Diapason / November 2021
While very high-fidelity reproduction, the kind that claims to be genuinely High-End, most often requires muscles, this is not necessarily due to snobbery or an effort to keep the price down. As sound is a vibratory phenomenon, the equipment, with the notable exception of the loudspeakers, is required to vibrate as little as possible so as not to disturb the musical signal. The problem is even trickier in the case of a CD player, where moving parts interfere with components such as capacitors or the clock’s quartz. The architecture of the Origine S2, a “CD player designed like a vinyl turntable”, explores the various possible ways of reducing the impact of parasitic vibrations on the one hand, and on the other, making the most of the digital signal sampled in 16 Bit/44.1 kHz as defined by Philips and Sony in the Red Book in 1980. The Origine S2 is an aggregate of all this: a heavy chassis made of several materials, three Origine B1 anti-vibration mounts under the chassis, a modified original Teac DVD ROM playback mechanism, a Crystal DAC with an asynchronous upsampler integrating a USB-B input and a 24 Bit/192 kHz S/PDIF input, an analogue clock without quartz, an ultra-compact output stage with very high bandwidth, and a power supply with three transformers and multiple regulators (nine in total). 25 kg, an attractive face, and a heavy case with sandwich walls. A beautiful piece of equipment!
Its designer Stéphane Even insists on one point: “it’s not enough to make it heavy for it to sound good. When you make a structure heavier, the vibratory energy does not disappear, it usually just shifts to other frequencies.” For this reason, six different materials are used in the mechanical composition of the Origine S2’s chassis and playback mechanism. Plus there are anti-vibration mounts. All of this research is reflected in the price, as is the use of an analogue clock “which took hundreds of hours to develop”. How does it sound? It’s amazing to think that we are listening to our test CDs, but it’s as if they were augmented CDs… The Origine S2 is a machine attuned to emotion, the tonal balance is rectilinear, the sound field is liberated in all three directions, you experience the recording with such a naturalness that you question the purpose of this race to formats that devour increasing amounts of data. Another interesting experiment is to compare the same extract on CD via the USB-B input played by 3D Lab’s Platinum Nano Player. On a delicate recording, where the dynamics of Natalie Dessay’s voice feature against a background of ambient micro-information (Stravinsky’s Nightingale, James Conlon, Virgin Classics), the difference is minimal, the CD sounding a little warmer, with a unique presence and emotion, unexpected from such a medium. Blind, it is difficult to distinguish the streamer which is only a little better in terms of resolution and dynamics. Owners of large CD libraries and streaming enthusiasts, please include the S2 Origine in your pantheon of champions. And what’s more, it’s made in France…
Plus: It must be like driving an Alpine sport car…
Minus: it’s a rare pleasure