When he launched Antelope Audio in 2005, Levin again revisited the topic of precision clocking, looking to use new technologies and ideas to improve upon the performance of the original AardSync. The result involved two related technologies, which Antelope describes as “proprietary 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking (AFC)” complete with “Oven Controlled Clock”—technologies incorporated in Antelope’s Isochrone-series (where “Iso” = constant, and “chrone” = time) master clocks, which have won critical acclaim in the pro audio world.
More recently and more importantly for Playback readers, Antelope has decided to release a series of three versatile Zodiac DAC/preamp/headphone amps, which—significantly—each incorporate Antelope Audio’s clocking technologies as used in the Isochrone clocks. The range includes the entry-level Zodiac ($1895) 192kHz/24-bit DAC that promises “excellent pro sound quality at a reasonable price,” the mid-tier Zodiac+ ($2695) with expanded features and that is billed as a “Mastering DAC”, and the top-of-the-line Zodiac Gold ($3895, or $4495 when upgraded with an outboard Voltikus power supply), which is a 384kHz/24-bit DAC that comes with a remote control and is described as “a highly aesthetic audiophile DAC delivering pristine sound quality).
Being “go for the gusto” guys, we at Playback opted to try the top-shelf Zodiac Gold with Voltikus power supply for this review, in part simply to see what a product that promises the ultimate in computer/desktop audio functionality might have to offer.