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EXOGAL Ion PowerDAC Review

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The front of the Ion has a single LED that flashes every color except black. I am being facetious, but it does appear white, red, green, amber, flashing green, flashing green and amber, and a few variants one wishes to avoid such as flashing red. Each indication pertains to an operational mode or trouble shooting indicator, and is detailed in the Owner’s Manual available online. Helpful videos regarding startup are linked to from Exogal’s website and I suggest you spend the brief time to view them. Users are requested to show some patience, which seems incredibly difficult for some audiophiles, as the unit requires a minute or so to run through startup processes and get set for use. Once the system is established the transition from standby to muted operational mode is comparatively spritely. The PowerDAC always starts up to Muted mode, indicated by a flashing green LED, and a flick of the volume control up takes it out of mute.

Make sure to set the Comet’s input to the source desired and its output to “EXONET”, the proprietary link to the Ion. The EXONET cable provided is a passive HDMI, and the Manual cautions that an active HDMI cable does not work. The power supply is best used directly into the wall (System-wide add on power solutions have typically not passed my Law of Efficacy) and has according to the Manual, “… some power conditioning and surge suppression built in.” That sounds fuzzy, but that’s all you get by way of explanation from Exogal. The power plug is a proprietary 4-pin XLR type, with two pins carrying “+24V DC”, I presume a sum of the two positive pins, and two grounded. Not to be forgotten is that the Ion must sit atop the Comet. The Ion does not run hot, yet needs to breathe, so when stacking them it goes above the Comet. I use some soft orange diamond shaped isolation devices obtained from TEO Audio to separate them from the shelf and each other.

My only source used typically now is the just reviewed Salk Audio StreamPlayer Gen III file server/streamer that comes with ROON, the uber-slick music interface software. Add Tidal music service and you have a full service suite for replete digital playback. This setup passed my Law of Efficacy and has set me up to use whatever music I wish from my library ripped to the StreamPlayer III or Tidal streaming music with sound quality easily good enough for reviewing. In terms of power supplies and power cords, I began with a Clarity Cable Vortex Power Cord feeding the highly recommended HD-PLEX Linear Power Supply (discussed in the Salk Audio StreamPlayer Gen III review), which in turn fed the StreamPlayer III. I used a Silnote Poseidon GS Power Cord on the Ion’s external power supply.  Finally, I used the upgrade Exogal PLUS power supply for the Comet with a Verastarr Grand Illusion II Power Cord to it. I selected the Silnote Epirus USB for use from the StreamPlayer III to the Comet and ended with the Clarity Cable Organic speaker cables. Note well that the power cords are mixed because after intense assessment of them in full sets I know the properties of each cord’s sound and can select them for effect. I do not advocate a hodge-podge mixing of cables as this results in guesswork, not directed system building.

The Comet and Ion duo is extremely sensitive to power cord changes, which is wonderful and precisely what I would expect. I find it incredible that we have manufacturers who think that the better designed a component is the less sensitive it will be to power cords. My experience daily, many times using the very components of those manufacturers, is the opposite; the better the component the more one gets out of power cord switching and finalizing their locations. I switched the power cords around on the Comet and Ion and much preferred the Verastarr cord on the Ion and the Silnote on the Comet. Just this one switch made the Vapor Audio Joule White 3 more robust, with a lushness I have not experienced prior from the speaker. I know it’s a killer-fast, laser-sharp transducer, but add in the warmth of riper tonality along with the speed and the Joule White 3 becomes as seductive as a hybrid horn speaker with a SET amp.


Price-to-performance inversions

Let’s pause for a moment and consider the wacky world of price-to-performance ratio of audio gear. I regularly hear speaker systems that are fronted by components and cables at a minimum of $20-25K. Dozens of rigs push the $30K+ level for components and cables ahead of speakers. If one wished, it would be possible to spend an entire day scoping out systems with each component in the chain sporting nearly $10K price tags. There is no limit to how much one can spend on superb sound.

