27. August 2018 | HifiPig
Quad has replaced the original Artera Play source component with a new version called the Artera Play+. Like its predecessor, which launched in 2015, the Play+ is a CD player, DAC and preamplifier combined in a single compact chassis. But while its form is familiar, the ‘plus’ suffix denotes a range of improvements that broadens functionality.
The first addition is the inclusion of aptX Bluetooth, enabling users to pair smartphones, tablets and computers and stream music wirelessly. Also new is a front-mounted headphone output, positioned discreetly beneath the fascia and coupled to dedicated circuitry.
Quad say the Artera Play+ sports cutting-edge sophistication beneath the skin. At its heart is an ESS Sabre32 Reference – the 32-bit, eight-channel hybrid multi-bit Delta- Sigma DAC chipset and handles PCM data up to 32-bit/384kHz as well as DSD64/128/256.
For CD replay, a slot-loading mechanism buffers data from the disc before feeding it to the asynchronous DAC section. Four digital filter options enable users to tailor the sound from both CDs and external digital sources, to suit personal taste and the nature of the source material.
In comparison to the original Play, the Play+ improves the post-DAC analogue filter circuit with a refined topology and better op-amps that have been selected for their synergy with the ESS Sabre32 DAC. The power supply circuitry has also been redesigned, with a larger toroidal transformer and independent low-noise power supplies feeding all critical stages.
Quad claim these changes contribute to “greater sonic clarity and expression, with increased dynamic headroom and crisp, engaging musicality”.
The Play+’s preamp section mixes minimalist design to ensure short, direct signal paths. Volume is digitally controlled in the analogue domain, feeding single-ended RCA and balanced XLR analogue outputs. .
OtheYou also get five digital inputs – two coaxial, two optical and one USB Type B – cater for external digital sources (there’s also a USB Type A socket for software updates) while a pair of RCA phono inputs handle analogue sources. Two digital outputs (optical and coaxial) and a 12V trigger output complete the connectivity array.
The new Play+ joins the Stereo power amplifier and Solus all-in-one system in Quad’s Artera Series.
All Artera Series components share the same compact 32x32cm footprint, with a crisp, clean aesthetic that both evokes Quad’s past and looks forward to the future. The housing provides a rigid structure with a textured aluminium front panel, thick glass top and CNC-routed heat sinks on either side. There are intuitive touch-sensitive controls built into their circular OLED displays but a fully featured remote control is also provided.
The original Play launched at an RRP of £1,399.95 but thanks to increased production efficiencies, Quad has been able to deliver this new version at RRP – £1,199.95.
The Quad Artera Play+ is available from late August, with a choice of black or silver front panels.