's more
the elusive aspects that can easily experience a music, a go under the skin, making goosebumps let you laugh or cry, and we describe HiFi writers struggle with that. And this elusive, complex and yet so simple music brings the
Luminare so clear, of course, and sovereign over how I really rarely seen.
This holds true as well for the Stax port in conjunction with the corresponding headphones of Luminare in tonal
resulting in regions where the Stax own amplifier can only dream. In Transmit mode, the also for the operation of low impedance Headphones to shut suited to 3 ohms, a little goes by the magic of lost OTL operation, however, we move here still on a level achieved by few other headphone amplifier makes the DAC any time the impression that he exploits the talents of the amplifier, which in this combination is simply top notch testimony to the digital section.