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ADE-24 Review

Manuel Delaflor

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Im usually eager to read about any tweak everybody is doing in order to find the best possible sound. Some of us do this all the time, and I think the reason is simple. We want to know if for small amounts of money we can improve our already expensive gear.

So I read constantly about cables, interconnects, power chords, line conditioners, digital clocks, coins under the equipment, etc. etc. Always looking for the last word in the tweaks arena.

But on the other hand, I tend to trust double blind tests, I like to buy something that provokes palpable changes, something that is doing an improvement so real that if I take my new tweak out of the chain I can easily note it and feel the urgency to immediately reinstall it.

About a month or so I wanted to buy a new amplifier. I had an old Technics Class A integrated that I wanted to get rid of. I wanted to enter the world of Hi End and still keep some money on my pockets.

After listening some equipment I ended in the store of a manufacturer known by his tube gear. I was absolutely delighted and ended buying a couple of things. One is my Hybrid Integrated. The other was a small "black box" called Margules Magenta ADE-24. This last one is what I consider the best tweak of all. It is designed, in words of its creator:

"The original and first enhancer for digital audio mentioned in STEREOPHILE magazine as a killer product. The most common problem in CD players is the analog filter, this unit is a very high quality analog filter with no feedback and totally discrete. Designed to be plugged between the CD player and the amplifier, improves substantially the tonal characteristics."

As my main speakers are very revealing (Klipsch Heresy, from the Heritage series which use two Horns, one for the tweeter and another for the mid driver) I always felt that some CD's were "to bright", to "edgy" for my tasting. This little box cured that sense in just seconds.

Another improvements I noted was a more defined tridimensional feeling about the position of particular instruments in the sound field. In other words, the image was more precise. I also noted more definition on some difficult to reproduce instruments, like violins and pianos. The feeling is that they become more clear, more detailed, more focused.

Reading the user's reviews on Usenet and Audioasylum I realized also that the ADE-24 makes the sound more analog like. People who feel that the CD was a step back and that are still using turntables are buying the ADE-24 because the sound is more like the one of the turntables, more analog.

As I don't listen to vinyl Im not the most qualified to talk about this topic. But I can surely say that the sound becomes more lifelike, which is what I think the vinyl lovers pursue. A less "metallic" sound, more rounded, more warm, more detailed in the mid frequencies which are the ones that "carry the music soul" in the words of some vinyl lover audiophiles I have talked to.

Now, as I said at the beginning. Perhaps the best way to realize the work of the little ADE-24 is to get used to it and then disconnect it from our gear. In words of every user on other forums and in my own experience this is almost painful.

And I hope that can resume what this little box do.

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OK - I am a bit confused as to what this box is/does.

Do you connect the Cd player via a digital connection to this box and then out to the amp via analogue? If so then this is an external DAC and not a particularly new tweek.

If it is a filtering unit only then I assume it connects on an all analogue circuit.

Finally if it connects all digitally then I am really confused...

Any pointers?

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You simply need an extra set of interconnects. The ADE-24 has a set of L/R input jacks which accept the output from any CD player which would normally go directly to the preamp. The ADE then just has two L/R RCA outs to continue on to the Pre. All the action takes place in the ANALOG domain.

The ADE-24's most important task is to act as a BUFFER between the CD player and your preamp matching the impedance better. It's other duties are less clear. IT is VERY similar to the famous and often well-reviewed Musical Fidelity X10-D which acted as a BUFFER just like the ADE-24 but also included a tube output stage. AGain, placed between the CD player and preamp, it offered smoother sound and improved the sonics of an average CD player.

I would not bother to use an ADE-24 if you already have a very nice CD player with a highly resolving system. The extra pair of interconnects doesnt do too much good and a good player with an excellet powet supply and analog stage will not be improved on too much with the extra connections possibly degrading the sound.

On the other hand, if you have a so-so player, even a 24bit player with a circumspect analog section, the ADE-24 might offer some aid. I heard the MF X-10D at length in a friend's system actually using a Tjoeb 99 player into an Audio Research LS-7 (a pretty clinical pre)with a Bryston 4B-ST and it had some positive effects. I think adding the tube into the signal was also beneficial as was the buffer. The ADE-24 probably offers some of the same attributes, minus the tube stage. Still, I dont think it's a substitute for a good player which would be top priority. But I imagine it does bring some relief. It's $250 or so. I dont think it's going to be an easy resale, though.

I dont dig The Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity as my favorite source of enlightenment, but they do have an interesting review on the ADE-24: http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_6_4/magenta-ade-24-analog-digital-enhancer.html

In my view, based on his other components, if I were manuel, I would go ahead and actually upgrade my CD player as that Sony unit is really not up to the level of the rest of the system. I have no doubt that the ADE-24 is helping things but a new player would make a world more sense.


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Julian Margules gave me one of these ADE units after I reviewed his fine U280SC amplifier for SoundStage! a few years ago (~9/99 issue- check SS! archives). It's an interesting device. Don't ask me how/why it works.

I've had the opportunity to use it on various digital sources, pleayers, etc., and found it to universally provide a definate improvement on CD players in the <$1500 range. On my current rig, I found it detracted the sound though. Surpringly, even on a pricey Wadia 6 player (circa 1997), it provided a substantial improvement in the liquidity in the sound. Similar to tube vs. s-s sonic differences. It really does a decent job taming digital nasties for a price lower than what it would cost to upgrade your player.

Mobile,I still have mine, but am not using it on my rig. I think it will help your Rega. If you want me to send it to you and promise to write a review for the Forum, I will. Email me your address.

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Sounds like a good deal to me.

The cohort with the Musical Fidelity X-10D tube buffer unit actually ended up getting Wright Sound gear to the tune of the 3.5 2A3 Monoblocks and the WLA-12a preamp. He still has the Tjoeb 99 unit that he is quite fond of but I believe I preferred the X10 out of the system the last time I heard it (he has vingage Cornwalls as well). Perhaps I can convince him to lend me the piece to compare the two. It would be interesting (if a bit of a pain) to see the differences since they both offer the same attempt at a digititis solution but with different approaches. One interesting aspect, the X-10D can be changed via tube rolling.

If you are up for it, I'll do a review. Perhaps it can go somewhere besides this forum as well!


ps- Hey Mike, when are you going to delve into vinyl??? Seriously, there is nothing like vinyl / tubes / and HORNS! It literally causes your mouth to water! With the level of your gear, I think it a crime not to jump in head first.

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