This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Because the sonic refinements of the cosmetically matching Chiave version hadn't been finalized yet through their "very lengthy" auditions, Chris dispatched the Tabla instead with the instruction to download the latest v1.03 driver from the M2Tech website. This proved essential for either AudioMidi or PureMusic to recognize the Tabla as selectable audio device. The moment the driver was installed both identified it immediately as M2Tech HiFace. "We configured the Tabla and Libretto HD with BNC sockets for the S/PDIF exchange and included a BNC/BNC digital cable. The Libretto DAC supports all popular sampling rates from 44.1kHz to 192kHz except 176.4kHz. The Tabla of course supports them all.

"The lower right button on our bamboo remote switches the Libretto HD between external input and Philips transport.

"During power on, a permanent green light with the Tabla signifies that the battery charge is fine and that the power to the circuit is clean battery power, not USB power from the source. A permanent yellow light indicates low battery charge and that USB power is active during playback. If during power off the light flashes red, the battery level is critically low and must be recharged immediately. When the Tabla is connected to the PC without playback, charging is automatically active without any specific light confirmation. The internal controller stops charging the moment playback commences."
Tabla board with M2Tech HiFace OEM module of Cypress 7C668013A USB transceiver, Xilinx XC2C64 FPGA and two clocks for the 44.1kHz and 48kHz families of sampling frequencies; plus Human Audio's twin batteries which are charged automatically by USB power.
For safety reasons the Tabla won't power up unless it's been connected to live USB power.

Finding it peculiar that their chosen AKM chip didn't support 176.4kHz, Chris corrected me. "The chip itself has no issue. It's the digital receiver circuit which our listening panels favored. We're working on a new controller software version which we very much hope will add that sampling frequency."

Jensen bifilar JT-11-YMPC output transformers with 0.05Hz to 10MHz bandwidth and a ST Microelectronics NE555N 500kHz timer between them. Over the standard player the Libretto HD adds the small slanted board to the side of the drive. This boards contains the Wolfson 8804C transceiver to receive external S/PDIF signal; an XpressO clock; and two LM1085 positive voltage regulators. The actual D/A converter chip is strategically hidden to elude identification. Both XLR and RCA paths output 2V and run through the same transformers so they can't be operated simultaneously.


Being mindful of the €8.590 sticker for the Libretto HD/Tabla combo it's imperative for me to point out that for all its organic charm the 8-button Libretto remote limits you to play, pause, stop, next and last track inputs.

Having in the Ancient Audio Lektor Prime another Philips CD-PRO2-based top loader, I naturally aimed its more comprehensive remote control at the Hungarian deck. Bingo. By using the same stock Philips remote IR codes I now had fast forward/rewind and direct track access on top of the Libretto basics.

For those keen on this, Daisy—that's the supplier of the Philips CD-PRO2 drive—sells the GF CD1 metal wand which fits the bill perfectly. It's a natural upgrade for customers who expect their expensive CD player to offer more functionality than the Libretto delivers. Human Audio might want to include the Daisy remote to make this a non issue.

In use the Libretto is straightforward. To read the TOC of a newly loaded disc requires depressing the small button marked below. Play then is triggered by remote or toggle switch on the battery box.

The roller bearing interface beneath the transport—flat glass discs on the player's bottom facing shallow glass races on the supporting glass platform with a choice of two kinds of interface balls—takes longer to settle than Paul Wakeen's Aurios footers of yore. The Hungarians really coddle the Philips spinner to immunize it against external vibrations. Once a disk has been loaded and initialized, one of course needn't touch this floating affair to have it wobble all over again. The hard controls are on the battery box, the soft ones on the remote.

The included multi-pin umbilical is too short for anything other than transport left/battery right orientation. Users wishing to use two separate shelves need to order a longer leash. Relative to asking price vs. functionality it's fair to add that having the HiFace module built into the player like Esoteric does it with their K-01 and K-03 units—here run off the big batteries in the control box of course—would not only be more convenient but eliminate the jitter-prone S/PDIF cable altogether. There certainly seems to be sufficient internal space available to do so.