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Aavik Acoustics S-180 Streamer / Network Player: Review

Is the Aavik Acoustics S-180 Streamer really worth $7,200? The competition below $20,000 better get ready for a fight.

Aavik Acoustics S-180 Streamer / Network Player

Review by Tom Lyle (page 3 of 4)

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The Aavik Acoustics S-180 has what looks like the same great-looking, very well-built cabinet as the other two components reviewed and the same excellent red LED display with characters that are large enough to read from across the room. When I stacked the three Aavik components, they looked stunning; they were an imposing trio of components.

Rather than use the front panel controls of the S-180, it was much easier to use Aavik’s iOS “Stream Control App.” Using this app, I would often stream directly from Tidal, my service of choice, but one can also use Qobuz, Spotify, or any other streaming service one wants.

Although, most of my listening through a streamer in this system was sourced from network-connected hard drives attached to the music server in my dedicated listening room. My time spent with the Aavik S-180 was no exception.

Audiophiles accustomed to using a USB-hard disk or a USB stick will also be able to do so with the S-180 and those who like to stream from locations such as One Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc. These days, the sky’s the limit. Literally. Just like most streamers on the market these days.

Aavik Acoustics I-180 D-180 S-180 Hi-Fi Audio System Rear

In our second system, located in a shared space of our home, I either stream music on those hard drives via our Wi-Fi or listen to local internet radio. I did so using Aavik’s Stream Control App on an iPad. Since I only had the Aavik Acoustics S-180 for a while, I didn’t take advantage of many of the app’s abilities, such as controlling multi-room setups, track sorting, or folder bookmarking.

But to be honest, I might not have done those things even if I owned the Aavik Acoustics S-180, as I’m very happy listening to what’s on the hard drives or using Tidal. Plus, while I had the S-180 in my systems, I was more interested in its sound quality.

Thankfully, this streamer’s sound quality matched many of the other sonic characteristics of the two Aavik components sent to me for review, especially the D-180 converter. The sound quality was best when streaming what I consider “local” sources, such as Tidal, or streaming from the Wi-Fi

This is when I could count on an extended frequency response, a large, drawn-to-scale soundstage, and it could even separate instruments, sounds, and voices from each other with a dynamic distance that injected a greater sense of reality.

Aavik’s iOS app on my iPad seemed relatively user-friendly. However, I needed my computer-savvy friend to help me set up this streamer and the app. Those who are more acquainted with using a high-end streaming component will likely have less trouble than I did, as my friend said it was straightforward and even laughed at me a bit because of my naivete in this area. I’m not a Luddite, but somewhat late to the game of streaming and the like.

Aavik says in its literature that the secret to the Aavik S-180 streamer’s excellent sound quality is due to its audio section. It uses two separate “high-precision, low jitter” clocks. One is for when streaming 44.1kHz based music, the other for 48kHz. They both send a signal to the S-180’s internal converter and its S/PDIF coax output. It might sound like overkill, but six separate power supplies feed the different sections of this streamer.

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I’d recommend this streamer just on sound quality alone. But, add in its good looks, and especially if one is going to purchase another Aavik component, it’s a no-brainer. 

Conclusion

There are three series currently available from Aavik: 180, 280 and 580. Aavik claims that they are very similar, but where they differ is the amount of built-in Ansuz noise-canceling technology. I’ve been told that Michael Børresen, who is in charge of design and development at Aavik, has started an “all-out war on noise”. Every one of his products does something to minimize noise whether it’s mechanical or electrical.

The difference between the 180 to the 280 series is that the 280 gets more Tesla coils and as a result, there is more of Ansuz noise-canceling technology. The 580 series adds a copper chassis and some other premiums, but the heart of the product remains the same. This makes the 180 series an incredible value at $7,200 per component.

I highly recommend any of these three Aavik components. My recommendation takes a giant step higher if these components are used together, not only because even a stack of only two of them looks so impressive, but because they seem to form a symbiotic sonic relationship.

What is also amazing is that these Aavik components reviewed here are at the bottom of Aavik’s three quality levels; for example, the I-180 is also offered as the I-280 and the I-580. It boggles the mind how good those components higher up in the Aavik product line must sound, and therefore, I can also recommend them. I doubt that the I-180 integrated amplifier, the D-180 digital-to-analog converter, and the S-180 streamer/network player can be bettered by any others that are anywhere their price.

Aavik System Ratings

Tonality

★★★★★★★★★★

Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)

★★★★★★★★★★

Mid–bass (80Hz – 200Hz)

★★★★★★★★★★

Midrange (200Hz – 3,000Hz)

★★★★★★★★★★

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

★★★★★★★★★★

Attack

★★★★★★★★★★

Decay

★★★★★★★★★★

Inner Resolution

★★★★★★★★★★

Soundscape Width Front

★★★★★★★★★★

Soundscape Width Rear

★★★★★★★★★★

Soundscape Depth

★★★★★★★★★★

Soundscape Extension Into Room

★★★★★★★★★★

Imaging

★★★★★★★★★★

Fit And Finish

★★★★★★★★★★

Self Noise

★★★★★★★★★★

Value For The Money

★★★★★★★★★★

Next page: Aavik Acoustics RIAA R-180 Phono Preamplifier Review

S-180 Specifications

Streaming: DLNA15 
UPnP AV 1.0
Output: One pair of RCA line outputs
One BNC S/PDIF (32 to 192 kHz samples, 24-bit)
One TosLink optical (32 to 192 kHz samples, 24-bit)
Dimensions: 4″ x 15.1 x 15.75: (HxWxD)
Weight: 11.5 lbs.
Price: $7,200

Company Information
Aavik Denmark
9000 Aalborg
Denmark

Voice: 45 40 51 14 31
E-mail: sales@aavik-acoustics.com 
Website: Aavik-Acoustics.com

North American Distributor
Hi-Fi Centre
433 Carrall Street
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6B 6E3

Voice:(604) 688-5502
E-mail: info@hificentre.com 
Website: HiFiCentre.com 

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