Oh happy day, my new Klein III (as pics above posted by Clay) arrived!!
These notes are purely my initial impressions, and suffice to say, I am pleased.
Note that apart from dabbling with cheap headphone amps-USB DACs (Ordnance Amplifiers D25 and Bitstream BTS-300) I am a very recent convert to digital streaming and very much learning.
The rest of my currently-configured system comprises:
Shunyata Research Hydra 6 power conditioner, Shunyata Anaconda Powersnake, Shunyata Venom power cables. Auralic Aries (Femto and Linear PSU model) streamer. Nordost Solar Wind ICs from DAC to NAIM NAC32.5 HiCAPped pre- and NAP 180 power amp. NAIM NACA5 speaker cable. Sonus Faber Concerto Home speakers.
CD replay is from an original Naim CDS Mk 1 with its highly-engineered floating disc suspension system and massive outboard PS.
The Klein III replaces my recently bought Modi 3 USB DAC that will now be paired with my desktop iMac. I was pretty impressed with the little Modi but the reviews of Clay's Gieseler creations were impelling, and Clay recently generously responded to my WTB: Klein III post here on SNA.
Aries Settings: All Aries outputs turned off except for Lightning DS. using the Modi 3, there was a definite increase in already impressive clarity when Spotify Connect, Roon Ready and Airplay were all de-selected.
MODI 3 DAC (USB)
Chris Rea. ‘On The Beach’ (title track). TIDAL 16bit 44.1kHz FLAC. Cymbals sound nasty - flat and unrealistic
Sara K - ‘Stars’ song. TIDAL 16bit 44.1kHz FLAC. Very revealing. Slightly hard edge to the fretting of her guitar.
———————————————————KLEIN III DAC (USB) _________________________
Hooking this up to the Auralic Aries, the only difference was a Chord USB SilverPlus Digital Interconnect (Type A-B ) replaced the freebie micro-USB that came with the Modi. This replacement higher quality cable should be factored in, yet that is the first time it was used. I have previous experience with their interconnects and of course their use by NAIM for OEM cables.
First impression: The Klein III gives a more revealing, yet somewhat more relaxed sound than the Modi 3. This is straight after power up.
Sara K - ‘Hell or High Water’ album. ’Stars’ song. TIDAL 16bit 44.1kHz FLAC
Also very revealing, but more mellow. Opening seconds had more noticeable distant ‘shimmering bells’. No longer the hard edge to the fretting of her guitar.
’Fish Outta Water’ was highly satisfying listening. Sara K’s powerful voice was very evident. There was greater separation between her vocals and instruments than had been the case with the Modi 3 (not that it was found to be deficient without knowing what the Klein III would deliver). Sax and bass and acoustic guitar on ‘Fish Outta Water’ commanding. I would have liked a bit more richness to the sax, but it may well be the instrument.
‘Hell or High Water’ and ‘I Can’t stand the Rain’ are other great Sara K tracks that sounded very impressive, involving, distinct yet rich and not digital or nasal.
Chris Rea. On The Beach (title track). TIDAL 16bit 44.1kHz FLAC. Opening sound of water lapping on the beach convincing. Cymbals definitely have more shimmer and less digital glare. Once again, it’s easier to pick out each element of the music.
’Stainsby Girls’ has a rather spare lean character, however not so on the Klein III rendition. I heard elements of the opening bars that I had never before heard, even on CD. So much more going on in this song than I ever knew! It was particularly satisfying to hear each instrument accompanying Rea’s gravelly voice. The drum kit added such depth to the soundstage.
‘Let’s Dance’ from Rea’s ‘New Light Through Old Windows’ album was very forward, revealing and certainly not music that could be let drift into the background. Perhaps the Klein is more revealing of recording quality and I had just been spoilt with the amazingly well-recorded (SACD original) Sara K album.
Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays ‘As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls’.
The title track of this live album opens with crowd noise in a vast stadium. The Klein gave this more depth and mood, yet the opening music was well separated from the crowd ambience that continues unabated. The Klein proved to be very revealing in this atmospheric and indulgent Metheny/Mays work. Background voices were distinct and separate and the impression was one of almost being at the venue.
Bela Fleck. ‘Flight of the Cosmic Hippo’
Snare drum and cymbals were absolutely distinct from Fleck’s amazing banjo playing and the bass player(s?). Once again, I’m amazed at my Sonus Faber Concerto Homes being able to deliver such a frequency range and this track is a test above most.
Diana Krall. ‘The Girl in the Other Room’ album. A superb ‘in the room’ experience.
‘I’ve Changed my Address’ comes over with all of the life-experience emotion that Krall conveys on this song.
Initial summary impressions of the Klein III vs the Modi 3.
Undoubtedly revealing and involving. There’s a slightly dry character that creeps into some of the music reviewed and I’m interested to know if this will persist as the Klein III burns-in, not to mention the new Chord cable. I’m also using highly revealing Nordost Solar Wind ICs between the DAC and the NAC32.5 pre-amp, so a change to my Chord alternative ICs (bought too long ago to have recorded the model) will be worth experimenting with. Those comments should not be mistaken for dissatisfaction, on the contrary I have a DAC that is opening up the detail of recordings that simply wasn't done by the Modi 3 and it's a satisfying and exciting upgrade.
Edit: The more I listen to the wonderful Diana Krall (all 44.1kHz, 16-bit FLACs from TIDAL) the more enthralled I become. The overriding takeaway for me is the real emotion of the vocals that the Klein III delivers (for all of the artists I've noted above).
…I can’t wait to have my Gamut D200 back in my system to explore its well-known soundstage imaging. The stand-in NAIM system that I have had rigged has certainly given me renewed impetus to listen at length (its legendary PRaT!), however the BP25 pre- and Gamut combo will probably give more.
The photo shows everything mentioned apart from my Bryston BP25 pre- that a friend has at present.
Confession: the lack of a decent rack (and the Sonus Fabers' presence in place of original ATC SCM12s) purely due to WAF.