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Bladelius Embla - a brief review

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Ok folks. I went to the store at HK to audition this Media player and the store owner told me that his display/demo unit is for sale at a very tempting price. After some intense negotiation, I walked away with it.

This is one heavy beast. 12kg or around 25lbs extremely well build. The unit I have is the basic version, 32gb CF, no touch screen with CDP built in (TEAC drive). There are 3 different versions.
Standard : no cdp, no internal memory, usb input from computer and usb input frm external storage
Basic : The one I have
Classic : bigger internal storage up to 2tb (I believe its 1tb mirrored to each other), touch screen, pre amp section, 2 more additional filters (one hardware which is kind of separate DAC section itself and another software modified section which is based on this DAC). For more tech spec, please refer to the 6moons audio review http://www.6moons.co...us/embla_2.html

The CDP can also rip CD inserted to the internal or external storage. The error correction software is done by this Swedish company http://www.moceanlabs.com/

To increase the storage I'm currently using a docking station with 128gb so that to keep the concept of "no moving parts". It sounded better compared if I stream it from computer (which is self explanatory).

I pair this DAC with BHSE and 007 and 009. I tried not to got overly excited with the new toy syndrome (and I suck big time at describing sound), but here's my impression SO FAR (bear in mind I did not do a comparison with the DAC I have in hand now - Neko D100 and Stello DA100):
Overall : It's a very neutral DAC. Very faithful reproduction. With a hint of brightness on upper mid.
With 009 : Some recording, it can be unbearable at slightly high volume. Like some of the folks, I found that 009 is a bright headphone or at least brighter than 007 so on the condition described, I found that the upper mid can be unbearable.
With 007 : Perfect. The hint of brightness actually helped this headphone to lift some of the "curtain" that sometimes can cover this headphones. Although the bass still did not extend as deep as 009 but I can listen to it longer than I can with 009.

This DAC make me prefer 007 to 009 on my setup. Now I wonder if the 009 will get more or same listening time to 007 (mk2.5 btw)

What I like about this DAC is the all in box solution and I don't have to use computer for playback anymore. One slight complaint is that fr Basic version all the interactions are done through remote control so if you have to scroll to find a song in a say 300 folders collections, it can be quite a chore compared to computer playback with eg. foobar. But outside from that, its a perfect one box solution.

 

IMHO, this cannot be considered as full fledged media center as it can only stream through wired ethernet. There's no wireless streaming capability

I wouldn't buy this thing if it's full retail price (between $5-6k for my config). But for the price I got it for. It's a hell of good deal.


Edited by forbigger - 7/1/12 at 7:36am
post #2 of 5
Hi Budi,

Thanks for the review. It was an interesting read. I was considering a music server and this was one on my research list. Your review helped a lot! Bladelius has made some very interesting and beautiful equipments and I am always curious when they release a new product.

So what are your plans for the 009? Any idea what will be a better match?

Leo
Edited by tiga3mata - 7/1/12 at 8:00am
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi Leo, it all depends on your musical preferences. I listen mainly to vocal, pop, smooth jazz, easy listening instrumental and some rock. If you like the same genre music as me then coupled with 009, you may find that the combination of 009 and Embla is a bit on a bright side. not a piercing bright. But a bright that will induce fatigue in long run especially if you like high volume listening. It probably also because of the recording as well. And mostly on vocal/upper mid. The treble is okay. Other than that I have no complaint when paired with 009.

 

On the 007, its more all rounder. Although you dont get the additional clarity, soundstage and bass extension like 009 but overall its more musical than 009. Shouldn't have sold your 007 mk1 or else this will be one the ultimate rig in headphone world if paired with your BHSE.

 

Edit : sorry. you still have your mk1. when you come to my town, let me know, you can try my setup


Edited by forbigger - 7/1/12 at 8:28am
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

today my friend came over and audience my setup. He has much better listening skills than me. First he tried hooking up the usb section of the bladelius, the sound seems a bit muted and it's correct. So we conclude that the usb section is not good enough.

 

Second we try playing using internal and external drive (SSD with docking). The sound greatly improved. But the hint of brightness on 009 still there. But mainly because of the recording. According to him that the mainstream recording nowadays tend to be bright so that more detail is exposed. I tend to agree because when we try the real audiophile CD, the brightness disappeared.

 

Lastly we try bypassing the dac section and hook up neko audio d100.  This is when the revelation came. The brightness disappeared. The sound is much more refined without sacrificing the main quality of 009. Infact for lack of better word the sound is like polished. the changes are not subtle, it can be detected as soon as you put the headphone on. One disadvantage, because of the neko audio low gain, the volume dial have to be put at 2pm onwards to get to a reasonable listening volume.

 

Conclusion, I have now relegated the bladelius to a mere transport. The job for source have been passed to Neko. Too bad this DAC didnt get too much love here. I think I have found my audio nirvana........


Edited by forbigger - 7/11/12 at 7:57am
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

I would like to add that Bladelius dac section is not inferior to Neko, its just that Neko being a darkish DAC put a much better synergy in my system compared to Bladelius. Not sure with other system/setup though

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