Aqua Acoustic La Voce DAC test review

Aqua Acoustic Quality La Voce

In the present age of digital audio we came to a luxury of being able to choose form vast offerings of companies putting their knowledge, passion and views in an approach of how to convey the music from digital source.

Italian company Aqua Acoustic Quality approaches to design with the vision that translates in carrying proudly musical excellence, artistic tradition, the passion for the land, the spirit of innovation and craftsmanship of its people. Fully Italian breed.

So basically an emotional path with the clear goal of pursue in the service of music. Sounds like a fair and noble way to drive a venture.

First encounter of emotional bonding

From the first note played through the Aqua Acoustic Quality La Voce it was clear how this device radiate with a distinctive energy. Its the given approach they took that translates to the sound of outcome. Musical!

Insights into Aqua Acoustic Quality La Voce

Let me give you the company specs regarding La Voce to fully understand dedication and vision of the company. Here is their official introduction:

Unit comes with one conversion circuit of your choice, or you may purchase more as you wish:

- Burr Brown pcm1704
- Philips TDA1541A
- Analog Devices AD1865

The dacs are easily interchangeable. These are the finest innovations ever produced in the field of high fidelity converters.
Innovative treatment of the PCM digital signal:

After exhaustive listening tests, a 1x sample rate has been chosen as the best. The digital signal (I2S format) taken from digital receiver transfers directly to DAC integrated circuits (i.e., Burr Brown pcm1704 or other depending on your choice). Digital decoding is done by our exclusive circuit DFD (direct from decoder) without any digital alteration (upsampling, oversampling, digital filters, etc..).
All aspects of the power supply circuit have been selected for the best quality and consistent result.
The section of the circuit board which stabilizes the analogue stage utilizes a power mosfet, for which power is generated by j-fet and bipolar transistors.
The power supply for the analogue section of the integrated DAC integrated circuits is also generated by discrete semiconductors. The digital section is powered by high performance regulator circuits.
The diodes used are ultra-fast. The whole circuit board has been designed to minimize ripple and to separate the various electronic devices in order to eliminate interference.
The digital receiver employs three separate power lines (VA - VD - VL) to drastically reduce jitter as much as is technologically possible. Moreover, the analogue and digital power supplies are completely separated.
The quality of components, reliability and durability, as well as sonic.

DAC options:
- cod. D704 - Burr Brown PCM1704 (2 dac) - R2R 24bit / 192 kHz - DFD MODE
- cod. D741 - Philips TDA1541A - R2R 16 bit / 96 kHz - DFD MODE (R1, S1 grade selection on request)
- cod. D165 - Analog Devices AD1865 - R2R 18 bit / 192 kHz - DFD MODE

The big difference between our DAC "La Voce" and other devices on the market lies in the possibility of your being able to choose the particular DAC converter for your personal demands. Moreover, the DAC IC converters are easily interchangeable-snap in, snap out-to give the true audiophile the option to experiment with and experience the sublte differences in sound quality. This option takes into serious consideration the future technological evolution of high fidelity sound production, and will enable the owner to simply plug in the next generation of DAC converters as we assemble them.

The intense design work and cure to detail is full gratified at every listening.
La Voce A class J-FET digital to analog converterOverviewFeatures• Digital decoding is done by our exclusive circuit DFD (direct from decoder) without any digital alteration (upsampling, oversampling, digital filters, etc..)
• galvanic isolated digital input signal will accept up to 24 bit 192 kHz
• passive current / voltage conversion (I / V)
• pure A class jfet stage gain with no feedback and with a gain selection dip-switch for best match with the chosen DAC
• fully discrete analog stage
• discrete MOSFET - Jfet separate power supply regulators are used in the analogue circuit
• the components with extraordinary attributes of quality, reliability and durability, as well as sonic (105° long life capacitors, metal film resistors and foil film low noise 1% and 0.1%, film output capacitors, etc.). Every single component has been chosen and selected after extensive listening tests.
• digital phase can be inverted with a jumper on the pcb
• Philips TDA1541A and Analog Devices AD1865 are DIP sockets mounted.
• Digital inputs:
- coaxial S / PDIF (RCA or BNC) 75 ohms
- I2S PCM RJ45 digital input
- optical Toslink
- AES / EBU balanced 110 ohms (optional)
- AT & T (optional)
• USB input:
24 bit / 192 kHz Bit perfect ASIO - WASAPI High resolution asynchronous High-Speed USB port. A Xcore microcontroller is interfaced directly in I2S protocol conversion board bypassing the digital receiver
• aluminum anti-resonant cabinet with Nextel

The sound of difference

La Voce is offering three different DAC to choose from. Analogue Devices AD1865, Burr Brown PCM 1704 and Philips TDA1541A.
They are also user swapable and Aqua offers them as plug in modules. This gives you an easy choice in 'tuning' your digital front end to a desired direction that suits both your taste and synergy of a system.

