Antelope AudioZodic Gold&Voltikus powAntelope Audio matching Zodiac Gold with optional Voltikus best Power Supply Fantastic & versatile DAC with analog input for one input and terrific sound and remote controlled. Also available o...1669.00

Antelope Audio Zodic Gold&Voltikus pow DAC & Best Power Sup ! [Expired]

no longer for sale

Antelope Audio matching Zodiac Gold with optional Voltikus best Power Supply

Fantastic & versatile DAC with analog input for one input and terrific sound and remote controlled.

Also available on Audiogon by: Weinhart Design pre owned Antelope Audio Isochrone TRINITY & Ischrone 10M Rubidium / Atomic Clock together for $2,995.

                See full 6 review@


Antelope Audio's Zodiac Gold slots above the previously reviewed Zodiac+ as Igor Levin's top current DAC. As a digital pro-audio company, Antelope joins Benchmark, dCS, Meitner and Weiss with models aimed at the audiophile community. While Firewire has been the definitive standard to connect pro processors to studio computer workstations, Antelope's Zodiac range of three models has instead boarded the universal serial bus called USB. The associated and proudly displayed figure 384 in the press photos of the Gold currently has little relevance. One, should 32-bit/384kHz source material get issued, this DAC is future-proof. Currently of course 24/192 files from high-resolution download sites like Linn Records represent the max data density at which commercial music recordings are released. Two, Igor Levin's team seems to be one of the few capable of—or bothering with—writing the necessary firmware code and drivers to exceed today's 24/192 ceiling for PC audio (two others at present are MSB Tech from the US and M2Tech from Italy). Besides anticipating the foreseeable future for streaming audio, the 480Mbits hi-speed USB 2.0 spec of 384kHz is braggadocio for Antelope's engineering chops. But it ain't bragging if true.

  We can probably agree that if the 384 figure was all that separated Gold from Plus, nobody would go Gold for now. Core differentiators thus include a clicking remote-controlled analog domain relay-switched resistor volume control for 0.05dB precision attenuation over 60dB in preamp mode; and a standard rather than mini USB port for those wishing to experiment with audiophile cables. The €795 optional Voltikus outboard power supply with triple-cascaded voltage regulation, LT1021 voltage reference and 90-250V input acceptance can also upgrade the switching wall wart of the Zodiac+. The Gold then inherits the proprietary 64-bit Antelope Trinity clocking and jitter management, oven-controlled clock and BurrBrown 1792-A chip-based digital circuitry from the Plus. So shoppers will wonder. How would a Plus + Voltikus compare to a solo Gold?

On exactly how the Gold's all-important output stage might better that of the Plus, I asked the company's Leizer Benvenishty to fill in the gaps. But first, let's run down the basic features which determine how the Gold can interface with even complex hifi systems:

  Source switching accommodates 2 x optical, 2 x S/PDIF coax, 1 x S/PDIF AES/EBU and 2 x analog on RCA and TRS balanced respectively. The analog inputs bypass the digital circuitry of course to directly encounter the volume control. Smart recognition only shows inputs with valid signal as selectable. For outputs there are digital and analog options. Dejittered by Antelope's proprietary protocol, digital includes 2 x coaxial and 1 x XLR. For analog there are paralleled RCA and XLR, the latter accompanied by miniature trim pots accessible by screw driver. Lastly a BNC socket is primed for an external word clock.

  There are also two paralleled headphone outputs with switchable 0 or 120-ohm output impedance and dedicated volume control; a multi-function display for sample rate, main volume, source input, headphone amp impedance and USB modes*; a mono summing function exclusive to the digital inputs; soft mute (-20dB only on digital sources) and full mute; and a Windows/OSX software control panel. Digital and analog circuitry occupies separate boards with gold-plated traces and large internal ground planes. A functional summary calls the Zodiac Gold an 8-input headphone/preamp/DAC with remote control. Unusual in the current climate and different for example from certain Esoteric machines which allow PCM conversion to DSD is that the Gold always processes incoming data at its native resolution without internal upsampling. What goes in is what comes out. Included in the shipping box is the standard SMPS DC power supply; an IEC power cable for it; USB and Toslink cables; the remote control; and an owner's manual that can be previewed online.


