APL Hi-Fi MEETS BELHiFi
Posted on 03 December 2019
VIP VISIT - APL Hi-Fi :
UPDATE : This article is from 2016, but we thought we might put it back on top of our list ;-)
Last week we received a courtesy visit from Alex Peychev, the founder and CEO of APL Hi-Fi.
APL Hi-Fi is a High(er) End boutique hand-made Hi-Fi company based in Ruse, Bulgaria who’s history goes back as far as 1998. So one thing is for sure, these guys are absolutely no newcomers in the Hi-Fi world and really know their game.
Alex has 25 years of audio component design experience, plus a 7 year engineering experience with Sony electronics, inc. In their Broadcast and Professional division.
Previous works include, Tape Decks, Solid State Amplifiers, Tube Amplifiers, Hybrid Amplifiers, Pre-Amplifiers, Equalizers, DACs, ADCs, Phonostages, Microphone Amplifiers, CD/SACD and Universal Digitals Players, Power Supplies, Loudspeakers, Signal and Power Cables.
For example: the APL Hi-Fi High Resolution CD-SACD digital player re-design, based on Philips SACD1000, using their proprietary digital modules and tube analogue output stage, won “Most Wanted Component 2004” award by Stereotimes online audiophile magazine.
NWO series of Universal Digital Players, based on Esoteric UX-1 and X-01 machines, introduced in 2006, are recognized worldwide as state-of-the art designs.
But enough of this referencing and award winning enumeration, you’ll find more on their website by yourselves. And if you still want more, you can even consult the APL dedicated forum which covers almost any topic, from general information, to very specific product info to suit your needs.
Let’s talk about Alex a bit!
Don’t worry, I won’t give you an in-depth character analysis of Alex, just a few impressions of our meeting and the afternoon I spent with him and Pierre Costers, listening to, well…erm…, music! After the introduction, casual chit chat, and customary coffee and croissants Alex struck me as being overall kind guy (but I dare you to mess with him…).
Most of all, he’s a really talented electronics engineer, using his mind (mixed with a generous portion of common sense) to serve his love for music through the development of uniquely conceived and built electronics. Alex gave me quite an interesting explanation about his DSD-Master Reference DAC which I will spare you, but let’s say the key-word is linear, all the way.
Enough trivia, time to discuss our listening session.
Pierre and I are friends since many years now and I know he’s got big news to tell me when he asks me to come over as soon as I can. This is one of these occasions…
I take place in the Charles Eames Lounge chair to prepare myself for what’s about to come.
As soon as the DTR-MR Digital Transport (which Alex kindly brought with him as well as some other goodies) starts spinning and sends the first bits of Melody Gardot’s My One And Only thrill to the APL Hi-Fi DSD-MR DAC my jaw drops open. I’m not prone to using abbreviations, but: OH-EM-GEE !
I have had the opportunity to listen to many DACs (and a fair bit of them being qualified as High End) before, but this… this…
Suddenly, Melody Gardot is here with us, her sweet voice accompanied by those slight velvety accents, her breath, those airy melodies, the definition in the bass, the drumsticks playfully tickling the hi-hats.
No superlative can be enough to define what I’m hearing right now. Such an organic sound! Such a… real sound too! Most of the DACs you’re given to hear at BELHiFi do indeed offer you a great deal of detail and superb definition, but never have I experienced digital like this.
Whereas, in my opinion, many brands have a tendency to go over the top in the analytics department and, thus, give a huge amount of detail, a clean mechanical sound but forget what music is all about. APL Hi-Fi combines the best of both worlds. You get all the detail you could ever want, but most of all, this thing makes music! And that’s what it’s all about! Real, live, soul moving music!
In the past, when you wanted this kind of real, live, analogue sounding music, the only choice you had was going vinyl, using real analogue equipment. Until now…
Could you say the APL Hi-Fi DSD-MR is the ultimate DAC? Oh yeah, you could. Pierre and I can honestly say that that this DAC really plays in a league of its own and has none to few competitors to measure up to. Will it please everybody’s ears? Probably not, since music, and especially it’s reproduction, is a very personal matter and that such an exceptional DAC needs equally exceptional gear to be driven to perfection.
So, to get the most out of it, you really need to know your game and carefully mix and match every single component of the chain in order to get that much wanted synergy, that alchemy between every single piece of your setup!
Once this is achieved, you get real magic!