In that environment Exogal is fighting all comers with its proprietary system and radical sound, and in the comparisons I have made Exogal is winning. Jeff Haagenstad, Exogal CEO, made it very clear that Exogal wants to beat everyone regardless of price and do so at a price point that people who hear an Exogal component will be compelled to buy it. My impression is they are executing their plan precisely. Makers of the uber-expensive digital gear should be shitting bricks, because the Comet and Ion are going to eat their lunch. Just as Richard Vandersteen has sold gobs of his speakers, Exogal will sell gobs of the Comet and Ion. It is possible Exogal will force a rethink in the industry and soon you may see many companies trying to forge their own equivalent of a power-DAC. It’s that good. It took Exogal longer than expected to work out the technical kinks in the design, as it is radical; I was told there was plenty of smoke in the lab during development. However, in its production form it is unquestionably worthy of upscale systems.


The Ion’s operations

During an extended discussion of the Ion PowerDAC with Jeff, a former member of team Wadia, he shared how that company attempted 25 years ago to develop a power-DAC but failed. The technology simply was not refined enough at the time to make it marketable. Now, the technology is at hand and Exogal is the first to succeed in readying it for consumer use.

Speaking of consumer use, a brief word about shipping and customer relations. The packaging of the Comet and Ion are first rate, and very clever as they use folded box construction as cushioning for the components. I like opening a product and not having to dig it out of foam peanuts. Support for the Comet and Ion were first rate. Phone calls and emails were answered promptly and thoroughly. I commend Exogal for being very responsive. As I set up my Salk StreamPlayer Gen III, I encountered some issues with my home network’s streaming audio and Jeff was responsive to my request for him and Jim Salk to resolve it. It is that kind of attentiveness which will win trust when bringing a new set of products to the market.

Technically, the most important thing to know about the Ion is that it is not a traditional class D amplifier, and is not a class D amp at all. It does the amplification in the digital domain and only becomes analogue at the speaker outputs.

[Digital amps use Class D amplification (i.e., they are “switching amps”) but they differ from “traditional” Class D amps in a fundamental way. In a traditional Class D amp, the digital signal from a CD, or from a digital file on a computer or music server, is sent to a DAC. Within the DAC, the digital single is first converted to analogue, the current is next converted to voltage, then amplified in the DAC’s output stage. The analogue signal travels via a set of interconnects to a preamplifier, which typically contains multiple stages of amplification, circuitry to control volume, and finally an output buffer. The signal is then transferred by another set of interconnects to the input stage of the amplifier, which is followed by a driver stage, and ultimately the Class D output stage, the latter using pulse-width modulation (“PWM”). In contrast, a digital amplifier directly receives the pulse-code modulation (“PCM”) signal from the digital source (optical transport, computer, or music server). The PCM is converted to PWM within the amplifier’s DSP (digital signal processor), which also controls the volume (in the digital domain). The PWM signal then drives the output transistors, as in a “traditional” Class D amplifier. To summarize: Digital amplifier uses a Class D output stage, just as “traditional” Class D amps do. The distinction between the two types of amplifier is that a digital amplifier avoids the numerous analogue stages (and interconnects) found in traditional Class D amplifiers, and thus avoids the noise and distortion associated with those stages. – Laurence A. Borden, Copy Editor ]

Jeff emphasizes that this allows the Ion to, “generate analogue transients at digital speed.” Jeff used the illustration of a water hose as an example. Amplifiers which control transients in the analogue domain are akin to controlling the flow of the water in the hose from the spigot, whereas when the signal is kept in the digital domain until final output it is like controlling the hose from the nozzle, a more immediate and precise method. The signal is not pushed through power amplification devices such as capacitor banks. Rather the digital signal controls the output voltage of a high voltage power supply that responds to instantaneous bit-changes with practically no lag. Jeff states, “This allows extremely fast transient response because there is no significant amplifier hysteresis to smear the audio.”

My interpretation of all this is that the Comet and Ion create an ultra-refined digital signal that doesn’t need to go through an analogue stage to be amplified. The signal receives final processing in the DAC, which also provides bit-perfect voltage manipulation for perfect power at the precise time it is needed. One can see how this would be far faster and efficient than sending the signal off via a set of interconnects to another component to be analyzed and provided power. This eliminates operational lag, the hysteresis Jeff referred to, and allows super-clean power to be provided at nearly instantaneous speed.

