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Mixed-up converters: Antelope Audio’s Pure 2 vs Forssell’s MADA-2a
Thursday, 22 October 2015 05:21

Antelope Pure2 front crop

It’s been several years since re-evaluating my AD and DA converters but I had recently been hearing good things about Antelope Audio’s Pure2 Mastering AD/DA Converter, so I contacted George at Soundtown in Perth, Australia to arrange a test drive. I was keen to see if it improved the main converters I’d been using for the past five years.

Soundtown delivered the Pure2 and, after configuring the converter, I was ready to start testing.

I recalled a track I worked on earlier in the week, an electro track that had a nice kick and bass line and a well-recorded male vocal. This is the track I would use for all tests.

I started by converting with the Forssell MADA-2a for DA & AD with DA playback at 96kHz and A/D capture from the analog chain at 44.1kHz. Once I substituted for the Pure2, my first impressions were extremely positive: the tonal balance was very natural and true to the source, and didn’t seem to get in the way of the music or the feel and emotion of the track. It was surprising to me how close it was to the presentation of the Forssell, however the Pure2 had marginally more weight in the lows while the highs were mellowed a little more, both being areas I felt were intrusive on some mixes. The Forssell is slightly wider and has more high end detail, although we are talking about quite a small margin of difference. Overall I was greatly impressed. The second test I did was a straight hard-wire loopback test at 96kHz. Which is something I like to do with all the converters I test. The loopback of the Pure2 was very favourable and sounded as close to the source as the Forssell did (each having slightly unique interpretations).

Where it became particularly interesting was mixing and matching the Forssell with the Pure2.

I tested the Pure2 DAC with the Forssell ADC. This also sounded more full in the lows but more natural and balanced overall. This presentation also sounded quite true to the source. In this configuration I was hearing both units compliment each other and bring the best qualities of each converter to the forefront. Ultimately, I tested the Forssell DAC with the Pure2 ADC, which produced a result I wasn’t expecting; the combination was slightly wider and deeper with superior transient detail, yet it was fuller in the low end than the Forssell MADA-2a doing both ends of the conversion. A result which was extremely musical and leapt from the speakers.

I was convinced: the formidable sound of the Antelope Pure2 for AD duties in combination with the Forssell MADA-2a covering DA was the way to go. I called George at Soundtown and let him know he wouldn’t be getting the evaluation unit back.