The REVO DS-1 by NORMA is very much a ‘now’ product. It’s the link between the world of spinning discs and the world of computer audio. We’ve long considered computer audio to be an extra shelf on your system; the DS-1 puts it on the same shelf as your CD player.
It would be wrong to think of the DS-1 as just a CD player, because of that transport mechanism front and centre. It’s actually more of a digital hub with a CD transport built in. The rear panel is the giveaway here; it bristles with digital connections (USB, Toslink, two S/PDIF, and even an AES/EBU connector) but only one of the S/PDIF connections is marked ‘out’. All the rest are inputs direct to the DAC board at the rear of the DS-1.
It’s hard to think of NORMA products without thinking of the ethos underpinning NORMA products, and the DS-1 is an intrinsic part of that product design brief. The idea is that the engineering must be excellent (because, let’s face it, the people who build NORMA products are the same people who build test gear), but that is merely the starting point in the process that involved structured listening tests focused on timbre, colouration, transparency, dynamics, soundstaging, grain, and freedom from artificiality. Frequently, too, this is predicated on tests using the human voice, as we are adept at hearing limitations in voice reproduction. It’s this additional design criteria (which, in fairness, is a process common to many brands, but perhaps not in so structured a manner) that helped create the REVO DS-1.
The great thing about this is if you pop the top on the DS-1, you aren’t met with the typical box of air found in some surprisingly high-end products. In fact, you are greeted by three separate PCBs; one for power supply, one for digital conversion, and the largest one as a dual mono output stage. There’s also a toroidal transformer and a smaller daughter board on the DAC board for USB. This last features the popular XLINX chipset for asynchronous USB connection to 24/192. The DAC section itself uses two 24-bit Burr Brown PCM1704 chips, with separate high-grade clock oscillators for multiples of 44.1kHz and 48kHz sampling rates.