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Review Isotek Aquarius V5 – central powerhouse

Pros

  • Brings calmness
  • And focus
  • High and Low current
  • Looks good

Cons

  • Price has become steep
  • Prijs: € 2499

    Build quality
    Usability
    Sound
    Price
    Isotek Aquarius V5

    The Sound

    It’s always bizarre to notice how a filter like the Isotek Aquarius V5 pulls things together again. At least in our system. Now we’re in a vinyl pressing plant and the energy is not really top-notch…. but that clearly shows the potential of such a filter.

    Peace and quiet

    At first we just play our test-list on repeat for a week. Let that filter burn in a bit. Then we’ll just listen to some songs. “Hmm… nothing wrong with this. Sounds fine!”, is the first thought. This shows how you get used to stuff. Because when we move the Pavane from the Aquarius back to the Kemp power strip… damn… yes. That’s definately audible!

    Is it a change from souding good to sounding bad? No, it isn’t. Not at all. But we do hear a bit more grain in the midrange and we ‘feel’ that the stereo image falls back a bit more without the Aquarius being included in the chain. There is also a little less air and less 3D feeling. In short: overall we hear that it adds a little less ‘smoothness’.

    If we take a look at our review of the Isotek Titan, we read similar things: more calmness, more space … and more kick in the bass in case of the Titan. The latter we do not hear directly with the Pavane which works nicely with this Isotek Aquarius. But then again: the Pavane is a d/a-converter: not a power amplifier.

    EVO3 versus V5

    Now we also have an EVO3 version of the Aquarius: it sells for about 1500 euros. The V5 costs about 2500 euro. That is a 1000 euro difference. And honestly: if you are in doubt and really need to save up for the 1000 euros we would recommend the EVO3. Yes: the V5 is even better in terms of sound (more 3D and slightly smoother), but the EVO3 is just a very good device, as we have heard many times.

    It’s just like with the Titan EVO3 and the Titan V5. Yes, the V5 is obviously an evolution…. but that doesn’t make the EVO3 bad…. and if you can put that $1000 to good use…. we’d be happy to snag the previous edition.

    But a word about the sound differences. Keith Martin is no fool, of course. The fact that he sends both units and says: go and listen… and leaves it at that, proves to us almost that the difference is clear. But we’re not crazy either and just go into it blind and without prejudice. Just as it should be.

    The difference is not immediately night and day, but it is perfectly audible on a well-tuned system. And also directly reproducible. The EVO3 mainly brings tranquility, but does less with the imaging. The V5 brings a fraction more calmness and makes the image larger and in sharp focus. Stability we shall say. If we then go back to the Kemp (which also cleans up some of the mess) the image blurs a bit and we lose some smoothness in the midrange. Natalie Merchant seems to have smoked a little too many cigarettes shall we say….

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