Nearly as important is the Exonet connection to the Comet. It allows the two to be conjoined as four independent computer networks with a bandwidth of 340MHz or more. This ensures fast data communication and high reliability. As I discussed in my review of it, the Comet analyzes the incoming PCM signal and creates a new one that is analogue-like. Addition of the Ion further refines that new signal through massive processing, far more than typical laddered DACs, and is output by the Ion at almost instantaneous speed. To accomplish this the Ion has to control high voltages far better than conventional amplifier designs. Exogal was pushed hard by the challenge, as they underestimated how difficult it would be to reverse the voltage as it was rising or falling. Jeff recalled, “A quickly rising voltage wants to overshoot and a quickly falling voltage wants to undershoot. We had to learn how to control the tendency so every transient went exactly as high or as low as it was supposed to go, and no higher or lower.”

Returning to the hose analogy, in analogue amps the power has to be “generated” when called for, and while that can happen fast it cannot happen nearly as fast as if the power is already available at the output. Jeff explains, “In a traditional design the amp has to ‘go get’ the additional power and then ‘push’ it through. Most amplifier chips/tubes cannot get, generate or use power this quickly.” What does avoidance of that slower technology mean in terms of performance? It means lightning fast transients, engagement, vitality, vividness, and a pervasive sense of the ears hearing an actual musical event.

29 Responses to EXOGAL Ion PowerDAC Review

  1. Steve says:

    How did you hook it up with the Whispers processor? I have the Aeris and I am not sure how it integers with the Xilcia 4080 processor.

  2. Rui Vilar says:

    Did you forget Devialet on purpose? I presume so, the best way to present something that is not radically new as radically new is to ignore what was really new…

  3. Steve,
    God’s Joy to you,

    I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear; my set of Whisper speakers is custom and has both passive operation and active operation modes. If your set of Aeris speakers are only actively run, then it would be problematic to use the Ion. Please see my review of the Legacy Whisper DSW Clarity Edition for further details on my speakers.

    Legacy is offering an upgrade to the Aeris in the new Wavelet processor, and I suggest you look into it as a nice boost to performance.

    Douglas Schroeder

  4. Rui,
    God’s Peace to you,

    I often compare products which seem similar to determine how they fare. There are many factors which go into the final decision on which products to review and write about, and I am not interested in discussing them here. I do not care much for the politics of the industry, so suspicion that I would purposely avoid a competitive product is off-base.

    Unless you know information about the technology which Exogal is using but has not released I conclude you assume that Exogal and Devialet are technologically doing the same “radically new” thing. Both in my examination of the operations of the Devialet and Exogal, and in communication with Exogal specifically on that question, I understand they are not similar.

    My opinion that Exogal has created a new breed of sound/component remains unchanged. I am not interested in further discussion or debate on this topic.

    Douglas Schroeder

  5. Note to the Audiophile Community,

    I have learned from Exogal that the occurrence of the “IONOVT” message in the display of the Comet can also be shown when the amplifier has a current demand by a speaker greater than the current the Ion can provide. The test which produced the shutdown was ironically on the track “Galaxies” by Owl City, which has an enormous amount of LF. I had to play it at about 97-100 on the digital readout of the Comet to trip the safety shutdown; that would be right at 90dB. That was with the Sound Lab U-4iA speakers under review.

    In other words, when using less efficient speakers with more difficult loads the Ion may not push them to unlimited listening levels, as I discuss in the article. However, importantly, the issue causing shutdown is not overheating, but simply the amp not being able to drive the speaker pushing heavy LF at higher listening levels,, well beyond where most people listen. I am pleased to know that there is no overheating happening, and that the protection circuitry in the rare case the amp is overdriven works superbly.

    This strengthens my impressions of the Ion, and I strongly recommend it for such speakers at more conservative listening levels. Frankly, it drives such speakers well beyond the limits I anticipated.

