Recommended by Stereophile magazine: Syrah Server & Merlot DAC from Playback Designs


The Syrah Server & Merlot DAC from Playback Designs are listed by Stereophile magazine as “Recommended Components 2018”

Playback Designs Syrah Server

Andreas Koch, who managed the development of the original eight-channel DSD recording console (dubbed the Sonoma) and went on to found Playback Designs, created the Sonoma Syrah server as part of a multichannel system, to be used in tandem with up to three of his company’s Sonoma Merlot stereo DACs see elsewhere in this edition of “Recommended Components”), with a separately available Playback Designs USB-XIII Digital Interface acting as a master clock. The Syrah measures 12″ wide by 3.25″ high by 9″ deep, and the only distinguishing features on its faceplate—one surface of an aluminum casting that also serves as the enclosure’s top—are three small LEDs; apart from those, all user interactions are performed via tablet (iPad or Android). An RJ45 jack is provided for network connection, and two USB-A jacks for input/output. The Syrah comes with a 1TB internal drive, upgradable to 2TB. KR found setup—as described above, with Playback Designs DACs and interface—”uncomplicated,” but had reservations about the Sonoma Syrah’s somewhat dated user interface. He was pleased by the system’s “transparent and unrestrained sound,” and its “extremely deep, detailed soundstages and very articulate bass.”

Playback Designs Merlot DAC

Designed and released at the same time as Playback Designs’ Sonoma Syrah music server (see elsewhere in this edition of “Recommended Components”), and housed in a similar-looking enclosure 12″ wide by 3.25″ high by 9″ deep, the Sonoma Merlot stereo DAC offers the usual USB, S/PDIF, and AES/EBU inputs, plus Playback’s proprietary PLink, for connection to their USB-XIIIDigital Interface which acts as a master clock in multichannel systems. On its USB and PLink inputs, the Sonoma Merlot provides up to 24-bit/384kHz PCM resolution, and does DSD up to DSD256; the remaining inputs are limited to 24/192 and DSD64. A headphone amp with a front-panel ¼” jack is also provided. After borrowing and using three (!) Sonoma Merlots—the extra two were required for surround sound—with the above-mentioned server and digital interface, KR praised the system’s “beautiful sound.” Using the Sonoma Merlot with his Baetis Prodigy X server and comparing that combo with his exaSound e38 multichannel DAC, KR found that “soundstage detail was equal” between the two, but that “the exaSound was a bit more forward,” and the trio of Merlots “more naturally arrayed.”

The Syrah Server en Merlot DAC are available at the Dé HifiWinkel Beek – Ubbergen ( nearby Nijmegen )

 

Website: http://www.hifiwinkel-beek.nl/

Telephone: +31 (0)24 684 20 91 Email: hifiwinkelbeek@gmail.com

 

Over beheerder

More than 40 years of being with and in the world of high-end audio equipment. As distributor of Krell, Sonus Faber, Cello, Conrad-Johnnson and many more, initiator of brands like Kiseki, Cogelco, AH!, PrimaLuna, Mystère and maybe more to follow.
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