Published on October 14th, 2015 | by The GC Team0
Classics for the modern age
British audio brand Quad has introduced the Artera Play, a CD player, DAC and preamplifier combined in a single chassis, and the Artera Stereo, a power amplifier sporting the brand’s Current Dumping technology.
Artera has a textured aluminium front panel, thick glass top and CNC-routed heat sinks on either side, providing a rugged structure that resists interference from external vibrations.
At the heart of the Artera Play is the ESS Sabre32 9018; a 32-bit, eight-channel hybrid multi-bit Delta-Sigma DAC considered by many to be the finest D/A converter chip available for stereo sound. This is Quad’s first component to utilise the ESS Sabre DAC, and external digital sources can benefit from its quality via a range of digital inputs. These include USB with support for PCM data up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD64/128/256, ensuring the Artera Play is fully equipped to make the most of today’s hi-res music formats and future advances in UHD digital sound.
For CD replay, a new slot-loading mechanism buffers data from the disc before feeding it asynchronously to the DAC section. Four digital filter options enable users to tailor the Artera Play’s sound with both CDs and external digital sources to suit personal taste and the nature of the source material.
The Artera Play’s preamp section boasts a balanced Class A output stage. Two coaxial and two optical inputs cater for external digital sources alongside the USB input, with a pair of RCA phono inputs handling analogue sources. Analogue outputs are supplied in both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR varieties; a pair of digital outputs (optical and coaxial) and a 12V trigger output complete a comprehensive array of connectivity options.
The inclusion of full analogue/digital preamp functionality means the Artera Play can be connected directly to a power amplifier, and its partner in this regard is the Artera Stereo. This compact power amp sports the latest iteration of Quad’s Current Dumping topology, first introduced in the Quad 405.
Current Dumping is essentially a method of marrying the superior sonic purity of Class A amplification with the greater efficiency of Class AB. An extremely high quality, low-power Class A amplifier provides the signal quality, while a high-power Current Dumping section delivers the muscle to keep the speakers under control.
The Artera Stereo’s power output is conservatively rated at 140W per channel into eight ohms and 250W into four ohms, ensuring any speakers – including Quad’s classic ESL electrostatic designs – can be driven with ease.
Connectivity options comprise single-ended RCA and balanced XLR inputs, a 12V trigger input and high-quality speaker binding posts.
Speaking about the inspiration behind Quad’s new Artera range, Peter Comeau, Director of Acoustic Design at Quad’s parent company IAG, commented: “The traditional spirit of Quad has always been to cater for the latest developments in music storage and playback, whilst continually striving to meet the standards inherent in the company’s motto, ‘the closest approach to the original sound’. Thus, the Artera series of components includes full digital and analogue playback capabilities with the resolution and accuracy to replay all current and future high-resolution audio sources with the most musical presentation.
“However, today’s consumers are often bewildered and confused by the multiplicity of inputs and controls on modern hi-fi equipment. At Quad, we have never believed that you have to be a ‘hi-fi geek’ to be able to play music at the highest performance level. Artera therefore simplifies the user interface, leaving an uncluttered appearance that is welcoming to all users as well as looking beautiful in the home.”
The Artera Play and Artera Stereo are available in a choice of black or silver front panels. RRPs: £1,399.95 and £1,499.95 respectively.