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Customer Reviews

The loan unit has proved a huge success with all types of digital input and I am very grateful for this service.
NorthStar Essensio
MR JS - Worcester 21-12/2011

parcel arrived this morning. The DAC is hooked up to a LFD silver signature amp; Harbeth Compact ES7-3's playing Radio Paradise via a Squeezebox Touch. It's been playing now for ten minutes and I have to say "you ain't getting it back!"

NorthStar Essensio
Mr RG, Staffs 19-12-2011

I just wanted to say that the amplifier is absolutely stunning. I've had several much more expensive amplifiers over the years and not one of them comes close to the quality of yours. I don't always believe Ken Kessler, but for once he was right.

Ariand FV34B
Mr RF, West Yorks 01-12-2011

i'm not bothered about the appearance of the cage,but i have noticed that the amp sounds better with the cage removed. I think that this is explained by the fact that the cage rattles,in my small listening room against the chasis. the only way to cure this would be to construct the cage from more robust material.,and/or keep the amp well away from the sound waves,emanating from the speakers.

do you have a cage for my pro88 se ?

the fv 34 a is a charming little amplifier,especially when you compare the price of it,against the similar italian models.
FV34B, FV35A, Pro 88SE, FV34A
Mr MR - DORSET 16-11-2011

Received the amp yesterday - thanks.
Let it "burn in" for about 8 hours and started listening.
Very nice sound with my better recordings and a bit too revealing on some of my poorer ones.
I'm using it with an Arcam rDac connected to a MacMini with my library of lossless rips and hi-res files.
The speakers are Castle Harlechs.

The front centre valve has a cover/retainer and was pre-mounted in the amp. Should I leave this cover in place?

Mr MF - IRELAND 16-11-2011

I received the amp.....and am playing and enjoying the sound from it!!! lovely .........!!! ive tried it with my passive, it works a treat!!
once again many thanks for your help.
Ariand FV34B
Mr MM CARDIFF 11-11-2011

I hope you enjoyed your holiday break. Now refreshed and raring to go - laugh.

I just wanted to thank you for your efficiency in dealing with my order. Everything arrived in good order on yesterday (Tuesday) morning. Waited a few hours before installation. I am thrilled by its sound quality. Way better than my wildest expectations. Superb!

I have been posting on the Naim Forum on this device. To save you wading through around 100 postings from many different Members, here is what I had to say about it:

Mr Richard Lord - 23/6/2011

"This morning I received delivery of my Essensio DAC. I delayed installation until late in the afternoon, as I was still feeling a little weak and unsteady after my recent bout of gastro-enteritis.

The software supplied was installed without a hitch. The only glitch was caused by me not pushing the Chord Anthem 2 interconnect sufficiently firmly onto one of the RCA sockets. Soon corrected and I had music. So what did it sound like from cold and straight out of the box?

Firstly, the sound was definitely superior to pre-Essensio. Initially using iTunes without Pure Music, I noticed the frequency LED on the Essensio showed whatever frequency I had selected in Audio Midi setup. But when using Pure Music, despite similarly setting it to 192kHz 32 bit (yep, it goes right up to 32 bit with the Essensio), the LED displayed 44.1 for all my music, except hi res of course. Now the improvement using Pure Music is dramatic to put it mildly. It was a jolt. I am getting the feeling that as the layers of veiling are removed by improvements in my system, this allows further improvements previously masked, to be noticed.
How to describe my findings? Well obviously my hearing is suspect at my great age of 72, so take it all with a big pinch of salt if you wish. But to my ears, the improvement is truly a large gap improvement. Let us say, I would not willingly want to revert back. Previous "upgrades" have been subtle. They were there, but I was prepared to sacrifice them in the pursuit of convenience. Hence my dropping using Pure Music sometimes. Now I will be reluctant to do this. I must say that John Bamford's review focussed strongly on the sense of depth and sound staging. This is very marked. It is revelatory to me. Many recordings have taken on a new lease of life. I am noticing background subtleties previously unheard. Subtle chorus lines, or instruments that are well down in the mix seem noticeable in a vibrant way. The whole thing is much more involving and exciting to listen to. And all this without a top of the range Naim preamp. Imagine what it would sound like with a 282 + XPS? I can feel the virus upgradeitis intensis stirring. If you are in the market for a DAC costing less than a grand (825), I urge you not to buy anything until you have had a chance to listen to an Essensio. It is not yet even run in. Give it a few weeks and it should sound even better.
Avery useful feature is it has six digital inputs. Useful for your other devices with digital outputs, CD transport, TV, set top box, etc.

North Star claim they take very careful measurements of every model produced including a proper music test, then leave it burn in for 24 hours prior to shipping. That is an excellent philosophy which I implemented at REL. Regrettably, after I left they dropped it as too expensive.

Strangely, these improvements are not so noticeable on some very old classical recordings. For example my early sixties recording of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto by Erica Morini sounds great without the Essensio. Perhaps it is better, but to my ears not so noticeablly as with say, Mireille Mathieu. In fact, her recordings are the ones showing so far, the greatest improvements of all. The bass is deeper and clearer, the subtleties are so much easier to follow. Just more information. I have yet to test it with my favourite piano concerto: Beethoven's 5th, the Emperor. In my opinion, the greatest piano piece ever composed anywhere, ever. I am not alone in this belief, hence it being called the Emperor as it is way above all others in majesty and importance. There are many, many recording of this piece, but the best I have ever heard is by Wilhelm Kempff and the Berlin Philharmonic, a Deutsche Grammophon recording. Recorded in the early sixties when he was already in his eighties. Superb.

These are my initial findings. They are my opinion, others are obviously free to disagree.

One last thing, the previous nasty sounds I have complained about with Pure Music have been overcome. It works as flawlessly now as does iTunes when used alone.

I cannot recommend this unit too much, as in my opinion it represents superb value for money.


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