Listening to the Wadax Reference Power Supply and Akasa Reference DC cables
By Roy Gregory
In my recent review of the complete Wadax Reference DAC and Server set up, including the Reference Power Supply (for the Server) and the Akasa Reference DC leads, I felt that a deep dive into the individual contributions of each and every part or option was a step too far in what could already be justifiably described as a sprawling article. Instead I promised to cover the various contributions and options offered by the arrival of the external power supply for the Server and the upgraded DC leads in a separate piece. Well, here it is…
The Reference Power Supply is a dedicated partner for the Reference Server. It is built into a variation on the now familiar Wadax tripartite chassis, aesthetically a halfway house between the twin PSUs that come with the Ref DAC and the monolithic head-units themselves. The central element is recessed and graced by a touch screen, of which more anon. Around the back you’ll find an IEC input, a ground terminal and a DC output – which is about par for the course as far as PSUs go… The whole unit weighs in at a substantial 40kg and features multiple, dedicated transformers and cascaded regulation stages, resulting in what Wadax claim is the quietest power supply they’ve ever made – or measured. Price is $49,700.
The Akasa Reference DC leads are offered as an upgrade to the Standard leads previously supplied (a little like the Akasa Optical option over the standard USB connection). New buyers will need to specify (and budget for) Standard or Reference leads. Existing owners looking to upgrade can reasonably expect a trade in on their existing leads. The Akasa Reference DC leads feature massive, winged connectors reminiscent of those on the optical interconnect, along with bright red, embroidered silk sleeves. Inside you’ll find latest generation silver/gold alloy conductors, metallurgy that goes at least some way towards explaining the $19,800 price-tag for each cable.
Given the option to add both the Reference Power Supply and no fewer than three Reference DC leads to a full Wadax front-end, that constitutes the best part of a $105,000 upgrade. At that price the new Reference elements need to deliver serious performance advantages, sonically and musically. Fortunately, that’s exactly what they do.
Presented with a big, fancy box and a bunch of cables, the natural inclination might be to reach straight for that massive power supply. After all, we all know how big a difference power supplies make. But in this case the temptation should be resisted. Instead, start by listening to the Akasa Reference DC cables between the Reference DAC and it’s twin outboard power supplies. The first reason is obvious: the Ref DAC already has its power supplies and you want to hear what maximising their performance can do. Secondly – and assuming that they improve performance – replacing the DC umbilicals will open the window wider, not just for any changes upstream (ie, the Ref Power Supply with or without the Reference DC lead) but for all digital sources.