Our pure R2R Ladder Optologic DAC, fully-floating (isolated) FPGA The Formula DAC is the first in Aqua’s history to implement a proprietary resistor ladder conversion system we call Optologic. The signals sent to the resistor ladders are generated by a proprietary digital circuit, programmed inside a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array). The Formula has a sign-magnitude converter structure which requires not two but four 24-bit resistor banks; each one made with low tolerance discrete resistors. In order to separate the sensitive analog circuits from the digital section, galvanic and magnetic isolation is implemented between the FPGA, and four branches of the R2R ladder converter. This achieves complete isolation of the entire digital circuit - including clock - from the analogue section resulting in a clean, noiseless, ground plane. It also serves a critical role in the differential management of the R2R ladders, creating perfect symmetry between the counter-phase halves. The result is the highest tonal contrast and naturalness.
Technology The Formula Dac uses no digital filter or any other compensation, relying instead on maniacal attention to each sub circuit. The analog and digital power supplies are executed purely discrete by extensive use of BJT, Mosfet, Jfet and ultra-fast diodes. Passive parts were selected not just for the best sonic result but also for their top quality, longevity and reliability. With the exception of six superior quality electrolytics, all other caps are Tantalum, solid-polymer OS-CON and double-metalized MJP. The signal path itself is direct-coupled and free of all capacitors. The two output stages (one single-ended, one transformer-coupled balanced) use discrete BJT and JFet with metal-film resistors. All the electronics parts show an ultra low RF noise.
"Back in March 2014, Aqua Hifi’s visually unassuming La Scala MKII D/A converter not only took out a DAR-KO Award but landed pole position on the Darko DAC Index, beating out contenders from AURALiC, Resonessence Labs and PS Audio....
In other words, the most satisfying DAC heard by yours truly to date just got significantly better. Modularity coupled to a manufacturer upgrade programme brings owners of existing La Scala MKII in from the cold (should they wish to).
In its Optologic incarnation, the La Scala MKII cements further its position at the very top of the DAR-KO DAC Index and DAR-KO Award assignation becomes as easy as it has ever been. In a word, primo!"
John H. Darko DIGITAL AUDIO REVIEW
La Scala MKII Optologic by John H. Darko : primo!
"With the original La Scala 2 being one of my two reference converters and the top deck in contributor John Darko's DAC index, exploring audible space beyond it seemed, truth be told, a rather tall order. How much room was there left for improvement? What ungodly reference gear would it take to hear it? As it turned out, the Formula delivered a demonstrable lead with €6'500-class ancillaries like a Pass Labs XA30.8 or pair of Zu Audio Druid V speakers. If you're an audio aboriginal who goes deep walkabout into gargantuan soundstages to cherish size, scale and utmost specificity about recorded space, this Italian formula has your number. But it's not merely about the usual 3D markers and how precisely and widely spaced they are. It's about an added dimension. That accesses the emotional mood or climate of the playback scenery. Whilst costlier decks came through earlier, none of them did it at that potency. Granted, to fully matter relies on superior recordings. Lesser or purely synthetic efforts reveal that they lack that particular magic. Finally there's this peculiar easy-digital aspect as though your brain's usually active aural processor went on holiday because it's not needed. As such, I must highlight Aqua Hifi's Formula with one of our sparsely administered awards. True, it's serious money. But it's seriously well built. And it delivers very serious performance. Yet all this multi-stage seriousness melts away when one is faced by such deep holistic listening satisfaction. That's what the 'high' in hi-end should be all about. Cachet, pride of ownership, resell value and bling to impress the ignorant with all factor. But they pale to nothing against delivering the actual experience. The Formula does. So it pays to study its recipe in detail. It really is something else."
Srajan Ebaen 6MOONS
Formula DAC 6MOONS Blue Moon Award
We are pleased to announce that both the Formula and La Scala MKII Optologic digital to analogue converter will be DSD 64 and 128 compatible. This upgrade has required significant optimisation of the FPGA code which has also improved sound quality. Firmware update will enable single and double rate DSD playback to existing and new DAC owners.
