As citizens of the world, we at Alpha-Audio are open to manufacturers from all corners of the world and therefore also to audio from China. Now we certainly don’t want to go on the political tour but since a few years a few fine manufacturers from the land of the rising sun have joined us. They design and develop their products in a decent way. We can no longer ignore that. One of those companies is Jay’s Audio, where people are reviving the compact disc. Something optical that has been declared dead several times. Owner Jacky Ho and his team still find the CD very suitable to listen to music at the highest level, so we’re going to check and especially listen whether Jay’s Audio CDT-2 and DAC-2 Signature live up to the high expectations.
Although the distrust of Chinese products remains high, with Boelsz Audio from Volendam we have an importer that guarantees a correct service and after-sales service. We ourselves have had several positive experiences with a number of Chinese manufacturers so we can recommend their products without reservation. In addition, we have all devices tested for a long time and never experienced any problems. They are manufactured from the best components and put together by skilled craftsmen. Let’s make that clear.
Now that streaming audio has matured, the question naturally arises whether a CD transport still has a place in the hifi landscape. Your humble servant thinks so. Of course, streaming has other advantages over playing a CD, but if you want the absolute best playback quality, the ‘good old’ compact disc can get very far in terms of resolution and overall quality. In recent years there has been a decline in CD sales but worldwide this is still the most chosen way to listen to music and fortunately many labels still release beautiful recordings.
Construction and appearance
Both devices look more expensive than the number on their price tag. They are also large and heavy. So be carefull. In a hi-fi rack there is no problem as long as it is sufficiently sturdy. These devices have allure and get – in terms of finishing – close to high-end. Those who find the silver version slightly too ‘bling bling’ can choose the understated black version. We find the silver version particularly successful and the large screen also offers added value. The most important information, volume and input is, for once, readable from our listening chair
The transport is based on a Philips CDM4 drive which has proven itself several times in the past and is a pleasure to use. Before you close the drawer you have to put a puck on the CD to keep it in place. The whole operation resembles the placement of a vinyl record and only enhances the listening experience. For the rest, this unit is full of high quality sweets such as a Crystek Femto Clock, Neutrik connectors and Noratel transformers. Finally, much attention has been paid to the stability of the drive and the implementation of the output stage.
In terms of outputs we can choose from coax, bnc, aes and i2s. For the latter Jay’s Audio indicates that the transport not only works on the own dac but also on the dacs of Ps Audio, Holo Spring, Denafrips and Singxer. Less known in Europe. Before you buy the transport you can indicate which i2s protocol you prefer
The DAC-2 Signature is based on the Dual AK4497EQ, a 32-bit dac chip that builds on the Velvet Sound that Asahi Kasei has made name and fame with. This allows playback in PCM up to 384Khz and the dac plays native DSD512.
The same Crystek Femto Clocks have been used to ensure perfect timing and a proprietary FPGA has been developed to convert the digital signal. A special feature is the choice between non-oversampling (NOS) and oversampling at the push of a button. Not something you see everyday.
On the DAC-2 Signature we see the following inputs from left to right: bnc, aes, coax, opt, i2s and usb. So one of each kind! More and more i2s is seen as the best connection but you choose which input sounds best in your system. We have mainly played through aes and i2s where the latter indeed provided the most information and seems to us purists to be the best choice.
The remote control of the transport is beautifully made and fits comfortably in your hand. The remote of the dac is the small but nice Apple remote.