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Ayon Skylla II

$10,500.00 $6,995.00

Ayon Skylla II Vacuum Tube DAC – Pristine Trade In


0% Financing Available !!

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Ayon Skylla II Vacuum Tube DAC – Pristine Trade In


0% Financing Available !!

When I spoke with Gerhard Hirt, owner of Ayon Audio and Vaic and distributor of Lumen White during this year’s High-End exhibition in Munich, I could not fail to notice how particularly proud he was of three products – the CD-5 deck, Skylla D/A converter and Lumen White turntable. That was quite a spectrum of products with digital on one end and analogue on the other but united by one common goal – music playback of the best possible sort. If we disregard the fact that his preamplifiers often include wonderful phono stages, Mr. Hirt’s focus has been on digital for a few years now. He began with a line of CD players—the CD-1, CD-2 and CD-3—which plotted the direction of his future research. I call it research because the compact disc standard only presently reached its zenith to demonstrate true high-end aspirations regardless of the present mood of analogue fans. There are many areas for digital exploration like the transport mechanisms, digital filters, analogue and power supply circuitry and yes, each element was researched, developed and improved for Ayon Audio’s own digital product range.

As is typical for Ayon, the output stage is based on Sovtek 6H30-EB triodes. In the power supply Ayon culled from their work on the CD-3 and its tube rectifiers. They probably borrowed further enhancements from the Polaris II preamplifier. For the Skylla converter, Ayon uses four 6X4s to build a full-wave rectifier. Unlike the earlier 2-box top player, the CD-5 and Skylla—which in fact is the DAC section of the CD-5—return to a single chassis with integral power supply which delivers the necessary voltages via three expensive R-core transformers. The Skylla offers I²S, USB, S/PDIF and AES/EBU digital inputs but also volume control and two analog inputs to transform into a full-blown preamplifier.

The Austrian Skylla converter offers an incredibly full, rich and vibrant sound of great resolution. On the one hand I was surprised because the already mentioned CD-3, as interesting as it was in many regards, had offered quite the opposite. But since I’d already explored the CD-5 for its Audio review, what I heard now merely confirmed what I already knew: Gerhard Hirt has achieved something which others fight for two or three times longer. He managed to merge sonic elements present only in high-end gear at the level of the Accuphase DP-700 or Ancient Audio Lektor Prime and Lektor Grand SE – to mention just the best examples that spring to mind at a moment’s notice. Think microscope with soul; or a guy at the other end of the microscope’s eyepiece.

Let me repeat that it was a surprise to find such a merger of outstanding timbre and sonic vibrancy. The sonic signature was very similar to the Ancient Audio machine. There were some differences but truly minor ones. That said a lot about this DAC. Voices floated freely between the loudspeakers, be they the captivating male velvet voice of Johnny Hartman at Just You, Just Me… or the sensual female vocals of Carole Simpson on Live (and otherwise). The balance between warmth and sensuality was correct to render the sound plausible. This isn’t a fixed category. Here one enters the areas of artistry, musical perception and how real it is what we hear. Under perfect conditions—meaning a live concert—we can evaluate the ambience of the place, appreciate the contributions of the sound engineer and how fit the performers were at the time. When you listen at home, it becomes about something else, about how exactly the recording is reproduced. The less the ‘fidelity’ factor intrudes as a concern, the more we can concentrate on the same things as during a live concert to more deeply experience the sounds and music.

I think that the Skylla and CD-5 are very close to this ideal. It is still about reproductions but they have become so plausible that we can drift into them to experience the music. That’s what happened with Hartman and Carole Simpson. Those recording restored by the Sinatra Society of Japan have high historical and aesthetic value. It is about the music after all and the sound quality per se is rather mediocre except for “Fly Me To The Moon”. That classic is mainly known for Sinatra’s interpretation but here was recorded perfectly not just for being captured fifty years ago but perfectly, period. The Skylla easily conveyed the full, mellow sound of the piano placed a bit in the background and Simpson’s sensual but somewhat ironic and guarded voice in the front. Yet listening to the next song with its far lower sound quality caused no frustration. My impression was similar to a live concert when performers or sound engineer are replaced. I know something has changed and what it was but perceive it as part of the performance, not some technical error.

The Skylla is a powerful machine and as impressive as the simultaneously introduced CD-5 player. The only thing the Skylla subtracts is the transport mechanism but it benefits from a better power supply as one of the transformers no longer has to run the transport mechanism. The Skylla chassis is far bigger than the CD-1 or CD-2, even larger than the DP-700 Accuphase and matched to the dimensions of the firm’s Polaris II preamplifier. The back panel in fact looks like a well-equipped preamplifier. There are two analogue outputs (RCA and XLR) at either side and a little switch turns one of them off. There is another switch to choose between max 4, 6 or 9V RMS output where the CD-5 only offers 4 and 9. In the middle of the back panel sit the analog and digital inputs and digital outputs. There are two pairs of analog inputs with an internal A/D converter and an analog input can be tapped from the digital output.




Digital/Analog Converter Ayon Skylla Conversation rate 192kHz / 24 bit

Tube complement – Analog output 4 x 6H30 Tube complement

Power Supply 4x 6X4

Dynamic range > 110dB Output level1 kHz / Rms 0-9V variable Output impedance Single-Ended-RCA ~ 300 Ohms Output impedance Balanced-XLR ~ 300 Ohms Digital output S/PDIF & AES/EBU Digital input 2x S/PDIF, AES/EBU, Toslink, USB, I2S Analog output RCA & XLR Analog input 2 x Line In (RCA) S/N ratio > 1 10 dB Frequency response 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB Total harmonic distortion 1kHz


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