* The three available USB operational modes include UF1 (12Mbits full-speed mode for backwards compatibility with support up to 96kHz); UH1 (class 1 USB high-speed mode of 480Mbits with support up to 192kHz); and UH2 (class 2 high-speed mode of 480Mbits with support up to 384kHz for OSX only). Default headphone output impedance is 120Ω in HP1. The HP2 setting lowers it to 0Ω for higher output.

Technical specifications for the Zodiac Gold are 129dB of dynamic range; 0.0004% of THD+N; better than ±0.003ppm clock stability with an oven temperature fixed at 64.5°C; less than 1ppm/year clock aging; sample rate support for 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz (352.8 and 384kHz are exclusive to the USB and word-clock inputs); 2.4kg/5.3lb weight; and dimensions of 165 x 112 x 190mm WxHxD (6.5 x 4.4 x 7.5").

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Conclusion: With designer cosmetics that are very attractively executed—some might find the white signal lock LED too bright—and truly comprehensive functionality, the Zodiac Gold sonically surpassed my affordable Burson Audio HA160D reference on magnification power in the upper half of the audible range and equalled it in the lower (by default the latter had it overtake my Weiss DAC2 too). The USB DAC category is presently hyper active to make ultimate statements more unstable than ever. But with the Weiss Minerva as benchmark and overachievers like the Burson and Wyred4Sound DAC2 in the mix, Antelope Audio's Zodiac Gold emerges as a very strong front runner for extra coin. Even Toslink with a plastic rather than glass conductor performed better than expected (though less distinct than coax or USB, i.e. more cuddly smoothness than sharp attacks). The Gold's 384kHz compatibility is still a non feature in early 2011 but given the fast pace of changes in digital entertainment, future-proofing investments for a few years down the road is a solid anti-obsolescence tactic.

Exotic CD players today struggle very hard for the dubious distinction of 'the last deck you'll ever need'. The Zodiac Gold has all the earmarkings of being the only PC interface you'll need for the next five years whilst participating in streaming audio at a very high level. That's particularly apt with its excellent showing in amp-direct mode (there is one analog input too). For such applications the core mandates of analog-domain volume control, precise channel matching and remote convenience are all accounted for. This really makes one pause. Think on what else one could possibly require from such a device. From where I sit ... nothing really. Case closed, jury released. Pipe in the applause.

Quality of packing: Very good.
Reusability of packing: A few times.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: A cinch.
Condition of component received: Flawless.
Completeness of delivery: Perfect. Includes SMPS, USB and Toslink cable.
Human interactions: Sufficient.

Final comments & suggestions: The fundamental weakness here is the 500-hour break-in requirement. The changes are so significant that any premature auditions will fail the mark far more than usual. Be prepared for real disappointment upon delivery. If you audition at a dealer, be firm that the unit had the requisite time. Else you'll be wasting your time. The Voltikus power supply is a very credible option but less of an unmitigated upgrade and more of an alternate flavor. Thicker slower denser systems and adrenaline junkies could conceivably prefer the stock SMPS. Lovers of 'analogue' sound will almost certainly prefer the Voltikus The champagne finish (think Conrad-Johnson) is understated but likely won't match anything in the black/silver dominated hifi scene of today.

We have lots of other items new and used and if you’re in Los Angeles or visiting please accept my invitation to experience our Audio Showroom by appointment and please visit our web site

We are always interested in purchasing quality Audio items, LP collections, specialists buying Audio Estates and most quality trades are welcomed.

All sales out of California are State Sales Tax exempt. California State Sales Tax of 9% applies for items picked up or shipped to a California address.

We accept payments by Bank Wire Transfers without fees and is the only form of payment on all sales out of the U.S. and Canada. We prefer this method of payment and also makes shipping to addresses other than billing OK.

VISA, MC and Papal are gladly accepted within the U.S. and Canada as long as the charge is approved and were shipping to the BILLING ADDRESS and shipping to the billing address on record and adds a 3% fee to cover costs.

Please call me directly in my world class showroom in Los Angeles weekdays from 11-4PM @ 310-472-8880 or on my cell including weekends from 10-10PM at 310-927-2260 and I can answer your questions and help you with all of your new and pre owned needs.

   Making better Sound

  One system at at a time,


   David Weinhart
Weinhart Design, Inc.
   President & CEO

The Audio and Video Expert

2337 Roscomare Road, Studio #1
Los Angeles, California 90077

 Showroom) 310-472-8880
       Cell) 310-927-2260

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