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Want to know a bit more about the technology? While this writer will leave the deeper delving to you (and there is plenty to read there), here are some quick and slightly edited snippets from Gordon's website.
  • The Cosecant DAC modules are circuit boards that have DIN connectors which can be plugged into the mother board of the product and give it a different personality.
  • The firmware that runs the USB controller of the product is located on the DAC module and therefore changes the way the DAC and the computer talk to each other. Settings like bit size and sample rate are then communicated to the computer.
  • Gordon adds, "the Cosecant can be made into a balanced DAC by the sheer fact that it has transformer outputs. The secondary can be floated to isolate the digital from the rest of the system by turning off the two switches on the mother board. If you want to go XLR, a simple cable running RCA+ to pin 2 and RCA- to pin 3 (do not connect 1 to 3) and then the shield to the appropriate earth connection will make a true balanced DAC out of the Cosecant."

Models and Modules

  • The DAC featured in this review uses Asynchronous USB mode as do the Crimson, Brick, and the new Proton 24/96 with headphone output (which gets you into the Wavelength lineup for just $900).
  • The two DAC modules available for the Cosecant are the Transcendental 16/44.1 (which is the basis of the Brick model) and the Numerator 24/96.

Asynchronous USB mode

  • Each DAC module has the required low jitter master clock(s) that all the signals will be based on, with matching discrete low noise regulation for the best results.
  • None of these DACs use any type of operational amplifiers (opamps) in their design. The DAC module is the only solid-state portion of the overall DAC.
  • The output stage of each of these products is the key design element which is responsible for their overall sound.

Transcendental 16/44.1 DAC module

  • The basis of the Brick. Practically identical modules are also available for the Cosecant and the Crimson (though they are not interchangeable due to physical space considerations). Basically, transcendental in math terms means irrational numbers. Gordon says this was used because " ...this technology is really an irrational approach that yields really good results."
  • Gordon has used this name for these DACs since the late 80s. "These DACs incorporate the TDA1543N2 (select top 5%) DAC chips with passive I/V using Shinko Tantulum resistors in a configuration that does not use analog or digital filters. Some people call these NOS DACs or what I call zero DACs. The data input is the data output without any up/oversampling or other manipulation, which seems to make for a very analog presentation."

What steps do version 2 users who wish to upgrade need to take?
"Contact your dealer to get your Cosecant v2 upgraded to a v3. This will give you modular DAC support for formats up to 24/96. If your Cosecant presently has the much older wall wart, cost is $750 and you will receive a new power supply, a new motherboard inside the Cosecant and the Transcendental DAC module. If you have the standard power supply with removable IEC power cable, the cost is $500. This upgrade includes the Transcendental 16-bit module. If you want to upgrade to the 24-bit Numerator module, that will cost an extra $250. No need to send the cables or tube. The power supply will be upgraded as well. You will need to contact a dealer to get a Return Upgrade Authorization number (RUA#) before sending the unit back. The unit will be returned in the packaging it was sent. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask your dealer."

On with the show
I've had the Cosecant v2 since February 2007. Did I like it? Here's part of what I wrote in my Favorite Discoveries of 2007 report: "Oh yes! Although it's aesthetically striking (Gordon wrapped mine in ebony), it's on my end-o-the-year list of rec-o-mend-ed gear for more appropriate reasons. Compared to previous experiences with number-crunching gear, I found myself listening through an unusually high level of transparency absent the glare that often is part and parcel of highly resolving digital setups.

"In fact, I found quite the opposite: It's delivering the smoothest and most musical digital playback I've experienced in a familiar system. Look ma: no bits-driven migraines! Compared to my Sony 2000 with the Tube Research Labs modifications (which I still covet for its relaxed, flowing character and ability to play SACD), the Cosecant is not quite as dark or chewy but still nourishing—and it excels at shedding the kind of light that allows for more insights without adding any of the toxins that usually come along for the ride. In a word (or three): pretty damn pure.

"The Cosecant also conveys exceptionally defined and extended bass; livelier and well lit but not edgier highs; along with wide-ranging (as in more musically proper and better balanced) tonal representations. Piano and vocals and strings and horns and percussion and—well, they all are seriously enthralling but thankfully not due to any of the wow factor that sometimes trips us up.

"The instrumental and vocal shadings that make the illusion we pursue more convincing are here, too. This is the kind of higher resolution that lets details unfold like music, not just pop out in some exaggerated form of aural prominence that only grabs your attention but can never win your heart. There is improved nuance to most everything (even timbre), especially with some voices, for example where previously masked quivers (or rolls or trills if you will) now emerge articulately."

That's what I said after my first six months with the previous unit. I was enjoying more diverse music more often and more intensely. So it came as no surprise (to me) that I was hesitant, skeptical and nervous when Gordon pitched the notion of an upgrade. Based on some of my past encounters with 'upgrades', I even suffered a twinge of nausea. Did I really want to go there? To look the prospect of something potentially less gratifying directly in the eye? To tempt fate? Well, no. I didn't, thank you. The v2 was already the best I'd experienced and to say I was very happy with the performance would be a gross understatement. Besides, you know what they say about ... well, you know what they say about a lot of things, right?