Installation Notes

Wadax Atlantis Reference Server

By Roy Gregory

The Wadax Atlantis Reference DAC has landed in the high-end audio digital paddling pool with quite a splash, with myself and other commentators declaring not just its superiority to the competition, but its clear and substantial performance advantage. It’s rare that any product receives such universal acclaim. It’s rare that any product advances the current state-of-the-art not by a hop or a skip but by a huge, extended leap. This is the digital audio equivalent of Bob Beamon’s monster long-jump at the Mexico Olympics – a jump that extended the record by 55cm and set a mark that stood for 23-years!

So – given the changing profile of the digital audio landscape, what price the Atlantis Reference Server?

The latest Wadax Atlantis Reference product is in-house and in-use. That in itself is fairly remarkable, as readers familiar with my history will know just how sceptical I am when it comes to the subject of ‘high-res’ files and their replay. While a full review of the reference Server will follow in due course, suffice to say, that for the moment it has totally eclipsed all-comers both as a streamer and local-storage device – and it’s done so by a similar performance margin enjoyed by its partner DAC. In the meantime, these installation notes will highlight the physical and functional aspects of this distinctly different product.

The first and by far the most obvious feature of the Reference Server, is its size and bulk. Built into the same substantial, tri-partite chassis as the Reference DAC head unit, it is as big as and heavier than many power amps. At 43kg and awkwardly shaped, this is teetering on the limits of being a one-man lift. Installing it, you’d be well-advised to seek a second pair of hands. Why so heavy? Why so much heavier than the DAC’s head unit? That would be the built in power supply. The reference DAC uses two chunky, external power supplies. As a one-box product, the Reference Server incorporates its sophisticated power supply with its necessarily heavy components into a single chassis – at least for now.

Like The Reference DAC, the Server chassis sits on eight adjustable feet. As delivered, these look like small cylinders, but that’s because the low-profile stainless steel cones are shod in aluminium ‘shoes’ to prevent surface damage when putting the Server down or placing it in a rack. If you stick with the cones you should definitely remove the protective aluminium footers. But, also like the DAC, the Server benefits from both the superior coupling and the precise levelling available when using RevOpod feet. The small, sculpted cones not only look the part, they enable you to get the Server dead level with all eight feet equally loaded, a serious consideration if you want to maximise performance.

The Server also shares the DAC’s distinctive ‘steam punk’ aesthetics, a look that makes a lot more sense once you’ve got two of these Wadax beasts in your equipment rack. The central display is larger (although not large compared to some server or computer screens) while the main operational feature of the unit is encapsulated in the row of six rotary controls arrayed in a horizontal line below it. These are what separate the Wadax Reference Server from any other product on the market. They allow the user to adjust or ‘tune’ the data stream output by the Server, with a profound impact on sound quality and musical presentation. But before we get to that, it’s necessary to take a look round the back of the unit in order to fully understand its overall approach to system topology and the logic behind it.