DSD Playback Now Available for Aqua Optologic DACs
The "Greatest Bits”, new award for the Formula DAC
"Yea what he (and I) said! The Aqua Formula joins the rarefied air of music making DACs that shatter digital's glass." Michael Lavorgna AUDIOSTREAM
La Scala MKII Optologic DAC by Yuri Volobuev
"Yes, LaScala slightly boosts intonation, yes, it feels it, it's his own enthusiasm, but if you want that very not-conveyed "attracter", then this is one of the most vivid examples of such an approach in the High End. Practically exemplary implementation of the music, in combination with the overall high class of reproduction. My best recommendation." (translated)
Yuri Volobuev SOUNDEX
La Scala MKII Optologic: SUPER-DAC
"You can not do much better! The La Scala Optologic is one of the best DACs I have ever heard." (translated)
Christian Möller AUDIO Magazine
La Scala MKII: upgrading to the Optologic DAC
A never ending story. Again, La Scala D/A converter proves that an instant classic does not mean a product whose destiny is to become obsolescent, like most of the products in the high-end world. Now, after the first appearance in the flagship Formula DAC, the proprietary D/A conversion system developed by Aqua is now available for La Scala MkII dac. So, current Owners, have now the opportunity to upgrade their unit in order to reach to the revolutionary Optologic D/A conversion system.
New proprietary hybrid 2-stage XMOS xCore XE216 + FPGA The Formula xHD features the following upgrades and modifications as compared to the Formula DAC: - New firmware release 3.0 for the main FPGA (DAC) with optimization of the code - New USB board with hybrid architecture cod. A108
Christiaan Punter of HIFI ADVICE: “WOW”, this is a seriously great DAC!
"Although at times I have been tempted by the extra refinement and unbeatable purity of NOS, filterless DACs such as the Mosaic, Metrum and some other designs, ultimately I always came back to the Wadia and later the Bricasti, mainly because they simply had more conviction, more drive, more dynamic power." "The great thing about the Formula xHD DAC is that it offers unprecedented purity and all the advantages of the aforementioned R2R designs and adds to this all the dynamic power and drive that I could ask for, while totally avoiding imposing any character onto the sound." "But in the end all the technology in the world means nothing if it does not distil into great sound. Fortunately, after having heard the Formula xHD DAC, I can testify that this DAC is truly magnificent!"
"The best sound at CES-indeed one of the best sounds I’ve heard at a trade show- undoubtedly came from the big, $191k, three-and-a-halfway (two 1" diamond tweeters, two 7" Omega 7 midrange drivers, and two 11" Nomex-Kevlar woofers in a D’Appolito configuration) Kharma Exquisite Midi Grand Signature floorstanders, driven by Lamm Industries’ ML3 Signature monoblock amps, LL1.1 Signature preamplifier, and LP1 Signature phonostage, sourced by a TechDAS Airforce 1 turntable (with SME 3012-R tonearm and Clearaudio cartridge) and an Aqua La Diva transport and Formula xHD DAC, and wired by TchernovCable. Housed in a large room on the 35th floor, this sensational system was spacious like nothing else at the show-and gorgeous like nothing else at the show, producing a supremely beautiful sound wherein everything was in balance, everything was exquisitely defined (though not over-controlled), everything was imbued with lifelike bloom and color.... it was worth coming to Vegas just to hear this system. "
Mono and Stereo Formula xHD update REVIEW PART ONE
"The Xhd upgrade brings quite a substantial step up in transparency and density, where both micro and macro details are forming a new experience. Have no worries, the "new" translates to positive. There are simply more pieces of information and cues coming through the digital veins of the updated Aqua Formula Xhd DAC."
"Acoustic Quality Formula Xhd DAC has now climbing up the ladder and reaching out to a plane, where the realism is more closely mimicking the real thing. Such, exhibited performance is is usually reserved for the bigger and more expensive "players", so this alone makes a Formula Xhd DAC a serious contender at a sensible price."