"Upgradeability – many manufacturers claim it, few really deliver. Aqua is among the few that really do make upgrades available in the form of circuit boards that can easily be retrofitted to older products. The La Scala mkII DAC may well hold the sweet spot in the Aqua DAC lineup. It gives away very little compared to the Formula xHD, costs less and adds an utterly seductive touch of tube magic."
"While I'm not quite ready to sell my analogue gear, La Scala MkII is a fantastic product whose warm sonic embrace I can't imagine anyone in their right mind describing as "digital". It does have a sound though: It's wonderfully musical, inviting, enveloping, and entrancing."
"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!"
"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!"
"But not only existing customers profit from the additional efforts that Aqua has invested in La Scala, because even those who do not yet own one of the noble Ladder DACs can be convinced by the Italian qualities." (TRANSLATED)
"The Formula xHD DAC encompass THE very attributes of 21st century high-end audio digital replay with the "set of skills", that were unthinkable few years back. I'm talking about sound quality without even entering the price point."
"Aqua Acoustic Quality’s Formula xHD is an extremely fine-sounding DAC whose warmth and ability to decode files of extremely high resolution should win it many admirers. Many will also applaud its designer’s rejection of digital filters, oversampling, upsampling, and MQA."
"For the past year and a half, my reference digital-to-analogue converter of choice has been the Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula xHD. It remains spell-binding, a source of constant pleasure and musical satisfaction It has that uncanny sense of purity and natural ease, a stress-free listenability that simply gets me closer to the music, and this not merely for a digital component. The xHD is capable of resolving the finest dynamic gradations, the slightest nuance of a musician’s unique touch, pressure and feel in the most human and, therefore, analogue of ways."
"The enchanting naturalness is surely what will resonate for the longest in my long-term auditory memory, long after the test device has left my listening room. The Aqua Formula xHD really taught me a lot. And this experience will have implications. I want the master-tape feeling back!"
Formula xHD by Michael Vrzal | Fidelity International Magazine
La Voce S3 Discrete by David Abramson | Stereo Times
"Sub·lim·i·nal Adjective (of a stimulus or mental process) below the threshold of sensation or consciousness; perceived by or affecting someone's mind without their being aware of it. This is the definition of subliminal courtesy of Google’s online dictionary and is an apt descriptor for how the Aqua Acoustic Quality La Voce S3 Discrete DAC"
La Diva - La Scala MKII Optologic by Josef Bruckmoser | image hifi
HIFI ADVICE: The sweet spot in the Aqua DAC lineup
"Aqua’s S3 represents for me, if not a quantum leap forward from the already very musically consonant and good-at-what-it-did S2, a meaningfully, more well-rounded, improved version of same; adding to the former shades more heft, detail and dynamics as well as an improved way with timing. In other words, it’s faster, punchier and more fun!"
"Every single detail of the mix is delivered through the Aqua LinQ into whichever DAC you choose to use with it, and it’s a sound you’ll find yourself listening to repeatedly, just to hear those little nuances in Dylan’s near-spoken vocals."
Formula xHD Rev. 2 Positive Feedback 2020 Brutus Award
"I was taken by its sense of presence, its presentation of detail without being "analytical" or cold, and its ability to handle huge swings in dynamics. The no filtering/no oversampling plus FPGA is showing itself to be a powerfully credible approach to digital sound reproduction…I'm very impressed."
Dr. David W. Robinson | Editor-in-Chief Positive Feedback