At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Antelope Audio unveiled its Zodiac Platinum DSD DAC/headphone amplifier ($5,500). With DSD up-sampling capabilities and 10MHz clocking input, the Zodiac Platinum promises unprecedented detail and transparency when listening to original studio recordings. With its 256x up-sampling mode, the Zodiac Platinum is able to up-sample DSD64 and DSD128 files to DSD256.
The company states that Zodiac Platinum's DSD up-sampling features enables it to reconstruct natural sounding waveforms, due to Antelope Audio's proprietary 64-bit algorithm. With its Zodiac Platinum DSD DAC, Antelope Audio set out to overcome inherent limitations facing most DACs: the quality of the filtering on the chip and excessive heat dissipation.
"When manufacturing a chip like a DAC, you are working with a limited amount of space and have to be concerned with issues of heat and power dissipation," explains Antelope Audio CEO and founder Igor Levin. "If you are going to use more bits—something that improves the sound quality—you are going to dissipate more heat. The Zodiac Platinum uses a dedicated FPGA [Field-Programmable Gate Array] to facilitate its up-sampling computations, minimizing efficiency, space and heat dissipation issues.
"On typical DAC chips interpolator is typically computed with 20 to 28 bits," Levin continues. "In the Zodiac Platinum we are computing it with 64 bits. This is a much more accurate calculation and makes all the difference when you are computing the missing points associated with a waveform curve afterwords, which is done by the analog part of the D/A converter. We are using a whole FPGA to do these computations, whereas on a traditional DAC chip you have just a few square millimeters of space to do this, and it is simply not possible."
The Zodiac Platinum ships with Antelope's 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking, an ultra-low jitter, oven-controlled crystal oscillator, and the company's new Voltikus power supply.