As I entered the review, pace from the strike of the first note played energy and float of the music was enriched with the right dynamic of a natural tonal palette. Many times when I talk about natural darkness of tone people get confused or even scared. They think there is something wrong when I described a device with such character. What comes wrong are people's understanding, perception and approach to the sound of the equipment. Basic sound imprint of natural totality is dark in its core. Not a sky opener with bursting dynamics that have nothing to do with reality we live in. Most modern DAC's fail in a primal task of sound reproduction. Its first and foremost role of a converter to conway the music as it is. No additional fireworks or show offs. I do understand such artificial approach of some companies, but it have nothing to do with the reality. It deals more with the studio approach of equalising and tampering with the sound. If one is in the search of following the current trend of altered reality is fine. For an audiophile striving for the puristic musical imprint La Voce opens the door to the things as they are in a highly established way.


La Voce locked greatly with my Apple computers. When operating with digital files I prefer the solid state drives. They do offer more precise and refined way of dealing with digital audio formats. We've come to a level of sophistication of digital audio replay where every little nuance matters like anything. I always repeat about people feeling how complex and hard is to set a turntable cartridge properly. Try to established a clear and trouble free computer based source. And before doing so research the matter. You're get baffled with the choices and ways of going 'wrong'.

La Voce exclusive circuict DFD (direct from decoder) that works without any digital alteration (upsampling, oversampling, digital filters, etc..) clears the path of already burden task of digital conversion. Digital might looks easy and simple in its dealings w with zeros and ones, yet each processing of data further reduce the final outcome of converted sound. The purist way to look at things digital is as less processing as possible. Understanding this much more people are starting to reach out to devices with less processing and purer sound outcome.

CD is not obsolete

Aqua Acoustic Quality La Voce comes with a strong array of digital inputs. I2S started to appear lately on more and more devices. With I2S La Voce offers unique option and reduction of jitter to a lower specs. With prompt observation of industry I can concur that CD is not dead at all as some people or industry is trying to present. There are vast offerings of greatly mastered CD's that can still give a strong run to the high resolution digital audio files. If the transfer from master tapes was done at best and skillfully mastered you'll have hard time to distinguished between redbook and high resolution files of the same song. And as we sadly witness many of high resolution files are only up sampled. This 'froud' comes still from some of the leading vendors... With such dealings one surely wonder about good and great intentions of music industry with the pushing trends of high res files.

La Voce offers a great option to explore your CD collection or a great investment if you're in the constant search of great sounding redbook album and building of your library along with a stand out Jitter reduced playback. Not closed path at all if you ask me.


Dire Straits track Private Investigation converted on the fly from ISO SACD copy of legendary Love over Gold album hold no reserves in emotions of Mark voice, guitar mojo playing and excellent following of the band. Whole presentation of La voce is focused in the middle and pushed a bit back. With this album it felt like La Voce puts a listener into a third row for the given distance. Nice feeling and a great way to enjoy the music. No complaints.

Further on with 24bit 96khz version of Jobim-Getz Girl from Ipanema album Astrid and Antonio vocals were smooth with recognised tube warmness and even more familiar bloated bass. Not a perfect record, but I know it so well and its one of my desert island album choices. So in most cases I can instantly distil the nature of the given component. 


What its most important about Aqua Acoustics La Voce is its ability to portrait music with correct timbre and colour. La Voce offers potent and passionate approach to enjoy in exploring your digital collection. In the age where harshness is more then often recognised as true resolution La Voce offers unique and favourable approach to spot on reproduction of music. If your urges of digital conversion points at natural imprint look no further. You'll be hard pressed to find a DAC performing with such pace and correctness. And with the choice of swapping chips the universe of fine tuning and refinement to your needs is further more elaborated. 

Like all Italian devices I had pleasure to review in past few years Aqua Acoustics is no exception of bringing a unique passionate DNA incorporated into their DAC. Lifelike emotional curve of enjoyment shines within this black box.

"La Voce" is entirely designed and hand assembled in Italy, with passion.


Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2013. ..:: None of the original text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..