Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 12.2), PureMusic 3.02, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega,
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; S.A.Lab Blackbird SE; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Sounddeco Sigma 2; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]; Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cords [on loan], Black Cat Cable Lupo
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail in Europe: €6'000 (+VAT/shipping), €670 for optional phono stage (ditto)

May 22nd 2015 brought a new email correspondent and with it, a new brand. "We are a new company in its startup phase. I was part of the design group behind the Aavik Acoustics U-300 for which I developed the DAC, preamp section and overall software control. I had nothing to do however with their RIAA stage and Pascal Audio Class D module. For several reasons, I left this group. Now I am starting a company with my brother called Phison Audio. We have a prototype DAC running to test the AK4490 which will be the back bone of our DAC section. The product we are about to launch will be a preamp/DAC called the Phison PD2. How difficult is it to get a product reviewed?" - Sonny Andersen, Kroggårdvej 12, DK-5270 Odense N, Denmark.

I told Sonny what I tell all makers. Unlike certain print magazines, we have no minimum dealer policy. We're global. We appreciate the old chicken/egg dilemma of getting started and needing reviews to enter mass awareness. But we don't review prototypes. We aren't private consultants. Hence we must insist on formal production items which reflect what paying customers would buy. And we do insist on getting fully burnt-in units so that our main system aka working lab isn't shut down and all other reviews put on hold until the required hours are clocked in. Doing basic Googligence, I found this DIY Audio thread. Was Sonny double-dipping in turnkey and DIY? In his photo at right, we see two premium Crystek clocks, the XMOS USB transceiver and the Asahi Kasai chip in the foreground.

By February 9th 2016, he was ready. "Our PD2 preamplifier is finally ready for review. It is not a prototype but full production. We took great care to get the best performance from each circuit part. All gain stages are discrete and single-stage designs. We exclusively use folded cascode voltage feedback or current feedback depending on the circuit junction. This is a mix of bipolar transistors and Jfet to get the right blend combined with a single gain stage. It is of course a fully balanced design. This includes the DAC8812 R2R attenuator. Our converter section features reclocking, galvanic isolation for USB and a single AK4490 DAC chip for which separate ultra-low noise regulators per channel perform remarkably well. There even is an optional slot for RIAA." So Sonny (electrical) and brother Philip (mechanical) had opted to subtract the power module of the Aavik integrated but otherwise stay with the multi-kulti concept of doing more with less.

"To make our preamplifier as versatile as possible, we incorporated a high-resolution 4.3" TFT touch display. Our menus are logical and do not reflect all the colors of the rainbow. We wanted the display to be timeless, discrete and informative at the same time. Basic specs include fully discrete circuitry without opamps, bandwidth to beyond 500kHz, no signal-path relays, a fully balanced volume control from -90 to +12dB, RCA/XLR outputs, 2 XLR and 3 RCA inputs (the latter converted to balanced right at the input), digital inputs of two each USB, Toslink and coax, PCM384/DSD256 compliance over USB AUC 2, remote control by Apple TV remote or our own, a 100-250VAC universal power inlet and dimensions of 44 x 31.2 x 10cm."

Logging onto Sonny's site which had gone live in the interim, I took note of their byline: perfection in solid-state audio. With such ambitions, Phison—Philip and Sonny—join their fellow uncompromising Danes at Gryphon, Vitus, Aavik & Co. One can't fail thinking that Hamlet's old lair has grown into an unusually fertile ground for no-compromise hifi companies. And we haven't even begun to rattle off their speaker makers, cable makers and suppliers of drive units. Clearly Denmark takes our hobby most serious indeed. Needless to say, I accepted Sonny's solicitation. A reference combined DAC/pre like our COS Engineering D1 was certainly a timely proposition. How would it turn out?