Kalista DreamPlay XC CD/SACD Network Player Lab Report

Lab Report

We have followed the evolution of Kalista's DreamPlay DACs and players [HFN Nov '17 and Oct '18] from its earlier Metronome incarnations [HFN Jan '09, Feb '13 and Dec '13] but the DreamPlay XC not only differs with its SACD mech but also in the switch to ESS's ES9038PRO DAC from AKM's 'Velvet Sound' series. All this, and the proprietary code running on its ARM CPU, has combined to deliver what, in most key respects, is Kalista's best-performing digital player yet. Tested in its default fixed output mode [see boxout, p47] the linear phase/fast digital filter delivers a full 130dB stopband rejection with CD (54dB with 96kHz PCM) and a huge 118.4dB A-wtd S/N ratio from a max. 5.7V balanced output. The output impedance is rather too high at 1.8kohm but distortion is very low at 0.0005% (CD), 0.0004% (SACD) and 0.00045% (LPCM over network) through the midrange at 0dBFs and falling as low as 0.00013% over the top 20dB of its dynamic range [see Graph 1]. While THD+Noise is remarkably 'flat' from 20Hz-20kHz with LPCM sources, it's necessarily higher at 0.005%/ 10kHz and 0.06%/20kHz with SACD due to the swell of ultrasonic requantisation noise rising just outside of the audioband.

Low-level linearity is exceptionally fine with disc sources (good to ±0.3dB over a 110dB range with SACD) but there's a truncation of 24-bit digital signals at ~–104dBFs with external LPCM inputs [red trace, Graph 1]. Previous Kalista players/DACs had shown moderate to high levels of jitter, but this is resolved to impressive effect in the DreamPlay XC with figures of just ~15psec at all incoming sample rates. Jitter is a little higher at 340psec with SACD but these are all low-rate sidebands centred on ±7Hz [Graph 2, below]. Kalista is never less than novel! PM


Distortion versus digital level over a 120dB range – 1kHz at 48kHz/24-bit over Network (red),1kHz via CD (black) and 20kHz via CD (blue)


High resolution jitter plots using 24-bit/48kHz data (Network input, black; SACD, red with markers)

Maximum output level / Impedance 5.73Vrms / 1.75kohm (XLR)
A-wtd S/N ratio (LPCM / CD / SACD) 118.2dB / 118.4dB / 116.5dB
Distortion (1kHz, 0dBFs/–30dBFs) 0.00050% / 0.0007%
Distortion & Noise (20kHz, 0dBFs/–30dBFs) 0.00035% / 0.0009%
Freq. resp. (20Hz-20kHz/45kHz/90kHz) +0.0 to –0.4dB/–1.6dB/–4.5dB
Digital jitter (LPCM / CD / SACD) 15psec / 117psec / 340psec
Resolution @ –110dB (LPCM / CD / SACD) See text / ±0.9dB / ±0.3dB
Power consumption 57W (1W standby)
Dimensions (WHD) / Weight 445x125x430mm / 17.3kg
Price: £58,000 (black pearl)/£59,500 (diamond silver)
Métronome Technologie
Supplied by: Airtaudio Ltd, Cambs, UK
01354 652566