    Douglas Schroeder

  6. Jeff henning says:

    So the only way to use this digital amp is to hook up a DAC and power supply from the same company using a proprietary interface?

    Yeah, that seems reasonable, cost effective and generally great for the end consumer.

  7. David says:

    Thank you for your review of the Ion – Comet from Exogal. I just placed an order based on your word! Can you share some speakers / speaker brands (in addition to those you discuss in your review) that you feel would pair well with the Ion? I have already noted ones which rely on box reinforcement as not being as good of a match.

    – David.

  8. peterh says:

    I recently found a review on the Shure se215 on this site and I decided to buy it for me. My question is, if I purchase a DAC would the sound quality improve considerably?

  9. Jeff,
    God’s Joy to you,
    If I read your post correctly you are being sarcastic, as you state, “So the only way…Yeah”; if I misread, my apologies. If you look at only the digital amp function, then your skepticism is warranted. However, your analysis is simplistic. The value and power in the combo is that it contains all the system needs, source, preamp and amp. There are plenty of companies which offer full systems with source, preamp and amp, yet cost many multiples more and theoretically have maximum synergy when used together . I do not see much justification in dismissal of Exogal simply because they choose to package the functions differently than more traditional manufacturers. Frankly, it is a gift to audiophiles that they allowed the Comet to be used independently of the Ion. That they offer the stunning performance of the upgraded DAC/PowerDAC combination along with superlative amplification for such a low price is remarkable.

    Douglas Schroeder

  10. David,
    The Joy of God to you,
    If you got the impression that the Comet/Ion combo would not sound good with box speakers from my article I apologize. I would think they should sound terrific with them. I don’t particularly pursue speakers with the boxy resonances, but if they were favorable to me I would not hesitate to put the Comet/Ion with them.

    Aside from perhaps those speakers with very low impedance, which would take ridiculous amounts of power to drive, I suggest it’s a wide open world. As a jumping off point scan my past 12 years of speaker reviews. I would be very happy to retrace my path and use the Comet/Ion with any of them. This is the most universally applicable component review when it comes to speaker matching I have ever written. So, essentially, name the brand of speaker and it would likely sound great.

    Douglas Schroeder

  11. Staxguy says:

    Hi, Douglas,

    I have a few comments.

    1) Specifications

    You’re in a better position, as you’ve heard the ExoGal system, but I have a few salient points from the specifications sheet:

    THD: 0.03% THD @ 1W @ all frequencies into 4 ohms×690.jpg

    While a dynamic range of 105 dB isn’t amazing, it is fine for 16-bit content. Compare to – 173 dB of MSB Select DAC II.

    A PowerDAC is hardly a new concept.

    1) Here’s the original audiophile one (that I know of), circa 2002:

    Wadia PowerDAC ($80,000.00 USD, 117,000.00 EUR)
    390 Controller / 790 towers

    I haven’t heard it, but it was hardly a technical (or business) failure. Selling for $40,000.00 USD .

    2) Wadia’s present line-up, a PowerDAC:

    Wadia Inution 01 Power Dac (also $8,000.00 USD)

    A present product (and lower-end competitor to Devialet D-Premiere / Expert), it’s been out for 2-3 years. Admittedly, it’s integrated, with one box.

    It’s 190 watts at 8 ohms, and 350 watts at 4 ohms.

    3) Wadia 151 PowerDAC Mini ($1,300.00 USD)

    Includes Wadia Digimaster!

    I agree with others that the Devialet should of been a comparision.

    The Devialet Expert 130 Pro ($9,995.00 CDN)

    THD+N : 0,0005% (130W / 6Ω)
    THD : 0,00025% (10W / 6Ω)
    Signal-to-Noise ratio: 130dB

    Sorry for all the links posted to your great website. I just wanted to back-up my notes.

    Thanks for your great reviews!


    Measurement comparisons are interesting but real world user experiences is what is important to us. We believe that our product allows our customer to be swallowed up in the music. If you’re a guy who plays music to listen to his gear, you’re probably not our customer.

