Neodio Origine S2 CD Player/DAC Page 2

Play Wings' 'London Town' [from the album of the same name, Parlophone TOCP-65510], and the Origine S2 reveals clearly the warm and sumptuous sound of this mid-'70s Abbey Road recording without coming over as too opaque and 'fluffy'. In fact, the player was able to cut right into the recorded acoustic, laying bare the delicious detail originally caught on tape in a manner that was frequently thrilling.

For example, it imparted vast amounts of textural detail, the vibrancy of the backing violins being clear to hear as they shimmered with harmonics. As for the electric organ, so often buried in the mix when the song is heard on many other CD players, this could be picked out easily as it played all the way through the track. Vocals had great clarity too. Paul McCartney's close-miked lead singing was beautifully resolved, and the machine revealed the dramatic contrast present between his lead performance and the echo-tinged backing vocals.

1019neo.remBags Of Wallop
What also strikes you is this player's soundstaging abilities. In a sense this is related to the Origine S2's strong midband performance in that it's part and parcel of the machine's superbly transparent nature. 'London Town' is an expansive recording with super production values, and here it sounded exceptionally panoramic.

Moving to Pink Floyd's 'Us And Them' [from Dark Side Of The Moon; Capitol Records CDP 0777 7 46001 2 5] only confirmed the machine's prowess in this respect. The various instruments in the mix appeared to be hard-panned further left and right than is usual. Also, within this soundscape, they were located most precisely. For example that famous saxophone solo was virtually nailed to a part of my listening room just to the left of my right loudspeaker. This was all presented as part of a bigger, cohesive whole, with wonderful reproduction of all those tape effects and random, babbling voices that the album is famous for.

At the two frequency extremes, the Origine S2 also impressed me. It boasts a superb bottom end, one that is strong, firm and extended. Goldie's 'Inner City Life' [from Timeless; FFRR – 828 646-2] features vast tracts of synthesised bass which this player handled effortlessly and dextrously. It had great reserves of wallop, yet was able to show how the sub-bass modulated up and down with impressive speed and 'bounce'. Up top, meanwhile, the treble was almost as capable. There was plenty of detail and atmosphere along with a lovely spacious feel.

Supple And Fluid
When it came to dance-orientated recordings this player proved very capable indeed, if not quite up in the very top tier of machines. High-end CD players and DACs should always sound supple and fluid, and this was certainly the case here, for the Origine S2 has an almost flowing, lilting quality to the way it reproduces music.

Imagination's 'Flashback' [from Body Talk; RCA ND74322] showed this in spades. Things never came over as hurried, yet the track managed to entrance me all the same. This comes back to the player's general sense of authority and resolution. It carried the close-miked lead vocal with power and immediacy, doing a great job at conveying the singer's phrasing. Appropriately, this contrasted starkly with the backing vocal overdubs with all their added reverb.

Even with early classical music, this quality was clear to hear. The Holland Baroque Society/Rachel Podger's reading of the allegro of Vivaldi's Concerto 1 in C major [La Cetra; Channel Classics CCS SA 33412] for example, was simply a joy. The allegro had plenty of pep, revealing the expressiveness of the playing.

It was also fascinating to compare the sound of the built-in CD mechanism with the same (ripped) disc delivered over S/PDIF. Via the player's digital input the Vivaldi Concerto's recorded acoustic became subtly wider and deeper. There's the sense that the Origine S2's internal drive pushes the music slightly towards the listener, giving a more immediate and apparently impressive sound. This is augmented by an ever-so-slight change in the tone, the upper midband and treble seeming to be fractionally better lit via the internal drive.

This was most obvious on the sound of Rachel Podger's violin which had a more sparkly and etched feel, while the hi-hat cymbals on the Goldie track sounded more tinselly and lustrous. The Origine S2 also proved an excellent performer via its USB input with hi-res material via Audirvana. Herbie Hancock's 'Rockit' [The Very Best Of; Columbia 467974 2] was a sparky, feisty listen with oodles of detail and punch.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
As distinctive a digital front end as we've seen and heard, Neodio's Origine S2 deserves to win friends and influence people. In sound quality terms, it's deeply impressive and never less than great fun to listen to. It is beautifully built too, and has an exotic feel to the way it works. Trouble is, it's very expensive, so considerations of value for money become hugely subjective – one to add to the 'must hear' list!

Neodio (Seven Audio)
Bordeaux, France
Supplied by: Elite Audio Ltd, Fife
01334 570 666