Audial AYA II
Pedja Rogić is well known in DIY (do it yourself) circles and among the high end niche manufacturers round the globe. His company Audial based in Serbia is offering two very interesting products. AYA II and Model (now Model S). Those are high quality DAC converters in different price ranges. You can read more about Pedja philosophy in my interview with him here. http://www.monoandstereo.com/2008/04/interview-with-pedja-rogic-of-audial.html
Pedja kindly provided AYA II for this test few months ago. I took quite some time testing it and compare it to the some other DAC devices in the different price ranges.
AYA II is using contemporary approach to the digital to analog conversion. This means that Pedja incorporated a proven and tested schematics that are not only electronically correct, but also represent music in a way that should be reproduced; as close as possible to original. These days you can order complete DAC modules, stick your logo on the enclosure and voila you have a brand new high end component. But what will these "great" new product do to your music? Well, this is a different story. I really respect both sides of the audio manufactures; a proven long standing manufacturers with recognizable brand names and small enthusiastic companies. They both offer very interesting products and in this age of globalization big audio brand names, can quickly forget about the primal goal of high end; a correct musical reproduction. At present time you can design almost everything you want, both electronically and physically, but to capture the soul of the music and reproduce correctly, this is become an art. More and more i see the audio designers as an true artisans and messengers of an almost forgotten craftsmanship. Every new year we're quite literally forced with the fog philosophy (keep them in fog and feed them stool :) ) in audio circles. Do we really need this?
It is known that audio magazines are dependent on adverts. This is business after all, but you can see lately that even Stereophile (Fremer etc.) are starting to publish bold reviews and statements about snake oil products. But, lately audiophile and high-end sites proclaiming the thrutfullness and pure music objectivity, which is under the curtains dependable on the paid adverts, become a fact. This is the same phenomena that makes many audiophiles and music lovers angry and restrained form reading many of so called true audio publications. Why i'm mentioning this? Because you won't see DIY or small manufacturing audio product there. And it is my opinion (bold or not) that this is killing the audio scene. Many of recognized people in high end audio started as a one man company or DIY geek. Some of these behavior is blocking the path. Angry mode off :).
AYA is packed in the black sturdy aluminium enclosure with the black anodized aluminium faceplate (Pedja just informed me that new standard version comes in silver anodized body). On the front you'll find USB-SPDIF switch knob and 3 leds signaling about power, SPDIF lock and USB activity. On the rear side there is main power plug, USB, SPDIF input and RCA audio left and right output. Everything is laid out simple and with enough space round the connectors. I wont say that finish and outlook of the AYA II is top notch, but you'll not be ashamed by putting these lady next to your other components in the audio chain.
Connecting either SPDIF or USB si very simple and straightforward. I haven't stumble on any problem and locking was instantly. With SPDIF you'll might want to add a better outboard digital conversion and USB will offer your media computer a great translator of zeros and ones into music.
Let go to the music. One of the most important things for me is natural feeling and flow of the music. We often cannot know what exact sound or criteria engineer of studio produced album had originally in mind, but most of us agree that we know how acoustical instruments sound like and there are more than enough quality recordings to check this out. AYA II reproduced music very natural and with sense of life. While comparing to my Burmester 052 DAC CD player i can honestly say that AYA is close to the "leit motiv" of the acoustical feeling of the live performed music. Everything that makes acoustical sound recognizable and "life" like was there, but not to the extend of the spaciness, character, sound-stage and dynamic of Burmester. But there is 4000 Euro difference between them!
AYA II will play all of the genres in the "mode" of high end without a problem. If you enjoy pop, rock, classical or any other direction have no worries. There is pleny of lower register and nicely opened highs that wont scream from your tweeters. Aya hold the right direction for quality reproduction without a dobut.
I would go and say that this is one of those products that is fair priced and gave a lot of bang (big bang) for the buck. There is no mysticism around Pedja products. Simple facts and technical arguments that you can hear practical. Pedja tuned Aya II with musicality in mind and result speaks for itself. I really wonder how bigger brother of Aya is performing
This is very interesting and musically potent product! Highly recommended!
Photo & text
Mono @ Stereo