    Also, to clear up some misconceptions in the comments:

    The original Wadia PowerDAC was never a commercially viable product. Yes it was announced, yes a few were sold, but they weren’t reliable and never worked right and were quickly taken off the market.

    The Intuition is not a power DAC, it’s an integrated DAC and Amp with a manufacturer’s data sheet reference design Delta Sigma DAC and a standard Class D amp from PowerSoft.

    And the guy who invented the hallowed Digimaster design now works for us and has gone light years beyond anything Digimaster ever did in a completely different way. Digimaster is a bicycle. EXOGAL DAC technology is a Tesla.

    And what, the review is invalid because Mr. Schroeder didn’t compare us to Devialet? Please.

    You should go listen to the Comet / Ion Combo. If you like it, buy it. If you don’t, no hard feelings.

  13. Chad Olear says:

    Hey Douglas, Thanks for a great review. I presently own the Comet with separate power supply. I absolutely love it. You’re article sold me on the Ion, but I think I’ll wait on the monos. Would be nice if they have a Analog to Digital converter with XLR inputs so I could listen to my SACD’s. I have a large collection I use often. Or, it would be nice if Exogal would introduce a Transport for the Exonet system. Not opposed to replacing the old Esoteric player. Thanks again for the informative review.

    Chad O.

  14. Douglas Schroeder says:

    Gods’ Joy to you,

    Happy to have you join the Exogal club! I appreciate the feedback. I hope the wait for the Monos is not too long. I suggest you work toward file playback. I wrote up the Salk Audio StreamPlayer III, and it is a wonderful product used with Tidal and ROON. The sound quality is splendid and convenience off the charts. I suspect you could achieve sound quality equivalency to SACD with a good file server/streamer. It’s not a very expensive proposition, certainly less than an Esoteric player.

    Douglas Schroeder

  15. They always say “Never say never” but when it comes to transports, we’d come pretty close to never… But only because we don’t see any way to make them better at a lower price point.

    We’ve been asked about A2D’s and Phono Stages but it’s kind of the same answer as with transports.

    In all of these things, there may be a way to make them “better” or “cheaper” but unless there’s both we’re probably gonna leave that to someone else…

  16. Jason S says:

    I’ve been A/B’ing this quite a bit with other combos. I like the DAC a lot, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. It’s voiced nicely and pairs well with several different amplifiers. But the following combos beat the Comet/Ion combo pretty easily in my experience:

    – Comet/Krell 2250e (krell is dead neutral, detailed with insane dynamics – what a thrill ride)
    – Comet/Pass Labs xa60.8 (come on….)
    -Comet/FirstWatt F7 (come on…)

    I think the DAC is a winner and competes up to $12k dacs. I like it better than my Grace m905 and Schiit Yggrisil. It absolutely murders the mushy, boring AMR DP-777SE. Is it better than the EMM Labs Dac2x? No. Just simply, no.

    Remember the goal is to reproduce the sound of live music. And if that is the goal, then the top class A and Class A/B amps are still quite a bit ahead in my opinion and I can confirm that this article is over-the-top in it’s gushiness. New toys…gush, gush, gush. Then they’re old toys…

    Note: I use AES input with Balanced Output. I’m a USB hater although I admit it’s getting MUCH better. But the USB dac technology seems to have softened and quieted it to death to make it sound nice. Again, to me reproducing live music is what it’s about.

    To add, why is it not the best? a little dark sounding and not the last word in accuracy, natural timbre & spacial queues. To be the best the guitar needs to sound exactly like a guitar, and feel like it’s in your listening room, same with cymbals, voices and everything else.

    but does the combo “sound” awesome? yes.

    • Jason S says:

      Sorry to be annoying…but this is for the sake of accuracy. A/B’ing has continued. Listened the Schiit Yggy for the first couple of times with XLR balanced output and it’s a totally different DAC than when using it Single Ended…I prefer it to the Comet. Cleaner, more open, spacious, and gorgeous. It’s the most extreme difference I’ve heard a component between SE and XLR, it’s strange.

