North Star Design SUPREMO - Tim Smith
"had never imagined that panel speakers could benefit so much from a digital source change. Nor did I expect that they could sound so tonally dense like my Harbeths, so rich and full. But there it was—the sweetness, the tonal colors of Tony Rice's great vintage guitar, the ravishing timbres of Rostropovich's cello, the fine filament decays of Ray Brown's final days as his double bass takes center stage on the wonderful disc Walk On: The Final Ray Brown Trio Recordings. "
"I thought I had a good sense of how fast my Maggies were but was unprepared for what was in store. ... I was seated seven meters from the speakers but they literally made me jump. For a second I feared for the tweeters—how could they soar such heights so quickly? If live music has the ability to startle with its immediacy, then the North Star Supremo gets one very close indeed. ... it was clear that the Supremo had the final word - speed. "
"My biggest surprise was just how well standard CDs played over coax held up to the other formats over the Supremo. It was night and day better than with my other digital players and DACs—warmer, more propulsive, more resolved, with tighter bass and a larger soundstage."
"I could feel the infectious pulse of the Moody Blues as "Ride my See-Saw" picked up speed in the opening minute. I felt no twinge of guilty pleasure, just a sense of freedom that comes with the realization that I could get pretty darn close to a concert in my house."
"Thick, uncut, pure, organic, warm, luscious but quick: with all my loudspeakers, this was the North Star Supremo's sonic signature."
"The Supremo is no airy, dancing-on-the-ceiling-of-your-senses DAC. It's a big ripe Super Tuscan Bolgheri with a tube-like sense of fullness but cheetah reflexes. The North Star is pure Rafael or Serena: muscular and explosively fast. No matter the music, there was always that relentless drive at the core of the sound."
"I swear that the Supremo surpassed Joni Mitchell's original magic as McCafferty bellowed as only McCafferty can: Not the early one/That you can wish upon/Not the northern one/That guides in the sailors. None of my several Marantz players (SA 15-S2B Limited Edition, SA8003, CD5004) finds that magic."
"For some, this DAC may prove to be an end game product, realizing most of their sonic goals most of the time, offering up enough warmth to satisfy their inner vinyl spinner and enough resolution to satisfy their craving for detail retrieval."
"I simply suspect that with this $3,299 DAC, we are getting close to the best one can buy for under $7'500."