Antelope Audio is one of those manufacturers that easily blinds us with science, so many are the exclusive technical details and proprietary technologies that are featured in its products, until now mostly targeting recording studios and the professional audio community. The company is also known for surprisingly affordable products when comparing price to features and number of channels it offers in its audio recording interfaces and converters. Already recognized also for its master clocks and mastering-grade converters, the company apparently decided to follow the recent trend and is now offering a twin-channel reference grade AD/DA converter targeted at the music enthusiast market and in particular headphone enthusiasts.
As they explain, Amári - $2,995.00 USD plus taxes - "represents the pinnacle of Antelope Audio’s ongoing quest for sonic advancement." The unit features "audiophile" AD/DA converters, two high-powered headphone outputs on XLR combo connectors with the unique feature of user-selectable output resistance, which works as a headphone membrane weight compensation. Both balanced stereo headphone outputs feature a volume control capped at 20dBu max, with digital trim and selectable output impedance from -4.6 to 85.3 Ohm. This control, as Antelope highlights changes everything — from frequency response to stereo image and, ultimately, how the music itself feels - reaching "right into the depths of negative impedance."
As Antelope also explains, Amári was designed with the technology to grant the wishes of any audiophile and this includes a high-fidelity headphone driver chip that offers fully differential input (per amplifier). It is also a dual-amp design, optimized to eliminate possible temperature drifts and deliver the differential signal quality that each listener duly deserves. The headphone outputs also feature a dual DAC architecture for maximum performance.
And Amári offers an abundance of connection options, starting with analog inputs on two pairs of XLR combo connectors and RCA jacks and analog outputs on XLR connectors and TRS jacks, AES/EBU, S/PDIF, and Toslink digital connectors, as well as bi-directional computer connectivity via USB 3.1 Gen. 1 (5Gbps), still implemented with a USB type B connector. (sigh...)
For the conversion, Amári takes advantage of no fewer than eight Cirrus Logic CS43198 DAC chips — four per channel — to offer the mentioned improved 138dB dynamic range. The conversion supports sample rates of up to 384 kHz (PCM) and operates at the same resolution and speed as the two AKM AK5578 ADC chips that top a dynamic range of 128dB. This combination, Antelope Audio claims, allows the Amári to achieve bit-perfect and sample-accurate playback, with the AD-DA pass-through rendered totally transparent. As a final touch, the unit is able to playback DSD formats up to DSD256 (via DoP).
Needless to say, Amári also takes full advantage of Antelope Audio’s acclaimed AFC (Acoustically Focused Clocking) jitter management technology. The company’s fourth-generation 64-bit clocking facilitates the precise sampling of analog signals, at sample rates of up to 384 kHz and 24-bit depth. But Amári also allows for discerning users to connect Antelope Audio’s 10MX Rubidium Atomic Clock via the 10M IN input, as well as providing a Word Clock input. As Antelope Audio highlights, the company's clocking technology can clearly be exploited to its fullest potential in the Amári, offering "a reference-grade experience like no other, one which warrants being paired up with the world's finest headphones for a sonically advanced, audiophile-level listening experience that’s truly out of this world!"
Amári is now available through Antelope Audio’s growing global network of authorized dealers or can be ordered online directly from Antelope Audio via the dedicated Amári webpage. Antelope Audio provides drivers for Windows 10 and a launcher app for macOS 10.11 and above (Antelope says High Sierra recommended, while they are working on supporting macOS Mojave).