  17. Jason,
    God’s Peace to you,

    We are essentially in agreement. When you confirm that the Comet competes with up to $12K DACs, that covers the bulk of the market. That it takes a $15+K DAC to best it is an exciting conclusion.

    The Comet and First Watt J2 was airier, but lost a lot on macrodynamics, as would be expected from the 25wpc. I haven’t heard the combo, but suspect the F7 would suffer the same anemia compared to the Ion. Recall that I used the Comet/Ion with five speaker systems ranging from higher efficiency dynamic to electrostatic speakers. The First Watt was a non-starter with the Sound Lab U-4iA, while the Comet/Ion blew the doors off the speaker, and that with 100wpc. So, my comments must be taken in the context of a wider range of speakers and the combo excelled with all of them. That is worth popping the champaign cork.

    I am disappointed in the connection between the Comet and Ion being so difficult to upgrade as imo it is crucial. There seems to be a paucity of high quality passive HDMI cables. I suspect that the Comet and Ion are operating “with one hand behind the back,” in the wrestling match between it and other combinations due to the economical HDMI link. (This is my opinion, not the opinion of Exogal.) Enhancing that I suspect would substantiate my seeming over-the-top claims and fix the perceived shortcomings you note.

    Douglas Schroeder

  18. John M. says:

    So yours is the definitive decision…for yourself. Congratulations. Everyone is a critic, an expert…for their own ears and write about what they think.

    You post a comment about how you thought the other amps you listened to (Krell!) were better than the Ion. Then you hear something else on the source side you say sounds so much better than the Comet. Maybe you should try the speakers next then circle back to the Comet/Ion? EXOGAL does state that USB is the preferred input for the Comet. Your admission of being a “USB hater” seems to preclude that consideration. Was USB ven tried?

    You have at least taken the time to listen and compare using your own preferences and biases over those of others who write in proclaiming injustice because the such-and-such DAC was not compared in the review without giving the equipment under review so much as a listen.

  19. Alan Y. says:

    As an owner of the Comet Ion combination for several months, I read Douglas review with great interest. As applied to my system (Silver lie Sonata speakers – 93 DB, 8 ohms / Aurender server) I found Douglas’ observations to be spot on. Very fast, dynamic, quiet, natural tones. They replaced considerably more expensive dual mono tube amps and preamp from a highly regarded manufacturer. while I was very happy with the tubes (which were upgraded by the manufacturer over the years to great effect), I prefer the sound, convenience and reduced size of the Exogal / Aurender team. The combination of the efficient Hifiman Edition X v2 headphones and the Comet headphone amp is also highly recommended.

  20. Alan,
    God’s Joy to you,
    I’m happy to see my descriptions fit your experiences! By this time I have heard the Exogal products with a growing list of complementary equipment, and to date I have not heard a poor system when they are used either individually or together. You have a jump on me in regards to describing their sound with headphones as I only have the Kingsound ESL headphones with tube headphone amp.

    Douglas Schroeder

  21. Peter Dickens says:

    I have a Comet Ion combination with digital input from a Melco and connecting via chord reference cables to Spendor D7 speakers.
    The Chord Sarum USB interconnect has been a revelation.
    Would a higher quality passive HDMI replacement have the same positive effect?
    Any suggestions?
    Kind Regards

    Peter Dickens

  22. Peter,
    Gods’ Joy to you,

    I am open to trying more passive HDMI cables for the Comet/Ion combo. I have tried one I borrowed from a friend, the WireWorld Platinum Starlight 7, which was made into a “shorty” cable for the Comet/Ion. It did confer a difference, and a positive one, however not enough to induce me to order one. I found that with the Exogal’s stock HDMI cable and an upgraded Ethernet cable I could achieve a similar effect to the “jumper” HDMI. If I were approaching the system from a cost-no-object perspective I might obtain the Platinum Starlight, but I suspect there may be better cables for the Comet/Ion. Anyone with experience in this matter I would very much like to hear back.

