French audio craftsmanship is probably one of the most creative in the world. Among the outstanding figures of this breeding ground whose love base does not wane outside our borders, Stéphane Even occupies a special place. Its new CD player and converter Origine S2 is unlikely to change the situation, and we would rather say that it will solidly cement this leading position in the field of digital reproduction. The manufacturer has begun a fundamental reflection to design Origine S2 which revisits one by one all the fundamental points of a digital reading electronics.
On the basis of this reflection, a parallel between vinyl and CD reading was established. The quality of a good vinyl turntable lies mainly in the care taken in the treatment of internal vibrations, such as those generated by the drive motor and various frictions, but also those from external sources captured by air and solid transmission (furniture, floor, etc.). In the case of a CD player, the problem is strictly identical. The level of vibration generated by the various drives, high speed disc rotation, transport movements, position control of the read head, is far from insignificant with complex mechanical and electrical disruptive effects. The reading quality of a vinyl turntable is closely linked to the perfection of the contact of the tip in the groove. It is well understood that an external vibratory movement will modify the quality of this contact by mechanical intermodulation, which will cause a deformation, a distortion of the signal received by the tip. For a CD player, it is easy to imagine that under similar conditions the microscopic laser beam can easily be deflected. In addition, some components such as quartz, which vibrates by nature to generate the clock, or ceramic capacitors for decoupling integrated circuits are extremely sensitive to vibration.
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY DESIGNED LIKE VINYL
The manufacturer therefore approached Origine S2 with this vibratory problem in mind in order to provide sustainable solutions. He looked at the choice of materials and the quantity to be used. The reflex could have been to make a very heavy chassis, the usual hi-fi belief being that a heavy product is better and sounds better, a relationship that is absolutely not systematic and is therefore not enough if not true. When a structure is made heavier, the vibration modes are generally moved to other frequencies without making them disappear. This may be interesting in some specific cases, but it should be kept in mind that the vibrations to be controlled can cover a wide frequency spectrum. Some plastic materials such as PMMA for polymethyl methacrylate (acrylic glass) have specific and different vibration properties from some metals. It then becomes possible to advantageously combine several materials with an adapted damping to create a chassis structure whose vibratory signature is cleverly distributed along the audible spectrum. Neodio has gone very far in this direction with Origine S2 since five materials are used in the assembly of the chassis. This is a sandwich type with an aluminium outer layer coupled with Hi-macs® (a non-porous material based on bauxite and acrylic resin) internally. The rear face is made of PMMA, a low-resonant material that separates the entire connection system from the chassis. The reading mechanism in the central position is embedded in Hi-macs® and placed on a specific damping material. Inert to touch, the reader weighs 25 kg and rests on 3 Origine B1 supports. Their patented Zero Vibration technology acts as a black hole for vibrations that disappear without leaving a trace or address. In terms of finishing, Origine S2 goes just as far. None are visible screws and a polished and varnished copper band surrounds the device to give it a distinguished character. Behind a micro-perforated plate with more than 700 holes appears a LED display with white segments.
A DIGITAL ARCHITECTURE SPECIFIC TO NEODIO
It is a very quiet mechanical DVD-ROM Teac modified by Neodio at the level of its clock that is installed in a central position. It is embedded in Hi-macs® and placed on a specific damping material. An Origine B1 support is placed directly underneath for optimal vibration dissipation. The digital processing is entrusted to Crystal circuits, one for data reception, one for oversampling which transforms the data flow into PCM 24/192 format and one for D/A conversion which operates in PCM 24/192. The idea behind this oversampling is to be able to simplify the filtering at the conversion output. The cut-off frequency is located well above 20 kHz to avoid phase rotation in the extreme high frequency range while ensuring effective filtering of high frequency residues. In addition, this upsampling is performed asynchronously, which has the effect of considerably reducing the native jitter since the data to be converted are then clocked by the internal clock at Origin S2. This is an exclusive third generation analog clock based on an LC oscillator with low vibration sensitivity. It required hundreds of hours of development with extensive work on passive components, the clock circuit and digital signals. This work has led to the discovery of new vibration effects on digital circuits and the application of remedies that have pushed the boundaries of the circuits themselves. The output stage is assigned to a single stereo operational amplifier with very low noise and very high bandwidth within a simple and compact scheme, therefore not very sensitive to induced electromagnetic disturbances. Finally, the power supply is built around three transformers and a considerable number of regulators.
THE SET UP
We placed Origin S2 directly on a Centaure L support. The device is already equipped with three Origine B1 devices on which it rests. On a mechanical and vibratory level, the work is therefore already largely done beforehand. The analog outputs are available in balanced and unbalanced connections to suit any type of amplifier. We have opted for symmetry. Origin S2 can also be used as a converter via two inputs: a USB and a S/PDIF on RCA. We tested both of them with great success. Be careful of the sector phase. On a device of this class it can be heard immediately. Finally, Neodio had lent us his excellent power cord Origine P5 that we tried together with the Origine S2. Optimal result, nothing to say! However, if you already have an excellent cord from another brand, do the test, because the Origine S2 is not sectarian on the sector, and we have obtained very good results with our Gigawatt LC3.
With Origine S2, the music lover approaches sound reproduction through the big door. The recorded music takes on an impressive dimension in terms of sensations, while maintaining a constant realism. It is first of all thanks to a very high degree of transparency that this source is characterized. It highlights a phenomenal amount of micro-information and detail, without ever being characterized by clinical or cold sound. The treble, for example, is extremely fine, detailed, meticulous, delicate, and has a very fine texture, but not analytical because musical subtleties prevail over technique. The bass goes very low without any trace of roundness or exaggerated amplitude. Its vigour and firmness are exemplary. It is always very easy to read and naturally integrates into the rest of the spectrum, the notes have weight and give a realistic material to the music. The medium register is as rich as it is pure. This is not contradictory, but simply means that the message is full of information and that it is not coloured at all. On the other hand, what expressive power, what presence. There is a clear differentiation between the different sound sources. The atmospheres are very good; thus the sound scene is remarkably deep and realistic. It is of a marked magnitude, with perfectly precise backgrounds. The instruments are placed with great precision in space, and occupy a realistic surface. Not only is the stereophonic image widely deployed, but it is also perfectly accurate. The layering of the different sound planes is one of the most controlled. Finally, on a dynamic level, Origine S2 is particularly comfortable. On discs of very different styles, the sound effects are reproduced with an impressive respect for the phase and an amazing speed. Each section stands out with evidence and the work of the sound engineer takes on all its meaning. The impacts take on a realistic, almost disconcerting dimension and we find this frankness in the attacks, and the repetitions that make any type of message more lively and realistic.
Light years away from a thin and ethereal sound, Origine S2 explodes recorded music with a rare jubilation and exciting vivacity. It provides a racy and elegant sound, very lively and able to reproduce with equal success any type of sound message. As time goes by, we tend to «consume» more music in dematerialized mode, but the few days we spent with Origine S2 made us want to go dig in our CD shelves to listen to these little pearls that we no longer handle very often. This beautiful machine makes it possible to make the most of your iridescent wafers but also to sublimate the flow emanating from your computer, to constitute a kind of ideal digital source, an elegant «hub» designed with intelligence and a deep love of music. Compared to the world’s leading digital audio brands, Origine S2 has nothing to be ashamed of!
460 x 175 x 405 mm
1 RCA S/PDIF (PCM 24/192), 1 USB-B (PCM 24/192)
1 RCA, 1 XLR
2.6 V RMS (RCA), 5.2 V RMS (XLR)