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Description: Jarek Waszczyszyn's new CD player continues with the company’s signature cosmetics and is made from the same granite and metal. The invisible guts are in fact suspended beneath the main granite slab into which was cut a longitudinal hole for the drive. The electronics tuck into a metal can that’s bolted to the granite. The player decouples from your shelf in two steps. First are integral viscoelastic sheets glued between the main granite board and the narrower granite side rails which conceal the metal casing. Then comes the second step. One mounts cone/spikes to those decoupled pieces of granite. In my version the spikes were upgraded to finite elemente Cerapucs with ceramic ball bearings. The player is quite heavy so this double-trouble isolation scheme is sensible.
On the front some black glass covers a low-noise red LED display which presents track numbers and volume setting where 0dB equals 89 (99 becomes 10V out). Small dots in this display indicate current functions like use as CD player, preamp or (future option) DAC. The display is quite large though not as good as the one in the SDMusA.
On the back are high-quality Rhodium-plated Furutech FP-901 RCA sockets for the analogue outputs and inputs. An inferior RCA socket serves as S/PDIF output. If you choose the optional digital input, the same RCA socket serves as both input and output unlike competitors who separate their digital i/o ports. Combining them isn’t the best idea and makes this player less functional than others. Gold-plated Swiss Neutrik XLRs—this is a fully balanced circuit—and a Furutech Rhodium-plated IEC power inlet round out the connectors. There are no fuses in the mains path.
There are two gold plates, one on top with the company logo, one on the back with a serial number. The control buttons remain chrome-plated as they were in the previous version. Because the Air is a top-loader, the disc is placed directly on the exposed transport axle and the spinning disc remains unprotected. After removing the bottom panel we see that although the Prime’s main layout hasn't changed, it was modified sufficiently to talk of a ‘new design’. The silk screen on the mother board still reads ‘Prime SE’ as this had originally been conceived as an upgraded version of the Prime. Over time the project evolved into an altogether new model. There is no possibility to upgrade the original Prime to this version as there is for the Lektor IV if you want to move to its 5th version.
The Philips CD-Pro2 LF mechanism bolts to the casing with long standoffs. Underneath a microchip controller is soldered to the main PCB. A rather long digital cable carries the signal from the laser assembly to the DAC stage. I don't know which converter is used as it remains soldered beneath the board. Next to it sits a fantastic ultra-low-jitter Tentlabs clock with thermal and mechanical compensation exactly as is used in the Lektor Grand. I/V conversion seems to be passive as I couldn't spot any amplifying circuits. The first-order analogue reconstruction filter is identical to what’s common for SACD players. There are four large V-Cap Elite Reference CuTF capacitors with copper film soldered above two volume control boards for the digitally controlled analog resistor ladder (in amp-direct mode this machine becomes an analog preamp with digital source).
The signal then proceeds from the PCB to the output tubes. The point-to-point output stage sports more V-Caps, this time reference-grade OIMP oil capacitors. The signal from the tubes and analogue inputs travels on silver wires in Teflon dielectric. The ground wire is a fat silver ribbon as Ancient Audio uses in almost all their designs. The tubes are 6H30П-EB twin triodes from Sovtek as in the Grand SE.
There are two small toroidal transformers over the Prime’s single one. These are custom wound and potted by Polish company Trafber according to Ancient Audio’s precise specification. Using two transformers allows for a fully separated power supply for the transport mechanism. There are a lot of expensive Sanyo capacitors in the power supply circuit. And that's it.