    As a humorous anecdotal aside, Jeff Haagenstad and I had a very low cost bet (I do not gamble) of $1 over whether the HDMI would effect the sound of the Comet/Ion. He said effectively no, and I said it would. The outcome was that in my comparison there was a discernible difference, but that it was below the threshold of my Law of Efficacy; i.e. time better spent pursuing other options. Imo, we were both sort of right. The dollar went to a non-profit ministry. 🙂

    Now, I am not finished with my exploration of the passive HDMI cables for Comet/Ion. One cable is nowhere near enough attempts to draw a firm conclusion regarding the efficacy of the link. I will attempt to find at least two or three other passive HDMI cables to test with the Comet/Ion.

    QUESTION: DOES ANYONE KNOW OF AN AFTERMARKET QUALITY PASSIVE HDMI CABLE (Not shouting, soliciting!) which might be suitable for a short link between the Comet/Ion? Please render assistance with your suggestion; I appreciate it! I did look online and found not much about passive HDMI cables, so any suggestions are much appreciated! Note, we are talking Passive HDMI, not the typical active HDMI, which is the majority of HDMI cables in existence.

    So, concluding, the issue is not firmly resolved at this point. However, I have done enough comparisons in regard to Ethernet links to firmly recommend upgrading them. Article on Ethernet cables forthcoming.

    Douglas Schroeder

  23. Steven says:

    Hi, you wrote “QUESTION: DOES ANYONE KNOW OF AN AFTERMARKET QUALITY PASSIVE HDMI CABLE (Not shouting, soliciting!) which might be suitable for a short link between the Comet/Ion?”

    I would like to know if you have found “better” aftermarket HDMI cables? If so, which cables do you prefer and what is the audible benefit of them? Thank you.

  24. Steven,
    God’s Peace,
    Since I wrote that Exogal has made an upgrade connector; I suggest you seek that from Exogal!

    Douglas Schroeder

  25. At the CES in 1998 I showed the Tact Millennium amplifier designed by Lars Risbo in Denmark. It was a power DAC with 134 dB dynamic range. Since then we have been manufacturing fully digital amplifiers – now under Steinway Lyngdorf, and Lyngdorf brands. We control volume level by regulating a DC to DC power supply giving us full digital resolution over a vast power range. The process was patented in 1996.

  26. Kris says:

    I have recently became a owner of the ion comet combo. I have owned many systems over the years including both tube and solid-state. This combo ranks right there with the best I have heard and I have heard some pretty expensive gear. I feel the ion/comet combo is the most accurate to source material as I have ever heard. It is very fast exactly as Doug has explained. It has the smoothness and texture on instruments that I hear with the best tube amps, and the neutrality of the better solid-state gear I have heard. It doesn’t have the extra bloom that the tubes have but it has the presence. What it does better than the other solid-state gear I have heard is it has a natural ease to the sound that you hear with live music but is still dynamic at the same time. I have read one of the previous comments about not sounding as much like a real guitar as another amplifier. Remember this is a recording you are listening to. A lot is lost in the transition from live to a recorded medium especially dynamics. I feel the ion is more accurate to what is recorded to the medium. I know what you mean about more live sounding, but it is a trade off. When I go listen to live music unamplified it never sounds aggressive and in you face. The music is very dynamic and full but in a different way than a recording. We all hear a little differently than one another and have different preferences for what we like. Biases I guess. But I still feel that the ion/comet combo competes with the best I have heard.

  27. Kris,
    God’s Peace to you,

    Nice that you are enjoying the Comet/Ion! It is a lovely combo!

    If you wish to optimize it, you can pursue the PLUS Power Supply for the Comet, an aftermarket umbilical fo the PLUS such as offered by Clarity Cable or Wywires, and a quality digital link for the source to the Comet. All of these will elevate the performance additionally. Also, pay careful attention to power cords used with both Comet and Ion. So, you have no less than 4 discrete levels of improvement to explore if you wish, and all are efficacious. I suspect you will enjoy the sound much more if you explore these suggestions.

    Also, if you are using a source with the option of volume control, try both alternatives; setting the source’s output at 100% and using the volume control of the Comet, or vice versa. I always try them both to see which I prefer with any collection of gear.

    Douglas Schroeder

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